“Can Satan know what we’re thinking or control our thoughts?”
Satan existed long before human history began. What went on in that pre-humanity heavenly realm we cannot imagine, but we are given glimpses.
Ezek. 28:11-19 and Isa. 14:12-17 offer some insight. While referring to two earthly kings at first, the King of Tyre in Ezekiel and the King of Babylon in Isaiah, the text segues or has dual reference to the satanic influence behind them, thus informing us about the devil, aka Satan, or ‘Lucifer.’
Lucifer was a created being, an angel, blameless, sinless, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty…
“You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you… Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.” (Ezek. 28:15, 17).
So self-enamoured was he that he had aspired to become “like the Most High” (Is. 14:14) – like God Himself!
“So I threw you to the earth...” says the scripture (Ezek. 28:17). Isaiah 14:12 echoes “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!” Jesus also testified to seeing this event. “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18)
While Satan still has limited access to heaven (Job 1:6-12; Zechariah 3:1,2), he is now primarily a nomad prince of darkness wreaking havoc against God.* Jesus called Satan “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31), and Paul described him as “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). But this does not mean he has control over earth’s inhabitants. For example, Satan had to ask God’s permission to afflict Job in various ways (Job 1:1-12; 2:1-6.).
The devil can suggest thoughts to us, “Did God really say…” tell us lies “You will not certainly die” and twist what is true “…your eyes will be opened, and You will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:1-4), but he cannot read our minds. Only God can know our hearts and thoughts and motives.
“…you perceive my thoughts from afar…. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.” (Ps. 139:2b, 4)
“…the word of God… judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:12-13)
“…the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought….” (1 Chron. 28:9)
Satan does have a lot of insight as to what makes us humans tick. He has been observing and tempting humans since the very beginning of their creation! “…roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” (Job 1:7; 2:) He, being fallen, knows our fallen human nature. He cannot read our minds, but he can guess very accurately what we may be thinking.** Our job is to be ever vigilant to his schemes:
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8)
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
Jesus defeated the devil by quoting the Word of God (Luke 4:4,8,12) So can we! As David expressed, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Ps. 119:11)
We are responsible for the sin we commit. (See James 1:14-15). Flip Wilson’s “Geraldine Jones” was wrong; The devil cannot “make us do it!”
*See my blog of 11/9/18 – “Is the devil everywhere like God?”
**A married couple may say they know what the other is thinking, but of course this is not ‘mind-reading!’
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