The Bible gives us every reason to believe the devil can’t read our thoughts, and if he can, it does him no good! So, Christians should not be unnerved at the thought that Satan may listen in on their private thoughts and unspoken prayers.
Here’s the proof.
Satan Was Unable to Recall and Interpret Someone’s Dream
Daniel 1 and 2 recount the story of God using the prophet to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The king dreamed and upon wakening found he could not recall the dream. It so troubled him that he called his entire department of magicians, conjurers, and sorcerers to interpret the dream.
But there was a catch. The king knew this bunch of demonized people would lie if their hotline to hell didn’t produce. He not only demanded an interpretation. He demanded they tell him what he dreamed. The motivation was they’d do it or die (Daniel 2:1-6).
These boys panicked. Evidently whatever experience they’d had with their demons, it left them with no confidence that Satan would reveal the king’s dream and give them the interpretation. Finally, God gave the information to Daniel and his friends after they’d spent the night in prayer.
Daniel revealed the dream and its interpretation, but not before publicly exposing Satan’s inability to reveal certain knowledge:
Daniel answered before the king and said, ‘As for the mystery about which the king has inquired, neither wise men, conjurers, magicians, nor diviners are able to declare it to the king. However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. This was your dream and the visions in your mind while on your bed.
Either Satan didn’t know the dream and its interpretation. Or he knew and couldn’t reveal it. Bottom line is he is limited!
Satan Wanted to Kill Jesus as a Baby, But Couldn’t Find Him
Israel knew from the Scriptures that the Messiah was coming. For instance, Isaiah 9:6 says this:
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
We know Satan can read. So, we assume he also knew of this peculiar God Child who was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). What he didn’t know was when. But wait. You know the Christmas story. Didn’t Mary receive a visit from an angel, who explained everything to her (Luke 1:26-38)? Did Satan not overhear this conversation?
If not, what about one of his demons stumbling upon this critical information during a routine mind-reading and temptation session? We know in retrospect that didn’t happen either. So, let’s move on to other minds Satan should have been able to read to find the whereabouts of Jesus.
Mary went to visit Elisabeth, the future mother of John the Baptist, shortly after the angel told her about her own miraculous pregnancy. When she arrived, Elisabeth and she discussed the birth of Jesus. Elizabeth even called Mary “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43). Was there not one demon around to hear this conversation?
Finally, it came time for Jesus to be born. Mary has the baby in an animal shelter in Bethlehem. A group of men are traveling a great distance to find the child Messiah. They follow the light of a low-orbiting star, which most likely was an angel.
On the journey, an angel appears to them and says, “…today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is the Christ the Lord: you will find the baby in a manger.” Then to punctuate the drama, the night’s sky lights up with a multitude of angels praising God.
By now you know my question.
How is it possible for Satan not to see and hear a group of men following a supernatural light in search of the Messiah? How did he not see or hear the conversation the angel had with them? And how could he have possibly missed a sky filled with angels singing about the birth of Jesus?
This episode presents the devil as a totally clueless foe of the Lord, when God desires him to be. Could it be that the leash God has Satan on includes keeping him strategically ignorant of certain matters? Apparently, it does.
Satan Was Ignorant of the Messiah’s Identity and Place of Residence for Thirty Years
The closest Satan got to catching Jesus as a baby was when the murderous King Herod tried to trick the men who were searching for the Messiah to report back to him once they found Him.
Wouldn’t you know it, the Holy Spirit told the wise men what Satan in Herod was up to and directed them to go home another way. In a rage, Satan inspired the king to slaughter every male child in Bethlehem two years old and under (Matthew 2:16-18).
Think about how frustrating and humiliating it was for Satan to have access to the Scriptures, to hear rabbis preach every sabbath about the coming Messiah, to know He had already been born, and not know who He was or where He was located.
It turns out Jesus was in Nazareth living an exemplary life of holiness and devotion to God. But that wasn’t enough to reveal the Messiah’s true identity.
For what set of Scriptures could Satan examine that would reveal Jesus as the Messiah? Had Isaiah or Jeremiah or Micah or any of the other prophets spoken of a silent, boring, cabinet-making Messiah? No.
Satan must have scoured the land day and night looking for the Messiah. No doubt, he and his demons overlooked the unremarkable Jesus every time they saw Him.
Or maybe, just maybe, they never saw Him. Maybe along with their inability to read the minds and to hear the conversations of those who knew the identity of Jesus, they were also unable to see Him.
Satan Can’t Read Your Thoughts, But Even If He Could…So What!
It doesn’t appear from the Scriptures that Satan can read our thoughts. But even if he could, it wouldn’t be much of a strategic advantage for him. For we know that we are not safe because Satan is weak, but because God is strong.
There is a Scripture I’d like you to ponder and take with you as you consider the privacy of your thoughts and unspoken prayers, and what Satan could possibly do if he had access to such information.
Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
The psalmist had confidence that he could prosper and be blessed even if his enemy was in his very presence. I believe that’s the message the Holy Spirit has for any child of God who is concerned with the devil being close enough to determine our thoughts and prayers.
“If God be for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31).
Here is a similar article you may enjoy: Can the Devil Hear and Stop My Prayers?
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