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As comforting as it is to think that demons can’t read our minds, this simply isn’t true. Not only is it not true, but it is a dangerous delusion to cling to, for it leaves us particularly vulnerable to being deceived.
Where do we get the notion that demons can’t read our minds in the first place? We typically assume it as a spin off from Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 2:11:
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
Notice that Paul asks “who among men”—not “who among all the spiritual dimensions.” In this passage, Paul is not discussing the ability of demons, he is using the fact that humans can’t read each other’s minds as an analogy for how we can’t read God’s mind, either. Just as you are the only one who knows all of your own thoughts, so also God knows His own thoughts and the three Members of the Trinity all know Each Other’s thoughts. The Spirit fully understands the mind of Yahweh, and He is able to share parts of that Mind with us—that is Paul’s point in this passage. It has nothing to do with demons.
It is very important to realize that demons can not only hear all of your thoughts, they can see your heart intentions and your current spiritual position with God. In any given moment, they know whether you are in alignment with God or embracing rebellion. They also have complete access to your mental archives—they can recall things about your life that you cannot. This is why you’ll be lying in bed at night and suddenly every disturbing scene from creepy movies you watched as a child start flooding into your head—memories you have intentionally pushed out of your mind and haven’t thought about for years. This is also why you can listen to worship songs about God every day, yet the only songs that get lodged in your mind on constant replay are snippets of carnal songs with foul lyrics that you absolutely hate and heard maybe once or twice on someone else’s radio. This dredging up of negative memories isn’t your doing, it is a favorite attack strategy of demons that is intended to upset you.
Demons use their ability to bring old memories to the forefront of your mind to try and drag you into all sorts of negative frames of mind. Are you struggling to forgive a friend for the cruel words she spoke to you? Demons are right there to “help” by replaying the memory in your brain over and over again. Are you struggling to accept God’s forgiveness about some past sin? Demons are right there to keep replaying the memory of what a jerk you were. Not only do demons replay our memories, they like to amplify them and even create them if possible. Ever find yourself daydreaming about all the verbal zingers you would have liked to fling back at someone in an argument you just had? It’s demons feeding you those cue lines and helping you imagine yourself dishing out the ultimate comebacks. Is your ex-spouse coming over to drop off the kids? Demons try to prepare you for the moment by tensing up your emotions and loading your tongue up with verbal ammunition so that you’ll just be looking for a reason to unload. They’re working on your spouse as well—and when they hear him thinking to himself “This time, I really need to watch my tongue and not start any trouble,” then they’re going to double their efforts in trying to make his attempt at self-control blow up in his face by using you to set him off. Demons constantly try to pit us against each other and they’re so good at it because they can see everyone’s secret fears, insecurities, and hear their current thought patterns.
If demon’s couldn’t read our thoughts, they’d be far less effective than they are. Being able to accurately assess your internal intentions is a critical part of their fire power. When two Christians curse God, one meant it while another did not. The one who meant it is the one demons will cheer on, while the one who feels immediately remorseful is the one they will leap all over with gasping horror at their terrible blasphemy. You won’t ever find demons making rebels feel bad about their sin. Towards those who have turned their backs on God, demons are filled with rationalizations, minimizations, and explanations for why their sins really aren’t a big deal. It’s only with souls who sincerely care about pleasing God that demons emphasize the horror of every sin and the need for endless groveling. Demons never tell a soul to repent unless they know that soul has already repented and they’re trying to block them from accepting God’s forgiveness. Demons are constantly responding to our heart attitude and soul exchanges with God. This makes them a real pain in the neck, but also surprisingly useful in diagnosing the real problem.
Show me a soul who is panicking that Jesus won’t save them, and I’ll show you a soul who is already safely in His hands. Demons do not dare to raise the issue of salvation with souls unless they are forced to. Once a soul is already accepted by God, their best defense is to try and stop them from realizing the security of their salvation.
Show me a soul who is convinced they’ve done the unpardonable sin and I’ll show you a soul who is in good standing with the Lord. Demons never want us to think about our need for God’s forgiveness unless they can see there’s no hope in keeping us from receiving it. Once we have already repented and returned to alignment with the Holy Spirit, then their best backup plan is to try and convince us that God is holding some eternal grudge towards us so that we’ll be robbed of the peace of knowing that all is well between us and Him.
The best liars are the ones who have a complete understanding of truth. When it comes to understanding how God views you personally, demons are far more knowledgeable than you are. While you struggle to comprehend the depths of His love for you, they know it all too well and they hate it. While you struggle to grasp the idea of total forgiveness and how such a huge Creator could really take interest in a half-speck like you, demons have no doubts whatsoever about just how invested God is in you—that is why they try so very hard to block you from believing that His enthusiasm for you is as real as He says it is. Because demons understand truth so well, they are able to skillfully weave select kernels of truth into very clever deceptions so that those deceptions come out sounding quite plausible. And while they’re busy deceiving you, they’d love for you to believe that they are a bunch of blind halfwits who don’t know anything about you except what you say out loud about yourself and the gossip they might hear about you from other humans. If you reduce them to such bumbling bumpkins in your mind, you’ll drop your mental guard and make it that much easier for them to slip right past you.
Have you ever been in the middle of some very private prayer session with God, only to have “God” respond rather harshly to your sincere attempt to compliment Him? Ever try to picture God in your mind only to have the image of His face glaring down at you suddenly appear? Whenever they get permission from the Holy Spirit, demons rush to get involved in your prayer time. They hate it when you sit around sharing your heart with God. They know that the more confident you get in your relationship with Him, the tougher you’ll be to deceive, so they will do everything they can to create static on the line when you’re trying to have some soul communion. Ringing phones, noisy neighbors, knocking on the front door—if they can rustle up some external distractions, they will. If not, they’ll try to get hold of your attention by bombarding your mind with a million random thoughts, or by suddenly reminding you of what you forgot to put on the grocery list, or by trying to replay random scenes from the television show you watched last night. If general distractions don’t work, they’ll listen to what you say to God and then try to jump in with impersonations of His Voice. Be clear on this: demons are masters at impersonating any Member of the Trinity that you’re trying to talk to.
YOU (praying silently): “God, is there anything You want to say to me?”
DEMONS (sounding like God): “You really disappoint Me.”
Just because a voice in your mind sounds like God or comes attached to an image of His glorious face, doesn’t mean it is from Him. This is why your discernment skills need to be on alert at ALL TIMES. There is no sacred inner place where you can go to get away from the pestering of demons. Whenever the Holy Spirit gives them an opening, they will certainly come and join the party.
So why does God let demons so rudely interrupt our time with Him? To teach us how to recognize and ignore them. The fastest way to get wise to a conman is to get snookered by him a few times. The Holy Spirit allows demons to effectively delude us and then later exposes their lies to us so we learn to see just how subtle and sly their strategies can be. Even though we are total nimbuses compared to demons, and even though we have a massive disadvantage by being blind to much of what goes on in our own souls, let alone the rest of the spiritual realm, under the training of the Holy Spirit, we can actually learn to be quite good at fluffing demons off, causing their influence over us to become severely crippled. The key to developing strong discernment skills is focusing not on demons, but on God. The better we know Him, the better we learn to recognize counterfeits of His Voice and Presence.
When we first realize just how exposed our private thoughts are to demons, we often feel upset and threatened. Yet this ends up being a very positive thing for us. First, the fact that other beings are eavesdropping on our personal conversations with God doesn’t need to hamper our relationship with Him in the slightest. Your bond to God is still quite personal, and as you share your heart with Him and respond to His Spirit, that bond will grow richer and stronger. There’s nothing demons can do to block you from progressing with God—all they can do is try to hang onto your ankles like deadweight and make it harder for you to move forward. Your will is still your own, and demons cannot force your soul to do things that it doesn’t want to do. They can drag your flesh all over the place, but they can’t block your soul from connecting with God or aligning with Him. Since you are going to be judged by your soul and not your flesh, the fact that demons are unable to control your soul makes their whole campaign a loss from the beginning. Demons can’t send people into Hell—they can only encourage people to send themselves there by willfully rejecting God. The fact that we are so in control of our own souls is something demons desperately want us to doubt, so they try to tell us that flesh and soul are one and the same, and then they flaunt their ability to manipulate our flesh as evidence that they can control our souls. But of course this is all just a lie. No matter how much your flesh enjoys sinning, it is the internal response of your soul which matters to God, and that is something you have complete control over.
How do we respond to a God who has lavished such abundant love and grace upon us? We certainly can’t repay Him, yet our souls long to bless Him anyway we can. God loves being publicly honored and exalted by His children, and this is where we can really use the constant snooping of demons to our advantage. When we worship and adore God in the privacy of our hearts, demons see it and are utterly nauseated. Without saying a word out loud, we are constantly declaring our feelings towards God in front of the entire spiritual realm. This was why Satan was so annoyed by Job—he could see the man’s heart attitude towards God. When God boasted that Job was righteous, He didn’t mean Job put on a great external act. He meant Job’s heart attitude was very pleasing to God. When Satan set out to make Job curse God, he wasn’t just hoping to make Job say something irreverent in a fit of frustration—he was trying to get Job to reject God on a heart level in front of the entire spiritual realm. Despite all of Job’s complaints about God, he never did turn away from God in his heart, which is why Satan lost the contest.
Understanding demons’ perspective of us is an important part of developing good discernment skills. We should expect demons to war with us inside the privacy of our minds because they do all the time. We should expect them to react to our private soul responses to God. And lastly, we should take delight in showcasing our love for God in front of such a vast audience. By making our secret thoughts so transparent to angels and demons, God has given us a great opportunity to continually exalt Him in life. Let’s make the most of it.