Questions From Readers

Does Satan the Devil have the ability to read the human mind?

Although we cannot be dogmatic, it would appear that neither Satan nor his demons have the ability to read our thoughts.

Consider the descriptive names ascribed to Satan. He is called Satan (Resister), Devil (Slanderer), Serpent (synonymous with Deceiver), Tempter, and Liar. (Job 1:6; Matthew 4:3; John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9) None of these descriptive names imply that Satan has the ability to read minds.

By way of contrast, however, Jehovah God is described as “the examiner of hearts.” (Proverbs 17:3; 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 29:17) “There is not a creation that is not manifest to his [Jehovah’s] sight,” declares Hebrews 4:13, “but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting.” Not surprisingly, Jehovah has granted the ability to examine hearts to his Son, Jesus. The resurrected Jesus declared: “I am he who searches the kidneys and hearts, and I will give to you individually according to your deeds.”​—Revelation 2:23.

The Bible does not say that Satan is able to search men’s hearts and minds. This is significant, inasmuch as the apostle Paul assures us that Christians “are not ignorant of [Satan’s] designs.” (2 Corinthians 2:11) So we need not fear that Satan has some extraordinary ability of which we are entirely unaware.

Nevertheless, this is not to say that our Adversary cannot discern our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Satan has had centuries to study human behavior. He does not need to be able to read minds to discern what patterns of behavior we set, to observe what entertainment we pursue, or to listen to what things we talk about, and so forth. Our facial expressions and posture may also give clues as to what we are thinking or feeling.

By and large, though, Satan uses the same devices that he used in the garden of Eden​—lies, deception, and misinformation. (Genesis 3:1-5) While Christians need not fear that Satan will read their minds, they do have reason to be concerned about what thoughts Satan might try to put into their minds. He wants Christians to become “corrupted in mind and despoiled of the truth.” (1 Timothy 6:5) Little wonder that Satan’s world has unleashed a flood of corrupting information and entertainment. To withstand this onslaught, Christians must protect their minds by wearing “the helmet of salvation.” (Ephesians 6:17) They do this by filling their minds with Bible truths and avoiding unnecessary contact with the unsavory elements of Satan’s world.

Satan is a formidable foe. But we need not have a morbid fear of him or his demons. James 4:7 assures us: “Oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.” If we follow this counsel, we will be able to declare, like Jesus, that Satan has no hold on us.​—John 14:30.