Thoughts & Fiery Darts (ATP)
How do you know where a thought comes from? How can you know if it’s of the Enemy or if it is of our own sinful nature? Can the devil read your thoughts?
Let’s start first with the latter question. Is the devil able to read your thoughts? From my understanding of scripture, the devil cannot read our thoughts. I can’t recall a single place in scripture that would clearly show otherwise. The devil is never called omniscient or all knowing. However, the devil operates in the spiritual realm and his weapons attack our minds. Read Ephesians chapter 6.
Let’s consider two important events in scripture where the devil tempted mankind. First, we see the devil coming to Eve, Genesis 3, in the garden where the Word calls him more cunning than any other beast in the garden. That word cunning means subtle. He came to Eve, he listened to Eve speak, he questioned what God has said to her and twisted God’s words. The devil is observant, but he’s not all knowing. Now remember when he came to tempt Jesus in Matthew 4:2-3, “And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” It’s clear the devil knew what Jesus was dealing with, but it’s not clear he was reading his thoughts. If we look to 1 Peter 5:8-9, we see the enemy’s forte, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” Notice how in verse 9 the Word says the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. The devil has the same tactics over and over again, always with the goal of stealing, killing, and destroying. His tactics are against humanity and chances are if you’ve been tempted in an area many others you know have also been tempted that same way.
The devil is never said to know everything or even to be able to get into our minds. What he does and how he operates is found in, Ephesians 6:16, “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” If you’ve ever played darts you’ll know that there’s a certain line on the floor you don’t cross. It’s a game of throwing from a distance hoping to hit the mark. This is how the devil operates. He knows humanity. He knows the lusts of the flesh and the temptations of mankind and so he throws darts in the form of thoughts hoping to land a bullseye. The Word says above all to take the shield of faith. What is faith? It’s believing God at His Word. The difference between Adam and Eve whose actions were the downfall of humanity and Jesus whose actions were the saving grace of humanity was that Jesus trusted God’s words above all temptation but Adam and Eve did not.
2 Corinthians 4:4 shows us that there are many, “… minds the god of this age has blinded.” The god of this age is the devil and his goal is to blind humanity because that’s his only fight. The devil is well aware of the power of God and His Word but he’s also aware that God has given us free will. His hope is to help us choose wrong.
Now let’s look at the next part of the question: How do you know where a thought comes from? How can you know if it’s of the Enemy or if it is of our own sinful nature? Let’s look at a familiar scripture, Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Be transformed by the renewing of your mind means that what we put into our minds has the power to transform us and notice with a renewed and transformed mind we will
Be able to prove what’s God’s will. Only with a renewed mind could Jesus withstand the temptation in the garden. Look at 2 Corinthians 10:5, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Our flesh or sinful mature will always try to do whatever is appealing for it. It wants what it wants. There’s a reason the industry for the vices of mankind is so large and lucrative.
We know this, whatever you put in is what you’re going to be transformed by. If you’re thinking thoughts that aren’t godly or that go against the Word, first ask, “is what I’ve been putting into my mind helping me to have these thoughts?” Look at Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” What we need to do is check our thoughts against the Word of God. If it doesn’t line up, it’s not godly and it’s not meant for us to have. It may be a result of things we’ve put in or it may be a fiery dart from the devil, or even a combination of both, but if it doesn’t line up with the Word we throw it away. I love what Dr. Ed Dufresne used to say, “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head but you can stop it from making a nest in your hair.” Get proficient at, as the Word says, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.