In these two verse we are told that "sin in crouching at the door" and "the Devil prowls like a roaring lion":

Genesis 4:7: "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." (emphasis added).

1 Peter 5:8-9: "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world." (emphasis added).

Just how is the Accuser "crouching at our door" or "prowling around us" if we never witness any audible or visual sense of his presence? How does his influence affect us - unless he is somehow able to manipulate certain thoughts? Or, to put that another way, how do the subtle temptations we face often appear to align themselves so precisely with our most private, inner reflections?

  • 1
    How do you think he tempts you?
    – Perry Webb
    May 17, 2021 at 2:04
  • There is a distinction between speaking to your mind and reading your mind. Speaking or imputing information is something satan can do, but retrieving information is something only God can do. Sure he can guess but that’s still not reading your mind. Please edit the question to reflect if you are asking about mind reading or speaking to the mind. Thank you May 17, 2021 at 2:36
  • @Nihil Too often, the temptations we face appear to align perfectly with our most inner thoughts. It's as though someone is "listening" and occurs far more frequently than mere coincidence. It's hard for me to accept that sinful thoughts emerge entirely on their own - perfectly coordinated with my current thinking. It should not surprise us the spiritual realm communicates telepathically. Christ often demonstrated this ability, which suggests it does occur. I will reword the question, but I believe your suggestion hints at the answer with the words "reading our mind" or "speaking to it."
    – Xeno
    May 17, 2021 at 3:33
  • It doesn’t have to be either or but right now the wording is reading only. May 17, 2021 at 3:52
  • @Perry That is really at the heart of my question: How? As I noted, the temptations we often face appear to be coordinated almost perfectly with our inner thoughts. It seems to me that could only be possible if the tempting originates from a source that can somehow listen in on them. How else could I be manipulated as directly so often? After all, we are told to be on guard for Satan's manipulations. So how might they appear to us as tangible forces we must overcome?
    – Xeno
    May 17, 2021 at 4:20

1 Answer 1


Do the passages in Genesis 4:7 and 1 Peter 5:8-9 suggest Satan can manipulate our thoughts?

The word "manipulate" may be too strong. Satan can influence our thinking to affect our volition.

Matthew 16:

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns."

We are human and naturally think in human/fleshly terms.

John 13:

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that he should betray Jesus.

Even our hearts are fleshly and sinful.

2 Cor. 4:

4 among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.

Our minds are reachable by Satan.

James 1:

1:14 But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires.

Our volition can be at fault, cooperating with Satan.

How do we fight back?

Ephesians 6:

16 and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one

Faith in God can protect us from Satan's attacks.

Jam 4:

7 So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and make your hearts pure, you double-minded.

Submit our volition to God will purify our hearts and minds.

Our human weaknesses are obvious to Satan. His modus operandi is to tempt us with our fleshly desires.

  • I initially used the word "influence." While I think you have provided a good answer (+1), it nonetheless does appear that Satan can often significantly influence/manipulate our thoughts on occasion. Think of a group of people gathering against what they perceive to be an injustice. Soon, what began as a peaceful assembly turns ugly and much violence ensues. The originally peaceful crowd has grown demonic as windows are smashed, fires ignited. Few people would individually do this. I believe it is their collective, cognitive manipulation by Satan that has resulted in this outcome.
    – Xeno
    May 17, 2021 at 19:46
  • What's the difference between manipulating our thoughts and influencing our thoughts?
    – user35953
    May 17, 2021 at 20:01
  • Well, Tony, that's a good question since part of your response reads: "The word 'manipulate' may be too strong. Satan can influence our thinking to affect our volition." :-) That is, I don't know either.
    – Xeno
    May 17, 2021 at 20:12
  • To me, "manipulate" is more precise than "influence". I don't think Satan's power has that kind of accuracy.
    – user35953
    May 17, 2021 at 20:37

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