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How To Know If A Dream Is From The Enemy

How To Know If A Dream Is From The Enemy

Have you ever had an intensely vivid dream that left you wondering where it came from and what it meant? Dreams can seem like strange movies playing in our minds as we sleep. But what if some dreams are more than just random subconscious happenings?

Many spiritual traditions teach that some dreams can act as messages – either from God, from our own souls, or even from demonic spirits. Discerning the true source of a dream is key to understanding if we should take guidance from it or discard it.

So how can we tell if a troubling dream is just a nightmare, a message from our own inner self, or a deceptive vision from the enemy? Let’s explore…

Understanding Dream Sources

Experts estimate the average person has 4-6 dreams per night. But studies show only 5% of people frequently remember their dreams. When we do recall them, they can seem intensely real and vividly symbolic.

Dreams and visions are referenced over 200 times in the Bible. Scriptures like Joel 2 and Acts 2 describe prophecy and divine dreams as key in this age. Yet we must balance this with wisdom – not every dream is from God.

In fact, early church leader Tertullian taught dreams come from 3 sources: God, our own souls, or the enemy. Analyzing key features can help discern which is truly behind a given dream.

Dreams from God

You’ve probably heard stories of people receiving a dream from God that guided them to a major life decision. Dreams from the Lord often have a supernatural quality and are grounded in scriptural symbols. They generally leave the dreamer with an overwhelming sense of love, comfort, encouragement or urgency to act.

Biblical figures like Joseph, Daniel, Paul, and Cornelius received clear dreams from God that revealed His plans, warned of danger, or conveyed a timely message.

Dreams from Our Soul

Our own mind, will, emotions and desires can also influence dreams. Most dream analysts believe these “soul” dreams draw from our inner subconscious – revealing secret wishes, surfacing anxiety, working through life stressors, or reflecting our personality and memories.

While not directly sinister, dreams flowing from our own soul apart from God’s inspiration can misguide if we place too much stock in them. Discerning their source as internal rather than divine wisdom is important.

Dreams from the Enemy

Just as God speaks through dreams, spiritual enemies can also send deceptive visions. Satan himself masquerades as an “angel of light”, so it’s no surprise his forces use counterfeit dreams full of fear, confusion, and false guidance.

Many cultures recognize demonically-influenced nightmares. Have you had a dream so terrifying that the horror lingered even after you awoke? While not all bad dreams come from the enemy, Biblical figures like Job certainly had their share of demonic dream harassment.

Characteristics of Dreams from God

How can you discern if you’ve received one of those rare visionary dreams from the Lord? Check for these features when analyzing your nighttime reverie:

Symbolic Nature

God speaks through symbol-filled dreams and visions that include people, objects, colors, numbers and events that convey deeper meaning. Think Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream or Daniel explaining Nebuchadnezzar’s cryptic visions.

Ask God to show you themes and interpretations connected to symbols that appear in dreams, just like Joseph asked Pharaoh’s magicians and wise men to tell him the meaning of his strange dreams in Genesis 41.

Encouraging Messages

While divine dreams may have an urgent or corrective tone at times, they won’t heap condemnation. God convicts gently and offers hope. Dreams from Him will align with Scriptures emphasizing redemption through Christ.

If you wake from a dream feeling discouraged, accused, judged or depleted, tread cautiously. God is referred to as the Comforter who wants us to know we are loved and accepted.

Visions of Future/Prophetic Dreams

Unlike most everyday dreams that process subconscious data, prophetic dreams from God offer prediction, revelation and vision. They showcase events not yet come to pass – warning, revealing, directing for His divine purposes.

In Genesis God spoke to Abimelech about Abraham and Sarah; warning him not to touch her. When Pontius Pilate’s wife had a disturbing dream about Jesus prior to his crucifixion, she warned her husband not to harm Him, acknowledging her vision came through divine origins beyond psychological ones.

Feeling of Peace/Comforting Presence of Holy Spirit

Stories throughout church history describe a profound sense of peace, comfort and reassuring presence of the Holy Spirit during and upon waking from divinely inspired dreams.

While we can feel God’s presence during everyday life, it tends to be magnified with supernatural dreams. Pay attention to goosebumps, euphoric sensations, clarity of mind, and warmth in your heart when analyzing dream sources.

Aligns with Scripture

God cannot contradict Himself. If a dream’s message or guidance runs counter to the Bible, view it with suspicion. Scripture references Satan prowling like a roaring lion – seeking whom he may devour through counterfeit signs, wonders and visions.

Paul commends the Bereans for not just taking his teaching at face value – but verifying his words against established scripture for legitimacy. We should exercise similar discernment with dream analysis.

Characteristics of Dreams from the Enemy

In contrast to God-given dreams offering support, biblical alignment and warm sensations – deceptive dreams from demonic spirits often have very different attributes:


Think back to dreams leaving you shaken or disturbed. Dreams from holy sources will convict yet comfort – not haunt and torment your mind. Scripture says God’s perfect love casts out all fear. Pay attention when uneasy feelings linger.

Demonic Visitations

Some dreams actually involve the appearance of a demonic entity – what paranormal researchers refer to as the “Old Hag Syndrome”, witnessed by victims being physically held down and choked during dream-like hallucinations.

Many perfect Christians have suffered these demonic visitations, leaving them understandably rattled. But take heart, no weapon formed against us can prosper when we appropriate Christ’s power and protection.

Dark Dreams

The Bible uses contrasting color themes when describing God and the enemy. Divine references contain light, glory, radiance. Demonic forces lurk in darkness – think Joel’s army of locusts blotting out the sun.

Likewise, authentic dreams from the Lord typically play out colorfully and vividly, while counterfeit ones seem darker, blurry or ominous. The vibe matters when analyzing what you witnessed.

Lingering Fear or Evil Presence After Waking

While most ordinary dreams fade quickly upon waking, demonically influenced ones can leave a mental and spiritual residue – continuing to bother your thoughts during the day. The horrific imagery, confusion or evil sensation won’t leave you alone.

Biblical figures like Job experienced persistent dream attacks from Satan to steal his joy, health and family. Seek help through prayer and fasting if these nightmares won’t stop.

Confusion or Contradiction of Scripture

As referenced earlier, deceptive dreams will manipulate scripture or introduce bogus principles contrary to the Bible – similar to how Satan twisted truth when tempting Jesus in the wilderness.

Claiming special authority, secret insights or new doctrine are common ploys used to lure Christians out of alignment under false pretenses. The Holy Spirit instead bears witness to truths already established in the Bible when inspiring visions.

Accusatory Tone

God is merciful, offering forgiveness and redemption – even for serious sins like murder and adultery as demonstrated with David and Paul. While the Holy Spirit may correct through dreams, the counsel feels hopeful.

Alternatively, demonic dreams hammer self-condemnation, aggressively attacking your identity in Christ. Like Satan, they accuse and torment, offering no path to restoration. Beware manipulation and coercion.

Common Dream Symbols and Interpretation

As discussed regarding divine dreams, symbolism plays a heavy role. Object, colors, people and numbers can all represent deeper spiritual concepts.

Biblical Joseph told Pharaoh the 7 good cows in his dream symbolized 7 years of plenty, while the 7 sickly cows represented 7 years of famine. God used imagery familiar to the Egyptian ruler to convey an important message.

Since dreams utilize our memory banks, standard dream dictionaries provide clues to common themes:

  • Death often represents transformation or end of a season
  • Water signals emotions, cleansing or provision
  • Houses refer to one’s life structure and foundation

While personal intuition matters, run your impressions by trusted counselors to prevent deception. Two heads can be better than one for unlocking interpretation.

Discerning the Source of Your Dream

After exploring characteristics of divine dreams versus counterfeits, let’s discuss additional ways to discern your dream’s origin:

Assess for Familiarity

Dreams from your own memory banks and subconscious often contain familiar storylines, themes and desires. Do you recognize people from your inner social circle or past? Are old wounds or current stressors apparent? Our souls can leverage dreams to work through emotional baggage.

Ask, “Does this dream’s content feel familiar based on my past or thought patterns?”

Examine Fruit of the Dream

Judging a tree by its fruit holds true when examining dreams too. What happens when you embrace a dream’s message or direction? Do you experience virtue, welfare and justice like fruits of God’s Spirit – or harm, division and dysfunction suggesting bad roots?

Give trial runs responding to benign dream guidance to better determine whether they construct or deconstruct your life before following highly impactful directives.

Look for Open Doors the Enemy Could Be Accessing

Even sincere Christians can experience demonically influenced dreams if the enemy gains legal access through open doors of opportunity. Have you watched scary movies? Practiced psychic readings? Held unforgiveness? Entertained sexual sin or occult entertainment? Renounce access points.

Like Peter, ask God to continue revealing and closing gateways of vulnerability the enemy could utilize to harass your thoughts or assert oppression.

Could A Dream About A Shooting Be A Sign of an Enemy’s Influence?

Dream about shooting meaning indicates the possibility of feeling threatened or targeted by someone. It may symbolize external influences affecting your life. It’s essential to be mindful of your surroundings and consider if there are any enemies or negative forces impacting your well-being.

Protection against Deceptive Dreams

Whether or not you’ve suffered disturbing dreams personally, praying preventative prayers for your own protection and loved ones demonstrates wisdom.

Scheduling regular media fasts allows the Holy Spirit to realign your mind free from worldly input. Seeking counseling to address emotional issues or trauma can also reduce subconscious vulnerability – along with practicing virtues like forgiveness, integrity and generosity that guard our spirits.

Finally, meditating on scriptures related to wisdom, discernment, spiritual warfare and sound sleep bolsters your defense against nighttime harassment. Sweet dreams and peaceful slumber can indeed be just a prayer away!


As you awaken from vivid dreams, remember the potential sources. God may be speaking encouragement through divine symbolism, your own psyche could be creatively processing experiences, or demonic spirits might seek to distort truth and breed anxiety.

Analyzing a dream’s characteristics, fruit and your current life context facilitates accurate discernment. Don’t hesitate to enlist prayer partners to help test revelation. With practice hearing His voice, resting in His presence becomes easier as confirmed through night visions and daytime living.