The psychological world has long held that dreams originate within the mind of the individual who is dreaming. While this could be considered partially true, the pscho-analytical use of this philosophy (such as that espoused by Freud) is not. Tertullian of Carthage (160-225 AD) was perhaps the first theologian to espouse the idea that the source of our dreams can be traced to three distinct categories: a) those demonically inspired, b) those the soul creates or c) those emanating from God. Over the subsequent years, the proposition that these three categories establish the source of virtually all dreams has proven to be quite accurate.
At first glance it would seem that the average Christian would have no difficulty in distinguishing dreams that originate from God from those which originate from the demonic realm. Night terrors have long been recognized as a source of fear and anxiety, thus somewhat clearly establishing them as coming from the adversary of the Believer. However, it should be noted that just because a dream causes fear does not mean that it is demonic in its nature. While it is certainly true that the vast majority of dreams that cause fear and certainly those that sow the seeds of terror are not from God, there are instances where a dream from God could be initially perceived as causing fear. Dreams from God that are misunderstood or even those clear enough to understand, but calling for drastic change or re-direction can produce a sense of anxiety often mistaken for fear. In addition, issues that create anxiety in an individual's waking life can often produce a dream filled with fear that originates from within his or her own soul and not necessarily from the enemy.
The most accurate way to distinguish which source a dream originates from would be to determine the presence or absence of vivid color in that dream. As discussed in the article on Colors, dreams that are filled with color are from God, while those devoid of color or containing only muted hues of color are from the demonic realm or our own soul. That is, of course, if the dreamer accurately recalls the presence of color in the dream itself. This topic will be addressed more fully in an upcoming Dream Lesson on the subject of "light".
Dreams from God will most often be associated with healing, encouragement, freedom and hope. Dreams from the enemy will most frequently be associated with fear, warfare, and deceit. Dreams that come from our own soul will most frequently relate to the issues of our immediate circumstances in a fashion that offers no hope or solution. Such soul dreams can be the result of our own desires, chemicals ingested from food and drugs (both legal and illegal) that have been consumed and the natural processes of our physical body (such as fever and infection).