What is Satan’s Goal?
by C Michael Patton
One of the most perplexing questions that I struggle with concerning Satan is this: . . .
Wait . . . first let me get something out on the table. I believe in Satan. No, not as an impersonal force of evil. No, not as the sin which exists within all of us. And certainly not as God’s equal on the ying/yang opposite side of good. But I believe that Satan is an intelligent creature who seeks to upset God’s plan at every turn. I believe that Satan was created good and turned bad. I believe that he is on a leash, but, often to my bewilderment, a very long leash.
Okay, now that that is out of the way. . .
One of the most perplexing things that I struggle with concerning Satan is this: Does he actually think he can win?
I don’t know. Maybe he is so deluded that he thinks the impossible to be possible (ala Origen’s view). Certainly he does not have insider intel that pushes his odds of success up a bit. His odds of success are perpetually set at 0. His odds of success, relatively speaking, are about the same as mine were I to attempt to enact a coup and make all of God’s plans backfire. However, God does give him freedom and uses him in ways that are very strange to me.
I mean, he has read Revelation hasn’t he? You know the end? The fire and brimstone stuff? (Rev. 20:10) Even (at least some of) the demons seem to recognize their eventual defeat (Luke 8:31). Therefore, I don’t suppose that he thinks he is going to win. (Though I am not totally dismmissive of the fact that his mind is so messed up that he may have hope.)
But knowing that Satan cannot really win, I ask a second question: What is his goal?
Come on. Isn’t he a Calvinist? Doesn’t he know he cannot thwart the purpose of God?
I am not sure we can speak of his goal in the singular unless we go very general and say that his goal is just to dethrone God. But that can be understood in many ways. Certainly he is not attempting to take his place as Creator God, for Satan, like us, cannot create anything! Certainly he is not trying to take God’s place as the Unmoved Mover, for Satan is time-bound and, well . . . moving.
It seems this simple: like us, Satan is infected with sin and acts irrationally, desiring to elevate himself and be the center of the universe. How does he do this? By attempting to silence the worship of God…
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