One of the most perplexing questions 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. I believe Satan is an intelligent creature who seeks to upset God’s plan at every turn. I believe Satan was created good and turned bad. I believe he is on a leash – often to my bewilderment, a very long leash.

Okay, now that that is out of the way. . .

One of the most perplexing things I struggle with concerning Satan is this: Does he actually think he can win?

I don’t know. Maybe he is so deluded 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 would be should I attempt a coup to 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 he thinks he is going to win, though I am not totally dismmissive of the idea 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 to be the center of the universe. How does he do this? By attempting to silence the worship of God.

With people, I am sure we might say that he simply wants to keep us from believing in God. I think this is illustrated well with the Parable of the Soils, where the first soil falls on the path and Satan immediately takes it, so that no belief is ever birthed (Matt. 13:19). He does not want people to believe God. That is what he does with you and me. He seeks to steal our belief in whatever way he can.

With Christians, however, I don’t believe this is possible. Nothing can snatch us out of the Father’s hand (John 10:29). Surely he knows this. However, I don’t think he has a clue as to who the true believers are and who are representatives of the second and third seed in the Parable of the Soils. You know, the seeds that gain root, but don’t last? He does not know whether your belief is from God, or if it is something that can wither and die.

Either way, his goal is simple: the destruction of belief in God.

However, I don’t think we should conceive of this as outright atheism. This is especially the case when it comes to believers. All he has to do is handicap our faith so that it becomes ineffective or counterproductive. As you know, there are not many outright atheists in the world. There never have been. I doubt there ever will be. But this does not mean that campaigns for atheism are ineffective in the mind of Satan or that he is not cheering them on. Why? Because he knows that these campaigns, while not creating many atheists, are shaking foundations nonetheless.

While Satan’s aspirations may not be to create atheists, he does want people to believe less deeply and less accurately today than they did yesterday.

Remember the first confrontation humanity had with this creature in Eden? Remember what he said to Eve? He did not say, “God is not real. Don’t believe in him. You have never seen him. He does not really exist. We can explain existence through natural processes.” No, he just twisted God’s word ever so slightly. He affirmed God’s existence, but began to chop down God’s integrity. “God has not said . . . he just does not want you to be like him, knowing good and evil.” The result was not that Eve became and atheist or an outright unbeliever, she just doubted God’s truthfulness.

Whatever doubts he can bring about in your life, he will use. Maybe it is God’s existence. Maybe you are not on the verge of becoming an atheist, but you are believing less today than yesterday. From Satan’s standpoint, this is why he clocks in every day. Maybe you are doubting  God’s integrity, goodness, love, or plan. “Has God really said…?” is Satan’s message to you as he attempts to have you place God on whatever judgment stand he can. He hates God and he hates you.

It is not insignificant that when Christ taught the disciples to pray, he said about deliverance from Satan, “Deliver us from the Evil One” (Matt. 6: 13). I count six things Christ tells us to pray for. Six. That is it. Not one thousand. Not three hundred. Not even sixty-six. But six. Of these six, our battle against Satan is the subject of one of them. I think this is pretty significant.

There is a reason why the Bible begins by telling us about our confrontation with this odd creature. There is a reason why the end tells of his ultimate destruction. And there is a reason why the short Lord’s prayer tells us to recognize and pray about our battle with him. God has, for some reason, allowed him to roam. He is on a leash, but has been given permission. He wants to test your faith today. His goal right now is to make you believe less than you did before.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    19 replies to "What is Satan’s Goal?"

    • Helmut

      As alwyas I ike your post, it is simple and truth, Satan likes to deal with the church, placing diferent and diverse beliefs, making his leaders change their mainds and accept new interpretentions, being ecumenical, as you can see in the latest possition of Warren and Schüller, with this new ChrIslam possition that they suggest to adopt.
      It is easy for him to move our hearts to belief that everyone should go to heavens, and devaluing the sacrifice of our Lord. He wins with every soul that search salvation through works and ways, instead of the time of grace in which we are living and accepting His sacrife as ours¡¡¡

    • JohnB

      What is the point of testing our faith if God gives us faith as a gift? There is nothing to test. Is God testing whether or not the faith He gave us is actually working? How can it not? If we say as Christians that we have the power to exercise faith then can’t we say that the fruit we produce is produced by our own power and we desserve credit for all we do and therefore we impune the soveriengnty of God? But we know there is a rewards based system in heaven so we will have opportunity to boast, yet we will know better than to boast right?

      • Billy

        Faith is something that is developed or more importantly cultivated over a period of time in someone or some thing by means of truth along with trust. It is “acquired” as opposed to a thing that is given as a gift . For example, can I really say I have faith in God, if he gave it to me?

        • Wiams Williams


    • Dave

      “All he has to do is handicap our faith so that it becomes ineffective or counterproductive.”

      For a long time I pondered Calvinism more than the gospel. I dissected it more. I enjoyed it more. I valued it more. That’s how Satan handicapped my faith for about 2 years.

    • Ed Kratz

      Dave. Isn’t that interesting. I have seen this so often when it some to over commitment to non essentials.

    • Susan

      I think that Satan tries to keep the message of the gospel from being clearly, fully spoken in such a way that one might come into relationship with Jesus. He would prefer that others share his demise in the end.

    • Budster

      I’ve always been taught that Satan’s ultimate goal was to get as many people as possible to follow him to hell. And based on that same teaching, he was successful about 75% of the time. My struggle…how can God “lose” 75% of everyone who ever lived to Satan and hell, and still be considered the big winner in the end?

    • Samuel

      Apart from the text in Ezekiel, which I don’t think speaks about the “creation” of Satan apart from a spiritualized interpretation, it seems to be a mystery regarding his origin and exactly how he came to oppose God. Do you have any insight into this?

    • Rob Workman

      His goal is to be what he is “by nature”; “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies”. (Jn 8:44) Just as we, in our natural estate, cannot help but sin, it is the same with Him but in a “super” way. His goals are like our goals before the new birth only multiplied 10 zillion times!

    • […] What is Satan’s Goal? […]

    • patriciazell

      Christ put Satan’s goals and his (Christ’s) own purpose into words in John 10:10. Satan (the thief) comes to steal, kill, and destroy while Christ came so that we might have the life that is more abundant than the loss, death, and destruction that Satan brings. Satan wants to completely destroy God’s creation.

      God does not use nor manipulate Satan because He has nothing to do with evil at all. In fact, Satan lied in the Garden of Eden when he said that God knew good and evil. God is good and has never experienced evil at all. Satan set Adam and Eve up–they were innocent and did not understand what the enemy was doing. Satan was the criminal and Adam and Eve the victims.

      Through his deception, Satan was able to insert a dividing wall between God and the human race. On the cross, when Christ became sin and died, he obliterated that wall. Now we can cleave to God and find the life that is more abundant that anything Satan can throw at us.

    • rayner markley

      Budster has a point. Satan is winning the numbers game. I guess, somehow, in God’s economy less is more. Furthermore, Satan and evil and hell, although conquered, will never be destroyed. His kingdom, such as it is, is eternal.

    • rayner markley

      In other words, Satan is getting just what he wants (he’s not trying to get back into heaven)and in his view he’s way ahead.

    • Oun Kwon

      Satan, whoever he is (is it ‘whatever it is’?), is a purpose-driven spirit (yeah, another PDL guru), which keeps churning evil out of man by enticing to put man’s will over and against God’s will.

      He/it follows a law of attraction (the same law according to Rhonda Byrne of ‘The Secret’,8599,1573136,00.html) to draw to him those gone astray from the Gospel, full of prosperity-mongers, possibility-monger, purpose-mongers, potion-panacea-mongers (i.e. ‘love wins all), and power-mongers. The physics relevant to him is that of a black-hole.

    • April Carter

      The bible clearly states that Satan is a fallen angel who led a mutiny of other angels against God to overthrow him. In any case, God is so powerful that though Satan is his enemy, Satan is not his archenemy. Even Satan is forced to obey God. God could care less about numbers. He is all about faith. How does God win though most of the world goes to hell? Because God cares for faith, while Satan cares about numbers. Think of it this way: Satan says, ” I’ll win because I’ll get them all!”. God says,” You won’t get them all, so you automatically lose”. Satan says, “Well, at least I get most of them!”. God says,” And I get the faithful and will reward them and give them inheritance of my kingdom. And since I’m all powerful, I won before I created the world.” That is why God wins. Numbers prove nothing. Faith does. Even we sometimes share that way of thinking (depending on personalities and beliefs). One may say, “at least my mom believes I can do it though others think I will…

    • Marc Durocher

      I don’t know if you still get notifications on this post, but if you do, check out something I recently wrote on the subject.

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