We are in a war. There is an enemy out there who wants to destroy you. That's why we are commanded in 1 Peter 5:8 to "be of sober spirit" and to "be on the alert." "Your adversary the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour." What is our enemy's goal? What does he want from us? Knowing his goal will help us fight against him and enable us to accomplish God's goal for our lives. Our enemy's very title has inside of it his goal: "Devil," from two Greek words, "Dia," which means through or between and "Bollos," which means to throw. So the Devil's main purpose is to divide, to separate, to throw himself between two things and tear them apart. What does he want to separate? What does he want from us?
Separate Us From God
This is the enemy's greatest goal. He desires to separate us from God. The way he seeks to accomplish this is to get us to sin so that our souls would be eternally separated from God (Ezekiel
18:20). He wants us to reject God's authority, just as he did, so that we might share in his fate.
Separate Us From Each Other
Satan loves division. He loves to bring about disunity. That's why Paul pleaded with the Philippians to be "of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose." (Phil. 2:2) Satan loves to divide and conquer. He is so crafty in the way he does this. He even uses Scripture to bring about his purposes, such as he did with Jesus by quoting to Him Psalm 91:11-12 (Matthew 4:6). He will use anything to get believers to fight, to quarrel, to argue, and to divide.
Separate Us From Useful Service
Satan is angry at the redemption of any human soul. He hates seeing grace win the day. And since he can do nothing to snatch believers out of the hand of God (John 10:28-29) and since he can ultimately do nothing to separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:38-39), then he will seek to separate us from usefulness in the service of our King. If he cannot keep us from Heaven, and he cannot, at least he can keep us from usefulness on earth. As he tempts us with sin, or to follow after lesser pursuits of this life, he distracts us from our ultimate goal of shining forth God's glory throughout the whole earth.
Separate Us From Satisfaction
What Satan would really like to do is prove to you that he can meet your deepest needs more successfully than God. He promises to do for us what God cannot. Think again of the temptations of Christ. The Father's plan for Jesus was glorification AFTER the cross. Satan offered Jesus a way to receive a form of that glorification BEFORE and APART FROM the cross, by Jesus bowing down and worshiping him. Satan does this all the time. He lies about God and brings into question His good promises to us and good purposes for us, just as he did in Genesis 3 in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, "Has God really said that?...you won't really die...God just doesn't want you to be like Him because He's a big mean God."
We have an enemy who hates us and wants to separate us from the good purposes that God has designed for us. But what Satan fears most is Christians who have found God to be delightful. Satan has nothing that can compete with that! His chief (and truly only) method is to make sin look good to us, better in fact than living to obey and glorify God. He does not want us to fear disobedience. Temptations are subtle because if what was presented to us were inherently evil, it would be much easier to resist. He wants us to develop confidence in our ability to control sin and its consequences, and to find our satisfaction in them. So how do we fight? We fight by seeking superior satisfaction in Christ! Instead of being separated from God, we are reconciled by Jesus and find our greatest satisfaction in being a part of God's family, cherishing our relationship with our Abba. Instead of being separated from our brothers and sisters, we are unified around the Gospel, not allowing pride or divisiveness to win but combating them with humility, grace, and love. Instead of being separated from useful service by being entangled with sin, we "cleanse ourselves from these things so that we will be vessels for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work." (2 Tim.
2:21) And instead of finding our satisfaction in sin, we pursue Christ and treasure Him above anything this world has to offer.
If we fight against our enemy this way, we will win. He will not know what to do. The only thing left for him to do is to kill us, to take us out, since it is clear he will never sway our satisfaction, steal our joy, turn us into an agent of division, and separate us from God. And yet, even if he were to physically kill us, he would be making our day since we would finally be in the presence of the Lord, and for a believer, death is gain (Phil.
1:21)! The beautiful reality is that God and His redeemed win, even when it looks like we are losing. And Satan, even when it seems like he might be winning, always loses.