In my book, Purpose of Prayer, I have come up with six wants, or goals, which Satan has been working toward since his fall. Here is that excerpt.
1. He wants to be God. Satan (or Lucifer) was God’s highest-ranking angel, the most beautiful being God ever created. According to Ezekiel 28:12, he had the “seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfection in beauty.” God Himself was the only one more glorious than he was. Then one day, being overcome by pride in his own wisdom and beauty, he decided in his heart that he wanted more. What God had entrusted him with was not enough. He said to himself, as Dwight Pentecost put it, “One as wise as I ought to be God; one as beautiful as I ought to be worshiped and not to worship another.”
In his desire to be God, Satan set his will against the will of God. In Isaiah 14:13 we have recorded for us Satan’s five-fold goal, or his five “I wills.”
I will ascend into heaven. Here Satan was saying, in effect, that he aimed to move in, kick God off His throne, and take His place.
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. Pentecost explains this to mean that he desired to “…exercise absolute independent authority over the angelic creation…”
I will sit on the mount of the congregation, on the farthest sides of the north. This, according to Pentecost, means that he was aiming to “bring the earth and all the universe under his authority.”
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. Here Pentecost says that he was aiming to take for himself a greater glory than belongs to God. According to Pentecost, Satan was actually suggesting that there was a deficiency in the glory of God and that he would complete what was lacking.
I will be like the Most High. In this last I will, Satan was saying that it was his goal to be “responsible to no one but himself.” Here, it is obvious that Satan doesn’t really want to be “like God” in His total character, that is, including His love and mercy, etc. No no. He just wants to be like God in that he doesn’t want to have any limitations or restrictions. He wants to have total freedom and power, but he definitely doesn’t want to have any of God’s good qualities.
So we see in these five I wills that Satan, from the start, set his goals very high. But I can’t believe, at this point in time, that he actually thinks he will achieve any of them, though for some reason he still tries.
2. He wants to destroy God. In order to take the throne away from God he has correctly figured that God must be eliminated. So throughout history he has tried to do that through the person of Christ. In the Old Testament period he tried to eliminate Him several times by destroying His line; he tried to kill Him through Herod when he came to earth as a baby (Matt. 2:16); then he tried to kill Him at the cross. But all his attempts have miserably failed.
3. He wants to hinder all the works of God. Even though he has become quite frustrated in his failed attempt to destroy his Creator, he still, with rage, tries to hinder all His works. Therefore, he has been vigorously working to “deceive the whole world” (Rev. 12:9, NASB)—to “lead the whole world astray” (Rev. 12:9, NIV). Hence, he tries to hinder our prayers, our growth in character, and all those who are in the process of coming to Christ.
He has hindered us by planting throughout the world his movie houses (theaters)—places to teach his doctrine. He also creeps into Schools and Universities, and even into our churches to preach his evil propaganda, by which he endeavors to corrupt every mind. With this goal Satan has done pretty well; nevertheless, there will always be a remnant that will remain pure and faithful to God.
4. He wants our willful obedience and worship. When Satan temps us he always tries to get us to question and doubt God in order to make himself a better option—so that we will choose to believe and obey him willfully. Hence, when Satan said to Eve, “has God said,” and “you surely shall not die!” he, in his deception, was trying to lower her view of God so that she would, of her own will, choose to follow him instead of God.
Likewise, when Satan tempts us he will not overwhelm us with what he wants us to do, but he will deceitfully plant sugarcoated seeds in our mind, and then will germinate those seeds over time so that affection for those things are produced—“…since what a man loves [says Pentecost] ultimately he will serve.”
5. He wants to exercise power over us and control us. In Acts 10:38 it says, “… [Jesus] went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil.” The Greek word here for oppressed, katadunasteuomenous, actually means to exercise harsh control over, to use one’s power against, thus to oppress. So, it seems that the devil enjoys the feeling of power and having power over someone—and he gets great pleasure in controlling us, in making us his subjects, and even in making and seeing us suffer.
6. He wants to destroy us and he wants us to suffer. He wants to tare us apart like a lion ruthlessly tares apart his prey without mercy (Hos. 13:8, Ps. 22:3, 1 Pt. 5:8). Since he wants both our worship and our destruction, he may be torn between the two options. I suppose he aims at whatever he thinks will give him the most pleasure; for he knows his time is short.