What is Satan's desire for man

February 27, 2023

As a restless Spirit who denied the Love of God because he chose to be like God, the Devil never tires of seeking to destroy a soul from within. Since he did not create man, his only recourse is to harm our physical, spiritual, and mental faculties. His insatiable desire to mock God through the ruining of our souls by any means necessary should, if we are aware, place us on guard for his empty works and promises.

In the following excerpt, we see how far Screwtape is willing to guide Wormwood to destroy a soul:

For the first time in your career, you have tasted that wine which is the reward of all our labors — the anguish and bewilderment of a human soul — and it has gone to your head. I can hardly blame you. I do not expect old heads on young shoulders. Did the patient respond to some of your terror-pictures of the future? Did your work in some good self-pitying glances at the happy past? - some [KU1] final thrill in the pit of his stomach, were there? You played your violin prettily, did you? Well, well, it’s all very natural. But do remember, Wormwood, that duty comes before pleasure. If any present self-indulgence on your part leads to the ultimate loss of the prey, you will be left eternally thirsting for the draught of which you are now so much enjoying your first sip.

 If, on the other hand, by steady and cool-headed application here and now you can finally secure his soul, he will then be yours forever — a brim-full living chalice of despair and horror and astonishment which you can raise to your lips as often as you please. So, do not allow any temporary excitement to distract you from the real business of undermining faith and preventing the formation of virtues. Give me without fail in your next letter a full account of the patient’s reactions to the war, so that we can consider whether you are likely to do more good by making him an extreme patriot or an ardent pacifist. There are all sorts of possibilities. In the meantime, I must warn you not to hope too much from war.[1]

The dialogue between Screwtape and Wormwood reveals Satan’s desire to drown the patient in despair and thus distance him from having an active relationship with God. As expressed in Screwtape Letters, a specific tactic the Devil employs to draw the patient inwardly toward himself-pride and not surrender himself to God’s mercy and love-loss of humility. The irony of this dynamic is that the virtue of humility is something the Devil fears because when adequately ordered, the act of humility freely assents to the will of God.

Satan’s Desire                         

Why is sitting so crucial for Satan to draw us away from God? Simply put, the further we distance ourselves from God, the more excellent the opportunity to fall away from His grace and mercy. What better way for Satan to come in and offer alternatives to God? Primary to this desire is an open disregard for the Divine and establishing a sense of entitlement. Satan had a process in mind for fostering a sense of entitlement when he asked Eve; did God say you shall not eat of any tree of the garden? Satan offers our parents a proposition between satisfying their desires versus their desire for God, a love of self over a love for God.    

A second and most devastating part of Satan’s desire for man; is the act of self above all other things. Even though we may try to convince ourselves that this is not so, God becomes an afterthought when our focus is strictly on ourselves and our desires over the love of God. The Devil engages in our incessant need to be happy instead of faithful, ambivalent instead of prudent, and prideful instead of humble.

Humility, the antidote to Satan’s desire for man

Christ reminds us in the Gospel of Luke that he who humbles himself will be exalted.[2] Humility serves as an action of self-abandonment. This means our will and intellect are directed toward love for Christ and His Church. It reflects a willingness to die to self to gain eternal life. This virtue recognizes God as the author of everything good and reveals that we are nothing without God.

Humility leads us to have a poverty of heart. This means our preference is Christ before anything else. St. Luke provides an excellent description of poverty of heart about the cost of discipleship where Jesus asks the Apostles to renounce everything for Him (Lk 14:33).

All Christ’s faithful are to direct their affections rightly lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty.[3]

St. Gregory of Nyssa reminds us that there is a relationship between humility and our beatitudinal call. When we examine the beatitudes closely, they represent the heart of Jesus’ preaching. The Beatitudes fulfill the law of the commandments by placing the rule of the faith into action. The Catechism of the Catholic Church[4] strengthens this point even further:

The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity. They express the vocation of the faithful associated with the glory of his Passion and Resurrection; they shed light on the actions and attitudes characteristic of the Christian life; they are the paradoxical promises that sustain hope amid tribulations; they proclaim the blessings and rewards already secured, however dimly, for Christ’s disciples; they have begun in the lives of the Virgin Mary and all the saints.[5]

By nature of our baptism, we are called to combat our own selfish desires through humility and abandonment of God’s providence. Our actions should not contradict the Gospel but be in unison with our Lord’s desires for us as His children. St. Paul leaves us with a good reminder on how to keep ourselves from Satan’s desire through the virtue of humility echoing the mind of Christ:

Pray constantly... always, and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father

1Thess 5:17 


[1] Lewis, C.S., Screwtape Letters, (San Francisco, Harper Collins, 2001), p.21-22

[2] Lk 18:9-14

[3] CCC 2345

[4] CCC 1717


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