Oh, don’t get me wrong. He’s working tirelessly to upset the apple cart. In fact his work and his glory is to destroy the agency and eternal life of man. He wants to deceive and blind men and lead them captive at this will. (See Moses 4:3-4) That’s quite a mission he’s embarked upon and he’s fighting the Ultimate Force in the universe. You think he would give up on what appears to be mission impossible-fighting against God, the very being who created him. It defies all logic. His time is limited and his bounds are set. The outcome is already known-the winner of the war is God. But still he fights on. A conundrum, to be sure.
So, what is his impetus? Why does he keep going? Because there is a wild card in the landscape of eternity called AGENCY-God granted it, man owns it and Satan wants it. And as long it’s around, he’ll be fighting for men’s souls. He laid out a plan in pre-mortality that would not require a Savior-it would just require that everyone be righteous. Sounds pretty good, so far. But that plan was conceived in error, held up by pride and dominated by force. God wants us back; but not at gunpoint. He wants us to choose Him. And by giving us a choice, He inherently gave us the option of NOT choosing Him. This is where Satan stands in the gap to wield his influence and his power. And it is power to be sure! Joseph Smith described him this way: “I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me…a being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being” (See JSH 1:15-16) If you didn’t know better, you would think that he was describing God or Jesus Christ (except that he uses the word ‘seized’ and God would never ‘seize’ us…that violates our agency!).
At any rate, Satan is quite angry that his plan wasn’t chosen and his glory wasn’t delivered; so he has determined to make as many people as miserable as possible. But not just miserable. He understands the Plan of Salvation well enough to know that he can stunt our Godly progress for eternity and that’s a big deal.
He’s not allowed to progress to this earth and gain a body, but he is allowed to be in our midst. He’s been observing mortals for millennia now and he knows what makes a natural man tick. (Insert Screwtape Letters.) Imagine his delight when he discovered addiction. It’s sooooooo easy! All it takes is a time or two with an addictive substance or image and he doesn’t have to do anything else. The natural man takes over and does all of the work for him. It’s Lazy Satan’s way of binding us down. It’s a way of getting us to be perpetually fighting against ourselves. Think about it: addiction is an amplified war inside our own body-it’s the natural man V. the spiritual man on double steroids. What a delight for Satan-we are fighting that very gift that God gave us (our own body) with an ever-diminishing ability to be an agent (another gift). Yes, addiction diminishes agency. I wouldn’t say that it completely overrides it, that would be a no-hope doctrine. There is always a choice. But we all know that until most addicts hit rock bottom, they choose their addiction…it’s that powerful. It drives them to do things they would never do in their right mind, it puts barriers in their most precious relationships, they often lose hard-fought for careers, and sometimes they end up in jail. It’s the perfect firestorm to mess up the best of the best. It uses our own bodies against us. It limits our agency. It puts us almost perpetually in Satan’s grasp. It creates an unbalanced relationship between our body and our spirit. It dulls our sensitivities. It has the potential to absolutely ruin us. The longer he can keep us in addiction the deeper the wounds.
And addiction attacks at the very root of why we are here in mortality: get a body, use our agency wisely. It’s a double whammy for him. I hate that lazy guy.