Suppose you are the devil. Go with me on this. You have been at war with the Most High God for a long time. Despite some mysterious promises made to a few who still serve Him you reign as god of this world. The overwhelming majority of its inhabitants remain firmly in your grip, cut off from their Creator, helpless in the hands of your forces who use and abuse them in gratifying their godless appetites. All is going according to plan.
Suddenly . . . a new development: God’s own Son comes to earth. Yet he does not come as a mighty conqueror but as a tiny helpless baby. What a stroke of luck! What an opportunity to win it all and end the war with heaven!
But it’s not that easy. Herod is stirred up to kill the young king as a potential threat but somehow he escapes. He grows up in relative obscurity but then is baptized by that rabble-rouser, John the Baptist. He goes to the desert to fast and pray and you seize the opportunity to dangle every temptation you can think of before him — but he stands firm.
He escapes every plot until — finally — over three years later you bring the jealous religious leaders and a compromised disciple together in a plot to get rid of him once and for all. You vent all of your fury against him, moving men to kill him in the most humiliating, painful way known among men. He dies and his tomb is sealed. Celebration time!
But three days later celebration turns to panic as Jesus rises, conquering death itself. Even worse, he is now alive with a life that cannot die. After a few weeks in which he appears to his followers he ascends to heaven itself — and there is nothing you can do to stop it. It starts to sink in: the war has been lost and you are on the losing side. A way out — provided by God Himself — has been opened so that your victims may escape and live in His kingdom forever — a kingdom from which you are forever shut out.
What do you do? Well, for sure you want to hide the good news from as many as possible but that doesn’t work for everyone. Deception! That’s what you are best at. After all, you invented it! And so you begin to devise every imaginable counterfeit designed to sidetrack people, causing them to miss out while believing that everything is OK. You become a master promoter of “Christian” religion. Anything is OK as long as people miss Christ and the sure salvation he provides.
Now imagine you are someone in today’s world, bewildered by the array of religion claiming to represent Christ. It can’t all be right. How can you tell? What does deception look like?