I love a great illusionist. Most people have heard of some of the greatest illusionists: David Copperfield, Harry Houdini, and Criss Angel (among many others). Despite the fun of their tricks, many stunts have gone terribly wrong that ended in death. Illusions can be fatal. The greatest illusionist of them all knows all too well how lethal illusions can be because that is his intent. This illusionist, however, will never have a Netflix series made about him or a billboard on Time Square. His name is Lucifer, although most know him as Satan.
Satan has been performing and perfecting his craft since the beginning of time. Unlike human magicians, Satan’s intention is not to entertain but to kill. His desire is not for the illusion to end in life, but in death.
“Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the Lord God had made. The serpent asked the woman, ‘Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’ The woman answered the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘you certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.’ The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.” (Gen. 3:1-6)
Human illusionists aim to divert your attention away from what is really happening for their illusion to be successful. In order for you to be entertained, they must ensure you look at the right thing and in the right direction. Satan works the same way, only with greater stakes. The evil one’s intent is to get you to look at the positive and attractive appearance as opposed to the dangerous reality of sin. If the human illusionist is successful, then you are entertained. If Satan is successful, you suffer death.
Did you notice the illusions Satan uses with Eve? The serpent gives the impression that Eve might have misunderstood God.
“Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” (Gen. 3:1)
His illusion was successful. He was able to divert Eve’s attention from a serpent talking to her to questioning if she heard and understood God correctly. Eve suddenly begins to look at the deception as opposed to truth. Step one is complete. Next, he moves to stage two.
“The woman answered the serpent: ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’” (Gen. 3:2-3)
Satan’s next step is to cause Eve to create her own reality. She is gullible and begins to misconstrue the truth. She adds to God’s command. The Lord told her they could not eat of the fruit, but never prohibited them from touching the fruit on the tree. The second step for Satan is successful. Now, he moves to the last step. The next success he must achieve is to get her to look completely away from God. He tells her to look at what she can receive if she eats the fruit as opposed to looking at what she loses.
“The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.” (Gen. 3:6)
She saw what the illusionist wanted her to see. She did not see the slight of hand focusing her on the fruit and away from God’s commands. She is now focused on the illusion rather than sin. Her eyes and her attention have been diverted away from the consequences of sin and onto the “rewards” of disobedience.
Satan does the same with us. The devil says to “look” at the unpaid bills and “see” that God has abandoned you. Satan says to “look” at your declining health and “see” that God does not care. The master illusionist says to “look” at your sins and addiction and “see” the chains that will never let you go.
“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
We know that magic tricks are intended to look like something they are not. Our situation is not always what it appears to be as well, but Satan desires for us to look at our circumstances rather than to look through the eyes of faith. God says to trust Him and follow Him. Faith is no illusion, magic trick, or slight of the hand. It is seeing things which are unseen. It is knowing the truth and allowing the truth to set us free. There is freedom in looking away from the smoke and mirrors of hell and “seeing” the mercy and grace of heaven.