Well, there you have it. Sin never shows itself to be sin in the beginning. If it did so, we would naturally be repulsed and repelled. If sin were to come to a young man or woman and say, “I’m wicked and evil. I’m going to destroy your life. Follow me,” surely no one would accept its invitation.
You see, Satan’s spell is broken when he shows himself, when he openly declares his desire that everybody fall down and worship him. However, that is not how he comes at first. He first comes, not wearing his normal attire, but appearing as an angel of light. He doesn’t display himself as he truly is, the opponent and enemy of Christ, but as Christ’s supporter and friend.
What makes sin so attractive? Simply that it doesn’t at first appear to be sin. The appeal of vice is that it appears in the beginning to be virtue. It dresses up in another’s clothes. It assumes a freedom – counterfeit freedom – that only belongs to the Master’s Spirit. It calls to the young and immature to cast their cares and concerns aside as a counterfeit to those who truly cast their cares on the Lord. It promotes the possibility of self-abandonment which is a counterfeit to the true surrender of self in the life of the Christian. It commands him to shake of the shackles of all authority and come to the freedom of such open places as a counterfeit to such true holiness that says, “I have died to the law so that I might live unto God.”
Be very wary of the seeming similarities of the kingdom of Herod and the kingdom of Christ. There has never been, nor can their ever be, an alliance between the two. Their likeness lies only on the surface. The similarities are only seen on their exterior. License is not real freedom; licentiousness is not liberty; recklessness is not victory over self-concern; giving and living for yourself is not manliness. Go, search diligently for the Christ-child, and when you have found Him, you will find that Herod could never have really worshipped Him. Their dissimilarity will be seen more and more as they stand beside each other. Herod asks what seems at the beginning as a simple and trifling tribute, but it ends with you becoming his slave. Christ will accept nothing less that your heart, your life, your strength, your mind, your all, but in the end it is He and only He who can set you free. It is not Herod, but such a star of unselfish hope that will lead you to the place where “you will find the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”