ANSWER: The “deluding influence,” as the revised NWT has now phrased it, is intended to bring into judgment those who “did not accept the love of the truth in order that they might be saved. That is why God lets a deluding influence mislead them so that they may come to believe the lie, in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness.”
The time of judgment has not arrived yet, so the “deluding influence” is relatively benign at the present moment. So, it doesn’t really matter if one has been deluded into believing Christ has been invisibly present for the past 100 years or not. What matters is if we are endeavoring to do the will of God.
However, once the actual parousia begins then Jehovah’s Witnesses will be faced with a critical decision, whether to follow the Watchtower into destruction, or embrace the new reality that Christ’s return will then have initiated. Given the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses exhibit such blind allegiance to the Watchtower organization now, it will be a test of faith like no other.
It is worth noting that in connection with the deluding influence Satan is permitted to perform all manner of powerful works and deceptive portents and signs. And while I have pointed to this sort of satanic influence as the driving force behind the 1914 delusion, Jesus indicated that Satan will also empower false christs and false prophets to perform all sorts of powerful deceptive signs during the critical phase of the conclusion, so convincing that it could even deceive the chosen ones if God would allow it. In all probability the Watchtower will be the voice of the false messiah – the antichrist then.
But simply not believing the delusion now does not mean much. Obviously the billions of people who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses have not been deluded in such a manner, along with the growing numbers of ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses who reject the Watchtower’s teachings; but that does not put them in a better place before God.
Whether we are currently under the deluding influence or not, it will require all the faith we can muster to overcome the coming disaster and confusion. But if we are not living the truth now how can we expect to do so in the future during great hardships? That is why Jesus posed the somewhat unsettling question: “Nevertheless, when the Son of man arrives, will he really find this faith on the earth?”