The Christian and Prosperity. We are back in that series again. We have spent nine sermons so far just laying the groundwork with foundational principles. And we have seen that these principles apply not just to money, but apply to every area of life. Our theme verse for this series is 3 John 2 – Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in [what does it say?] all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. You simply cannot say that the Bible is for soul prosperity but not for other kinds of prosperity. He wanted Gaius to prosper in all areas just as much as he prospered in his soul. In fact, there is a connection between the two. We cannot spiritualize away the Bible. Heaven is an important part of prosperity. Our souls are an important part of prosperity. We are fools if we fail to lay up treasures in heaven. But Scripture indicates that being a steward of tangible property in the present is also important. Some time you look up the 526 times that the word “bless” “blessed” or “blessing” occurs and if you think that the physical is unspiritual and substandard, you will be surprised by what you see. You will see that God delights in blessings His people with finances, fertility, good crops, and other tangible things. But we have already seen that He doesn’t do it irrespective of our behavior. He does it to those who diligently apply His blueprints. Sometimes unbelievers are blessed more economically because they obey God’s economic laws more. And so to correct some of the imbalances that are seen in the Christian church, I have been preaching this series. And so far we have been primarily looking at foundational principles.
From here on in I want to start looking at practical issues that can make the difference between prosperity and perpetual state of barely getting by. Why is it that some Christians, no matter how much money they get, find that they are just barely getting by? I know one family that earns as much as $600,000 a year and is barely able to pay bills. And I know exactly why. As their income goes up, so do their purchase and bills. Rather than investing in assets, they invest in liabilities. An essential ingredient to prosperity is developing strong sales resistance. And we are going to see that today’s lesson applies to sin just as much as it applies to finances. It applies to not getting suckered by the promises of a politician just as much as it applies to not getting suckered by Satan’s temptations.
But I want to start by admitting that I have been suckered in the past big time. I remember shortly after Kathy and I were married we got a letter in the mail telling us that we had won a large TV (and it was a nice one), a 35 millimeter camera and a poster. All we had to do was come down and claim it after listening to a brief description of some lakeside property. Now I’m not dumb. I knew they were going to try to talk me into buying a time share. I had seen my relatives get pressured into buying things they didn’t want, and that was not going to happen to me. And I had seen many similar ads in the past. But the way that this notification was written, it looked like it was a sure deal to getting these things if we could only make it through the sales speech. Let me ask: have any of you guys get suckered on something like that? Well, most of you are smarter than me. I had to learn the hard way. I was suspicious, and I read and reread the letter, and I didn’t see how they could get out of giving me a TV plus those other prizes. Nowadays I don’t even bother opening the junk mail. It goes in the garbage. But anyway, I had Kathy look at it. Knowing Kathy she probably was more suspicious than I was. But it looked like a sure thing, and that I would only have to sit through a talk to get it. So off we went – to one of the most horrible ordeals we have ever experienced. We sat through hour after hour of badgering, manipulating and making us feel guilty. Now we could have gotten up and walked out, but it was the lure of that TV that kept us there. And we did stick to our guns, and finally after several hours we said we were going to leave and wanted our TV and we are not buying the property. He showed us a semicolon or some kind of a grammatical technicality that if you really tried could be implied to mean that you only got the TV if you bought the property. So the TV was out, but at least we got our camera. You know what it was? A plastic camera, with a plastic lens, plastic shutter. I’m sure it did take pictures. At least the shutter did seem to move when you clicked the camera. But it was so cheap that it probably wore out after one roll. Man did we have our tail between our legs. We have never since been fooled into taking a free gift.
But we have still been fooled in other ways. Advertising is the big one. Advertising and sales speeches can make things look far better than they really are. Advertising also raises desires that weren’t there before. Someone once said, “Advertising has the intriguing ability to make you think that you need something that you didn’t even know existed a few moments before.” And I want to focus all of my attention today on how to develop a strong sales resistance so that when you buy you are buying for the right reasons. If you can do that, you will see that these same principles will keep you from other sins. It will make you wise in analyzing the promises of crafty politicians or the promises of healing that are constantly confronting the sick by alternative medicine – some legitimate, some not. Actually, I think we need to be somewhat skeptical of the claims of established medicine as well. I don’t know how many of you read the paper on the article chemo therapy. But we need to learn sales resistance across the scope of life.
But anyway, let’s look at Satan’s sales job on Eve. His alluring advertising was incredibly powerful. If you feel badly about having been suckered in the past, think of Eve. She had no sinful nature that could be appealed to. She lived in a perfect environment, had abundance of food and everything else that she needed. She had a perfect husband, had no fear of poverty, sickness or old age that advertisers so frequently prey upon – and which Satan uses to his advantage as well. She had no tensions, pressures, in-laws, neighbors, or relatives. Her role as wife was a fulfilling one. She was the crowning achievement of God’s creative power. Now think of this - if Eve (with her perfect nature and environment) could become discontent with what she had through alluring advertising, its no wonder that we fall victim over and over again as well.
I’m going to look at typical tactics of sales people and advertisers and take it straight from this text. And though worded differently, a dozen of these tactics I found in an old book by Bill Gothard and I have changed some and added a number of principles to them. But let’s start with verse 1.
1. Tying the product to gorgeous or successful people, things or places
What is one of the most common features that you find in all advertising today? They tie the product to a gorgeous woman, an attractive man, or a successful person or associate it with beautiful things or places. Usually it’s a beautiful model or somebody famous or somebody whose wisdom you trust. I saw this so cleverly used with a health product when I was on vacation in Minnesota. And you’ve seen it yourself. Now what does a car have to do with a beautiful woman lying on it? Nothing. What does a woman who is seductively gazing into your eyes have to do with the computer she is draped around. Nothing. She probably doesn’t know how to us it. But the advertiser wants to associate the admiration or the lust that some people will have for her with the car or with the computer. They will arouse a feeling or desire, tie it closely with the object and over time try to get your body to associate the feeling with the new object. What does a talk show host or a football player or a politician have to do with a multivitamin? Nothing other than the large payment they get. But in the minds of people if such successful people are associated with the product, it can’t be all bad. So they use association.
Well Satan did that by tying His allurement to the wisest, most beautiful creature of that time. Verse 1 says, “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field” (v. 1). Ezekiel 28:12-13 says, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden.” So wisdom and beauty are tied to the snake oil that Satan is about to sell them. And it has been an effective strategy for selling sin, cars, shoes or anything else ever since. They don’t sell Nike’s based on their quality, even though there may be quality there. They sell them based on which athletes wear them. If you examine ads you will see that commonly role models, beauty models or successful people are emphasized sometimes almost to the non-mention of specific qualities of the shoe.
So how do you develop sales resistance to this first tactic? And by the way, if you come up with other ideas on sales resistance for each of these points, let me know. These are the only ones I could think of in the limited time I had this week. But first of all, learn to look beyond the packaging and to ask questions: Here’s some sample questions: 1) What are they hiding? If you have to bring in something utterly unrelated to the product to sell it, perhaps they are hiding something. Not necessarily, but perhaps. Here’s another question: 2) What does a smiling woman in a bikini have to do with this car? If it is nothing, then you need to separate the glitzy packaging from the product and examine the product in its own right. Now most people are too lazy to do research. They tend to go by gut feelings, and gut feelings can be manipulated by this tactic amazingly well. Especially lust can be a free floating emotion that makes you think you desire the car, when the car or computer without the woman would not be enticing at all. 3) Or you could ask, “What does this football player know about the nutrition in wheaties, and is that all he eats for breakfast?” Probably not. So ask questions.
Secondly, do research. Eve could easily have checked out the credentials of Satan.
Third, learn to depend more on logical analysis than you do on the eye gate. The eye can be deceived so easily. Back in the year that we bought Kathy’s station wagon, I remember an incredibly loaded car that we took to Koberg’s diagnostic center to be checked out because it looked too good to be true. And it was. Koberg’s told us not to touch it – that it was about to die. And indeed, it did die as it was driven out of the bay. And it had to be towed away. Our eyes would never have told us that. Advertisers are experts at using the eye gate to overwhelm and will push for a decision just based on what the eye sees. Recognize this weakness and compensate if you are to develop sales resistance.
2. Appealing directly to those who are under authority
Well, let’s look at the second tactic. Genesis 3, verse 1, second sentence: And he said to the woman… Why did he talk to Eve rather than to Adam? Because Satan has a habit of bypassing authority structures. And you will see advertisers do exactly the same thing. You will see advertising aimed at children to make their own decisions. You will see candy at the child’s eye level in the check out counters. Why? They want the child to make the decision for himself. You will see salesmen for various products looking for times when the husband is not home because the product is aimed at where she would be weak, and he might put the kabosh on the sale. Now on certain products, telemarketers only want to talk to the husband, and we will look at that in point 3. But here the issue is authority. The family is a covenantal unit and the family needs to know what the parameters of stewardship are for purchases. Especially on big items, the head of the home needs to be involved in the decision making by way of consultation. Now under point 3, I will be saying that husbands need to consult more with their wives and with other counsel as well when in doubt. But this is an authority issue. The buck must stop with the man even when he delegates authority. Spending money affects the whole family and it needs to be discussed. Now there is a place for spontaneous treats to be purchased for self and for others, but don’t be doing so if the authority figure would nix the deal if he were present. Don’t buy the candy at the check out counter if it simply means you are trying to avoid a scene. That means there are more fundamental issues with your children that still need to be worked out. But recogize that the advertizers on TV shows that you aren’t monitoring love to bypass authority and to undermine authority.
3. Hurrying the spending decision so that the spouse does not undermine it
But moving on to point 3, have you noticed that with certain products, telemarketers will hang up if the wife answers. They think that they have an easy sell with the husband and don’t want the wife messing up the deal. Whether husband or wife, don’t be pressured into hasty decisions. Satan pressured Eve to make a decision before discussing it with her husband. She discussed it only after the decision was made and it was too late. Get counsel. Talk with those affected. And this point applies to husbands as much as to wives.
4. Putting the competition into the worst possible light and/or highlighting the negative in the competition while ignoring the weakness of your own product
The fourth tactic used by advertisers and salesmen is to put the competition into the worst possible light. They will highlight the negative points of the competition while ignoring the weaknesses of their own product. And of course Satan is a master at selling sin. That’s what he does here. Verse 1 concludes with His statement, Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? I want you to notice how he puts God’s positive statement into a negative form, and while technically accurate, implies something totally opposite to what God said. It is misleading. Look at chapter 2:16 for what God really said. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat…” and verse 17 says basically, except this one. You may freely eat of every tree except for one. Satan changes that to “You may not eat of every tree of the garden.” God’s statement is rephrased so that, while technically true, it makes it look like God has held back practically everything. Right? Sometimes we do that when we argue with each other or when a child presents his side of the argument to the parent. This is human nature across the board. You see it in politicians, in medical doctors who are criticizing chiropractors and you will see it in chiropractors who are criticizing traditional medicine. It is putting the competition into the worst possible light and/ or highlighting the negative in the competition while ignoring the weaknesses of your own product.
How do you develop sales resistance to this tactic? First, don’t take the salesman’s word for it on what the competition believes. Ask the competition. Do some research. Expect a somewhat slanted viewpoint. Keeping your finger here, turn to Proverbs 18:17. This verse indicates that the fourth thing that needs to be in place is a healthy skepticism concerning your own ability to understand all the issues.
By the way, I read an outstanding article by Andrew Sandlin that shows how many problems the KISS principle leads to. You know what KISS stands for: Keep It Simple Stupid. And he gives example after example illustrating how if you keep it simple you will run the risks of government tyranny, needless mistakes, reductionism, etc. Instead, he said life is complex and we constantly need to be getting more input, counsel from others, etc. He used price controls as one example. He titled his essay, KICK: Keep It Complex Knucklehead. I’ll have to get a copy of it for those of you interested. But we are constantly making mistakes of judgment and need to be willing to correct those and get input from others. Why? Life is complex. This is especially true of buying products. If there is anyone in this room who has never made a mistake in buying something because you didn’t have enough information, I’d like to talk to you. But anyway, Proverbs 18:17 says, The first to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him. He didn’t say that he seems right to an idiot. He seems right to anyone. Why does the first one to plead his cause seem right? Because unless you are already informed on the conflict, the product you are purchasing, or political principles involved, what this guy tells you are the only facts you have. I’m reading a book by a millionaire who got there the hard way – the biblical way, and though one never has all the information you might like for making a decision, you need to be informed in the fields you are seeking to prosper in. If a salesman from a multilevel organization tells you that within a year you ought to be pulling in a six figure salary and be financially independent within six years, ask him for a copy of his tax returns. Ask him to list the names of twenty people in his line that are making that. You’ve probably all seen books that show you how to get out of the rat race with your own business. They don’t tell you that by far the majority of business owners have a far worse rat race. They focus on the worst possible aspect of the competition. Anyway, I’m rambling. Let’s move on to the fifth tactic of advertizers, and we will have to move quickly on some of these.
5. Creating doubts about established wisdom and/or pitting the wisdom of children against the wisdom of the older generation. “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” (v. 1) Develop a healthy skepticism, but be willing to research. While not ignoring progress, value the heritage of previous generations.
The fifth tactic appeals to those with a rebellious spirit who reject moral standards. It is the tactic of creating doubts about established wisdom and/or pitting the wisdom of children or subordinates (in this case Eve being a subordinate to God) against the wisdom of the older generation. I haven’t watched TV for years, but one of the ads that used to be on for cigarettes was, “You’ve come a long way baby.” I think it was Salem cigarettes marketed to women. The subtle message was that the previous generation of women was either oppressed by social more’s (where it wasn’t respectable for a woman to smoke) or was dumb. This generation of women can choose for themselves. And of course, you can think of tons of ads that appeal to children in this way. They create doubts about established wisdom and pit this generation against the previous one. Well, we like to think we are smarter don’t we? Obviously our covenantal view and our views on authority ought to be a good help in resisting this type of sales allurement.
6. Engaging you in conversation and consideration of the claims of their sales – especially by asking leading questions (vv. 2-3). Don’t feel like you need to be polite with those who have interrupted your schedule to sell you something. Get to the point – don’t feel like you need to answer their questions. Offer questions of your own.
Sixth, sales people aren’t usually content with a yes or a no. Right? They are trained in how to be provocative or how to ask a question so that it will lead to conversation. The more they can engage you in conversation, the easier it will be to eventually find a weak point. The first mistake that Eve makes is conversing with Satan and trying to convince Satan that he is wrong. He already knows he is wrong. She doesn’t need to tell him that. He has deliberately baited her into conversation. And verses 2-3 show her willingness to engage him in conversation. It also, by the way, shows one critical weak point in her conversation that he later exploits.
But let’s stick with this issue. Why does Satan use this tactic? Why is this such an effective sales technique? Like Eve, I think there is a tendency for Christians to not want to be rude. We’ve been trained in being nice. But it is that very niceness which can be a weakness that unscrupulous salesmen will exploit. Twenty minutes later (or one hour later in your living room), you may not have bought anything, but you feel badly that you were manipulated into allowing him into your home and giving his sales speech. You didn’t ask him to come. You didn’t respond to any ad. And you wonder “How in the world did he got into my house?”
How do you develop sales resistance? Well, first I would say: Don’t feel like you need to be polite with those who have persist in being rude. And you might respond, “But he wasn’t rude. He was the nicest guy. He seemed so polite, so cheerful, so complimentary of me, so considerate.” His smiles and mannerisms and his compliments may have given the illusion of politeness, but rudeness was stamped all over him if the following is true: If he has rudely interrupted your schedule unasked and has rudely imposed himself on you to buy something you don’t want, and if he has ignored your polite “No, I’m not interested.” Furthermore, don’t look at the smoothness of the speech and the kindness of the mannerism, but look at the content. Why is it that some people can manipulate you into giving private information, or asking your opinions on things even your friends wouldn’t ask, and you come away thinking he is so polite? How is it that you trust him with information when you don’t know him? His politeness is a part of the manipulation and you should feel no compulsion to engage in the conversation on his terms. If you must talk with the salesman, make sure that you ask the questions and that you control the conversation. He’s there to serve you if you want to buy. If he wants to sell his product, he needs to answer your questions. If he subtly follows up with his own questions to take control of the conversation again you need to learn to say that my opinion on that is irrelevant. I have more questions that I need to ask you. But don’t even engage a salesman in conversation if you have no desire to buy. Tell him politely but firmly that you aren’t interested. And if he persists, walk on or hang up. I know that can be hard to do because we want people to like us; our pride is at stake.
And with Satan, you don’t need to be polite. Don’t flirt in conversation with temptations in your head. Don’t give those temptations the time of day. Treat Satan as rude for even tempting you and reject it out of hand. But you need to learn to control the conversation with sales people. He is there to serve you, not to pump you with questions.
7. Rejecting or minimizing warnings (tobacco industry, harlot of Proverbs). They also beautify or mask problems: “You will not surely die” (v. 4). Teach yourself and others the evils of such decisions before they are exposed to them
The seventh tactic is to either reject warnings (or in the case of the tobacco industry as one example) to minimize the warnings in tiny print that you can hardly read. There’s a furniture store in town here that you really need to read the several pages of fine print if you are going to buy anything from them on time – something you shouldn’t do anyway. Do not buy one year same as cash. They’ll make sure that one of those months you’ll get a late bill and then you will owe high, high interest for all of the months right from the beginning.
Satan says in verse 4, You will not surely die. His tactic is to reject the idea of problems with his product. If you read the tactics used by the story of the harlot in Proverbs 7:6-27 (another marvelous passage on the tactics of advertising), you will see that this harlot uses this tactic (and several of the other twenty we will be looking at) – she uses it masterfully. In fact, why don’t you turn there with me. What are some of the dangers and problems you might experience with going to a harlot that she rejects or minimizes? Disease would be one, and she minimizes this by claiming to be married rather than a harlot. You can see that in verse 19. Secondly, by claiming that this customer is the only one and that she has been looking for him since she has a crush on him (v. 15). Thirdly, by describing the sweet smelling luxury of her chamber, etc. in verses 16-17. She associates it with cleanness, beauty and sweet smells sort of like the outdoor ads of cigarette companies. And so the first danger that she minimizes is disease.
Another danger of fornicating with this woman is that if she truly is married that her husband might kill him in a rage. Now she has used the claim of a husband as a plus against the danger of disease, but she knows that if he is worried about that, it could kill the sale. So she assures him that her husband went on a long journey with a provisions for a long stay and won’t be back till an appointed day (verses 19-20). If you study the passage I think you will see that she really doesn’t have a husband. She is just suiting her advertising to what works with this man.
What’s another danger that is minimized? Well, there is danger of God’s judgments, but in verse 14 she paints herself as being a religious woman who loves God and tries to salve his religious conscience with God-talk of forgiveness and of God’s understanding for our weaknesses. She says, I have peace offerings with me [what are peace offerings for? God’s forgiveness. She is emphasizing God’s understanding that we are sinners and we can’t help ourselves. So she says, “I have peace offerings with me”]; today I have paid my vows. So I came out to meet you, diligently to seek your face… etc. She is painting herself as a good girl who happens to have this weakness for him.
Sometimes advertisers aren’t allowed by law to outright deny the warnings, so they will give a misleading message that seems totally out of odds with the small print at the bottom that is so confusing they are counting on your not reading it. And that’s true even on radio. You’ve probably all heard the extravagant claims of advertisers on radio that are followed by an incredibly quick recitation of the legal warnings they are required to give. Maybe its an allergy medicine that has side affects. I mean its almost humorous to hear them read it so fast. That’s the small print if you will.
How do you develop sales resistance to people who either reject the warnings or minimize them? Well, one thing you can do with your children ahead of time is to teach them how the advertisers do it. Clip out an ad or two that is misleading and use that ad as a teaching lesson just like the father in Proverbs 7 showed his son the prostitute they could see outside the window to teach his son what liars they are.
Teach skepticism. Skepticism is Biblical. God commands it. Proverbs 14:15 says, The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps. Consider. Don’t buy based on emotions.
8. Making fantastic claims. “You will not surely die” (v. 4). Demand documentation in writing. Demand a written contract. Make it a maxim that if its too good to be true, it probably is.
Let’s look at one last tactic. We won’t get through all twenty today. The eighth tactic is to make fantastic claims that are appealing to the flesh. Satan says in verse 4 – You will not surely die. That is such a bald faced contradiction of what the creator said that you might think it would be dangerous for Satan to do this. But he knows that if you make a claim boldly and confidently enough, someone will believe it. The harlot of Proverbs 7 may say that she loves you. The politician may say that he will solve the economy or the education mess or make a dozen other impossible claims. The MLM advocate may promise you wealth. If you have lived very long you have heard many fantastic claims that you wish were true. THAT’S THE CATCH. You wish it were true. Maybe it’s an alternative medicine advertizement claiming to have a cure for something the doctor told you could not be cured. Desperate people with cancer or other problems will try something based simply on a fantastic claim without doing the research. Or, they will buy into pseudo research without following the footnotes to see how authenthic this really is. I have relatives who have been suckered with the same line dozens and dozens of times. It doesn’t matter how many times they have been suckered, they are ready for another one. I don’t know how many times I have been approached by one relative on why his newest multi level marketing organization will make me rich. It doesn’t matter that the last twenty have made him poorer. He is always lured on by the fantastic claims that he wishes were true. And just because I am skeptical does not mean that I’m saying that all these claims are wrong. I’m not saying that. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I’m just saying that it takes a whole lot more than a claim backed up with several of these other tactics to make me bite.
So how do you develop sales resistance to such claims? The Proverb we just read commands us not to believe every word. It calls for healthy skepticism. That doesn’t mean we should be closed minded. We should be open to new ideas or we can be suckered by the claims of traditional medicine or traditional economics. But have a healthy skepticism. This will simply make you cautious. I recommend that you demand documentation in writing for these claims. The week before last when we were in Minnesota, I turned on the TV one day and watched part of a half hour paid advertizement on this fantastic herbal formula that was guaranteed to make you focused, have better memory, take away the cloudiness in your thinking and make you mentally sharp and quick thinking. In fact, they used many of the advertising tactics we have looked at today and will look at next week with tremendous effect. The fact that it was not a TV documentary, but was a paid ad was in small print and only appeared once for a brief time. So you got the impression that this was an investigative show. They had role models such as one Congressman, a couple of MD’s and other supposed experts whom I had never heard of who said that this was the most amazing change they have ever experienced in their life. How many here would like to improve your thinking acuity, your memory, your focus and sharpness with a pill? Wouldn’t that be great? They even promised a month’s worth for free just for the trying. I called them up out of curiosity knowing that I would be preaching this today and asked them for my free month’s sample. They said that if I purchased it on my credit card and didn’t like it after a month, they would refund my money and I would have that month’s trial for free. Hmmm. I asked them if they had a week’s sample. No. Could I pay for a week’s worth? No. But if I bought three months worth, I would get a huge discount off of the monthly rate. I told them that since the product was so good, perhaps they could give the discounted price for one month’s worth. No deal. I asked if they would send any printed documentation that described the product. No, we don’t send anything through the mail. Was there anything on the Web or elsewhere where I could check their claims. No, that is why we have had this documentary show. It gives more material than you would get on paper. Yeah right. They really wanted to sell me three months worth based on testimonial and no documentation and were surprised when I told them I wasn’t interested. What in the world could make me so foolish to turn down an offer that would be free if I didn’t like it he wondered. Anyway, you get the point.
The three principles I recommend to make you sale’s resistant to fantastic claims flow out of Proverbs 14:15. First, demand documentation in writing. Second, demand a written contract. Third, remember the maxim that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.
I don’t have time to go through all twenty tactics this morning, but at least we have made a dent. Some of the upcoming tactics seen in verses 5-6 get to the heart of some of the subtlest and most powerful tactics used by Satan, salesmen or politicians. But I want to end by exhorting you to realize that these principles are not just economic issues. We need to develop sales resistance to the claims of science. How many times have I heard people say that it is a proven fact of science. What in the world does that mean?!!! The so-called scientifically proven facts have changed numerous times in the past 100 years which means they weren’t facts. They were claims based on the limited research of the day. In the past twenty years proven scientific facts on nutrition, disease, and medicine have been disproven with new claims that have changed two or three times in some areas. We must learn to be more skeptical of anything that is not grounded in the Word of God. Naïve Christians latch onto Christian politicians (just because they are Christians or just because they make conservative claims) without any “wait and see.” We need to be careful and develop sales resistance.
Let’s go back through each of the tactics we have looked at so far and quickly analyze what they presuppose. What does tactic number 1 presuppose? I think two things. First, it presupposes people will be influenced to decision making more by emotion than by reason. Do not underestimate the power of emotions on decision making. Even music can affect us that way. Desire or emotion or feeling is the criterion for decision making. Second that many people have a readiness to follow anything said by a sports figure, popular singer, politician or successful man. They want other people to do the thinking for them and to make decisions for them. Since life is too complex, people will follow an authority figure. It may be an authority in rebellion like a rock star, or it may be a respectable authority, or an intellectual. But when man is your final authority and you fear or respect the opinions of man more than the opinions and favor of God, you are susceptible to this allurement, whether it is sin or a product.
Tactic number 2 presupposes that independent thinking and acting feels good.
Tactic 3 presupposes that people succumb to the temptation more readily when there is no accountability, no opportunity for discussion or objective input and no time to think things over. This is true whether it is sin or cents.
Tactic 4 assumes that people ordinarily want to believe what appeals to their flesh and are open to self-deception if it satisfies an immediate urge of the flesh. People want to believe what appeals to them and they want to be deceived if the alternative is not attractive.
Tactic 5 assumes that people have a tendency to individualism.
Tactic 6 assumes that you want to be liked and want to be well thought of. This ego problem opens the door to a salesperson to keep you from showing him the door.
Tactic 7 assumes that men and women are used to suppressing warnings all the time when it suits their pleasures. Thus there is little danger of putting into small print the warnings, so long as the allurements of the product have been amply expanded upon. It’s the sinfulness of the human heart; or in the case of Eve, the naivete of the human heart that has not had experience.
Tactic 8 assumes not only Barnam’s maxim that there is a sucker in every crowd, but that most people will believe a fantastic claim no matter how unbelievable it is if the alternatives to believing don’t satisfy desires.
The Gospel of Genesis 3:17-21 reverses that process by crucifying man’s self-orientation and turning man in dependence upon God. God does not tell Adam in verse 17 that He loves Adam and has a wonderful plan for his life. Instead, he tells the truth about what a rotten scoundrel Adam is and that Adam’s environment will be cursed and all he does will be cursed unless he repents of his sin and turns to Jesus Christ the coming seed of the woman in faith. Truth is more important to God than feelings. It’s not a sales job. What God gives is an unpopular reality check. And when the church uses the gimmicks of sales marketing to promote the Gospel, it is no wonder that Christians continue to be as gullible as the world – in fact, sometimes more so. I urge you as you listen to more of these tactics next week to commit them to the Lord and seek His grace and wisdom to be wise stewards of all that He has entrusted to you. Amen.
The idea for 12 of the tactics came from Bill Gothard, Men’s Manual, vol. II, pp 106-109. I have expanded on these and given ideas on how to resist. ↩