This is the last sermon on developing strong sales resistance. I hope it has been a helpful series to you. I think I have learned a few things myself in my research. And I am going to try to wrap some of the lose ends up today. We have four more points. There is one more tactic that Satan used in this chapter, and then I want to look at three more weaknesses that are often exploited by sale’s people, the boss who is trying to get you to work more hours or the neighbor who is manipulating you, or Satan who is directly tempting you to sin. There are broad applications of this passage.
Let me summarize the tactics we have covered so far. Association (a very powerful advertising technique), direct appeal, isolation, baiting, challenging loyalties, negative advertising, exploiting vulnerability, downplaying danger, inflated claims, exploiting ambiguities, winning trust, a pretense at having insider information, perseverance in wearing you down, exposure to the product, feeding pride, redefining need, exploiting hungers, using the power of visual impact to manipulate (and we saw what a powerful advertising tactic that is), fulfillment appeal, misleadingly simple sound bites and inverting weakness into a strength like a credit card company using words like “freedom” for what God calls bondage. Actually, Rodney Swab gave me an excellent Dilbert example of this. Dilbert is supposed to be promoting his companies product, and a note is handed to him just before he gets to the podium that says his product is responsible for the deaths of so many people. And he’s sweating up there trying to think of how to make this sound positive. Finally he says, “The number of dissatisfied customers has been decreasing.” There’s always an angle. So that was inverted weaknesses. But let’s just finish off this series today and tie up the loose ends.
23. Quick Uninformed Deal Closure with Stranger: A stranger getting the person to make a commitment before leaving. This can take many forms: 30 day trial, Money Back Guarantee “and she took of its fruit and ate” (v. 6)
And this is the only one of the points that I couldn’t think of how to summarize in one or two words. Tactic 23 is that at some point the sales person needs to bring the deal to closure. Now there is nothing wrong with that. Any sales transaction is going to get to that point, but there are two features that make this different: 1) Eve doesn’t know Satan, has not gotten his credentials, and as far as she is concerned, he is a stranger. So she is dealing with a stranger and unknown credentials here. She is uninformed. 2) Second, Satan wants the deal closed quickly before she leaves – just trusting his “say-so” for it. For sure Satan does not say, “Eve. Think about it for a couple of days and then make your decision.” No, for sure he does not want her to thinking about it before she makes a decision. Why? Because his product is bad, and if she thinks about it, she isn’t going to buy it. If you have a good product, you don’t need to use some of the unethical sales tactics that Satan used in this chapter. He wants her to act while she is still deceived. And she does. Verse 6 says, and she took of its fruit and ate. It’s true that some of the best business deals are decision made on the fly. But they are not made with an unknown person, unknown product and simply blind trust. These business men have learned how to process many of the 22 points we have already looked at very, very quickly. It’s just a part of them. But Satan tries to get Eve to make a commitment to his product before she has time to think about it, discuss it with Adam, do research with God on Satan’s reputation, etc. We aren’t told what Satan’s tactic of closure was, but he achieves closure and gets her to eat right then and there, and immediately Adam and Eve regret their decision. I’ve experienced that. Immediately after hanging up the phone with a high pressure salesman you think, “Ohhhh! Why did I do that. I should have checked the story out first. But as is so often the case, it was too late to back out.
And you have probably at some point in your life been talked into buying something before you have had time to think about it objectively and later regretted it. If you haven’t, you are probably in the minority. And there are a lot of tactics used to get you to the point of making this quick, uniformed decision with a stranger. One tactic is to say, “We’d like to send this to you to try for one month with no obligation. What’s your address?” And when you say, “Well, I don’t really want any.” They say, “Well, that’s OK. If you don’t like it, you can send it back within 30 days. How could you go wrong? There’s no risk.” Anybody who has had this happen to them knows the hassle and expense of returning something. And most people never do because of the inconvenience. Another tactic is to promise something extra that is enticing that will be unavailable tommorrow – that’s just a special today. And of course, if you call them back to cancel the order, it’s a different person you talk to and they will put your request in the computer, but it doesn’t get processed nearly as quickly as the order does. Almost never does your order get cancelled.
But its not just high pressure sales that makes Christians give quick, uninformed closure with a stranger. I think most people in Omaha by now are aware of the House of David scam that was collecting money in buckets at 72nd and Dodge. You don’t have time to research. A lot of people think that if they are there, it must be approved by the city. You either throw the money in or drive on. And I know at least one pastor who was fooled by them. It’s very easy to get pressured into making a decision on the telephone or at the door step from somebody you don’t even know who is trying to sell you something that is so good you will lose it if you wait till tomorrow. Every day across America there are so called “experts” who will go through a neighborhood offering a free inspection of your chimney, appliances or roof, and who always manage to find something wrong that needs to be repaired. They claim to be a “nationally known company” and they have what sounds like a very, very low pressure approach down to a science. You can get this done later, or if you desire we have a crew that can get this done within the hour. And based on convenience, many people decide to go ahead with the repair when you don’t even know if they are crooks. It’s trust on first sight.
What are the antidotes on this point to keep you from unwise stewardship?
First, make it a general policy not to purchase something from a strange person representing an unknown company. And even if he claims to represent a well known company, get credentials.. You’ve probably read reports of people being robbed by someone dressed up as a police officer, or a utilities man who needs to check something. You need to check out the credentials. There are many Scriptures that apply. Let me read you one. If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, you are snared by the words of your mouth… (Prov 6:1-2) The first antidote is “don’t make monetary commitments to strangers.” Shaking hands is making a deal. Now if you can’t get out of the deal, you need to stick by it. But here’s the advice that Solomon gives if you’ve already made the bad decision. Do everything you can to get out of it. He spends three verses emphasizing how important it is to get out of that bad stewardship decision. Even if the postage is high and it is a hassle to send back that $100 item, do it. He says, deliver yourself… give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird from the hand of the fowler. So the first antidote is make it a general rule not to make purchases from strangers that you can’t check the background of.
Second, be suspicious of any deal on the telephone or in the store that requires you to decide right now. Don’t be pressured into by-passing all the other cautions that we have looked at. Don’t make closure till you can talk about it and evaluate. So the second antidote is to wait. Proverbs 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” Don’t be hasty in purchase decisions. Sleep on it.
The third antidote is to do research. Is this person really who he claims to be. The Bible says “The first one to plead his cause seems right, Until his neighbor comes and examines him. “ (Prov. 18:17). If the only information you have is the information that comes from him, you have no way of checking whether he is legit. You know, this time of year, almost every week I get another company that sends me what looks like a McCleod publishing bill that the church owes, but in tiny print says, “This is not a bill. This is a solicitation.” They imitate the stationary of the regular telephone directory with a walking fingers – and they can do it legally because those walking fingers never got registered as a trade mark. And so they look legit. And there are numerous people all across the states who dutifully send in their $229 or whatever it is, because they don’t have time to read the small print. It looks like their yellow pages advertising bill, and they send it in. So research. Galatians 6:4 says, let each one examine his own work. Know what you are doing. Proverbs 18:17 says not to judge based on first appearances.
The fourth thing to do is to think about what the negative fallout will be before you make your decision. There was huge fallout for Adam and Eve. They lost everything. I have friends that lost everything on a sure-deal investment strategy that turned out to be crooks who flew the country with their money. According to Deuteronomy 28 God has all kinds of creative ways in which He makes the fallout felt in the lives of poor stewards. It doesn’t pay to go around God’s laws. 1 Corinthians 10 also lists numerous judgments that came upon Israel and says, Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our instruction… So think about the negative fallout ahead of time.
Three Additional Weaknesses that are exploited:
24. Peer Pressure: “She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (v. 6; cf v. 12) Learn to fear God more than man.
Now there are three additional weaknesses that are only hinted at in this passage, but which I thought would be good to at least briefly deal with. The first is peer pressure. We are not told a lot in this passage about why Adam ate. Verse 6 says simply, “She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” Now we know from the New Testament that Eve was deceived and Adam wasn’t. Adam deliberately sinned. And there have been many guesses as to why that would be the case. He knew better. He was not taken in by some of the previous tactics. And though I won’t be dogmatic, it seems that peer pressure may have played a factor. It’s only hinted at in verse 12, but the only excuse that Adam can think up as to why he ate of the fruit was, The woman You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate. Eve blames Satan for deceiving her, but Adam simply says, “It was because she gave it to me.” And so it seems like peer pressure may have been a factor.
And down through history peer pressure has been a powerful motivation toward doing the wrong thing. Even a godly, fearless, bold man like Peter succumbed to peer pressure on an issue as important as justification. In Galatians 1 Paul said But when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and seperated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabus was carried away with their hypocrisy. Here were very strong Christian leaders who were turned aside from a godly stance that they believed in, by peer pressure. And if Peter and Barnabus succumbed, don't think that you will not fall victim to the powerful influence of peer pressure. Your peer may be your wife or your husband. It may be somebody at work, or simply a stranger sales person who manipulates your desire to please others. Many a sale has been made because of peer pressure. Many a compromise has been made in Congress because of the incredible peer pressure exerted on Congressman. It’s one thing to criticize from afar, but it is quite another thing to actually be there and to stand strong when everyone is against you. I feel for these Christians who are in Congress. I got a letter from an evangelical leader one time who was invited to a huge banquet by President Clinton. And he describes how coming to the meeting he felt very strong in standing up for principles and fully planned to speak Biblical truth when it was his turn to speak. But it was all different when he was in the room. The overwhelming change that happened as he chatted with nice people who held to totally different ideologies made him feel the peer pressure more and more to the point that he was tempted not to say a word. He didn’t want to displease these people. Adam perhaps didn’t want to displease Eve. We need to pray for our Christian Congressmen and Senators. It is hard to do the right thing when you are surrounded by people who believe fervently in doing the wrong thing.
There are three quick antidotes to this fear of man. First, a constant upward focus which you could describe as the fear of God. We need to realize that ultimately we are stewards of and accountable to God, not to man. Let me read you what Paul said in the midst of his discussion of all the people who had been succumbing to peer pressure. Do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)We can only have one Master, and if our focus is on pleasing men, we will end up displeasing God with our stewardship. If our focus is on pleasing God in our situation, then we will be willing to displease the salesperson, the wife, the neighbor and anyone else if good stewardship requires it. Basically those who fear God will not fear men; will not succumb to peer pressure. So the fear of God is an important antidote.
The second antidote is love. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” When you truly love your family, you will do what is best for them, even if it is an unpopular decision. Peer pressure is really a form of the fear of man. Perfect love casts out the fear of man.
The third antidote is accountability; spending time with people who are governed by the Scriptures. Don’t only be in situations where the pressure is toward bad. Scripture says, bad company corrupts good habits (1 Cor. 15:33). Proverbs 20:19 says, …do not associate with one who flatters with his lips. Proverbs 24:21 says, Do not associate with those given to change. Proverbs 22:24 says, Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go. Those are three kinds of people who could influence you with peer pressure. Don’t make friends with them. You need to have Christian friends who are willing to hold you accountable to the Word. When you find yourself laughing at dirty jokes, and then feeling bad about it, ask a Christian friend to pray for you and to have you report to him weekly on how you have done. Sometimes just that degree of accountability is all that it takes to make you think. For sure, evaluate very carefully who your children associate with by themselves. There should be a supervisor if you think that they are prone to peer pressure. I think I did far more bad things in Christian school than I did in public school because in the Christian school you were either in or out. There are many good reasons for homeschooling, but I think the verse bad company corrupts good habits is one.
25. Gullibility: “the serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (v. 13) Research (Prov. 14:15). Don’t be hurried into an immediate decision.
A 25th issue was gullibility. Eve admits to it in verse 13. She said, “the serpent deceived me, and I ate.” You might think, “I’m not gullible.” But I think everyone is gullible in areas that they haven’t studied. There was nothing wrong with Eve. She was a perfect creature. She just lacked experience and knowledge. And when you lack experience and knowledge, you need three things.
First, you need to go to the one who has all wisdom. That is the admonition of James. He says, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5) This may involve wisdom in letting your children do something. They have done a great sales job on you, and you are torn. Is it wise or isn’t it. Pray for wisdom and believe God will give it.
Second, don’t be hurried into a decision.
Third, get advice before you buy.
Prov. 11:14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Why is there danger in not having a multitude of counselors? Because our minds are finite. There is only so much material we can master. We can’t be experts on everything we buy, learn, vote for, etc. And so we need to learn from people who have studied those areas. And if we are too proud to ask for advice, we will have falls. I ask for lots of advice come election time. It says, Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
26. Failure to Admit Wrong (vv. 7,12-13)
The last weakness that I want to look at is the tendency for fallen humans to not admit to wrong. (And in verses 12-13 we are dealing with fallen humans.) In verse 7 they try to cover their sin with fig leaves and then with hiding. In verses 12-13 we see Adam blaming Eve, and Eve blaming Satan. There is a tendency to avoid blame and to avoid admitting wrong. This failure to admit wrong can be manifested in quite different ways. Some people will get angry and read the sales person the riot act. But that’s not taking responsibility. After all, you did make the purchase. Others will chalk it up to experience and learn from it. Others will be disappointed, but won’t admit it to their friends. Ken Cope gave me an excellent article on how Multi Level Marketing organizations by their very structure have eventual failure built into them. It’s a fascinating essay. And one of the points that the author made was the way the system works, it is hard for the person to admit failure.
This is a weakness that high pressure sales people bank on. They know that a certain percentage will fight them toothe and nail to try to cancel the purchase. But they count on enough people not admitting wrong to make them a profit. This is simply a matter of pride, and pride needs to be crucified wherever it is found.
In closing, I want you to notice that God does not allow their pride to get in the way of their redemption. He reverses the disaster with the following steps:
First, He pursues them and reaches out to them even while they are running and hiding. That’s grace. As we deal with people who are messed up financially because of their own unbiblical policies, we can’t take an attitude that we will only help those who are worthy. We need to imitate God and keep reaching out even when people don’t want to talk to us and are too ashamed to open up. Verse 8: And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. That is the most natural reaction of fallen man. It shouldn’t surprise us. But notice God pursuing them in verse 9. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” That’s grace reaching out.
Second, God is not satisfied with the surface answer given by Adam in verse 10. So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” There are a lot of people with their hangups about church and God and others. They can explain why they think God is judgmental and the church doesn’t care, and why they’re afraid and why they’re running. But those are surface answers. Look at God’s response in verse 11. And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat? The bottom line was that they had sinned. He brings conviction through His law. J Gresham Machen once said, “A new and more powerful proclamation of that law is perhaps the most pressing need of the hour; men would have little difficulty with the gospel if they had only learned the lesson of the law. So it always is; a low view of law always brings legalism in religion; a high view of law makes a man a seeker after grace. Pray God that the high view may again prevail.” (In What is Faith? Pp. 141-142.) We need to start thinking of our bad economic decisions as sin, not just mistakes.
But then comes God’s sovereign curse and His sovereign Gospel side by side. Everything was cursed in verses 14-19. But look at the Gospel in verse 15: And I will put enmity between you and the woman… That is a remarkable statement. And that is not a curse. That is a blessing to Adam and Eve. It was not Eve who decided to be Satan’s enemy. She had sided with Satan, entered into covenant with him and become his friend. If there was any enmity to be developed, God had to sovereignly do it by changing her heart. This is His grace invading when He said, I will put enmity between you and the woman. Every time a person is born again by Sovereign Grace, he or she is made a friend of God and an enemy of Satan. And James 4:4 says that every unbeliever is an enemy of God and a friend of the world. God made them enemies of Satan. That is grace, pure grace.
But this enmity continues in family lines. He says, And between your seed and her Seed. Ultimately Jesus was the seed who would come, but all who are united to Jesus are considered the seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. Though Satan would give a severe wound to Jesus, Jesus would stomp Satan’s head on the cross and reverse aspect of the curse. I love the hymn, Joy to the World. It gives such hope because it embraces in the Gospel all of creation. It’s not Satan who inherits the earth. Its not the wicked. It’s the meek who inherit the earth. And God’s grace deals such a death blow to Satan’s head that the hymn writer says that the Gospel reverses all that Satan achieved.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as the curse is found.
Let’s submit to Christ’s claims upon every area of our lives, including economics. Let’s let the Gospel touch every area of our lives including our stewardship.
Lord, make us godly stewards. In ourselves we do not have what it takes to resist all the wiles and tactics of the evil one. But we come to Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, and ask that He would live His life through us. May we not be Pharisees who try harder in our own strength, but may we love the cross of Jesus and may we be grace lovers who engage in our stewardship with the joy of the Holy Spirit, strengthened by His power, doing all to your glory. Amen.