Back in 1957 there was a ground-breaking book on advertising authored by Vance Packard entitled, The Hidden Persuaders. It explored psychological techniques for motivating customers to buy. One example might be a restaurant giving the biggest and best looking steak to the person sitting near the entrance of their dining room. Other customers would then see that succulent T-Bone as they were escorted to their table hence whetting their appetites to order a big ticket item from the menu.
I read an article recently showing that retailers continue to study us and our buying habits meticulously. Some of the current hard-to-resist sales pitches are: “Sale Ends Tomorrow,” which is aimed at our survival instinct; “Limit 2 Per Person,” appealing to our competitive spirit; and, “Free Gift With $50 Purchase,” is said to target our inner child- - who loves to get a present.
There is nothing unethical about retailers doing their research in trying to sell their product. However, we need to be smart enough to develop our own plan of spending and not let them do it for us. If not, we will spend more than we should and often on things we do not even need.
In the spiritual realm, there is no salesman any savvier than Satan. He knows our “inner-child” and takes advantage of every psychological technique at his disposal. His mode of operation is lying, cheating, deceiving or whatever it takes to make his sale. Some of his hard-to-resist sales pitches are: “It won’t hurt you,” “You deserve this,” “No one will ever know,” and “Everybody does it.”
There is nothing ethical about his tactics. He mission is to destroy and conquer- - and he does it well. Peter warns us: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Further, he is very methodical and successful in his efforts- - today, as much as ever before. Paul tells us to beware of the “schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11b).
Thus, the Bible informs us to be “self-controlled,” “watchful” and to put on the “whole armor of God.” If not, it will cost us more than we ever intended to give and leave us with what we never wanted to have.