March 5, 2019

Personalized Temptation

Now I’ve heard it all!

Apparently, shoppers at certain Walgreens stores across the country will be accosted with instant personalized advertising chosen specifically for them!

Here’s how Liz Stinson, of Curbed describes it: “In an inevitable, yet nonetheless dystopian, turn of events, Walgreens is currently testing a new program that allows its cooler doors to track customers via camera and motion sensors and then serve them targeted advertisements in real time.

“The doors are embedded with technologies like a camera, motion sensors, and eye tracking to help advertisers understand who is standing in front of their products. In real time, the software analyzes the ‘anonymized’ data and serves up ads based on parameters like gender (creepy), age, emotional response (extra creepy!), and how long you’ve been lingering in front of a certain product.”

If this isn’t a metaphor for Christian living today, I don’t know what is!

Satan wants to tempt—no, he wants to kill. Peter, knowing something about being singled out, studied, and tempted, wrote this strong warning: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NLT).

The devil is called by many names in the Bible: liar, father of lies, dragon, serpent, thief, Beelzebub, Satan, Lucifer, lion, the enemy, the evil one, the deceiver. All of these names (except for Lucifer, his name before he became evil) denote someone who is evil and does evil things.

What are the devil’s strategies? Well, he likes to make us question God’s goodness, God’s plans, and God’s motives. He likes to make us think that we know better than God. He also uses angels who got kicked out of heaven, his demons, to work miracles to fool us and sometimes act as if they are good angels.

Here’s the important thing: Satan knows us, and he knows our specific weaknesses, our personalities and characters, our likes and dislikes, our pet peeves and our quirks. At this very moment he is probably watching and studying us in order to trip us up, discourage us, and get us in his clutches.

Ellen White wrote a brief but chilling narrative of a vision she had concerning Satan’s appearance:

“He still bears a kingly form. His features are still noble, for he is an angel fallen. But the expression of his countenance is full of anxiety, care, unhappiness, malice, hate, mischief, deceit, and every evil. . . . I saw that he had so long bent himself to evil that every good quality was debased, and every evil trait was developed. . . . As I beheld him, his chin was resting upon his left hand. He appeared to be in deep thought. A smile was upon his countenance, which made me tremble, it was so full of evil and satanic slyness.”

The devil and his demons were thrown out of heaven during a civil war (Rev. 12:7-9). God decided to put them out because of the lies and outright rebellion that the devil had instigated. The devil is powerful, but God is more powerful! Ultimately, the devil is a dog on a leash and can do nothing without God giving him express permission (see Job 1).

Now that we know who Satan is, and his plans for us, how do we resist Satan’s specific temptations? The answer is simple, but not easy: we daily and consciously choose to live our lives with God. The apostle Paul clarifies this point by putting it into terms that anyone who is in any kind of relationship can do: “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh . . . . Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16, 25). Like I said: simple but not easy.

So how do we “walk by,” “live by,” and “keep in step with” God’s Holy Spirit? We constantly and purposely live in the realization that to live holy lives we must invite God’s Holy Spirit to live in us and through us.

I want to benefit from the specific blessings God, through His Holy Spirit, gives when we follow Him. I want to avoid Satan’s specific temptations.

Now if I could just stay away from those creepy coolers.

Know Jesus. Love Jesus. Live Jesus!

Omar Miranda, a counselor and writer, lives with his family in unplain Plainville, Georgia.