The Devil’s Dare: Luke 4:9-12 (Sermon)

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Luke 4:9-12, New King James Version

Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:

‘He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you,’

11 and,

‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ ” (Luke 4:9-12, NKJV)

Subject: The Devil’s Dare

A dare is “a challenge to do something.” To dare someone means “to defy or challenge someone to do something.” When someone “dares” to do something, he or she summons the courage to do it. Now, a dare can be a good thing if someone is daring you to do the right thing. If the preacher says at church, “I dare you to be a stronger prayer warrior this week,” “I dare you to spend more time with God in prayer this week,” or “I dare you to be a better parent, spouse, or relative in 2020 than you were in 2019,” the preacher is giving you a good dare, a righteous dare, a godly dare. There’s nothing wrong with daring someone to do something better than before, to be more godly than before, to strive for the good. In fact, some of you parents out there “dare” your children to get good grades. And some of you parents wish your children would dare to get good grades as much as they dare to get into trouble. 

There’s nothing bad about a good dare. But all dares aren’t good dares. When someone says, “I dare you,” you have to brace yourself for the nature of the dare that they’re about to deliver, for, it could be a bad dare. Teenagers and high-schoolers do this all the time. “I dare you to race me down the road going at 100 miles an hour.” “I dare you to try a cigarette or a marijuana joint.” “I dare you to ask so-and-so’s girlfriend out to the Friday dance.” “I dare you to play a prank on the math teacher today.” What I call standard daring is what many of us know as “peer pressure.” 

Young people have always dared others to do the craziest things. “I dare you to stay out late tonight instead of going home and making your curfew.” And unfortunately, the moment they dare us, they say, “What? You can’t do it? Are you chicken?”, immediately making the chicken sound we all know while flapping their arms up and down. The moment they make fun of us and call us “chicken”, we begin to think to ourselves, “Nobody calls me chicken. They want me to take this dare? I’ll show them I can do it.” Immediately, the dare has put us on the spot. The dare has made us come out of our reserved selves to meet a challenge for the sake of pride. We don’t want to look scared or “less than” in the eyes of our friends, or the cool crowd, so we just go along with it. 

And once we’ve completed the dare, we feel something other than what we expected. We thought we’d feel a sense of accomplishment when the dare was over, but now, we just feel a huge sense of regret. The dare wasn’t worth it, and the pride, as Scripture said, came before the fall. The dare was nothing more than a provocation to do evil, to do something against the law, to break mom and dad’s rules. We summon all our pride when we rise to the challenge of a dare, but we suddenly lose that pride when we’re forced to accept the consequences. 

When we accept a dare, a dare we know is wrong, we do it quickly, thinking only about our pride instead of using good, common sense. When someone says, “I dare you to stay out past curfew,” we don’t respond with the words, “Wait! I need to slow down and think about this. I can’t give you a decision right away…I need to think about this.” We don’t deliberate within, go home and talk to our parents, pastors, preachers, teachers, fellow church members, community friends, and so on. We don’t consult anyone when we answer the challenge of a dare. We simply accept it, without deliberation, without hesitation.

And that lack of deliberation, thought, and consultation is why it’s all wrong for us. Scripture says in Proverbs 24:6 says that “For by wise counsel, you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” In other words, there’s strength in wise counsel, in deliberation, in contemplation. The rash act out of weakness, out of the ego trip of a foolish person, but a wise person acts out of planning, deliberation, and decision-making. And no one should ever make a quick decision. If someone needs your decision as soon as they ask about something, the best thing to do is just say “No” and walk away. Better to say “no” and avoid trouble than to say “yes” and then get in trouble. 

In today’s text of Luke 4, we read of Jesus and Satan, and how Jesus is in the wilderness with Satan while being tempted of him. Yes, Satan is tempting Jesus, if you can imagine that. And Satan has already given Jesus 2 temptations. He’s told Jesus to first, turn stones into bread. Satan realizes Jesus is hungry because Christ has been in the wilderness 40 days. He’s not eaten in that time because He’s been fasting and praying. And so, with Jesus at His lowest in terms of being hungry, Satan then tempts Him with the idea of food. 

Next, Satan tells Jesus to fall down and worship Satan, and Satan would give him all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus passes this test by telling Satan that He would only serve God. In so many words, He tells Satan, “You, Satan, aren’t God. You’re nothing more than an angel.” Jesus knew He was the Messiah, and He knew Satan was nothing more than a rebellious angel. And so, why would He, the Messiah, the Son of God, worship an angel, someone beneath Him? Why would the Greater, that being He, King Jesus, serve the lesser, that is, Satan? It was tantamount to the Israelites bowing down before the golden calf in the wilderness, praising it for bringing them out of Egypt and delivering them from 430 years of Egyptian bondage. 

But then, in verses 9-12, we see what I call “The Devil’s Dare”: that is, we see a dare made on the basis of rash decision making, without any reward in sight. In the temptation of turning stones into bread, Satan appeals to Jesus’ hunger and tries to sell him on the goal: that is, food. Jesus would benefit from eating but Jesus had to resist hunger in order to focus on His spirit. Fasting requires putting one’s plate down to focus on the spiritual man, the spirit, the supernatural. In the second temptation, Satan offers Jesus the benefit of owning the kingdoms of the world through Satanic worship. All Satan wanted was to be worshipped. If you remember, Satan’s overthrow in Heaven was all about him wanting to be the Lord of Hosts, wanting worship. But at least the kingdoms of the world are a benefit, right? But Jesus passes this test too because He knew who Satan was. A creature is not worthy of worship; only the Creator is. And clearly, Satan was no Creator. 

But the last temptation, the Devil’s Dare, is a temptation with little benefit. Jesus has refused to live by physical food. He has refused to worship Satan. Notice that hunger and Satanic worship are the first two temptations. The first ways that Satan turns you from God are to get you to focus on your physical needs and material desires (fortune, fame, money, women, cars, promotions, and so on). Satan doesn’t try to kill the child of God at first because, why try to take your mortal life right away when he can turn you from God while you’re living? A spiritual Benedict Arnold is most effective alive rather than dead. If Satan gets you to abandon Christ and live as an apostate in this life, he doesn’t have to worry about when you die because He’s ALREADY GOT YOU! 

Satan entered Judas before he handed Jesus over to the Roman state. When Judas finally hung himself, he already belonged to Satan. If Satan gets your soul while you’re alive, dying is just a matter of “wrapping up the case” of your life, of tying up loose ends because you’re already his, and you’re already in Hell — even before you die. 

In verse 9, though, Satan gets to a point where he’s tired of playing with Jesus. I mean, when you think about it, all these temptations he was sure Jesus would pass. But this last temptation was the ultimate test. In verse 9, Satan, on the rooftop of the Jerusalem temple, tells Jesus, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here.” 

Notice that there is no benefit, no “I’ll give you something if you throw yourself off the temple.” No, instead, it’s just “throw yourself off the temple.” The reason to do so here is not a benefit so much as it is the presumption of safety. In verse 10, Satan says, “It is written” and quotes the words of Scripture in verses 10 and 11. In verse 10, Satan quotes Psalm 91:11. In verse 11, Satan quotes from Psalm 91:12.

Satan tells Jesus that if He throws Himself off the temple, He’ll be safe because God’s angels will watch over Him and prevent His feet from hitting the stones beneath them. In other words, Jesus can throw Himself off the temple with the presumption of safety, with no expectation that He will fall or die. The only benefit in this third and final temptation is that Jesus will still keep His life. 

Now, think about this. Jesus took on flesh, so at the time of these temptations, Jesus is both human and divine. He has human flesh. He is hungry as humans are hungry, thirsty as humans are thirsty, tired as humans are tired, and so on. So if Jesus were to comply with Satan’s request and throw Himself off the temple, what would happen to Jesus? 

It’s a no-brainer, folks: Jesus would have died a mortal death. The issue isn’t so much that He couldn’t come back to life, but that He would’ve died in some way other than that which God the Father planned for His Son. Think about it: What was Jesus’ mission? What did He come to do? Die on the cross for the sins of the world. Had He thrown Himself off the temple, He would’ve died in some way OTHER THAN crucifixion. He would’ve died in Jerusalem instead of Golgatha, on the temple instead of on the cross.

Had Jesus given in, He would’ve aborted or terminated His mission, the mission for which God the Father sent Him into the world. The Father sent Jesus to earth to be slain for the sins of the world, to willingly and deliberately offer up His life for humanity. The Father didn’t send Jesus to earth to die by The Devil’s Dare. Jesus didn’t come to earth to die because of a temptation dare by Satan. Jesus didn’t come to earth to prove Himself to Satan, but rather, to show His love. 

Had Jesus given in to The Devil’s Dare, He would’ve thrown away His entire mission. And Satan knew this. Believe me. If Satan knew the Word so much so that he could quote it as he does here in Luke 4:10-11, then He knew who Jesus was and He knew what Jesus’ mission was. Why do you think Satan was trying to get Jesus to die some way other than the cross? And what was that “If you are the Son of God” business? Nothing more than a way to get Jesus riled up so that He’d make a decision based on haste rather than deliberation.

Satan wanted Jesus to make a reckless mistake instead of an intentional one. But, keep in mind, the first two temptations were deliberate ones. Satan wanted Jesus to intentionally turn stones to bread and to intentionally worship Him. But now, with this temptation of death, The Devil’s Dare, Satan would get Jesus to make a reckless decision out of “peer pressure.” Satan was, in essence, saying the following: “Jesus, you are the Son of God, right? Well, if you are, prove it. I don’t believe you unless you prove it. Go ahead and throw yourself off the temple. You’ll be fine regardless. God’s Word in Psalm 91 says you’ll land safely on your feet.”

Now, anyone with a tiny amount of common sense would understand that Satan only wanted Jesus to kill Himself. He wanted Jesus to put an end to His mission. But do you understand that, in the same way Jesus was tempted, so are we? So will we be tempted? Jesus isn’t the only one that has or will be tempted with recklessly throwing away His life. We will be, too. 

The current COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic is yet another opportunity for Satan to give The Devil’s Dare to children of God. The biggest lie being propagated right now in the world is that governments are trying to keep Christians from assembling to deprive them of their rights. This is the message that Life Tabernacle Church Pastor Dr. Mark Anthony Spell (known as Tony Spell) is spreading. He is convinced that the government only wants to deprive the church of its rights.

Keeping people home is designed to protect them from this deadly disease, but Spell sees it as nothing more than a conspiracy against the Church of Jesus Christ. He has been served with 6 misdemeanor counts because he’s convened services at least 6 times against Louisiana’s Stay-At-Home order in the state. Since his misdemeanor counts, he has been given an ankle monitor to wear to stay in his home. Most recently, he has been arrested and charged for trying to kill a protestor (outside his church) by running over him with a truck. The Life Tabernacle Church is now having services across from the governor’s mansion, I believe, so as to show that no one, not even the state or federal government, will prevent them from assembling together. 

They say that this stay-at-home directive across the US is nothing more than a scam to rob the church of its assembly rights, but that isn’t the case. Churches have to actually register with the federal government when purchasing a building and land. They have to register their names with the federal government so that their members can receive tax breaks on church charitable donations. Pastors who register with the federal government are eligible to receive tax breaks each year. And churches can still have teleconferencing services where people call in by phone. They can still have video chat services and audio chat gatherings. 

There’s nothing preventing God’s people from assembling online. The problem is that they cannot assemble publicly in large crowds because COVID-19 spreads in large, mass gatherings. The stay-at-home directive, contrary to Dr. Spell, is designed to keep people alive. If anything, it isn’t robbing Christians of their rights but rather, maintaining them — for, without life, a person has no rights. Deceased persons have no rights. 

This hasn’t stopped churches from walking the streets in protest, but it’s a lie from Christians to get people to leave their homes and rebel against state order. It’s a lie from Satan to get people out on the streets, to get them to deny social distancing measures and gather in small spaces together so as to get them infected and sick. And we’ve seen protesters who are now sick because they failed to heed the warning to stay at home. These infected protesters could die from this disease because they recklessly subjected themselves to a virus that has no vaccine, no pills, no medicine, and no known cure. 

Bishop Gerald Glenn of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield, Virginia goes even further than this. Not only did he continue to meet in the physical church building despite desist orders, he strutted up and down the aisle of his church, telling the congregation that God is bigger than coronavirus and that he wasn’t worried about dying. “I’m not worried about dying, I’m not worried about dying” he said, as though it was a great thing to be so bold in the face of such a terrible disease. This same bold Bishop is now, a COLD Bishop — cold in the ground, having died of COVID-19 and been buried.

And to make matters worse, his wife, two daughters, and son-in-law are now sick with COVID-19. He wasn’t worried about dying, but his decision to box with COVID-19 has led to his death and their current conditions. They could all die from the disease at this point. And as for Dr. Tony Spell I mentioned a little while ago, one of his church greeters has died from the disease. 

These churches and Pastors have focused on “the state is trying to take my right to assemble,” at the expense of their lives. Coronavirus is bigger and badder than you and I are. That’s the truth. We cannot fight it. Our arms are not large enough to box with it, and we are not tall enough to stand against it. We are fraile, fragile human beings who are too weak against it. Prayer, social distancing, good hygiene, and carefulness are all the tools we have against this pandemic at this point. We don’t have vaccines to treat this deadly virus. It’s killing everyone from newborns to toddlers to 30, 40, and even 50-year-olds. 

These examples serve to show that The Devil’s Dare is always a lie. You can never trust the Devil to tell you the truth. The Devil’s Dare is always designed to make you believe a lie, only to force you to face the truth in shame after you’ve committed an act you can’t go back and erase. Life has no giant eraser on it that lets you remove the mistakes and “redo” them after the fact. Nope. Life here on this sinful earth is only lived once, and when it’s over, it’s over. No second chances. No returns. No redos. No do-overs. 

These individuals believed the lies they’ve been told. They’ve been told that God is bigger than COVID-19, so they shouldn’t be afraid of it. They’ve been told that the state is trying to take their religious right of assembly, moving them to storm streets in protest. But all of these lies are designed for no other purpose than to get them sick with coronavirus and ultimately, to kill them. 

Satan dared Jesus to take His own life in a reckless, arbitrary act to “prove” His Messiahship, to sacrifice Himself on the altar of ego instead of on the altar of love for mankind. Had Jesus given His life by throwing Himself off the temple, it would have been the exact antithesis, the opposite, of who Jesus is. 

And that’s what Satan wants you to do: live recklessly, endanger your life for no other purpose than to not look “chicken,” to not look like a wimp, to be macho and brave. But, when you receive The Devil’s Dare, whether it be the voice of Satan or the voice of someone else, you have to do what Jesus does in the temptations: you have to say, “Get behind me, Satan!” Use your faith to move Satan out of the way and press on in the truth. 

Jesus responds to the Devil’s Dare with the words, “It is written, you shall not tempt the Lord your God” in Luke 4:12. Jesus tells Satan that throwing Himself off the temple is tempting the Lord. How is it tempting the Lord? It’s tempting the Lord because it’s presuming that God will come to your aid when you’re making a reckless decision. In Psalm 91, we read that the person who’s following the Lord will be delivered from the snare of the wicked. That is, when the wicked lay up traps for the righteous, the Lord will deliver His people from them. Those traps, though, are deliberate on the side of the perpetrator, not the righteous person. The righteous person isn’t going into the trap with his or her eyes wide open. Rather, the person is living life and encounters an unexpected trap. They’re not deliberately falling into it. 

In the same way, Jesus couldn’t throw away His life because to do so would be tempting the Lord, forcing God to come to His aid in the midst of a reckless decision. God wants us to live, true, but God doesn’t come to our aid when we summon Him. He is sovereign and acts of His own free will, not ours. God delivers us from the traps the wicked set for us, but He doesn’t deliver us when we set wicked traps for Him. Had Jesus thrown Himself off the temple, His mortal life would’ve come to an end — in selfishness, machoism, and pride. Listening to The Devil’s Dare only leads you to tragic consequences. There is nothing honorable about pride leading you to your physical, mortal death. There is nothing honorable about dying behind The Devil’s Dare. Remember, as Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Doctrine Songs

Opening Selection: Incredible God, Incredible Praise (James Hairston)

Next Selection: My Life Is In Your Hands (Kirk Franklin)

Sermon Selection: This Is Not The Time (Marvin Sapp)

Closing Selection: So You Would Know (Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir)