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The Devil’s Gift Always Comes at a Cost

The Heathen man says, “If a man be to violate his faith for anything, it is for a kingdom.”[1] Christ has here offered him all kingdoms[2], a very enticing bait: but is there never a hook hidden under it?[3] The woman was fine and brave [not courageous but fine, excellent], and had a cup of gold in her hand: but it was full of abomination, Apoc. 17. 4[4].

So here, for all these fair shows, if you will gain anything by the Devil you must worship him: that is the condition annexed to the grant, it is no absolute gift, the Devil is not so kind as to part from all that for nothing[5]. It is such a gift as the Lawyers call Excambium[6], that is, Exchange: I will give you this, if you will give me that.

But yet one would think it a very large offer, to give so great a liewe[7] for so small a service: it is but a little external reverence, the bowing of the knee; you may (notwithstanding) in heart think what ye list.[8]

Well, we may think there was somewhat in it, that the Devil offered so much for so little, and yet Christ refused it. Indeed, Christ had great reason to refuse it: for he should have been a looser by the bargain. I will stand to it, he had been better to have yielded to either of the two former temptations, than to this: he should full dearly have bought all his kingdom, he had been better to have cast himself down from the pinnacle. For that which the Devil here demands is liewe [precious], is as much worth, as both the glory of God, and the redemption of man[9].

Of his glory, God saith, That he will not give it to another, Is. 42. 8[10]. If to no other, then not to the Devil of all other. And therefore, the Angel would not have a burnt offering offered to him, but to God, Iudg. 13. 16.[11] The Angell would not let John fall down and worship him, but bad him worship God, Reuel. 19. 10[12] for he knew that God was vary jealous of his honor, and stood precisely upon that point. If he would not impart this honor with the angels, much less would he with the Devil: for there are degrees in idolatry, Roman. 1. 23.

It is not so ill to turn the glory of God into the image of a man, as into birds and beasts.

The Whole World is not Worth the Loss

Secondly, if we look into the desire that he had to satisfy his ancient envy, by the destruction of mankind: we must needs commend the Devil’s wit, in making such a bargain. It had been the best penny-worth that ever was bought. For if we mark how Christ rates one only soul, we may see, how he that to gain all the kingdoms of the world, shall loose his own soul Mat. 16. 26. makes but a foolish bargain. Then what rate shall be made of all men’s souls, if one be worth kingdoms[13].

All which had been lost, if Christ had consented to that which the Devil here requires: for then he could not have said, I restored that which I tooke not, Psal. 69. 4.[14] By his death he paid the price for the sins of the whole World.  He should then have had a score of his own to have paid & his death could have been sufficient but for himself only. If hee had fallen down, and worshipped him: he could not have sad, that the Prince of this World had nothing to say against him, John 14. 30.[15]

[1] The one who is not a Christian says, I will be loyal to my God. When if I can get a kingdom, it would be worth it.

[2] This is one of the many printing errors in the text. This must either be, “The Devil offered Christ” or “Christ was offered”.

[3] The image of Satan fishing is interesting. Luther uses


Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality.

Revelation 17:1–4 (ESV)

[5] The Devil is not generous in his offers: the temptation comes always with a cost. You want the kingdoms, I will get the worship.

[6] This Latin word appears in Black’s Law Dictionary. It means the exchange of property: this for that.

[7] An alternative form of “lief”, something dear, precious, beloved.

[8] The behavior is not very difficult. And you can think whatever you want (ye list) about the other person. Who cares about something so insignificant?

[9] It would have been better for Jesus to have fallen on the first two temptations than to fallen on this ground. The loss would have been

[10] Isaiah 42:8 (ESV)

I am the Lord; that is my name;

my glory I give to no other,

nor my praise to carved idols.

[11] 15 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Please let us detain you and prepare a young goat for you.” 16 And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord.” (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord.) 17 And Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?”

Judges 13:15–17 (ESV)

[12] 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Revelation 19:9–10 (ESV)

[13] The Devil’s logic here is remarkable: He offers all the kingdoms of the world in exchange for a single soul. If he had been successful, he would have made a great bargain. Christ raises this precise from the opposite direction: He says plainly that the loss of your soul would not be worth the entire world.

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Matthew 16:24–27 (ESV)

This then leads to another consideration: If one man’s soul is worth more than the entire world, what must the world of men’s souls be worth?

[14] More in number than the hairs of my head

are those who hate me without cause;

                                    mighty are those who would destroy me,

those who attack me with lies.

                                    What I did not steal

must I now restore?

Psalm 69:4 (ESV)

How did Christ restore those things which he took not away? In general, by his active and passive obedience. 1. Christ’s doing the will of God in such a manner as he did it, was a greater honour to God than ever had been, or could be done before. 2. Christ’s suffering of the will of God, made a considerable addition to the glory of God, which had been impaired by the sin of man, Heb. 5:8; John 17:4; and 13:31, 3. Christ hath provided for the justification of the sinner by the obedience which he fulfilled, Rom. 5:8. 4. Christ communicates that grace which is necessary for our sanctification also. 5. Christ hath merited for us a present blessedness in this world. 6. Jesus Christ hath procured for us a more full and absolute blessedness in the world to come. IV. Why did Jesus Christ make it his work to restore what he took not away? 1. It was a necessary work, a work which must be done, in order to his being a Saviour. 2. It was a work impossible for any mere creature to do; so that if Christ did not, it could not be done by any person besides him.—Timothy Cruso’s Sermon.

C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 56-87, vol. 3 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 189.


30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

John 14:30–31 (ESV)