Russell Moore is a insightful and engaging writer. Though this book deals with deep theological truths, it is also a pleasure to read because the writer is a gifted wordsmith.
Some parts are challenging because Moore confronts us with the shortcomings in our own attitudes and in our own culture. But I appreciated his straightforwardness and willingness to think outside the box.
Tempted and Tried: temptation and the Triumph of Christ is written by Dr. Russell D. Moore the Dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He also serves as the preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church. In Tempted and Tried Dr. Moore has written a heady, practical, Scripture-saturated and Gospel-centered book on the why the believer is tempted and how he/she is to overcome temptation. Rather than get into all the specifics of what the book is about, I would like to share a few things on how this book has impacted me.
Dr. Moore teaches that temptation deals with a question of one's identity. Many believers struggle with their identity in Christ for a variety of reasons whether because they were raised in a dysfunctional home or because they are addicted to pornography. Throughout the book, Dr. Moore challenges his readers to understand their identity in Christ by understanding who Christ is and what He has done. This book has helped me to better understand my identity in Christ and the assault that my identity in Him is under.
On page 171 Dr. Moore explains that one of the first ways you can tell you are moving beyond temptation into a pattern of sin is if you find yourself in a time of prayerlessness. He rightly identifies this as a gospel issue. Knowing the right things about God, the Bible, and Jesus is all well and good but they ought to lead to action. One of the ways our convictions are revealed is in how the believer fights against temptation when it arises. In the past several years this fighting against temptation and specifically apathy is where I have grown the most in my walk with God. In growing in these areas, I have learned to recognize my identity as rooted in the finished work of Christ and in the importance of prayerfulness.
Tempted and Tried by Dr. Moore is a book that every Christian should read in order to better understand why one is tempted and how to deal with temptation. Reading this book will challenge you and at times confront misconceptions you may have about temptation. I encourage you to allow the work of the Word of God by the Spirit of God to the glory of God to do its work in you as you read this book, so that through you God may bring forth much fruit for His name and fame. Reading this book will help you grow in the Gospel and in turn help you to be a fruitful Gospel Christian.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Crossway book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Moore's Tempted and Tried takes the reader through key moments of temptation throughout scripture. Beginning with Eve in the garden, Moore shows how the serpent challenged her thinking of who she was, attacked her natural born desires, and finally caused her to question God's word/ His faithfulness. Moore compares the Christian temptation to an animal slaughterhouse which prepares its meat for the slaughter. The meat is prepared and then in a moments time terminates its predator. We, like the cows, in this situation are fattened up by Satan and blinded to the future results of our sins. Moore then takes the reader through the temptations of Christ and shows how Christ was tempted in every way that he may conquer the tempter and sympathize with our weakness. Moore shows how singing "Free Falling" on an airplane now teaches us a story of reckless abandonment. Satan tempts Christ by challenging him to question the sovereignty of God. If Jesus truly was the messiah then if he jumped from the temple God would surely save him. Satan calls Jesus to question the faithfulness of God. Jesus responds not by putting God to the test but by modeling what it looks like to put confidence in God's goodness and his word. Moore then resolves the chapter by explaining his "Free Falling" illustration, calling the reader to fearlessly walk up to the edge and sing without fear as those who have been rescued from their own securities. Next, Moore shows us in Jesus' final temptation, Satan offered Jesus the reign of the entire earth here and now. Jesus was faithful even in the midst of this temptation, because he knew that it was better to be patient until the end, when he himself would be exalted in heaven and earth. Satan likewise offers us the kingdom of this world in exchange for God's future kingdom. If we choose the here and now, we lose heaven. As my pastor often says, "If we choose heaven, then we get earth thrown in for free."We must crucify our own kingdom building, if we desire to win the battle with temptation. In the end, we must decide whether we will be magnified of crucified. The wilderness is scary, because it is unknown to us what exactly is out there. The wilderness is a lot less fearful when we know exactly what we have to face. Success with temptation begins by knowing how we are tempted and preparing ourselves for it. Temptation cannot be defeated by mere moralism, we must fight through the Spirit. Second, fighting temptation is accomplished through reminding ourselves and thinking upon the gospel. Moore correctly demonstrates how the gospel is not just the starting point of salvation, but it is also the very thing that sustains the life of the believer after his conversion. Next, Moore points out that conquering temptation occurs through trusting in God's word and believing upon His promises. Moore concludes the book by calling the reader to pray to the one who has defeated sin and conquered the tempter. Remember that the Spirit is working through us to defeat the tempter. We are not doing this by our will alone or we would be quickly defeated.
I have to say that I am in love with Dr. Moore's writing style. Even if you don't buy the book because of its great material, buy it just to learn/mimic his unique and wonderful writing style. Moore begins every chapter with a personal unique story that unavoidably sticks with you. Moore then makes a partial transition to the main point of each chapter. After transitioning from his opening stories you slowly forget about the opening stories and begin to focus upon the theme of the chapter. Generally at the end, but sometimes in the middle of the story Moore brings back up the opening illustration and ties all the points together forming a beautiful picture and bringing clarity to everything that he has been talking about the entire time. Reading Dr. Moore is like watching a good M. Knight Shyamalan movie. Throughout the movie you are enjoying the plot and then at the end he throws a curveball into the picture and causes you to re-evaluate everything that has already been said. With all that being said, I must re-iterate I am in love with Dr. Moore's writing style. There are not many reformed writers who are good with narrative. Dr. Moore is one of a few elite that have mastered it. Next, I think Moore does a great job of keeping the gospel at the center of fighting temptation. Too often writers will turn fighting temptation into a hopeless moralism, divorced from the gospel. Next, I think Moore does a great job showing how fighting temptation is not an individual issue, but something that is done within the confines of the local church. Temptation cannot be defeated in isolation or divorced from a local church body. Finally, Moore correctly points out that fighting temptation is done through Spirit and is a work of the Spirit. I would highly encourage everyone to read this book. I think the book is one of the best, if not the best book I have read on fighting temptation. The book is a very down to earth read/easy read, but still would be extremely challenging even for the scholar.
Russell Moore provides us with an excellent thesis on the Temptation of Christ" and all of the nuances of the temptations as well as that of Christ response. Along with this Moore does a wonderful job of addressing how we today are faced with temptations and how subtle Satan is in how he approaches us and dangles the temptations in front of us.
At first I thought how can Moore take a small section of scripture from Matthew 4 and write a 200 page book on the subject? In all honesty if you were one of the men at Promise Keepers in Boulder, CO when Rev. E.V. Hill taught this section of scripture you will remember that he only spoke for 10 minutes (he usually preaches over an hour). His main point, "When Satan comes at you with temptations just HIT HIM with the Word of God." He then said, "do you understand that, just HIT HIM!"
The 50,000 men in the stadium started chanting, hit him, hit him, hit him. E.V. knew that he had made his point so he packed up his papers and walked off the podium. The men started chanting it even louder. As E.V. got to the tunnel to exit the stadium and got out of sight the chanting started to die down, so he turned around stepped back out and just thrust his Bible in the air and the chanting started again and lasted for 10 more minutes.
So, if we can get the point in just 10 minutes why write a book of 200 pages? Well the answer is that there is even more to this section of scripture and more deep theological truth that we can garner for a good exegesis of the passage. Moore gives us very practical examples of how we are affected today by temptation and what we need to learn.
One example is on page 86 in response to the first temptation about consuming food. Moore states, "The first temptation is not just about consuming food, it is about consuming, period. It is about our quest for economic security, our appetite for stuff." Does that ring the truth bell for you? It did for me. We in America are obsessed it seems like to have all the newest gadgets and every material item that will â€˜make our lives easier.' Why does it not surprise us that the storage unit business is one of the fastest growing businesses in our country.
Moore goes on to say on page 87, "It is hardly legalism to ask such questions as, how much of this do we need? And how much are we giving away? And so on."
He further states, "Self-control is, in this fallen world, counterintuitive and countercultural." So, have you fallen to the temptation of Satan to obtain all that you can?
One more area of example. In regards to the temptation to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple and allow the Angels to rescue him, Jesus says no. Moore points out that when it comes to vindicating ourselves regarding our faith in God's protection or provision or position we do not need to be the ones striving to vindicate ourselves. We need to let God do the vindication for us. Moore states on page 116, "Public vindication is a critical part of God's deliverance of his people. God doesn't simply set a table for me, the Scripture says, he sets this table â€˜in the presence of my enemies' (Ps. 23:5)"
So, how is your faith? Do you allow God to vindicate you rather than fall victim to the temptations of Satan?
Well, I could go on and on but then you probably would stop reading.
So, stop reading this review and instead "click" on the "purchase this book" button and get a copy for yourself and enjoy it!