Thursday, July 7, 2011
Book Review: Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore
An obscure man from a small town who's been whispered to be someone very powerful walks into a desert wasteland, completely alone except for one very angry and powerful being who wants to slaughter him. The man walks into the equivalent of a haunted house to enter a struggle with the most vile and ruthless spiritual being who has ever haunted the world we inhabit. The man is someone very powerful, but not from a human perspective. In fact, he has been in this desert wasteland for forty days, and he hasn't eaten anything since the day he entered. For forty days his body has been wasting away, and he is the weakest he could be. And this has been his preparation to face the spirit in the desert. The fight won't be won with human ability because human ability has always lost against this spirit.
The spirit is the devil, and he has been tempting humanity to be stripped of what makes them human created in the image of God and surrender to his destructive will for their lives since the first couple in the Garden of Eden.
The man? His name is Jesus, and he's on a mission to face and defeat temptation on our account, so that we too can walk away from it unscathed. He will do this as a man dependent solely upon the power of God.
This is the context of TEMPTED AND TRIED: TEMPTATION AND THE TRIUMPH OF CHRIST by Dr. Russell Moore. If Christianity is about salvation from our sin, why do so many Christians struggle so much with sin? Why are we tempted to do the things that betray God and cause us to see God as someone to hide from rather than run to? Is there anything we can do about temptation and make sin less and less a part of our lives? These are the questions Dr. Moore tackles by looking at the wilderness temptations of Jesus.
Dr. Moore's book reveals that the reality of temptation is that we are in a war. The devil wants us far away from God, which means he needs to keep us as close to sin as possible. Temptations are personality specific. They're not merely coincidental, but a strategic plan to lure us where we're most weak. Through Jesus' temptations in the desert and using other biblical texts on temptation, Dr. Moore shows us how the devil uses temptation in our lives and why we struggle with it. He also shows how Christ's victory gives us the opportunity to have victory as well.
Dr. Moore does a great job of showing how Jesus' three temptations are the prototypes of our own temptations, and he does this in a way that feels fresh and incredibly engaging. He is humbly transparent throughout the book as he shares personal stories about his own struggles with temptation. Ultimately, he does a great job of showing Jesus as the one who was victorious over temptation so that we could be also. I would recommend this book as a foundational resource for churches active in discipling believers as well as any believer to work through on their own.