Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review: Tempted and Tried by Russell D. Moore

Temptation is common to the human experience. And how we handle it is all too common as well, often either quickly caving or white-knuckling through it in sheer self-determination. So when we read the biblical account of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, it is easy to see the overt supernatural elements at work, the magnificent scope of the seductions, and Jesus' flawless victory and see no connection between his testings and our own.

This is a mistake. In Tempted and Tried, Russell D. Moore magnificently draws the lines between the common temptations of the sons of men and the Son of Man. In his own words, "You will be tempted exactly as Jesus was, because Jesus was being tempted exactly as we are . . . You will be tempted to provide for yourself, to protect yourself, and to exalt yourself." Not only that, but he shows how the victory of Jesus reveals a power and promise of our own victory once we see it rightly. Again from Moore: "The same Spirit who led Jesus through the wilderness and empowered him to overcome the Evil One now surges through all of us who are joined by faith to Jesus. We overcome temptation the same way he did, by trusting in our Father and hearing his voice."

Russell structures the book around the three different temptations: self-directed provision, protection, and exaltation. Every enticement from Satan (and our own sinfulness) essentially tells us to cut God out of the loop and take matters into our own hands regarding our desires, our identity, and our future. Without getting clunky or wordy, Moore has crafted a book that is theologically rich, easily accessible and—more often than not—practical.

If I had one gripe about the book, it was structural. While I read quite a bit, the chapters felt too long (there's only seven chapters for a book of almost 200 pages). Publishers use tricks like short chapters and frequent section breaks within chapters to make a book feel more readable and friendly, but there are few of both here. It almost felt like a sermon series turned book where every chapter is a sermon.

That critique aside, Tempted and Tried is well worth the added work and discipline it takes to get through the long chapters. There are unique insights and deep wisdom that hold the gospel up as the only answer to true victory against our temptations—victory that exceeds white-knuckling it through our illicit desires and avoids jury-rigging the heart with fear or pride.

"The gospel exposes you as a sinner, and the gospel embraces you as a son or daughter."

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Every Christian struggling with a besetting sin, and every Christian who thinks they're not

You can buy Tempted and Tried from the Westminster Bookstore cheaper than Amazon right now. 

This book was a free review copy provided by Crossway. 

"Tempted and Tried" Trailer - Russell Moore from Crossway on Vimeo.

1 comment:

Carol said...

Your critique and the trailer make me want to read this book.