Book Reviews

Book Review: Tempted and Tried by Russell D. Moore

May 26, 2014

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Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore ruined my vacation reading.  I had strategically picked five books in five different categories to feed upon during my down time at Panama City Beach.   My idea of vacation is pretty simple: Feet in the sand, kids in the pool, nose in a book.  I had no idea, however, that the first book I randomly picked from my stack would absolutely mess up those plans.

Moore’s book on the temptation of Christ was a last-minute purchase.  The night before we left, I stumbled upon a blog that featured this title.  It seemed somewhat intriguing to me, so I picked it up on our way to the gulf.  I was familiar with Moore’s ministry but had never read any of his works.  In all honestly, I wished I had read his book last because everything else I read afterward was an epic let down compared to the brilliance of Moore’s volume.  After reading Tempted and Tried, I was enticed to toss the other books to the side.

Moore’s attempt at exposing the aim and nature of temptation is intelligently intentional.  He not only gives the reader an expositional, historical interpretation of Christ’s battle with the “reptilian spirit” but he articulately reveals how Christ’s temptation is the story of humanity. Moore profoundly reminds us that Satan’s ultimate aim in temptation is not to destroy us (it does that), but to attack the God with Whom we are identified.  As Moore contends, “Temptation is so strong in our lives precisely because it’s not about us. Temptation is an assault by the demonic powers on the rival empire of the Messiah.”

From that premise, Moore reveals how Satan attacks our identity, our desires, and our future through various temptations.  When being tempted (no matter what the temptation) three questions ultimately arise: Who are you? What do you want? Where are you going?  These innocent-sounding questions may seem spiritually sophomoric in terms of warfare, but when they come across the lips of the desert dragon, they potentially lead us away from the Gospel of Christ with hellish intent.

Moore spends a majority of the book showing us that God has provided an answer to all of those questions (Who are you? What do you want? Where are you going?) through the righteous life and atoning death of Jesus Christ.  In the context of Christ’s temptation, Moore cleverly weaves together the failures of Eve, Esau, and the wondering Israelites. In doing so, he stitches a beautiful garment of grace for all of those in Christ Jesus.  And this is the essence of the book, this is the victory in being tempted and tried: Put on Christ.

Rarely does a book cause me to speak out loud, but I found myself saying “Yes” on just about every page.  Moore is clever, gifted, and refreshing.  His open candor, genuine humility, and subtle precision will cause you to deplete the ink in your highlighter.  The only downside: having five days of vacation left without anything interesting to read.

 

Favorite Quotes in the Book:

“Temptation starts with a question of identity, moves to a confusion of the desires, and ultimately heads to a contest of futures. In short, there’s a reason you want what you do not want to want. Temptation is embryonic, personality specific, and purpose directed.”

“The first Adam was tested in the God-blessed garden and fell. The second Adam was tested in the God-cursed desert, and won.”

“Temptation only works if the possible futures open to you are concealed.  Consequences, including those of Judgment Day, must be hidden from our view or outright denied.”

“Don’t let your urges scare you. Let them instead drive you to pray for the wisdom to see what you were created to be and do.”

“God allows His people to hunger so He can feed them with what is better than what they would choose.”

“John the Baptist put his head on a platter to speak the truth that not even a king can claim another man’s wife. John the Modern Evangelical isn’t willing to put his retirement benefits on the table to say the same thing to a congregational business meeting.”

“Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, doesn’t just free us from our appetites by crucifying them with him;  he also enables us to walk in the freedom of his newness of life.”

“The nihilism of the fall wasn’t simply that the primeval couple ate from the wrong tree. They worshiped the wrong god and thus attacked the entire structure of the divine economy.”

“He (Satan) doesn’t fear Christianity. He certainly doesn’t fear Christian values – he fears Christ.”

“…you have been to hell, in the cross of Christ. You’ve been buried beneath the judgment of God, turned over to the Devil, and you are gone. Now you stand in Christ, hidden in his identity, and thus free from any accusation.”

 

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