Tempted and Tried Review

July 27, 2011

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Moore Doesn’t Write, He Crafts Sentences

I remember when the movie Avatar came out and everybody urged me to go see it in the theatre. “You have to get the full 3-D experience,” people told me. “You won’t be disappointed,” others said. I wasn’t. Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore was much like Avatar. Several people told me I had to read this book and then I read several reviews recommending the book as well. Now, I am recommending T & T. It is great when you find a movie or a book that meets or exceeds the hype; Moore’s book lived up to the hype. His writing style is superb. I must agree with Stephen Altrogge, author and blogger, who said, “He doesn’t write sentences, he crafts sentences, and I have no doubt that his wonderful writing will draw you into this book.”

Full of Deep Proverbial “Tweets”

Russell Moore is the Arnold Schwarzenegger of writing. Moore pens one sentence one-liners down throughout the book—the kind that made Arnold’s movies so famous. Only Moore’s one-liners are deep, biblical, and worth chewing on for awhile—the kind you just love to tweet.

Here are a few examples: “Jesus was willing to starve rather than eat at the table of demons, all the while convinced that his God could spread a table for him in the midst of his enemies (Ps 23:5)” (p. 77).

Am I willing to starve rather than to eat at the table of demons? What a great question. He reminds us that God is good and that He is good to me… good enough to spread a table for me in the midst of my enemies even though my stomach is growling. These are the kind of questions that are splattered throughout the book with the purposefulness of a Picasso. So, whether you are walking the journey alone or helping someone through their faith journey, you will have plenty of thought provoking questions.

Here is another one: “There are other shepherds than just the good shepherd, and he’s not the only one who leaves behind the ninety-nine to go after the one” (p. 47). Someone could be very genuine and very sincere, but still be genuinely, sincerely wrong. Just because a person is being shepherded doesn’t mean that person is being shepherded by the Good Shepherd.

This book is full of these. In fact, I probably should have finished this book sooner, but was stopped in my tracks several times to think, to confess, to pray and to ponder… a hallmark of a good book.

Sound Biblically and Theologically

This book is not for people who overcome temptation and sin. It is for those of us who struggle with pleasing Christ and living victoriously. At the core, this book shows where both Adam (& Eve) and Israel failed and Christ succeeded. In doing this, Moore builds a case in Christ for how you can overcome sin and temptation. Not only is the reader taken on Christ’s personal journey in the temptation, but the reader is also taken on a sound theological and biblical journey as well.

Throughout Tempted and Tried, Moore offers prudent antidotes. One of the key areas that Moore addresses is the appetites. “Eve started to see God not as Father but as rival, and that’s when she struck out to grab what he was holding back from her. Her appetites, Satan said, were a more reliable guide to what she needed than the word of her God” (p. 68). There is much to ponder in the first phrase of this sentence. If a person could just understand how much God is for them and not against them, this would allow them to trust God more.

Moore later adds, “Pretending the appetites are instantly nullified by conversion is a rejection of what God has told us—that we are still in the war zone” (p. 73). This is one of the best treatments on the appetites I have read. Again, Moore shows how Adam and Eve, Israel, and then Christ faced these challenges and either failed, or in Christ’s case, succeeded.

More Than Just Good Theology—It’s Practical

When you read Tempted and Tried you will certainly gain a better understanding of the temptation of Christ; however, you will get much more than that. You will gain a better understanding of the three temptations Christ faced and how they apply to your life.

You will understand important details of the temptation like why bread is so important in the first temptation, the importance of Satan using visual imagery in pointing to the stones to tempt Christ, why standing at the top of the temple was important and many more details that will connect to real life issues people face every day. Of course, Moore’s explanation to the all-important question of, “Could Jesus sin?” is one of the best I have read.

Could Have Included A Few More Headings

If I had to express a weakness with the book I would say that it’s with its organization. The chapters feel long after chapter one and there are relatively few headings throughout each chapter. Chapter one is about 10 pages, but the rest of the chapters average 34 pages. So, I would give yourself plenty of time to read each chapter in its entirety so that you don’t have to come back in the middle of a thought.

I teach a class on Spiritual Warfare and toyed with the idea of using this text as required reading for that section. I have opted not to do so simply because it just stops short of being a treatment on Spiritual Warfare, though it includes many facets for sure. This is certainly not a criticism, as I don’t think Moore intended to write a book on Spiritual Warfare. Therefore I, along with many other reviewers, highly recommend Tempted and Tried. It not only met my expectation, but it exceeded it. You will not be disappointed.

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