Length: 196 pp
Author: Russell Moore
Tempted and Tried is an excellent book. What makes its such? Moore is an excellent writer and has a penchant for peculiar illustrations and bizarre analogies, and while that certainly makes for an interesting read, it doesn’t grasp excellency, at least not in the Edwardsian sense. What is remarkable here is that the Scriptures are so well exegeted and applied, exposing our sinful bent in a contemporary and Biblical way while reveling in the victory of Christ for us over temptation. The result: we hate sin more and love Christ more, specifically we hate sin more because we love Christ more. Any book that will do this for me is excellent.
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. That’s why conversion to Christ doesn’t diminish the power of temptation—as we often assume—but actually, counterintuitively, ratchets it up.
Temptation—for the entire human race, for the people of Israel, and for each of us personally—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 don’t want to want. Temptation is embryonic, personality specific, and purpose directed.
But Jesus hungered with us, and for us. He is the firstborn son of the kingdom, the true humanity, and the true Israel of God. Jesus understood what his fathers in the garden and in the wilderness didn’t. When confronted with the question, “Are you the Son of God?” he heard the word of his Father more loudly than the word of his own grumbling stomach.