Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore was rated as one of the best Christian books in 2011. Moore walks his readers through the three temptations of Christ and shows how Jesus overcame them. He further applies the ideas to how we’re tempted today. One of the first points in the book is about temptation and identify. The following summary will give you a snapshot of what the book is like.
The goal of tempting is evil; the goal of testing is that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:4). God’s testing and Satan’s tempting may coincide in the same event, but they are radically different, with different motives and different intended outcomes. For example:
- Joseph (Genesis 50:20)
- Jesus (His temptation / testing in the wilderness)
The first step in temptation is to question our identity. Temptation begins with an illusion about the self – a skewed vision of who you are. It doesn’t matter if this skew is towards arrogance or self-hatred.
- Identity is important
- Jesus’ identity was publicly marked by his Father, but He also publicly identified Himself with sinners at His baptism (because John’s baptism was for repentance)
- Israel’s identity was publicly marked by circumcision. Ours by baptism
- Satan attacks identity
- Satan persuaded Eve to see herself differently than she was by making her think at she could be like God
- Satan’s first temptation was to question Jesus identity, “If you are the Son of God”
The first identity attack is when we’re tempted to see ourselves as special or hopeless. We’ve forgotten who we are when we say, we have a special situation (I am a god), rationalize (able to discern good from evil), believe we’re powerless before desires (I’m an animal) or can escape accountability (I will surely not die).
The second identity attack occurs when we’re tempted to confuse our desires. Desire was made by God, but Satan manipulated it. He let Eve ponder what she wanted and why she didn’t have it. He moved the desire, to envy and then to action. She became his slave. Jesus reclaimed desire under the direction of the Holy Spirit by submitting to God’s will.
The third identity attack happens when our future is challenged. Temptation only works if possible futures open to you are concealed. Consequences, including those of Judgment day must be hidden from our thinking or denied altogether. Satan painted the picture that Eve wouldn’t die and instead convinced her that should could be like God. Jesus didn’t lose sight of His identity or kingship.
Points to ponder:
- What do you most identify yourself with? Do you understand your identity as a child of rod and servant of the king?
- What do you desire or think about most? How you desire affected by your relationship with God?
- When you look to your future what do you see and think about? Do you have a clear picture of what eternity is like?