Book Review: “Temptation” by Jay Adams (2012)

“Applying Radical Amputation to Life’s Sinful Patters”

Known best for his expertise in counseling and textbooks on the same, Jay Adams offers this simple and short study on temptation and the drastic measures to which we sinful believers must often go to rid ourselves of the constant draw of sin  and the inability to just say “No.” Adams teaches his readers to actively attack sin through “radical amputation,” an attitude which Christ Himself taught in the Sermon on the Mount.

Drawing mostly from Matthew 5:27-30, Adams makes practical application of Christ’s words in verses 29-30: “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” Certainly, Christ’s shockingly figurative language can be hard for some to accept, but Adams shows that such “radical amputation” is necessary for a believer’s finally ridding his life of the sins that effectively keep his relationship with his Lord tarnished and broken. To experience true Christian growth, a believer must leave behind his old sinful ways and replace those ways with new righteous ones. “Radical amputation,” Adams shows, makes sinning harder to do, for a believer cuts from his life not only the sin that so easily besets him, but also the those things in his life that make it easy for him to sin.

Adams also attacks the faulty notion that a believer’s sanctification requires no effort on his part. In Adams’ view, quietism muses: “God has promised to eliminate sin in my life, and only He can do so. I will therefore leave the matter in His hands. In His time, He will do so.” But Adams calls such an attitude “nothing more than a pious cop-out,” for “there must be no waiting for God to act. He has already done so by providing both the incentive and the power” to live a godly life (Ephesians 2:13; Kindle, Loc.152-155). Sometimes when Jesus heals a believer, He first requires of him exactly what He told the cripple to do: “stretch out your hand” (Matthew 12:13). If sanctification were God’s duty alone, then God would be a failure each time a believer experiences debilitating slavery to some controlling temptation. Any level-headed Christian would have to agree with Adams: God doesn’t fail: we do.

I truly enjoyed this short book on temptation, and I would recommend it to anyone currently experiencing slavery to some specific sin. But even more so, I would recommend it to teens and to youth leaders for group study, because the notion of radical amputation is one best learned at a young age.

©2012 E.T.

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