Published by Revell on February 1, 2012
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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In our fallen world, temptation is normal. We run into it every day and we all are susceptible to falling victim to its enticements. We're tempted to cheat on our taxes, milk the clock, lust after someone other than our spouse, dishonor our parents, lie to our friends, covet our neighbor's trip to Europe. But just because we must live with temptation doesn't mean we have to let it master us.
In Flirting with the Forbidden, bestselling author Steven James reminds readers that we are always just one step away from bowing to temptation, that we all share the same potential and propensity for evil. Combining powerful first-person narratives from Scripture with thought-provoking reflections on temptation, discipleship, and grace, James helps readers grow in discernment and reliance on the Holy Spirit and develop a deeper, more intimate walk with Christ.
Temptation. It surrounds us. Calls out to us. Makes the unthinkable seem reasonable. Burrows into our hearts and souls and threatens to destroy us unless we deal with it. Denying God, transgressing his moral law, sinning. To get to that point we have to first be tempted, we must give into Flirting with the Forbidden. In fifteen stories of and reflections on temptation, bestselling author Steven James weaves a creative tapestry of fictional narrative and non-fictional ponderings that engages the heart and points toward Christ as the source of overcoming temptation.
Each chapter begins with a narrative drawn from Scripture. The murder of Abel from Eve’s viewpoint. Joseph’s temptation by Potiphar’s wife. The aftermath of Uriah’s murder. The raising of Jairus’ daughter from the perspective of one of the paid flute players. Demas’s desertion of Paul from Demas’s viewpoint. I’m not sure I agree with James’s theology at all points—his portrayal of Joseph evidences some creative license, in my opinion—but otherwise his stories are true to the Biblical narrative and compelling.
His use of first-personal fictional narrative and extrapolation of stories both well-known and obscure serve to ensure that this isn’t some cookie-cutter Sunday School lesson book. Follow this up some frank and hard-hitting personal commentary that follows each story and you’ve got a powerful and insightful book that deals with things like doubt, suffering, grace, repentance, hope, perseverance, and self-control.
One of the biggest things James talks about is how the grace to overcome temptation doesn’t lie with ourselves but in the God who indwells us. Self-control? That’s a fruit of the Spirit, not of man. All too often, the Church teaches implicitly teaches that while salvation is by grace, the whole part of “working out our salvation with trembling” means trying harder to be a better person. But as James reminds us, it’s really all about believing better. That’s not to make sanctification some sort of ethereal thing—since just believe better seems kind of hokey. But rather when we are relying on God’s grace to make us a better person, when we truly realize we’ve already achieved the overcoming of the world, it makes us want to work it out and be worthy of the calling we’ve been given.
Steven James is a master storyteller and master writer. Whether penning hard-hitting and gritty fiction in the form of the Bowers Files or musing about Story or pondering faith and life, his words are a joy to read. Unique and inspirational, Flirting with the Forbidden can be read through in one sitting or used as a devotional and read one chapter a day. Either way, it’s an important read with a message that needs to be heard.
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