Saturday, February 10, 2007

Kris Lundgaard 'The Enemy Within' (I)

This was started for my own benefit, but then thought it could be useful to others. What I'm doing is outlining The Enemy Within as an aide to the every-day, every-hour fight against sin which we are guaranteed never to win - until Jesus takes us to be with him.

Not sure you want to read on. Well:
  • Why do we keep on sinning?
  • How do we keep fighting?
  • What expectation of victory should we have?
If you fancy some answers, this book is for you. Hopefully this sequence of posts is a fair / useful outline of the argument & key ideas.

Kris Lundgaard's book is an excellent modern presentation of John Owen's Indwelling Sin & The Mortification of Sin (both in vol. VI of the Banner edition of his complete works). It is an outstanding book because it offers Owen's outstanding theological mind & pastoral clarity in a 150-page book. You can see the outline / table of contents via this page. I'm not exactly following chapters & their headings, but I am following the book's flow...

Four Key Truths from Rom 7:21
"So I find this law at work: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me."
  1. Sin living in us is a law. Law expresses power, authority, constraint & control. Think of other laws like gravity, hunger, fear, each of which impels us to fulfil its demands. Indwelling sin works by enticing, threatening, even bullying. In what sense has Christ defeated sin in a believer? It is overthrown & weakened so that it will not bear the fruit of eternal death.
  2. This law is inside us. It is one thing to have a lecture on AIDS, and quite another to hear those words 'HIV-positive - I'm so sorry.' Not many people have come to terms with this idea. If they had, we'd hear more complaining about it, more urgent prayers & pleas, we'd see more struggling against it & observe less of its fruit in the world.
  3. We find this law when we're at our best. Not just when stumbling during a time of backsliding, but even on our best days we find this law at work - when we most wish to serve God. Yet though ever-present, by God's grace this desire does not rule the hearts of believers.
  4. This law never rests. It is a constant tug. Who will deliver us?
'In your struggle against sin there is only one thing more important to grasp than these four facts: the free, justifying grace of God in Christ's blood.' (27) [I'm remembering this post]

We need to know our own hearts [see Flavel here]. Fighting sin will mean getting to know our indwelling sin, which will be humiliating & discouraging. But is extremely wise if we wish to know how to please the Lord.

The Flesh is a Rhino
'If a rhinoceros were to enter this restaurant now, there is no denying he would have great power here. But I should be the first to rise and assure him that he had no authority whatever.' G. K. Chesterton
The law of sin in believers is like Chesterton's rhino. God's rule is total, and sin attempts to usurp it & force itself upon us. We must choose with Moses: "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward." (Heb 11:24-26)
  • Indwelling sin is in us. It is at home, it doesn't just come to visit - it lives in us.
  • Indwelling sin doesn't take a day off. Want to pray? read the Bible? listen to a sermon? This hateful, wicked pest is right there kicking up a thousand distractions & exasperating use.
  • Indwelling sin works easily. There is no good you can decide to do without it resisting.
The more you discover its power, the less you suffer its effects. The better you know the rhino, the better you can fight it.
'But if you don't find yourself dodging he rhino's horn day and night in a struggle against sin, it may be that you've made peace with the rhino. You are willingly, happily under its power and rule. In which case you should doubt that you are born of God. No one who is born of God can live at peace with sin (1Jn 3:9). I appeal to you, for the sake of your soul: run to Christ! Only he can slay the rhino in your heart.' (34)

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