(A review and study from the book by Kris Lundgaard.)
The works of John Owen are considered to be the best on puritan theology. Kris Lundgaard has done a remarkable job in retelling John Owen’s in a contemporary way.
The book was introduced to me by a co-member of a Christian Internet group. After placing an order for a copy of the book online, I was waiting to lay hands on it. And when I got it, I carefully studied the book from the beginning to the end, highlighting and re-reading at places throughout the book.
The Pluses and the minuses:
The book is honest, real and true about the indwelling sin or the role of flesh in a believer’s life. It explains the tricks of the trade, the life cycle of sin and its deceitfulness.
But one cannot really conquer the enemy within by simply reading this book or by understanding what it tells. There’s a lot of work to do on our part before we can see any good result. Only God in His infinite mercy, grace and power can help us to defeat this giant against our soul.
Though we get “knowledge” about how flesh works and sin operates, this knowledge cannot transform us. Maybe one will become a bit more cautious for a while, until sin quietly follows him and stabs him in the back.
I must agree that the book talks about the spiritual duty that we ought to do to God, which can protect us. But it is the doctrine we already know! And this knowledge alone could not do much of help. The power to set free, is the power of the Spirit. The book does not stress about the power of the Spirit, which is much greater than the power of the flesh. Most part of the book keeps repeatedly stressing about the power of the flesh(which is true in fact!), but never talks so much about the power of the Spirit that is available for us.
Having said this, I must also say that the part of the Power of the flesh is true as expressed in the book. This book will prove wrong, anybody who thinks that he is strong and will not fall – As sin brought down the strongest man in the world, the wisest man who ever lived, and the man after God’s own heart.
Some of my favourite quotes from the book:
The Law of Sin:
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there within me. (Romans 7:21)
Paul uses “law” as a metaphor here. Law entices us to obey with offers of reward and compels us to submit by threats of punishment for disobedience.
We can also think of law in the way we speak of “laws of nature”. Gravity, for example is a law that bends things in its direction. When we find this law in us, Paul’s “Who shall deliver me?” echoes down our bones.
The Long arm of the Law:
The pleasures of sin are the rewards it offers-rewards most people will sell their souls for. Hebrews 11:24-26 hints at the battle for the heart of 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 a greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
The contest was between the law of sin and the law of grace. The rewards offered to Moses by sin must have been great: honour with the Egyptians, wealth beyond anything he could see among the people of Israel, the intellectual delights of debating with the top minds of Egypt, the sensual pleasures of fine food, women and entertainment. You can see in your own heart how compelling and enslaving sin’s rewards are. Moses is one of the few in whom the rewards of grace prevailed.
One thing Moses faced if he didn’t bow to sin was a life of “mistreatment” and “disgrace”. And sin loves to parade those before believer’s eyes.
The life of the disciple is not for the timid. Most would rather give in to sin than go through the painful work of picking up a cross and nailing their flesh to it.
The Indwelling sin:
It has settled down in us and is at home (Romans 7:17,20)
If sin came to visit now and then, like an unwelcome in-law, we could get a lot of godliness done while it was away. But the flesh is a relentless homebody and assailant.
Since it works from within, it “easily entangles” us. (Hebrews 12:1). There is no spiritual duty, nothing godly, you can set yourself to, in which you won’t feel the wind of sin’s resistance in your face.
Guard your heart, above all things:
The mind is the sentinel, commanded to watch carefully over the soul. If the mind determines that an action is right, the affections should then fall in line and desire, long for and cling to that which the mind said was good. Lastly the will puts the soul into action, carrying out what the mind said was good and the affections hungered for. When each does it’s job, you obey God from the heart.
If your mind is persuaded to believe a sin is good for your soul, and your affections work up an appetite for it, the will gives it’s consent – the dominoes fall and the flesh bears it’s putrid fruit in your life.
Joseph’s mind was protected by two thoughts: the vileness of sin (“How then I could do such a wicked thing?”) and God’s grace and goodness (“How then could I.. sin against God?”). Because his mind was prepared for action (1 Peter 1:13-16), he could see through the deceit of the flesh and resist temptation – though it was overwhelmingly powerful.
If the mind fails to identify a sin as evil, wicked, vile and bitter, the affections will not be safe from clinging to it, nor the will from giving consent.
The Cross is the place where you can know the vileness of sin and goodness of God.
What shows God’s hatred of sin more than the Cross?
What shows God’s love to you more than the Cross?
I can add still a lot more here, but then I would have to type so many pages :P. So better I recommend you to go, buy a copy of this book and read for yourself. Above all, Be ruled by the Spirit, and don’t wave the white flag to the Flesh. Amen.