Kris Lundgaard bases The Enemy Within on two classic works by the Puritan theologian, John Owen, Indwelling Sin and The Mortification of Sin. Lundgaard mined these works desperately seeking help with his own sanctification and battle against sin. He found the help for which he was searching, but with much labor due to Owens style and tedious seventeenth century language. Out of gratitude and a desire to share his hard fought discoveries with contemporary believers, Lundgaard wrote The Enemy Within. A book highly recommended by Puritan expert and well regarded theologian, J.I. Packer. I wish I felt the same.
The author divides The Enemy Within into four sections. The first section defines the power of sin and the section that follows describes how that power works in the life of the Christian. In the third, which is a single chapter, Lundgaard explains what sin seeks to accomplish. Lundgaard closes the book by with a discussion of vital principles for overcoming sin.
Lundgaard begins the first section by describing the reality of indwelling sin.
In the second and longest section of the book, Lundgaard describes how indwelling sin operates in the believer. It attacks the mind, will and affections. Indwelling sin deceives the mind about the real consequences of sin, tempts the believer to get grace and holiness out of balance, and it seeks to entice them by entangling their affections and capturing their imaginations. Lundgaard says the mind is the key to obedience and winning the battle against sin. Therefore, the believer must be constantly saturating their minds with the Scriptures, be thinking hard about obedience and be resisting spiritual laziness. Lundgaard wraps up the second section by discussing the necessity of engaging the will and avoiding passivity in battling sin.
Chapter 10 or the third section, discusses the various ways the flesh seeks to erode the Christian’s love for Christ. In short, the believer must continually cultivate their love for the Lord and put to death the flesh.
In the last section of The Enemy Within, Lundgaard says the antidote for sin is a life of worship based on a healthy reverence and awe of God. This reverence or fear can only come by God’s revelation of Himself, whether by vision or Scripture. In addition, he warns about a false peace the believer’s flesh can provide. Therefore, they must guard against the flesh’s deceptions and seek the true peace only Christ can provide. In closing, Lundgaard points to faith in Christ’s finished work and absolute dependence on the Spirit as the primary means to overcome sin.
The Enemy Within is a much-needed book because it addresses a topic the modern church rarely considers, sin in the life of the believer. It is well written and packed with excellent illustrations. In fact, the illustrations are probably the best part of the book. The “Questions for Reflection and Discussion” sections at the end of each chapter help make the book practical.
The book does have a glaring weakness, a weakness that undermines its important and much needed message. In this reviewer’s opinion, Lundgaard bases the book upon an incorrect interpretation of Scripture. The author bases his understanding of indwelling sin on
A thorough examination of
A second important point is that even a limited examination of
In spite of the recommendations of some well-respected Christian scholars and teachers, I would not recommend The Enemy Within. In my opinion, the book is fundamentally flawed because the author bases it on a popular misinterpretation of Scripture. I acknowledge many of my brethren would disagree.
I believe and know by experience that Christians continue to battle with sin after being born of the Spirit. If this were not true our New Testaments would be much shorter and our experience vastly different. Regrettably, well-meaning Christians often use the wrong Scriptures to teach about this reality and they misuse others. We must strive to avoid this error and instead heed the admonition of