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The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the…
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The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin

by Kris Lundgaard

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This is another one of those books that I can't really say was an enjoyable read, but I think it is essential reading for any Christian. In a nutshell, the author has attempted to modernize and combine two different works of the puritan theologian John Owen (Indwelling Sin, and The Mortification of Sin) so as to make them more accessible to a 21st century audience. This has been a convicting read, and an inspiring read, and it is a book that I can see myself returning to again in the future. It can easily be read in a chapter-a-day format, and there are also study questions at the end of each chapter that might be helpful, especially if this is being read for a group study. ( )
  Adam_Z | Mar 19, 2018 |
This book is commendable on several fronts in spite of the fact that it reads a bit awkwardly. Lundgaard admits that many of his ideas are Owen's and it shows. Many times I pulled out Owen's work on Indwelling Sin and could find the exact line that drove Lundgaard's point. This books strengths lie in the author's treatment of 'how indwelling sin works', but in my judgment fails to offer a complete solution for how a believer is to effectively 'work against sin.'This book is not without strengths, nor should it be as Lundgaard admittedly nearly plagiarizes Owen entirely. 1.) The author's summary of Owen's description of the power of sin is excellent (Part One). I quickly commend the arguments and illustrations. I'm especially grateful for the 'Four Key Truths' from Romans 7:21 as I find them to be paradigmatic of how sin works. Though the author barely develops these ideas enough to satisfy even the least critical mind, these insights are worth the price of the book. 2.) An additional strength of this book is the updated, modern illustrations. Though it always felt as if the author was in a hurry or under a strict length constraint, the illustrations, many of which are from great classical literature, are simple, vivid and helpful. It is only their brevity that makes some of them feel awkward and overstated.3.) Lundgaard (and Owen) take indwelling sin very seriously. This may be so obvious that it is not worth mentioning, but I believe that the gravity of the subject makes it especially commendable. I would venture to suggest that so many people have found this book to be refreshing and valuable simply because it is one of few books that grapples honestly with agonizing presence of indwelling sin in the lives of believers. Even though I have some criticisms I commend the author for this. It takes a significant measure of humility to read, write, or even think upon this subject matter.In spite of some praiseworthy strengths, this book is not without notable shortcomings. At risk of being misunderstood by casual readers, I'll mention two.1.) In my humble judgment, the author fails in his attempt to paint a clear picture of how a believer is to thrive while living in this 'haunted-house.' Though his solution contained some grace-driven components, it contained a stronger 'try-harder' coach-like attitude. Contrast this with a 'grace-centered' or 'gospel-centered' view towards sanctification (think Tullian Tchividjian or Elyse Fitzpatrick). Should we not judge this book based on how effectively the author offers a solution to live with and fight against indwelling sin?? I would summarize the author's main argument (and tone) like this: 'Sin is very dangerous, try really hard not to sin, don't worry you have grace, but try really hard.' I admit that the author has some grace in his solution for sin, but NOT ENOUGH. The book simply focuses too much on self-determination and will-power. I am quite sympathetic of this Philippians 2:12,13 tension, but I lean towards the "it is God who works" emphasis while the author seemed to lean towards the "work out your salvation" emphasis. I think there are a couple of reasons the author failed here and I'm sympathetic with him, but this leads me to the book other primary shortcoming.2.) This book reads like a half-baked outline. There is a TON of Scripture and little of it is given careful exegesis. Chapter 12 (No Easy Peace) made me the most uncomfortable. There were so many times where the author made a great point or hinted at a helpful Scriptural insight but then failed to explain or elaborate. I fear that at times, especially on a difficult topic like indwelling sin that requires precise language, his lack of explanation left his points unclear (see pg. 148 for an example). I often read a point and then wished a less hurried author was present to elaborate upon it. Perhaps the author was intentional about this. In the introduction he states he wants to make Owen accessible, but in my judgment, especially as the book progresses, the author rarely points back to Owen and simply flattens his arguments. In sum, this book has a few strengths, and even more than I've mentioned. But I've suggested that the author does a better job of explaining HOW sin works rather than HOW to work against sin. This leaves sin-weary believers like myself prone to discouragement when approaching the subject of indwelling sin. This is a significant blunder thus warranting 2-stars. I would much rather commend Elyse Fitzpatrick to you on dealing effectively on indwelling sin, especially "Because He Loves Me" or "Comforts from the Cross." ( )
  nathan.c.moore | Oct 1, 2012 |
Excellent book. Lungaard is a very good author. It sucks you in, helps you see the helpless condition we are in as sinners, and then points to Christ as our only hope. Highly recommended. Now, to read the original work by Owens... ( )
  matthauck | Apr 13, 2010 |
Kris Lundgaard draws from the writing of the puritan John Owen on sin and puts Owen's insights into a form accessible for modern readers. (Owen is notoriously difficult to read, though rich in content). The book, however, is Lundgaard's, not just an updating of Owen.

The focus is on putting sin to death in the life of a Christian. Lundgaard does a good job of showing how the cross of Christ changes our mind, affections, and will, and so, our lives. ( )
  Bibliophilus | Sep 3, 2008 |
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