Kris Lungaard spent some time reading John Owens work on the mortification of sin and shrunk it down into a book that all believers should read, The Enemy Within. This is a great book. In it he focuses on how the mind, affections and the will are all involved in sin.
“Each of the faculties of your soul has duties before God. The mind is the sentinel, commanded to watch carefully over the soul by questioning, assessing, and making judgments: ‘Will this please God?’ ‘Is this according to God’s Word?’ 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. Last, the will puts the soul into action, carrying out what the mind said was good and the affections hungered for.” (p56)
Lungaard is clear and plain. The connection between the mind, affections and will is clear and concise.
“Look at the story of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22. When the feast is ready, the king sends his servants to gather the guests. But each one has an excuse, something more pressing: “they paid no attention and went off – one to his field, another to his business” (verse 5). Working your field can be pleasing to God – he wants us to work hard. You can run a business to God’s glory and even use it to extend his kingdom. But the flesh is doing something subtle here – taking what can be good and pleasing to Go and using it to squeeze out thoughts of God.” (p65-66)
It is not only with purely evil thoughts that we must content, but with thoughts that squeeze out the word of God and focus our minds on the here and now to the exclusion of spending time in the Word of God. If it can get our imagination, it will move into our affections:
“The flesh wants to fix your imagination on something that will lead you into the clutches of sin. It wants you to dwell on and savor those tantalizing possibilities, until you can’t stop thinking about them, until you start plotting and scheming ways to make the fantasy a reality” (p92)
Once our imagination is captured, we are almost captured. Lungaard explains that this is how visionary leaders work. They paint a picture of a world where their products make a huge difference to everyone alive, and we spend money as we buy into that vision. Finally Lungaard goes on to the will.
“We often try to excuse our unwelcome behavior by attributing our work to the command of some higher-ups, by pleading ignorance, or by arguing an outward coercion or compulsion that robbed us of freedom. Though most such self-absolutions are dubious, they rely on a universally accepted fact: we can only be blamed (or credited) for something we did willingly, or with consent. Anything you say or do or think or feel can only be sinful to the degree you say or do or think or feel it willingly
It is easy to treat sin as a subjective feeling or thing rather than an objective offense to God. Here we have deceived ourselves and delivered ourselves over to be robbed by sin. When we treat sin as unequally sinful depending on the sin, we have become our own judges and a light handed executioner.
If you haven’t read this book, it should go onto your must read list. Every page is like tearing away at the layers of dead skin your conscience has formed over the years and helps you get to the areas of your heart that need to be reconsidered. Its an easy book to read, the chapters are short and the text is big and it is only around 150 pages in total.