Subscribe now

Perpetual Battle: The World, the Flesh and the Devil

By Simon Vibert
August 2019 | Review by James Allan
  • Publisher: Christian Focus Publications
  • ISBN: 978-1-5271-0149-4
  • Pages: 224
  • Price: 7.99
Buy this book »

As a teenager, I attended a church youth group called the ‘9:23 Club’. The name came from the words of Jesus in Luke 9:23, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me’. The message was clear enough: being a Christian involves suffering.

In this book, Simon Vibert senses that this is a lost emphasis. In the prologue, he writes, ‘Those who influenced me most in my early days as a Christian told me two things in no uncertain terms: that there is new life and joy in Christ with the Holy Spirit living within; and, that the Devil, the flesh and the world will do their worst (or I guess their ‘best’ from their point of view!) to deflect me from keeping going as a Christian’ (p.12).

His motivation in writing is his conviction that one of those things is no longer emphasised as it once was. Instead, few sermons today are heard on the themes of discipline, perseverance, conflict and spiritual warfare. He stresses that the Christian life is a perpetual battle and therefore it is vital for every Christian to be made aware of this and duly equipped.

The book is divided into three sections: ‘The Devil’, ‘The Flesh’ and finally ‘The World’. In each section, the author introduces the reader to four books that helped him early on in his Christian life: William Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour; The Fight by John White; volume 6 of The Works of John Owen (particularly Mortification of Sin in Believers); and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Although he makes extensive use of these authors, other books have clearly also had their influence. For example, there is a good dose of J.C. Ryle’s Holiness.

Each section begins with a summary of scriptural teaching, before moving on to look at the perspectives brought by one of the four writers, then giving some practical application.

The book certainly meets its objective. The writer wants to highlight what John Owen wrote for a previous generation: ‘We can expect to be tempted the whole of our lives; suffering should not come as a surprise. In our dedication to become more like Christ we might even think that we are close to despair, discouragement and sheer exhaustion’ (p.160). It is evident throughout that the writer’s intention is not to depress us, but rather to shepherd Christian men and women immersed in the battle.

I am sure that the author would be thrilled if this book led readers to discover the estimable works already mentioned, but this title stands on its own merits as a worthwhile and accessible read.

James Allan

Blackwood

Book Reviews

Read our latest book reviews

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Hidden Evil — A biblical and pastoral response to domestic abuse
Eryl Davies

If only this book wasn’t needed; sadly, it is. Domestic abuse is far more common in our churches than many realise. Hidden Evil is an apt title. Dr Davies has compiled stories from sufferers that help us understand how abuse…

See all book reviews
Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Between Life and Death: A Gospel-Centered Guide to End-of-Life Medical Care
Kathryn Butler

Dr Kathryn Butler is a Christ-centred trauma and critical care surgeon with years of experience caring for patients in the intensive care unit. She has observed relatives struggle to reconcile what is happening with their faith, asking questions such as…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Larry Norman and the perils of Christian rock
Gregory Thornbury

What are we to make of Larry Norman, the controversial pioneer of Christian pop music in the late 1960s and ‘70s? Gregory Alan Thornbury (son of occasional ET contributor John) tells the fascinating story with riveting style and careful accuracy.…

Star RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar RatingStar Rating
That Hideous Strength: How the West Was Lost
Melvin Tinker

A book offering to tell us ‘how the West was lost’ has set itself a very ambitious target. Perhaps it needs a few more pages to quite hit that target. But it succeeds admirably in drawing our attention to a…