The Overcoming Life, by D.L. Moody
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Aneko Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
One of the hallmarks of classic writings that is true for Christian classics as well is the way that great books are in a great conversation with each other. In this late 19th century work, D.L. Moody makes references to the passing nature of fame by looking at what had happened within the last 50 years or so regarding the revival before the American Civil War and the loss of fame for Napoleon III after his disastrous defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, and this book also mentions and engages in a dialogue with a couple of other noted and well-regarded Christian classics in the Confessions of Augustine  and Paul Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress . Yet even though this book is clearly a part of its time, like any classic work it speaks powerfully to our own time as well. In particular, this book is a powerful and timeless antidote to the popular and undemanding ragamuffin gospels  of our times that provide no encouragement for Christians to live a victorious life against the sin that so easily ensnares us all. For that reason alone this book is a superb and worthwhile addition to one’s library of Christian classics, aside from its historical value as being a masterwork from one of the late 19th century’s foremost American religious writers.
This book manages to pack a sizable punch in a short 120 pages. The author begins with a discussion of the Christian’s warfare, and one expects Moody to go deep into demonology and blame Satan, but instead the author puts a mirror in front of ourselves, starting us right off the bat with a realization of the internal warfare Christians are engaged in against our own fallen human nature and our own warped and bent desires. After two chapters on this topic, the Moody moves on to a discussion of external foes, and then a moving call to repentance on the part of believers, and a recognition that repentance is not merely a one-time act but a continual struggle. After this Moody takes on the subject of Noah’s ark and the reality of God’s grace even mixed with His judgment. Of interest here is the way that Moody feels it necessary to defend the historicity of Noah and the Ark from the attack of the cognoscenti of his day, proving our culture wars over biblical history in Genesis  are not a new phenomenon at all. The author then discusses the gifts of grace and closes the book with a discussion on the seven “I wills” of scripture, turning what had begun as a call to self-examination and repentance into a renewed statement of purpose for godly and holy living among believers. The book is a deserved classic.
Despite the brevity of the book, it serves as a tight and well-organized discussion of matters of importance for believers. The author turns to history and the accounts of believers in biblical times and earlier Christian centuries, turns to more recent history in the United States and Europe, and manages to make a stirring call to repentance. Part of the reason for this is that he puts himself under the microscope and comments that the being he has the most trouble with is Dwight L. Moody, namely himself. By looking at his own struggles as being a microcosm of the common struggles of humanity, Moody manages to create in this book a similar effect to that in the middle chapters of Romans from the Apostle Paul, a desire for believers to be victorious over sin, a recognition of his own intense struggles, and a desire to see his people repent from their wicked ways and begin the long struggle against the “old man” which must be put to death continually by believers over the course of a lifetime spent being transformed into the image and likeness of God through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Obviously, that is a message that remains important for Christians to keep in mind at all times for all time.
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