Book Review: The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment by Tim Challies

In the flooded market of Christian book publishing, it is indeed rare for a book to truly break new ground.  Rarer still is a book that breaks new ground in a clear and practical way on a topic that is important to the life of every follower of Christ.

And yet that is exactly what Tim Challies has done in this debut book.  While we have multitudes of books on prayer, love, humility, obedience, and other aspects of our walk with Christ, there have been few that specifically and comprehensively deal with this other crucial aspect of Christian living: discernment.

Challies first calls us to the importance of discernment in our lives, as a mark of spiritual maturity and as a guard of the gospel.  He next takes time to review the significant challenges to living a life of discernment in this culture, dealing specifically with internal, spiritual, and cultural influences.

From there he spends a chapter building a specific definition of spiritual discernment based on its use in the Bible.  He defines discernment as “the skill of understanding and applying God’s Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong.”

There is a chapter on discerning and judgement, which compares things which the Bible instructs us not to judge (“motives or the righteousness of other believers”) vs. things the Bible commands us to judge (such as doctrine). From explaining that discernment is primarily concerned with the truth of God, he next moves onto a helpful chapter devoted to an overview of discernment as it applies to the will of God.

Chapter seven of the book looks at discernment as a spiritual gift, while chapter eight is devoted to the dangers of discernment when used improperly.  Lastly,  Challies describes the spiritual disciplines that equip us to develop discernment, and goes through a detailed practical example of discernment in action.

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment really is a book for every believer, that lays out a solid foundation and a useful guide to becoming a more discerning Christian.  I was personally challenged in reading this book to apply discernment as a more serious and systematic discipline in my own life. Highly recommended.

For more information about this book you can visit its webpage.

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