Tim, after months of putting the purchase off and then waiting to finish another book, I have finally read your book. I loved it. Thank you for writing it. I’m terribly sorry it took me this long.
For the rest of you, I’ve just finished reading The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, by Tim Challies. If you’re looking for a book that explains what discernment is, this is it. Even if you’re not looking for a book on discernment, you should still read it. Tim does an excellent job describing one of the most crucial disciplines in the Christian walk. It was eye-opening, convicting, clarifying and edifying. Read it.
I’m not a reviewer, so I won’t be saying much else about the book. Instead, I’ll offer you my favorite quotes. They may be a bit weird out of context, so I’ll try my best to give you some.
This is in the section where Tim talks about our internal challenges that keep us from discernment:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” asks the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 17:9). From the moment Adam and Eve defied God and ate of the fruit that he commanded them to avoid, the hearts of all humans have been plagued with sin. It is almost impossible to overestimate the human propensity for evil. Like moths to a flame humans are drawn to sin. Our sinful hearts delight in all that is evil and ungodly. When we become Christians, we are given new hearts, hearts that seek after God. Yet the evil continues to dwell within. We engage in a lifelong struggle to identify where evil lurks in our hearts and to tear it out by the roots. Even while we seek after godliness, there is a part of us that yearns to return to our former master and to cast off all traces of God’s presence in our lives. Were it not for God’s grace, none of us would make any progress in this Christian life.”
The definition of discernment:
“Discernment is the skill of understanding and applying God’s Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong.”
And this is a quote Tim used in the section on worldliness and how we must discern between right and wrong. I thought it was an excellent definition of something I must flee from:
“Worldliness is departing from God. It is a man-centered way of thinking; it proposes objectives which demand no radical breach with man’s fallen nature; it judges the importance of things by the present and material results; it weighs success by numbers; it covets human esteem and wants no unpopularity; it knows no truth for which it is worth suffering; it declines to be a “fool for Christ’s sake.” Worldliness is the mindset of the unregenerate. It adopts idols and is at war with God.” — Iain Murray
This is his practical summary of discernment:
“The practice of discernment, then, is given to us in the Bible. We test by using God’s Word as our standard. And having done that either we hold fast to what is true or abstain from what is false and substitute what is good and true and consistent with God’s character for error. As we do this, God will guide us to his truth, and we will be confident that we are doing his will. We will live lives of wisdom and discernment. We will honor God.”
I highly suggest this book. I want everyone I know to own a copy.