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The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment

My first book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, was published by Crossway in January of 2008. The book looks to the Bible to seek what God teaches on the subject of spiritual discernment, a term I define as the skill of understanding and applying God’s Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong. Written for the general reader and in a way that is suitable for a wide audience, the book teaches people to think biblically so they might act biblically. It appeals for discernment, teaching the importance of this discipline in guarding the good news God has entrusted to us.

Excerpt: Foreword, Introduction, Chapter 1

Buy It

Order it at Amazon or order from Westminster Books.


Tim Challies is uniquely qualified to write on the subject. I don’t know of a more reliable or more prolific commentator on the contemporary evangelical scene. His weblog is a favorite stop for thousands of Christian readers every day. His book reviews and his comments on evangelical trends are consistently even-handed, thorough yet succinct, and full of perceptive insights… The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment is a truly important work—one that should be required reading not only for church leaders, but for all sober-minded laypeople as well.

John MacArthur, Pastor-Teacher, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA

Tim Challies is one of the finest young evangelical thinkers of our day. He combines keen insight with theological maturity and spiritual depth. His weblog is required reading, and The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment should help form the Christian character of a new generation of evangelicals. Indeed, we must hope so.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr. President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

The path to most biblical graces is bordered with hazards on both sides of the way. With love, for example, one must avoid the temptation toward indulgence on one side and varying degrees of apathy on the other. With the subject of this book—discernment—one can fall into the ditch of careless naivete on the left or wander into the dark woods of a critical spirit on the right. Tim Challies carefully guides his reader between these dangers and on toward Christlike discernment. I’ve simply never read a more thorough, practical, and biblically sound treatment of this subject. Anyone wanting to study biblical discernment should not miss this book.

Donald Whitney, Professor of Biblical Spirituality, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

The many fans Tim Challies has won through his highly regarded blog ( will discover in this book the motivation that drives his incisive analysis of cultural events and trends–a keen respect for truth and a passionate commitment to biblical discernment.

Nancy Pearcey, Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar, World Journalism Institute

If you were more discerning you’d probably buy this book. If you do read this book, you will be! Tim Challies has written on a topic that is both important and rarely addressed. This book on discernment is simple, clear, well-written and well-illustrated, accurate and even insightful. I read it all. I liked it all. I will recommend it often. Ten short, pithy chapters. Read 1 a day for 10 days, and I guess that you’ll find yourself more discerning—or at least wanting to be.

Mark Dever, Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC

One of my favorite John Murray sayings is “the difference between truth and error is not a chasm but a razor’s edge.” Spurgeon said something like it too: “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather, it is the difference between right and almost right.” Both these giants are emphasizing the vital quality (and difficulty) of discernment. Unfortunately, in our time, even among Christians, discernment is long in demand and short in supply. This is but one reason I’m so delighted to commend to you Tim Challies’ The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. Tim reminds us that the Bible constantly commands us to cultivate discernment, but he doesn’t stop there. He tells us how, biblically.

Ligon Duncan, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS

Publisher’s Description

Spiritual discernment is good for more than just making monumental decisions according to God’s will. It is an essential, day-to-day activity that allows thoughtful Christians to separate the truth of God from error and to distinguish right from wrong in all kinds of settings and situations. It is also a skill—something that any person can develop and improve, especially with the guidance in this book.