|Christianbook.com: What is the purpose of spiritual disciplines?|
Donald Whitney: Godliness. We’re commanded in 1 Timothy 4:7, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” The spiritual disciplines are the practical, biblical outworkings whereby we discipline ourselves. But the purpose of these disciplines—according to this text—is godliness, that is, holiness, sanctification, Christlikeness. Or, to put it another way, the purpose of the disciplines is to promote intimacy with and (both inward and outward) conformity to Jesus Christ.
Christianbook.com: Why is it that sometimes the spiritual disciplines drain us instead of refreshing us?
Donald Whitney: We forget why we’re practicing them. We forget that their purpose is intimacy with and conformity to Christ. Whenever our spiritual practices become just another thing to do on an already overloaded to-do list, we’ve fallen prey to what the Apostle Paul warns of in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
Christianbook.com: How can one engage in discipline without being legalistic?
Donald Whitney: By practicing the spiritual disciplines with the right motives. The greater danger in our time, however, is not legalism as much as it is license. For every one that I meet who relies too heavily on his practice of the disciplines, I meet ten who discounts the importance of them in following Christ.
Christianbook.com: Your book is titled Simplify Your Spiritual Life. What do you mean by “simplify”? Are you advocating that people spend less time doing spiritual things?
Donald Whitney: I suppose it’s possible that some need to spend less time devoted to things of the soul and of the next world, and devote more time to temporal matters, but I’ve never met them. The question to address is not how to spend less time devoted exclusively to spiritual pursuits, but how to spend that time better.