Filled with the Knowledge of His Will
Gil Rugh

Copyright © 1997
Indian Hills Community Church
Lincoln, Nebraska

Colossians 1:9-10

The Apostle Paul begins this letter to the church at Colossae by giving the Colossians a glimpse of his practice in prayer. They were part of Paul's prayer life. He was filled with thanks to God for the work that God had done in the lives of these people. Paul's ongoing work was a testimony to the power of God's truth in transforming lives. He is going to pray for them and will express the burden of his heart - that he desires God to continue to build the Colossians to maturity. You can't help but be impressed about the importance of prayer that Paul placed in his life. That importance is seen not only in this letter but in his other writings.

Prayer, indeed, is one of the greatest privileges given to the people of God. Very simply, prayer is the honor and privilege we have of speaking to God as our Heavenly Father. It is a remarkable honor when you stop and consider that we - sinful, fallen beings redeemed by God's grace - are called the children of God. With that privileged position as God's children comes the blessing of talking with God as our Heavenly Father. The picture that is drawn with God as our Father portrays to us the openness, warmth and availability of the relationship.

It has all been provided in the work of Jesus Christ, our high priest, who made a sacrifice acceptable to God that would pay for sin. That sacrifice was His own body crucified on the cross, and He now continues His ongoing ministry as our high priest in the very presence of God. Hebrews 4:14 says, "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession." Now the responsibility of the priest was to represent the people to God, and the high priest had the ultimate responsibility. Jesus Christ is the high priest that God has provided to make a sacrifice that is acceptable by God to pay in full the penalty for sin. He has passed through the heavens. He was crucified, buried, raised and ascended back into the glory of heaven itself. We are told in verse 15, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." There is no sin in the life of our high priest. He is the sinless priest who offered a sinless sacrifice - Himself. Note verse 16: "Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." An awesome picture is presented to us. We are invited to draw near to the very throne room of God in glory. And for us who have Jesus Christ as our high priest, it is a throne of grace where we can find provision for every situation and circumstance in life. We are to come with confidence. We are to have the full assurance that God welcomes us and that He delights in have us before this throne of grace. We have the full confidence that we will receive what we ask from Him.

1. Intercession is Fearful, Awesome

Turn over to Hebrews 7:25. Again, the discussion of the whole book of Hebrews is that the priesthood of Christ pervades everything. Verse 24 says that we have a priest who is a priest eternally, permanently. "Therefore..." verse 25, "...He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." We draw near to God through Christ initially at our salvation, and then it is an ongoing privilege. And Jesus Christ is consistently, permanently, in the presence of God to intercede on our behalf. I am always accepted because He is always there. His presence there is an ongoing reminder and testimony that He has paid in full the penalty for my sin, and I come into the presence of God before the throne of grace not because I am worthy, not because I am better than someone else, but because God's grace has provided for me a salvation that has cleansed me and made provision for me for time and eternity.

Look at Hebrews 10:19-22. Preceding these verses, the writer of Hebrews talked about the finality of the sacrifice of Christ and that there is no longer any offering for sin, no more sacrifices to be made, because the one sacrifice for time and eternity has been completed. "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart..." The Jewish Christians who are reading this know a striking statement is being made. In the Old Testament tabernacle, the temple, the holy place, a curtain divided the outer sanctuary from the inner, which, if you will, contained the very presence of God. In that most inner Holy of Holies, one person at one time of the year could enter on behalf of the people. It was a fearful thing. He wore bells on the end of his robe. We are told that a rope was tied around his ankle in case something happened and he died in there. Since no one else could go in to retrieve his body, the rope allowed them to pull him out.

The picture here is that intercession is a fearful and awesome thing. Only the high priest could do it, and he could do it only once a year. Now Jesus Christ has made it possible for each of us to come with confidence into that very presence of God and talk to Him as our Father with the confidence that we are accepted. It is a remarkable, awesome privilege, this privilege of prayer. It is a privilege limited only to those who are redeemed by the grace of God. 1 Timothy 2 states: "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." In John 14:6, Jesus said, " one comes to the Father but through Me." In fact, Proverbs 28:9 says the prayer of the person who rejects the word of God is vile. "He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination." Understand that prayer is a serious matter. For those of us who have been redeemed, it is one of our greatest privileges.

Come back to Colossians, chapter 1. It is humbling to think that we are to speak to God personally and intimately. It should be the delight of our hearts to speak with Him. When you think about it, it's amazing that we find time to do anything else. The Lord of all, the God who created everything, the One who rules and reigns, whose purposes are accomplished, invites me as His child to talk with Him about whatever is on my heart, to enjoy communion with Him as I talk with Him in prayer as He speaks to me from His word. What a blessing to pray for others. What a joy to know that others are praying for us. The Apostle Paul made it a regular part of his life to earnestly pray for fellow believers. As he begins the letter to the Colossians in verses 3 to 8, we have an extended expression of Paul's prayer of gratitude and thanks to God for what He had done in the lives of the Colossians. That's a good place for our prayer to begin - "Thank You, Lord, for Your gracious work in the lives of these people."

Paul had never met these people, but they were dear to his heart. When you pray for someone, you develop an attachment to them. I receive letters from time to time from people who listen to tapes, and they say they pray for me. You know, it is almost like they are friends. They talk about how they pray regularly and faithful for me and for this ministry. A bond is there even though we have never met. Paul expressed his gratitude to God for what God has done. And then with verse 9 he continues the subject of prayer, but he turns it from the thanks he expressed to God in prayer for His work in their lives to his ministry of intercession. In verses 9 to 14, Paul talks about what he is praying and asking God to accomplish in the lives of the Colossians in these days and in the days ahead. His prayer basically is that they will be filled with the knowledge of His will so they can live their lives in a manner pleasing to God in every way. What a prayer. What a goal in praying. What an encouragement to contemplate that it is possible for us to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and to be pleasing to Him in all respects. That does not say anything about us, but it says multitudes about God and the power of salvation that He is in the process of working out in the lives of those whom he has redeemed.

Now Paul is famous for good reason for his long sentences. His expression of gratitude in prayer was one long sentence in verses 3 through 8. Some of your English Bibles in different versions may have broken it up, but in the Greek text it is all one sentence. To be consistent, he again will make verses 9 through 14 one long sentence as he intercedes for them. If you like grammar, sit down and diagram it. You'll find that it always seems like you're running off the page with your diagrams. In my Bible - I am using a New American Standard Bible - the sentence ends after verse 12, and verse 13 begins with a new sentence. In the Greek test, though, it is still all part of one sentence. In fact, verse 13 begins, "who rescued us" rather than "For He rescued us." We will talk about that when we get down to verse 13. But just keep in mind that this is another one of those long sentences, and we don't want to get lost along the way. We will go through the pieces, then we will tie it together.

2.Paul's Prayers were Intense, Unceasing

Paul is expressing the intercession, his desire for the Colossians. Note that verse 9 begins, "For this reason also..." It refers back to verses 4-8, where he mentioned the encouraging report he received from Epaphras that told of what God has done in their lives and the manifestation they have of the working of God in their lives. "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will..." You will note a connection of things that are said in verse 9 and in verses 3 and 4 of this chapter. He really is repeating the emphasis on prayer - "...since the day we heard of it..." in verse 9, and the statement in verse 4, "since we heard of your faith in Jesus Christ and the love which you have for all the saints." There is some reiteration here as he changes direction a little bit from an expression of thanks to telling the Colossians how he intercedes on their behalf. He says, "...we have not ceased to pray for you...." Well, in verse 3 he told them that he was always praying for them. This is a reminder that he is going to continue to pray for them. He's telling them that he wants what he is praying for to be accomplished in their lives.

There is an intensity about the way this is all put together here: "...since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask..." I think this intensity was a quality of the Apostle Paul's prayer life. I take it when Paul said to someone, "I will pray for you," he didn't walk away and forget. You know, sometimes we will say that to people because it sounds like the spiritual thing to say at the time. They will say something to us and we will say, "Well, I will pray about it with you." Then we walk away and it never crosses our mind again. In fact, sometimes time goes by and they will say, "Oh, I want to thank you for praying for me." You hope they say more because you want to know about the answers they got that you didn't ask for. But I don't think Paul was that way. We shouldn't be that way, either. We need to make more use of prayer lists and written reminders in certain settings. But the Apostle Paul was intense about his prayer. And he remembered people in prayer.

A number of Paul's letters have a similar kind of expression about his regular, unceasing prayer for those to whom he is writing. Back up a few pages to Ephesians, chapter 1. I selected this one not because it is better than the rest but because it is closer than the rest. Look at verse 15. "For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you..." You see, it is the same kind of motivation. He had heard about what God was doing in their lives. Now, unlike Colossae, Paul had been to Ephesus, but since he left he heard continuing reports of how God's work was being accomplished in their lives. "...your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory..." would give them what Paul asked for them. You see those two elements here - his thanks, verse 16, "I don't cease giving thanks," and "I make mention of you in my prayers that God" would do this. We have the same kind of emphasis in Colossians, chapter 1 - "I am thankful for what God has done; I am praying He will do this."

Note in verse 16 that Paul did not cease giving thanks. Obviously, it doesn't mean that he was thanking and praying for the Ephesians 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But he was saying that it was a regular part of his prayer life to remember them, to pray for them. They were a regular part of his prayer life. That must have come as an encouragement to these churches to know that the Apostle Paul had them on his heart. And you pray for those who are on your heart. His intense interest in them is shown by the fact that he regularly prayed for them. When people tell me that they pray for me regularly, that says something to me. It says they are concerned about me. They love me. They have an interest in me. I am on their hearts and minds. They pray for me. What more could they do? Of what greater importance is there than to pray for me? So for Paul, this is an expression of his love and commitment to them.

3.Intense Prayer Life Available to Believers

Come back to Colossians, chapter 1. You know, an intense prayer life is something that is available to all who are believers in Jesus Christ. We may not be the greatest evangelists, the greatest preachers, the greatest whatever. But each of us as children of God has the privilege of confident access to a throne of grace. Each of us has the privilege of having for ourselves an intense prayer life. And it will not be until we get to glory that we realize how much of what God has done in the world in the accomplishing of His purposes has been as the result of the prayers of His saints. Some of those who have seemed not to have roles of honor and privilege and visibility, I think, will be shown to have accomplished more by their diligence in prayer than we could have ever dreamed.

What is he praying? Colossians 1:9: "...we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." That is the content of his prayer for them. He is asking God that they be filled with the knowledge of His will. This is something that he is asking God to do to them. That phrase to be filled is in the passive voice; something is to be done to them. You use the middle if he wanted them to fill themselves, or the active if this was something they were to do. But this is something that is to be done to them. He is asking God to fill them up with the knowledge of His will.

What does it mean to be filled up with something? Well, it means you have it in its fullness and completeness. But it also means you have it in such a way that it controls your life. Ephesians 5:18 says, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation..." - which is excess - "...but be filled with the Spirit." As we submit, He fills us, which means He controls us. And that is what he is saying here. "I am praying that you will be filled with the knowledge of His will." In other words, you will have that knowledge in such fullness that it controls your life. It permeates your life and thus controls you.

We could look at other passages in the Scripture, such as John 16:6, when Jesus Christ was preparing to depart from the disciples. Jesus told them He was going back to the Father, and mentioned the sorrow that had filled their hearts. They were filled with sorrow to the point that it dominated and controlled them. We have used that expression. "You know, I am filled with grief. I am filled with joy." That means a specific emotion is dominating you at this time. There is not room for anything else. That emotion is the controlling influence in your life.

4.God's Knowledge Controls Lives

That is what Paul is praying here. He wants them to be filled with the knowledge of His will. This is the intense form of the word knowledge. It is a preposition on the front. He wants them to have the fullness, or full knowledge, of His will so that the knowledge of this will is what is controlling and shaping and directing them. He will say in verse 10 that this knowledge is going to result in a life that is lived according to a certain pattern. It fills them. It controls and directs their lives. They will walk in such a way as to be pleasing to God because the knowledge of God's will fills them and controls them.

Note how he goes on to elaborate on this in verse 9: "...the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." Two words, wisdom and understanding. They are words that often are used synonymously. There is a difference between the two. The Greek word for wisdom is sophia. We are familiar with that in English. It is a general word, a broad word, that refers to our mental faculties. "It refers to mental excellence in its highest form," one Greek commentator said. When the word understanding is used differently than sophia, it refers to the specific application of wisdom to certain details. So when Paul wants us to be filled with the knowledge of His will, that breaks down to spiritual wisdom and understanding. He's talking about that mental comprehension and grasp of God's truth and the application of that truth to the details of life. Note that he says "...all spiritual wisdom and understanding." This is a wisdom that goes beyond human intellect and human knowledge. This is wisdom and understanding in the spiritual realm. It is produced by the Holy Spirit of God. It is not found by human means. It is divinely revealed and given. You know, Paul doesn't pray, "Lord make them smarter." He says, "Lord. fill them with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and understanding."

5.Worldly Wisdom has no Spiritual Value

Back up to 1 Corinthians 1:22. The Apostle Paul in these opening chapters of the letter to the Corinthians makes a sharp contrast between human wisdom and divine wisdom. It comes from the fact that he is writing to a Greek city. He said, "...and Greeks search for wisdom." This was held in high honor among the Greeks, and it was knowledge for the sake of knowledge. They just collected facts. To know more was the goal. That kind of wisdom is not what Paul was talking about in his letter to the Colossians. And he also draws the contrast between human wisdom and divinely revealed wisdom in 1 Corinthians. Look at verse 20 of chapter 1: "Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" Worldly wisdom has a place. We have some very intelligent people in the world who have done some amazing things with the minds that God has given them. But you understand that when it comes to spiritual matters such as salvation and sanctification, worldly wisdom is of no value. God has made it foolish, stupid, moronic. It is not effective.

Paul continues to contrast spiritual wisdom and worldly wisdom through the remainder of chapter 1. We don't have time to read it all this morning, but note that he reminds us in verse 26 that "...not many wise..." have been called. It is not God's pattern to fill the church with those of the greatest intellect. He doesn't say not any are called. He calls some. But that is not the bulk. Most are just average people. Verse 27: "but God has chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong." See the contrast here? The way God is working is not the way the world operates.

When Paul came into Corinth, it was a city that admired wisdom. He came with trembling. And he determined, chapter 2, verse 2, that he would know nothing but Jesus and Him crucified. In effect, he said, "I am going to narrow the message down. I am just going to talk about the crucifixion of Christ." Verse 4: "My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." Again you see the contrast. Although Paul did not use persuasive words of wisdom, he was a great intellect. He was one of those few intellectual giants, if you will, whom God called to Himself. When he came to Corinth, he didn't come with the idea that this is a Greek city where wisdom is admired, so he had better show how wise he is. He didn't decide that the starting point is to demonstrate that Christianity is not just for the stupid. Did he show them with the power of intellect that Christianity is the only rational alternative? Did he convince them, prepare them, soften them? Nope. He simply preached the cross. Why? That would be a demonstration of the Spirit's power. The reason for such a simple message? So your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men but the power of God.

This is a crucial area. If you try to mix the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God, you nullify the power of God. Sure, you can get people to respond to the wisdom of the world. You can fill the church, but they have a faith that rests on the wisdom of men. This is the great danger that teachers and preachers need to be aware of. You can be a good public speaker. Good public speakers can move audiences. You can use your mind in such a way that you convince people of error as well as truth. They believe you. But that is not salvation. Salvation is accomplished when the foolishness of men - the message of Christ - is preached, and the Spirit of God drives home the power of God to a heart and transforms it in glorious salvation. That's what the wisdom of God is in contrast to the wisdom of the world. We need to be very careful in our ministries that we don't become worldly successful at the expense of the power of God.

The contrast is clear and strong. We have a wisdom, 1 Corinthians 2:6, but it is not the wisdom of the world. It is the wisdom of God. Verse 7: "but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory." Now we are not talking about something mystical here. It is something open and revealed, but it is truth that is a mystery in the sense that it would not be known apart from the revelation of God. You know what he says here. He limits himself to revelation. He did not believe that he would enhance the effectiveness of the gospel by adding to it the wisdom of man. Rather, he said it would nullify it.

This was written almost 2,000 years ago, and the church is being swept along because it is unwilling to face it. We want to be effective in the world in a worldly sense. We have dealt with statements like "all truth is God's truth." You know what that is? It becomes a blanket that enables me to reach out, take in worldly wisdom and add it to God's wisdom and His word. With that mixture, supposedly I will have a more effective ministry. I may have a bigger ministry. I may be more influential, humanly speaking. I will not have a more effective ministry, biblically speaking. It is not the way God works. But, you know, I get tired of being stupid. I like the world to look at me and say, "He is really intelligent. He is a Christian, but he is really intelligent." But if I just come and preach the cross they will say, "He is a Christian, and he is stupid." Besides, people don't flock to hear just the word of God. But if I sprinkle in men's wisdom to that....People like men's wisdom. They just don't like God's wisdom. I could come up with all kinds of plans.

6.God's Wisdom Comes from Divine Revelation

Verse 9: "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him. For to us, God revealed them through the Spirit..." What God has done doesn't come through human intellect, human activity. It comes from divine revelation, and that is the work of the Spirit. Verse 14: "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God..." A natural man is an unregenerate man. He has not been born again. He does not have the Spirit of God dwelling within him. He doesn't accept the things of the Spirit of God. "...for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ." See what is being said here? I can stand here and communicate to you the truth of God from His word. I cannot make you understand it. That is something the Spirit of God alone can do. The unregenerate man thinks the things of God are foolish.

What happens to a church as it begins to move away from God's plan for the church? It gives less and less place to the clear teaching of the word of God. Why? Verse 14: "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him." So you can't get unbelievers to come and fill the church if you're just going to teach them the word. You don't have to be an Einstein to figure this out. You're going upstream. People think that what you're telling them is moronic. The Greek word for foolishness here is moria, from which we get the word moron. Since they can't understand it, what's the purpose of teaching the word? Let's move away and do things that they will like, that they won't think are foolish and that they can understand. Which means what? Remove the word of God, the clear teaching of the word of God. I'm not saying they don't use the word, but they don't turn the word of God loose in its power. And you must have the Spirit of God to understand the word of God.

Jump down to chapter 3, verse 18: "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise." Do you understand this? God doesn't cater to our pride. There are no alternative routes. To continue in the vein Paul is using, you must come the stupid way. You must become foolish. It is God's only way. There is the song, "I must go home by way of the cross; there's no other way but this." That's the point. There's no other way. It's humbling. You have to bow down, put aside all that wisdom and accept by faith what God has said and done. Verse 19: "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, 'He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness'; and again, 'The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless." Why do we continue to turn to the world by believing it has something we must have? I mean, I don't mind going to someone who can fix my car who's not a believer. But I don't go to someone to fix my soul who is not a believer. I go to the God who created me. Salvation, sanctification, God's plan is the word, nothing else.

Come back to Colossians 1:9. Paul is saying he wants you to have "the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." Know the concepts here. You may want to mark them - knowledge, wisdom, understanding. They deal with the realm of our mind. We're not saying that Christians set aside their minds. We're not putting a prize on being Biblically ignorant. Just the opposite. These words - knowledge, wisdom, understanding - call to our attention the fact that we must use our minds to grasp the truths that God has revealed through the ministry of the Spirit. This is the realm in which we are operating. The mind plays a key role in God's plan for growth.

We often hear people say, "You know, we have too much emphasis on doctrine and not enough on practice." You cannot have too much emphasis on doctrine. When you have a Biblical teaching of doctrine, you increase in the knowledge of the will of God with all wisdom and spiritual understanding, verse 10, "so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects..." That kind of talk is foolishness to those who are not saved, so they try to divert people away from that which really matters. Knowledge, wisdom and understanding are foundational to the production of the character of God in our lives. They are available to every believer. You may never have the IQ of some people, but if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you can have a thorough understanding of the word of God. You will know how it is to be worked out in your life and how it is to be applied to the circumstances of life. That's a matter of the work of the Spirit as you diligently study the word of God.

So we are to use our minds. We are to have wisdom - not just the world's wisdom, but the wisdom that God provides through the ministry of the Spirit. Hosea 4: 6 doesn't say, My people are destroyed for lack of feeling. No. It says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." That's what's happening to the church today. We're moving in the realm of our emotions, our feelings. Our actions become based on our intuition. "And besides, you know, I just can't concentrate on the study of the word." So we move toward doing things that are lighter and more entertaining. From time to time, pastors ask me about my sermons and how long I preach. I say, "30 minutes, times 2." You know, I have a confession. When I do rarely preach in other places, I don't preach as long as I preach at Indian Hills. I try not to let that word get back here. But you know what? Those people aren't trained and disciplined, by and large, for that kind of intense study. That kind of intensity has to be developed. But that ought to be our goal. You know, we aren't looking for the most shallow common denominator. We want to grow and mature.

Turn to 2 Timothy 3:16-17. By using our minds in the study of the word and being under the influence of the Spirit, we learn that "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." It comes from God, thus it is profitable "so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." God's word is what He uses to accomplish His work. We need knowledge and wisdom and understanding in the handling of the word of God. That's fine, but new believers are like new babies. They're immature in these things. There's much that they don't know how to handle. But you know, those of us who have been believers for a time ought to be a models for them. As time passes, they will grow and mature. Why? We are people who deal intensely with the word of God because we need a knowledge of His will. We need all spiritual wisdom and understanding, Colossians 1:10, "so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects..."

This is the reason Paul prays for them to be filled with the knowledge of His will. You know, the Greeks' concept of knowledge was what we might call sterile knowledge. It's the kind of knowledge Paul talked to the Corinthians about in 1 Corinthians 8:1: "..knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies." For the Greeks, knowledge could be just a collection of facts. But for the Jews, the use of knowledge always influenced and shaped lives. So the Hebrew concept of knowledge was not limited to a collection of facts that may or may not have an influence on your life. Their concept was that knowledge shapes your behavior. That's the way it's used in the New Testament when we talk about knowledge. So this idea, "Well, you know, you can know too much" is false. You can never know too much about the word of God. You must understand His word.

7.Our Worthiness is Determined by Our Walk

To be Biblical in your knowledge, the goal of knowledge is always that it fills your life and thus controls you in all that you are and all that you do. For that reason, Paul is praying that they will be filled with the knowledge of His will, so that they will walk - walk; there's our word for that consistent pattern of life - in a manner worthy of the Lord. Now this really is mind-boggling. The standard that is set down is "...worthy of the Lord..." Note that you don't walk in such a way as to make yourself worthy of the Lord. The idea is that you're filled with the knowledge of His will. You have spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you can walk in a manner suitable to the Lord, consistent with the character of the Lord.

Look back at Ephesians 4:1. The first three chapters of Ephesians deal with doctrinal matters. We have been seated with Christ in the heavenlies in Christ. Then chapter 4 begins, "walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you've been called." That's saying basically the same thing as Colossians 1:10: "...walk in a manner worthy of the Lord..." Why are we to walk in such a manner? Because the Lord is the one who gave the call, and the call is to holiness. The call is the perfection of His character. The call is what we find in Leviticus 20:26 and repeated as well in the New Testament: "Be holy for I am holy." Philippians chapter 1:27: "...conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." I mean, this message that brings God's salvation, that talks about the transformation of life, that comes to a person who believes in Christ and thus he is impacted by the power of God in the gospel, that causes us to die with Christ, be buried with Christ, and be raised with Christ to newness of life, you conduct yourself in a manner worthy of that gospel. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 2:12: "so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you..." The high and holy calling we have as believers is to walk in a manner worthy of our God. That's the call He's given us, and it's the gospel that has impacted us. Colossians 1:10: Walk worthy " please Him in all respects..." That's what it means to walk worthy. It means I am pleasing to God in all respects.

You know, that's a good way that I can look at my life. Look back over the past week. Was your life pleasing in all respects? Sometimes I think about it this way: If Jesus Christ was personally, bodily, visibly going to spend the week with me, would I have done what I did? Would it be pleasing to Him? If everything I'm doing is pleasing to Him in all respects.... He is with me. He said in Hebrews 13:6: "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you." I sometimes just don't think about that.

But how does this ability come that allows us to walk in a manner worthy to please Him in all respects? By being filled with the knowledge of His will, with spiritual wisdom and understanding. God's truth is so much a part of my very being that it becomes, if you will, the spiritually natural thing for me to do. It becomes second nature. I just do it; it's part of me. It's like some of you ladies who cook. You say to someone, "Would you tell me how you made that?" She says, "Boy, I don't know. I'll have to think about that. I've been doing it so long that I don't even give it a thought. Let me think, What do I put in there? How much? How....It's, you know, I just do it." You think, "Oh, that's a big help" But that's the way it is when something becomes so much a part of you. It's just you. Well, that's what we've done. We've taken in the knowledge of God and it has so developed and filled us. It's just what I do." You know, it's like our children as they grow in our family. They are told some specifics, and they respond to them. That creates a pattern of life that should carry over into areas that we haven't specifically addressed. Yet they just know what to do, how to act. That same concept is built into our lives because His knowledge fills us and controls us.

Paul unfolds this concept of walking in a manner worthy of pleasing the Lord with great elaboration because it is modified with four participles. You can just mark them in your Bible for now. We're not going to get through them today, but you'll know what they are. The four participles here will bring a little more specific attention on what it means to be pleasing to the Lord in all respects. The first participle is bearing fruit. The second participle is increasing. The third one is the first word in verse 11, strengthens. In English, we might say being strengthened. The fourth one is giving thanks at the beginning of verse 12. So when you are walking in a manner worthy of the Lord and pleasing Him in all respects, you will be bearing fruit, increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all power, and giving thanks. That's not all that could be said, but that gives you a concise view of what Paul has in mind as he is praying for this to happen in the lives of the Colossians.

"...bearing fruit in every good work..." The wisdom and understanding produced by the Spirit at the end of verse 9 also will result in more of His fruit being produced in the life. That's the fruit of Galatians 5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace and so on. These are qualities that really indicate the character of God is being developed and produced in us. We will be bearing fruit in every good work. True believers are people who are functioning as they should, where they should. They are manifesting and producing the character of God in all their activities, which are means of serving God. Whatever we do, we do it unto the Lord. So we are involved in the work of our God and bearing fruits.

We are "...increasing in the knowledge of God." This could mean that you increase in the knowledge of your understanding. That's a growing process, true. We are never done growing in our knowledge of God. But it can also be translated from the Greek - the form is the same - "increasing by the knowledge of God." So we are bearing fruit and increasing, growing by the knowledge of God. As we are growing in our knowledge of God, we are developing more of our His character in our lives and the growth process continues.

This connection - bearing fruit and increasing - was used back in verse 6. The gospel "...which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing..." The picture there was of its impact in the world. But that impact in the world comes down to the individuals who are being impacted because salvation is an individual matter. God does it one person at a time. The gospel is constantly bearing fruit and continuing to grow. And that happens in the context of the knowledge of God. It is not that difficult to understand the way the devil is going to oppose the work of God. Is he going to try to shut down this church? No, not necessarily. The devil would be happy for us to grow and have 15 services a day. What he doesn't like is the knowledge of God being given here. That's where the conflict is. Church is not the conflict. The devil is intensely religious. He wants the worship of everyone. It is the knowledge of God that he opposes. That knowledge comes to us through the revelation God has given, His truth. We are growing in the knowledge, or by the knowledge, of God.

We are not going to go through verse 11 today, but I want to summarize it for you so that at least you have this in mind when we pick up here next time We are being "strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience, joyously." We must understand this growing, fruitful life can only be accomplished by the power of God. It is a human impossibility. Only the power of God can so transform a life that His character is being produced in that life, and that person is growing as he continues to produce fruit.

Look at Ephesians, chapter 3. Again, Paul is praying, verse 14: "...I bow my knees before the Father." Verse 16: "that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His spirit in the inner man." The work of the Spirit of God Himself in the life of the individual enables this process to take place. That's why we have to start out with Paul's prayer in Colossians. He is praying that God would fill them "...with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." This takes the power of God at work in my life so that I can walk in a manner pleasing to Him, bearing fruit and continuing to grow. This is a supernatural process, not a natural process. God forbid that we corrupt the work of the power of God in a life by thinking we need the world's wisdom to get it done. I tell you, when the power of God is at work, you need nothing else.

I am appalled at the direction the church has taken in our day when it thinks it has to help God out, that somehow the power of God is weakened. I believe this is the same God who worked in the past and works today. It is the same power of God that was working in the Apostle Paul's life and in the church at Colossae. It is the power of God that is working in this church and in these lives today. And the job can't be done without it. It is the power of God or nothing because God's work cannot be done in human wisdom and with human energy. It has to be done with God's wisdom and God's power.

Now think of the glorious truth that is provided us. Paul is praying for these Colossians, and by the ministry of the Spirit through the inspired word of God it is carried to our hearts that we would be filled with the knowledge of His will and that we would be growing as God's people. This means we are producing fruit, which means we're pleasing to Him, which means we're walking in a manner worthy of Him, which means we're functioning with all wisdom and understanding through the gracious ministry of the Spirit of God who is enabling and empowering us. Our salvation is overwhelmingly complete, overwhelmingly wonderful, awesome. We ought not to give one little fraction of an inch of ground to anyone who would imply otherwise.

That is the salvation we offer to people today. It won't do to join this church or get baptized here. The only thing that can make a difference in your life in the context of salvation, in the context of God's work of sanctification, is His word through His Spirit. That's the only thing that will make you what He wants you to be. It begins when you hear the gospel. You are a sinner. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, left glory, was born into the human race and died on a cross to pay in full the penalty for your sin. There is no other way. John 14:6: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." It is humbling. It means you've got to let go of your pride and your human wisdom. You must bow before Him and acknowledge that, "Yes, God I am a sinner. I believe Your Son died for me. I want to turn from my sin and experience the forgiveness that is found by faith in Him." At that moment you are born into God's family, and the Spirit of God takes up residence in your life. You are transformed and made new, and a process of growing now begins that will go on for all eternity. Let's pray together.

Thank You, Lord, for the richness of Your salvation. Thank You, Lord, for the prayer of the Apostle Paul that these Colossians would experience the fullness of Your work in their lives, and they are filled with the knowledge of Your will. Lord, we desire that for ourselves. Lord, may we make this the intense prayer of our hearts for fellow believers. Lord, may we keep the focus of our lives personally and of this church together on that which you have established as its focus - Your wisdom and the revelation You have given of Yourself, Your truth, so that we might be filled with the knowledge of Your will and manifest the beauty of Your character in all of our ways. We pray in Christ's name, amen.

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, © Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. All quotations used by permission.

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