Can you imagine receiving a letter telling you that Paul was praying for you and the other Christians where you worshiped? What does Paul want for you and your life as a Christian? What would he ask God for?
Know God’s Will (1:9)
Paul declares that he and Timothy have not stopped praying for the Christians in Colossae. What are Paul and Timothy praying for concerning these Christians? They prayed that the Colossians would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. It is critically important for Christians to be filled up on the knowledge of God’s will. We learn some really important principles from Paul immediately.
First, God’s will is knowable. We live in a time where the common mantra is that God cannot be known and his will cannot be understood. Some religious organization even perpetuate this false idea. Paul says that God’s will is knowable. Paul is praying that the Christians will be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. Paul is not praying for the impossible. Do not be deceived into thinking that you cannot know God’s will for your life. God’s will cannot be discerned within our own minds and hearts. God must reveal his will to us and he did through the Holy Spirit. Paul made this point in a similar way in his letter to the Ephesians.
By revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets. (Ephesians 3:3–5 NKJV) God revealed his will through the Holy Spirit which was revealed to the holy apostles and prophets. The apostles and prophets wrote those things down so that we also can understand. God’s will is knowable.
Second, it is not enough for us to simply be filled up with a knowledge of God’s will. This knowledge is to lead us to spiritual wisdom and understanding. We need to know what is truly important from God’s perspective, not our human perspective. We will have spiritual insight when we learn God’s will. We will organize, comprehend, and apply God’s principles in our lives. It does not do any good to learn God’s will but not apply what is learned to our lives. God’s will only becomes productive when the word of God is applied to your particular circumstances. Knowledge is given to us by God with a purpose: behavior transformation. Notice this point in verse 10.
Walk In A Manner Worthy (1:10-12)
All of this knowledge is to bring about a life change in the Christian. We are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. The knowledge of God’s will gives us the ability to live fully pleasing to him. We can be transformed by God’s power and God’s word into what God wants us to be. We should not pass too quickly over the thought that we can walk in a manner worthy in the Lord. We are not worthy of the grace that has been given to us. Paul pictures that we can live in such a way that reflects the calling given to us. To put this in another way, we live changed lives because of what God has done for us. We recognize what God has done and God has revealed his will through the Holy Spirit. We, therefore, will live lives pleasing to him.
Paul tells us what this life pleasing to God looks like. The first characteristic of a life pleasing to God is that we will be bearing fruit in every good work. The scriptures identify bearing fruit as reaching the lost and teaching the gospel, living a godly life, and honoring and praising God. Second, we will be growing as a result of the knowledge of God. The apostle Peter said the same thing to his readers. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2–3 ESV) Spiritual growth cannot happen apart from knowing God’s will. As we observed in the first eight verses of Colossians chapter 1, we must know the scriptures and know them well to transform our lives into a life worthy in the Lord.
The third characteristic of a life pleasing to God is to be strengthen with all power. This strength is given by God for all endurance and patience with joy. The statement parallels the words of Peter as he opened his letter. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV). God gives us what we need to be successful in living a life worthy of the Lord. The fourth characteristic of those who are pleasing to God is thankfulness. It is sad to see the day devoted for thankfulness has been turned into selfish pursuits. We cannot wait to shop until Friday. Now a day for family, thanksgiving, and God is now about trampling people as you run through the Walmart doors. The characteristic of the Christian life is thankfulness. We have so many reasons to be thankful to the Father. Paul spends the rest of the paragraph declaring what we have in Christ.
The first reason for giving thanks is that the Father has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. God has provided what sinners need to be considered worthy to join the people of God. I think it is interesting and important to observe that we did not qualify ourselves. Apart from God’s grace given through Jesus, the only thing we would qualify for is to receive God’s wrath. God has made it possible for us to be full heirs in the kingdom of light. What is great about this text is that Paul is using language that was reserved for the Jewish people under the Mosaic covenant and applying to all people, including Gentiles, under Christ’s covenant. God promised his people an inheritance, but God was speaking to something greater than the land of Canaan in the days of Joshua. The writer of Hebrews explicitly makes this point.
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:8–10 ESV)
We had no natural right to this inheritance. But through Jesus we have been made full legal heirs of this eternal inheritance. What is this inheritance we are qualified to receive? I cannot be exhaustive because our inheritance of the riches of his grace are too vast to enumerate. Let us just quickly note some of the great things that are possessed in this inheritance. Eternal life is one part of this inheritance. The quality of life in a relationship with God forever in heaven before his throne. We have been qualified to live with the holy, all-powerful God. We are qualified to be in his presence eternally. God wants us to also understand that he has given us all things. Paul is going to teach us in this letter that Christ is over all things and we are heirs with Christ. Paul would write in Ephesians that God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Then we try to throw away this great inheritance for a few temporal pleasures and possessions on this earth.
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. (Hebrews 12:15–17 ESV)
Don’t be like Esau. Don’t throw this inheritance away for the moment of sin that quickly passes away.
The second blessing that we have in Christ that we must be thankful for is the deliverance from the power of darkness. We were in the kingdom of darkness under the power of Satan. We were doomed because of our disobedience against God’s laws. We have been rescued from our sinfulness. The imagery is that of being imprisoned and locked away under the power of darkness. Through the cross of Christ, Satan was crushed and we were rescued from our doom.
The third blessing is that we have been transferred from the kingdom and power of darkness and have been placed in the kingdom of the Son of his love. We have been transferred into a new kingdom, the kingdom of light. Since we are in the kingdom of Christ, we are now under new laws, a new ruler, and are given new citizenship. We cannot no longer live like we are under the old laws of the kingdom of darkness. We cannot live like we under the rule of Satan. We cannot act like our citizenship is still in this world of sinfulness. Paul says that the transfer order was put in. You have been moved out of that hopeless doom and are now in the kingdom of light, the kingdom of Christ. Christ is the ruler and we must obey his laws and recognize our citizenship is in his kingdom.
Finally we have been given redemption. Redemption is a picture of buying a person out of slavery. Redemption is to purchase something back that is gone or lost. In Christ we have been purchased. Christ paid for us. He paid the price for our sins to release us from our debt to sin and transferred us into his kingdom where we are now children of God. We have received the forgiveness of sins. Through Christ our sins have been removed from us so that there are no longer any barriers keeping us from God. Sins no longer separate us from a relationship from God. Our sins have been forgiven. The price has been paid through the death of Jesus on the cross.
When we see what Christ has done, how can we not walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him? Qualified, delivered, transferred, redeemed, and forgiven.