In this sermon, Pastor Joe Babij examines Colossians 1:9-11 and the three prerequisites for growth that will cause you to experience ongoing spiritual growth and maturity. Those three prerequisites are: knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.
This morning let’s take our Bibles and turn to Colossians 1:9-11. Let me pray.
Father, thank You this morning for bringing us here together. We thank You so much that the Lord Jesus Christ died in our place, took the wrath of God for us, and made us right with You. Thank You that He shed His blood to wash away our sins and to give us His Spirit. As we live and walk through this world, we have the Word of God and the Spirit of God living in us. I pray, Lord, that as that happens, make us people that are victorious in our life. Make us the people that are more than conquerors.
Lord, especially in the hard times in life, may we display the very things that the Spirit of God is working in us, in our very words and attitudes. Lord, even in, and especially in, the joy You give us because of this new life in Christ. Enable us to do that. Give us what we need. I pray in Christ’s name, amen.
I want you to picture in your mind this morning that will help illustrate how a disciple of Jesus Christ grows as a believer. I want you to imagine that in front of you is a pile of bricks. They represent biblical knowledge, which includes a bunch of true facts, information, principles, and observations.
Next, I want you to imagine that you take the mortar and the sand and begin to make something out of them. Or imagine a truck pulls up to your home and drops off mortar, sand, and water. They represent wisdom that provides the means for you to take all their information and facts and think how to make something useful out of them.
Now, imagine that you take the mortar and the sand and the cement. You take all of the individual bricks, and you begin to build a structure. The process represents understanding. Understanding takes the bricks and the sand and the mortar and the water and constructs a useful structure.
Keep in mind and imagine that as we proceed into scripture this morning. Paul is praying a prayer for the spiritual growth of the people that he is writing to. This, of course, also applies to us. We need the same things, and this prayer is for us today too.
If you look at Colossians 1:28, Paul is writing to the Colossians. He is writing to believers in verse 28, and he says,
We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
You were in the world, and you were of the world, but now you are in Christ. You are in a different sphere than you were before if you truly are a believer. Why does he admonish them in this way? There were heresies threatening this mostly-gentile church. Apparently, a religious system began to develop that combined elements of Greek philosophical speculation, Jewish legalism, and oriental mysticism all kind of in one bundle in a syncretistic type of mindset where they pull from here and here to make a religious system. That’s what most religions do.
What’s the matter with this religious system? Or for that fact, most religious systems. Matter is what the matter is here. False teachers had a dualistic cosmology. Everything Spirit they thought was good, and all matter is evil. They thought God Himself was perfectly good, spiritual, and totally disassociated from the material world because the material world was evil. In fact, they thought that God had not created the material universe. He would not pollute Himself by such contact.
You can see that these false teachers, as we look at scripture, had a docetic view of Christ. That word, doketo, in the Greek, means to seem or to appear. In other words, it mattered if matter is evil in their mind. They thought, how could Jesus have a real physical body? And if matter is evil, how could Christ or Christians have a bodily resurrection?
Docetism was a term for a more developed gnostic sect which appeared in the early church of Christianity. The error lay in their denial of the reality of Christ’s human body. They believed that Christ’s body was not really flesh and blood but only a hallucination or a phantom. That Christ’s body was purely spiritual and nothing of the human nature.
When we read scripture, we find out that the Bible actually stresses the opposite. In 1 John 4:2, it tells us,
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God
Then John goes on to say in 2 John 1:7,
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.
False teachers had the idea that for God to become a man was unthinkable. Yet, this is what’s going on in the Colossian church. They were in danger of clamping on to false teaching that would really upset their faith. The false teachers had two misunderstandings that led to a third misunderstanding and a wrong conclusion.
False teachers say the Colossians should practice this way of living life as laid out by these people who had special knowledge. That lifestyle was basically what all religious systems do. It was an ascetic lifestyle. The way of life is stressed by rigid regulations and abstinence of certain things, and self-punishment.
Then, of course, that was also followed by an antinomian lifestyle, or without law. They had liberty in their flesh because the flesh was evil and the spirit was good, to indulge in fleshly practices. That’s why you find in Colossians 2:23, that Paul writes, and he says,
These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
You can’t put up a bunch of rules and regulations and think it’s going to regulate sin. It’s not. The only thing that’s going to regulate and help you to put sin to death is the Holy Spirit of God living in you. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to give us the knowledge to be able to do that.
It ended up with them worshipping angels. Why? Because angels were undefiled beings. They were spiritual and therefore were to be worshipped.
This is the way fullness is found by these false teachers. The old idea of spirituality is right out of Satan’s toolbox of tricks with the goal to drastically distort true biblical doctrine and the true Christian way of living lives. Specifically, it was designed to rob Jesus of His central place, which had a severe threat to the teaching of the redemptive work of Christ, the person of Christ, and the practical everyday living on how a Christian should live his life. It threatened all of it.
The Apostle Paul goes right to the source of truth, God Himself, and he asks God for the Colossians. He prays for them, that they would be able to put together the facts and information they receive from scripture and run them again through all of the scripture that they knew at that time so that they could apply the knowledge of God’s will to everyday situations with a spiritual boldness that can stand against any kind of false or aberrant teaching.
The Christian’s hope is that God’s way is the best way. It is the only way of real peace. The only way of real joy, and the only lasting rewards are to be found in Christ. So now you are in Christ, and you have a new life because you are in Christ. Joy comes when growth in Christ takes place on a continual basis.
Paul prays with great aspirations for the Colossians and for all Colossians who will read this Epistle that Christian’s would mature in Christ. Encouragement was also contained in the intention of Paul’s prayer for the Colossians to proceed as they began. You started in Christ, continue in Christ, and don’t get set off track by false teaching.
The proposition would be for us that the instruction included in this prayer is profiting for us to understand. In these, the two points that I will mention so that spiritual growth can be understood. And when implemented in your Christian life, you should stand, understand, and experience an ongoing process of growth and maturity.
If I were to ask you a few questions this morning; would you like to live in every way that pleases that Lord in all things? What would you say? Yes, you would. Right? Would you like to have staying power, patience, joy, and thanksgiving every day? What would you? Of course, I do. Right?
What we’re talking about here is something supernatural. Not everybody can have it. Only saints can have it, those who are in Christ. Because you have answered those questions in the affirmative, then let’s look at the scripture this morning. The first thing mentioned under the title are the prerequisites for growth. There are always perquisites. When you go to college, you find out that you can’t take the course you want to take until the third year. You have to take all these other courses before you get there. There are prerequisites for things.
Paul in Colossians 1:9 is asking the Lord the Father for these Colossians, for all of the believers who read this, for something to be given. The verb indicates that Paul is asking for himself on behalf of the saints. His request is for enlightenment, which includes three prerequisites for growth. The first one would be that of verse 9, that you may be filled with knowledge. Notice what it says,
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
Here is the first thing, the word knowledge is really an advance on the term ‘to know,’ and it denotes larger and more thorough knowledge, especially an intense religious or moral knowledge and what comes to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is knowledge not just of anything but of God’s will.
Where could you get that except from the word of God? You don’t just happen to stumble on God’s will. You have to know what the will of God is. Here he is praying that they will have this knowledge which grasps and penetrates into the object of this knowledge, which is God Himself. The source of it is a full knowledge of God revealed from the scripture. It is not knowledge coming from human ingenuity, human tradition, or even human education and experience.
It is not that the knowledge here is not knowledge of all the other worlds or knowledge that is mystical that you can never really define, but this is knowledge of the will of God. What does God want from me? It’s clear that knowledge, heart-transforming and life-renewing knowledge, will result in a deep fellowship with God.
If you notice, it is God who works this deep, full, rich knowledge in us. Look at Colossians 1:25, it says,
Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
What is the mystery of God’s will that has been hidden, but now revealed to His saints? Of course, it is salvation in Christ. That is part of it. But it is also a fuller understanding or, as Ephesians puts it, a more direct understanding of what God has actually done. If you go back to Ephesians that we read this morning. You go back past Philippians to Ephesians. If you notice in Ephesians 1:5, it tells us what we know and what knowledge we have of God’s will. That is that God predestined us as sons. In Ephesians 1:5, he says,
5 He predestines us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intentions of His will
There’s the will of God. And then Ephesians 1:9. God setting His grace upon us. It says in Ephesians 1:9,
9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
And then Ephesians 1:11. God gives His saints guaranteed inheritance, where it says,
11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will
We see here that the very package of salvation has always been the will of God. Before the world was created, it was God’s will for this to work out in history, and you’re part of that if you are a believer this morning, if you know Him as Lord and Savior.
We’re to be filled with this knowledge and further knowledge that we grow in Christ. But you can’t end with knowledge. Some people end with knowledge and get a puffed head and they think they know everything. They tell everybody that they’re wrong and right. That’s pride, right? You can’t just have knowledge. Even knowledge of God. You have to have the next thing that comes.
Look back at Colossians 1:9, it says,
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 in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
He uses the word wisdom now. This wisdom is really the ability to use knowledge for correct behavior and insight to life. Also, he uses the supreme intelligence of knowledge of God and Christ, where we see in Colossians 2:3,
3 in whom are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
It’s all hidden in Christ. Here wisdom refers to mental excellency, and it is the highest and fullest knowledge anyone can have on this side of eternity. It embraces the faculty of intelligence, which discriminates between the false and the true. It is in opposition to fleshly, earthly, and demonic wisdom.
You know there are two kinds of wisdom? There is wisdom that comes from the earth, and there is wisdom that comes from above. It is James who really told us very clearly about this wisdom, where it says in the epistle of James, without turning there, I will read it to you,
13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.
The world doesn’t realize that you and I, before we became believers, this was the knowledge we had. We had earthly knowledge. We had natural knowledge. We had knowledge, we didn’t know this, that came from demons themselves. Demons are still dispelling knowledge. Then James goes on to say this,
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.
That is the wisdom that God is going to give us in the Word of God. That wisdom is going to bear certain unique characteristics within your daily life. In the very practical, everyday, day-in and day-out, matters of life. Because that’s where we live, we live in a world, and life is hard. Life will always be hard. The Bible never says that it’s going to be easy. In fact, the Bible stresses that life will be hard.
So how do we live in this life that is hard? After someone comes to Christ, the source of their wisdom is heavenly. Scripture calls it, back in Colossians 1, spiritual wisdom. Practically, wisdom is the ability to use the best means in order to reach the highest goal, which is a life lived to the glory of God. That is the highest goal. That is our goal. It is a reachable goal, but not on your own. No one could reach that on their own.
While considering this, the next prerequisite, keep in mind that knowledge needs wisdom, and then wisdom needs understanding. It’s not just having the facts, and then the wisdom to be able to do it, but now understanding is something quite different. Wisdom is the mortar and sand, and water which hold the individual bricks together that give potential to the structure. But without wisdom, you will not know how to take all of the information and facts to make something useful out of them.
If you look at Colossians 1:9, he says there is something else that is given to us and that he prays for. That you may be filled with understanding. The last part of verse 9. Not only are you to be filled with the knowledge of his will, with all spiritual wisdom, but with understanding. Now we have knowledge of God’s will, we have wisdom that comes from heaven, and now we have understanding to be able to put it all together. You cannot be without any of these as a Christian.
It is not a mistake about the progression of words preceding from the knowledge of God. That understanding means insight or practical comprehension of needs and problems, and principles, especially that of everyday life. The words refer to putting together facts and information, drawing conclusions, and seeing relationships.
Consequently, that means that knowledge, wisdom, and understanding should be translated very practically in life situations. Such as, he is going to say in this epistle, if you notice over in Colossians 3:18-19, he says, husbands love your wives, and wives how to submit to their husbands. In verse 18 it says,
18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. 20 Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.
Isn’t that very practical? You say, well, everybody knows that. No, not everybody knows that. And if you know it, you don’t know how to put it into practice because you don’t have the power to put it into practice. Christians have the practice to put it into practice.
If you remember that if you have a pile of bricks that contain all kinds of facts and information, to build something out of those bricks, you need wisdom, and to practically use what you made, you need understanding.
A husband can know in his mind that he needs to love his wife, but if he never puts it into practice, then it’s pretty useless. And a father can know that he should not exasperate his children, but if he continues to do it then the knowledge is of no use to anyone. In other words, he’s comparing these practical ways to live to the false teachers. To the false teachers, it’s all about mysticism, and you can’t really define anything. You can’t really nail anything down.
I can nail this down. Love your wife well, let me put that into practice. Husbands put that into practice. Children obey your parents; put that into practice. I can do that if I am a believer.
Paul’s desire included that the saints be saturated. He keeps using this world, filled and saturated like a sponge. You can put a little water into a sponge, or you can fill that sponge where it’s ringing. He wants us to be saturated with the knowledge and the wisdom and the understanding of God until it controls us to the point of control.
But it doesn’t say here that it automatically happens. In fact, the action of filling depends on someone else. It depends on God Himself, but it depends on us putting those things into place as we learn them.
In this case, you can translate it as may God fill you. The action of filling is possible as Paul prays and depends on the object, which is God. And what’s the goal? That we would all become complete in Christ. Therefore, when Paul prays that the Colossians and all believers may be filled with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, the end result is, where should it lead? You should be looking for these things to become complete in Christ. To be able to walk worthy and to please the Lord in everything.
This spiritual knowledge is practical and gives us direction about living for God and doing His will. It is not empty, useless knowledge like the false teachers valued or the contemporary teachers were teaching. These are really all included in the prayer request of Paul, which was for the believer to be filled with this knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Why? In order to live in a life that is hard in a certain way. And to be able to know you’re doing it.
What are we anyway? Aren’t we sojourners passing through? None of us are home. If you didn’t realize that as a believer, you should realize it. None of us are home. We are sojourners. We are pilgrims in a foreign land. We are citizens of heaven. We are heading to heaven.
While we’re heading there, how are we supposed to live? He wants us to live victorious. He wants us to live as more than conquerors. That is not a natural thing.
We look back in Colossians, and we see the purpose for these growth qualities. If you notice in Colossians 1:10, it says,
10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God
Once a believer starts putting the spiritual knowledge into practice and continues to do that, spiritual growth actually begins, and it continues for the rest of your Christian life. You will be growing in this knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. The quest is for expanded productivity that would become a reality in every one of our lives. We go from a babe to a young man who starts learning the Word of God and fighting Satan with it to a spiritual father who learns to walk and live by faith. That’s the goal that we want in our life.
The goal of the knowledge of God’s will is two-fold in our scripture this morning. The first one, if you notice in verse 10, is to bring one’s life into balance. It says, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. I’ll mention that word in a minute, but before you and I came to know Jesus as Savior and Lord, our lives were out of balance. Yes, even out of control. Would you agree?
The metaphor of walking here, that you may walk, points to a certain way to act. It’s used in other places of scripture. Like in Deuteronomy, it says, to love the Lord your God and to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him. Proverbs gives us this knowledge, where it says, I have directed you in the way of wisdom and have led you in upright paths. When you walk, you won’t stumble, or your steps won’t be impeded.
In other words, there is a way to live according to the world, and we’re all used to that because we came out of it, and there is a way to live according to the flesh, but there is a way to live according to God’s way. That’s where we’re heading. The will of God is God’s way.
Out of our lives, we once were controlled and directed by the sinful, evil heart. Now again, the sister book of Colossians is Ephesians, and what did Paul say in that very well-known passage of scripture in Ephesians 2? Where he says,
1 And you were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world
The world was telling you how to walk. Still telling you. Facebook, Twitter, and all of the media sites. They’re telling you how to dress. They’re telling you how to think. They’re telling you what to buy. They’re telling you everything. Sometimes you don’t even realize it. That’s what they’re doing. That’s the course of the world. Also, it says,
according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived
All of us lived this way, in the lust of our flesh.
indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Everybody’s in the same category. We didn’t really know that until we came to scripture. And when we come to scripture, we realize now, with this wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, that God wants us to walk in a certain way. And He wants you to notice that you’re walking in that way. He wants other people to notice that you’re walking in this particular way.
To walk simply means to order one’s steps or behaviors so that it is done in a worthy manner. Now this word ‘worthy’ expresses the intended results of having been filled with the true and clear knowledge of God’s will to walk worthy. To walk worthy literally means to have the weight of another thing or another person. And the meaning includes bringing up the other beam of the scales or to bring it into equilibrium.
Think of a scale. If you have a scale and you put too much weight on one side, then it’s lopsided, right? It means to bring your scale into balance, where you have the same weight on each side. Of course, it’s saying to put yourself up against the character of Christ and make sure your life lines up with His.
As we are filled with the Spirit of God, that is a reality. When a believer acts accordingly, it shows he or she is walking in a particular sphere they never walked before. They are no longer in the world.
They are in the world, but they are not of the world, and they’re in Christ. They’re walking in this world in Christ. In a different sphere, they’re walking. They’re walking as conquerors. As victorious. As those who are overcomers. See, that’s the way you want to live because in this hard world we live in, that’s the only way to live as a Christian.
If you look at Colossians for a moment. Look at Colossians 2:6. He uses this metaphor. Again, he says in Colossians 2:6,
6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him
Now that just assumes right there, right away, that you should know how to walk. Walk in Him. Well, you got to know how to do that, right? You have to know how to walk in Him. Again, look at Colossians 3:7. It says,
7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.
Now, what sins did we walk and live in? Go up to Colossians 3:5, and he tells us. It says,
5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
In verse 6,
6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience.
God is going to hold everybody responsible for every sin they ever committed, every act they ever lived out, every word they ever spoke, every thought that was in their mind that was against the will of God. All will be judged who are outside of Christ. Those who are Christians will be judged by how they lived after they became a believer.
Then, in Colossians 4:5, he says this,
5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.
This assumes very clearly that a Christian knows how to live. They know how to walk to those who are not in Christ yet before the world. They know how to do that. The believer shows evidence that they are no longer walking according to the characteristics of the kingdom of darkness but the kingdom of God’s dear Son. That’s exactly what it says in Colossians 1:13.
13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son
The point being when the believer grows in knowledge, spiritual wisdom, and understanding, the result of their daily walk will have the attributes of the Lord’s character in them. The saints are to watch their manner of life and conduct that in a way that weighs as much as the character of their Lord.
The Spirit of God indwelling us enables us to live this kind of lifestyle. Your lifestyle will be an equal weight on both sides of the scale. Equal weight brings equilibrium in your life, therefore, having control. Self-control. The Spirit of God gives us control by this knowledge that comes from God.
Just by way of a simple example, I was reading a story about a couple from the Quechua tribe in Bolivia. A man named Paulino and his wife, Aurora, had marital problems. They started over an old blanket. Her mother-in-law had given a blanket to her daughter. Aurora thought that she should have it. Well, the husband did something very dangerous. He took the side of his mother. Aurora got mad and left with her one-year-old baby and her three-year-old child and walked six hours to her mother’s house.
Along the way, she began to be convicted by the Holy Spirit. But Satan was also working on her because by the time she arrived at her mom’s house, she wanted a divorce. That small matter like that? Yes, a small matter like that.
A few Christians began to counsel her from God’s Word. They prayed for the Lord’s guidance and His will to be done in this matter. As a result of godly counsel from the Word of God, Paulino, and Aurora made amends. They got back together and ended up doing well. They chose to obey God’s will and became more mature because of their decision.
I say that little story for this reason. That’s very practical stuff. That’s what God is asking us to do. He is asking us to do very practical things in our life. If we can’t do the simple, practical things, then you and I haven’t learned a thing about how to treat people and circumstances.
This is an example of walking worthy. Using spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and understanding resulted in what? Pleasing the Lord, putting off sin, and bringing life into balance. That’s what ought to happen.
Look at Colossians 3:13. Simple again. It says,
13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
How do you balance the scales? If God forgave you, and that’s the knowledge that comes from God’s Word, I should have no problem forgiving anyone else. No matter what the offense against me because, look at all of the offenses that we had against God. And He forgave us. Isn’t that practical and simple wisdom?
Try to counsel someone to put some of that into practice sometimes when they are dug in against something. It doesn’t matter. You can move heaven and earth, and they’re not going to budge from not forgiving that person. Because of what they did. Right? But this says, well, your life is out of balance still. Your life is not balanced with the character of the Lord.
If it was, then you know what you would do? You would be forgiving. And you would know in your mind that it’s because you please God when you’re forgiving. And you act like Jesus when you’re forgiving.
This is the result. The result of a walk like this is to please God in all ways, both inward thoughts and outward actions. That means the believer begins to act like the Lord and balance the scales that they never could balance before. Believers in Christ bear fruit, unlike the disciples of the false teachers. All they have is rules and regulations. That’s it.
This leads me to the second thing is to please the Lord in all kinds of ways. This is in Colossians 1:10, which says to please Him in all respects. If you ask yourself the question, do you please Jesus in all respects? Now you want to, but you’re probably not there yet. I don’t know if anybody is there yet, but that is my point on how to live life. I want to do this. I want to be pleasing to the Lord in all respects.
There are four areas for ways to please the Lord that He gives us in scripture. In Colossians 1:10, he says this, that the believer grows, bearing all kinds of fruit, such as this, the fruit of good works. Verse 10, Bearing fruit in every good work.
What does it say in Ephesians? That we are created in Christ for good works. Remember again that good works, if Christ saved you from sin, then and only then do you have good works that please the Lord. Everything else, you may have been good in the eyes of the world, was not good works that pleased the Lord. Of course, good works can be as simple as giving a cup of water to someone who needs it. Right? Because you’re considering, I am doing this because I am a believer, and I know the Lord.
Then, in verse 11, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience. This is another way we please the Lord. Steadfastness and patience really does assume something. That life is hard. If I have to be steadfast in something and patient in something, then that means I have to endure something hard.
Keep that in mind, but there is also another thing in verse 12. The fruit of joyful thankfulness. The end of verse 12, where he says, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us. But if you notice the last word in verse 11, it says, joyously. That means I bear with people and circumstances under pressure with this inner attitude of joy. You may be able to deal with things for long term, but you probably haven’t done it with a continuous attitude of joy and thanksgiving to God.
This is supernatural. This only comes to us by the Lord. That’s what we want. It must really be clear to us at this point that conversion to Christ brings with it a new capacity with which we know how to serve God in righteousness. The life of God now within the believer begets a new nature, and for believers, it is paramount that you grasp what God has done for you and in you. It really should begin to resonate with us that it’s a principle that is already true in you. This is given to us by the Spirit of God, but we have to grow in that principle.
Also, pleasing the Lord shows up in verse 10 in increasing in the knowledge of God. Notice what it says,
bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God
Ultimately, most of the troubles in the church, according to the teaching of the Epistles, stem somewhere or another from a lack of knowledge and understanding of God and His will. That’s where most of the Epistles are written from, in order to correct some wrong thinking, some wrong behavior in the church. Why? Because culture has dictated how people live. Your own fleshly nature has dictated what you desire and how you live. Satan is behind all of that, dictating how you should live, pulling all of the strings. Of course, he doesn’t want you to know he’s doing that, but he is.
Somewhere or another, this lack of knowledge and understanding of God is out of whack. It’s out of balance. Remember, theology is the study of God. A person studying a Person, not just abstract truths about the Person. It’s not really knowing a number of things about God, like He is great, mighty, or majestic, because the demons have knowledge of that greatness, might, and majesty of God, and where does it lead them? It leads them to trembling, and it should lead people to trembling if they know that.
One can have a deep interest in theology without much knowledge of God. They can read many Christian books on theology, apologetics, and a variety of subjects and yet have very little knowledge of who God is and what His will is. They can even sometimes lead a Bible study group, write a Christian blog, and have certain knowledge about God without much personal, intimate knowledge of him.
The true knowledge in the Word of God is to grow in a personal, intimate knowledge, where God is real to us, and we are very conscious every day of His presence in our life. We live before His eyes. When we live there, believe me, we don’t live there in fear. We live there with steadfastness coupled with joy and thanksgiving. I am enjoying life because I have everything I ever wanted. I am enjoying life because of what Christ has done for me. And right now, He has given me another day to live, and I am just going to be thankful for it.
Practical is the knowledge of God’s will. Practical stuff.
As a Christian takes in the truth, both understanding and his heart expand toward God, and his moral power is multiplied to live a righteous life. Bearing fruit and growing is accomplished by this knowledge of God. The Christian grows by the knowledge, and only a steady diet of the spiritual food from the Word of God will continue the growth.
Think that the Lord is to be a Person who can be thanked. What He asks us to do, He also enables us to do. God never asks us to do anything that is impossible. He always asks us to do what He is going to empower us to do. That’s why we can know how to walk. We can be empowered to actually walk the way the Bible says we should walk. That’s what pleases Him.
I want you to notice that in pleasing the Lord, it shows up in the strength given by God in Colossians 1:11. It says,
11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might.
This is not strength that is self-generated by the power of the force of someone’s will or their determination. This is strength imparted by the Holy Spirit. God’s power for strength is provided to move a believer into a certain quality of a kind of life. That person is a believer– well how do you know that? Not only by the way they talk but by the way they live. That’s what should be observational for all of us.
Paul’s request for an enablement of power is so the saint can shine forth the attributes of Christ. And what attributes does the person shine forth? If you look in verse 11, notice what it says,
11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience
Let me stop there. Where is the Spirit of God taking us? To learn how to be steadfast. Here’s the communicable attribute of God. And Christian’s are a mirror of this characteristic.
The word steadfastness means to remain under. This word right here always applies to things and not persons. This word. Things like what? Persecutions, hinderances, temptations, conflicts. It is the ability to remain under the pressure of circumstances without losing character and without going out of balance. To remain quiet, unmurmuring, not grumbling under your breath, submissive, and enduring.
Why? Because you know God providentially knows the circumstances that you’re in. And obviously, He allowed you to be there. How am I going to respond to it while I am there? That’s how I know how to act. It’s not when things are going well, and when you have everything you want. No way, you can’t be measured by that. You got to be measured by when things get tough and life throws curveballs at you.
How are you going to respond? You may fail initially, but I think, as a believer, you will discover that you have failed and that you don’t want to fail. So, you come and say, “Lord, this situation that you called me to, I am in it now, but I didn’t do so well. I want to get back to having the knowledge of Your will, wisdom, and understanding next time, or even now in, the remaining trial that I am going through. Do it in a way that I please You.”
Then, notice in Colossians 1:11, what is the next thing you attain to? Patience. The saint is also given power to hold out long against provocations and people who provoke. This one is used of people. Patience always refers to persons. People who are hard to get along with. People are stubborn, hard-headed, and abusive.
Steadfastness and patience are two of greatest characteristics which are mirrored by the Christian as they grow in Christ. If you want to know how well you are doing, when a trial comes and hard times come, how do you respond to it?
Do you go to that medicine cabinet, take out the nearest bottle of whatever painkillers you have, and dump a few down so that you can go to sleep? Do you rush to that bottle of whiskey or that bottle that’s going to soothe some of those things in your heart? Do you run to some activity that fills your void when things go wrong? Where do you run to when the trials come?
You have everything you need, and I need, to be able to respond to all trials this way.
But again, the saint is also given power to hold out long against these provocations and decisive actions regarding people. How? Notice in the end of verse 11. Joyously. This is the thing that gets me to weep with joy.
It’s not when things are going well, but when things are hard in circumstances and difficult with people, do I still have this joy inside of my heart? I should be falling apart right now, but I am not. Why? Were you ever in that position? And you say, you know what, that’s the joy that no one can take away.
As a matter of fact, it’s a joy that only Christians experience that God gives you. It’s miraculous, and it’s divine. He allows you in those circumstances to be calm and to actually be joyful and thankful.
I want you to notice one last thing here in verse 11. This pleasing the Lord really does show up in our joyfulness—our heartfelt joy and thankfulness to the Father. It says in that last part of verse 11, to respond to all of this joyously.
Remember, when Jesus looked at the cross, what did He consider it? Joy. He considered it joy. Why? Because He was looking past the cross. The only way we’re going to maintain our joy is if we know we’re pilgrims in a foreign land heading to heaven. What do we have in heaven? We have an inheritance. We are no longer in the kingdom of darkness. We are in the kingdom of light. We’re heading into the presence of God, and there will be joy unspeakable and full of glory.
In both situations, believers are not to make a long face about things. All of their perseverance and long-suffering is to be accompanied by joy and not by some sickly smile behind, which really reveals a weak heart that longs for relief.
If a believer lives with this joy while under pressure with things and holding out long with people, it will definitely catch the attention of others, and at the same time, it will get the conclusion to our life that was out of control to please the Lord.
I can know how to please the Lord in all things. Here are the reasons why: I am growing, I have joy, I am growing in great patience and steadfastness, I am increasing in the knowledge of God, and God is pleased with all of those things. That’s something that you and I should want and desire.
Remember, you have a pile of bricks that contains all kinds of Bible-based facts and information about the knowledge of God’s will, but to build something out of those bricks, you need wisdom. To practically use what you made, you need understanding.
Wisdom is the mortar and sand, and water which holds the individual bricks together that gives potential and structure. Without wisdom, you would not know how to take all of the information and facts of God’s will to make something useful out of them.
Understanding takes the bricks, the sand, the mortar, and the water, so the structure becomes strong and useful. And in this case, we joyfully construct our lives with the knowledge of God while He enables us all the way along the road until we get to heaven. Until then, we mature more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. That’s what God is doing with every single one of us.
If you know nothing of those things, then you have to say, am I a believer at all? Because only believers know these things.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You for Your Word again. It’s pretty awesome, Lord. To be able to pick up the Word of God and see that this is what pleases the Lord. This is what we’re to grow to. This is how it looks. Thank You, Lord, that it is very practical. We know when we’re doing it. I pray, Lord, that we would be more conscious of it every single day of our life.
Lord, my prayer for us is the same prayer Paul had. That we as a congregation would grow in our knowledge, wisdom, and understanding so we would learn how to please You in all things and that we would grow in our knowledge, maintain our joy, and be steadfast in circumstances and patient with people. And in doing so, You would be pleased with all of it, Your name would be glorified, and in the interim, we would be maturing in Christ so that the scales of our life will not be out of balance but will be in perfect balance. Thank You, Lord, for these things. I pray in Your name, amen.