The Christian Life: God's Will

8. Filled With Knowledge of God's Will: For What Purpose?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
The purpose of knowing God's will is to conduct your life in a way befitting your identity with Christ.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part eight of a series. Read part seven.

The purpose of knowing God's will is to conduct our lives in a way befitting our identity with Christ.

Colossians: A Handbook of Christ-Like Living

In our last article we finished our study of Colossians chapter one, verse nine: "For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." The Apostle Paul's great desire for the Colossian believers was that they should be "filled with" the knowledge of the will of God - a word in the original language that signifies, as we saw, to "be controlled by." It is Paul's prayer that the Colossian believers will not simply know the will of God intellectually, but that this knowledge will be the controlling factor in every aspect of their lives.

This theme runs through the rest of the book of Colossians. What Paul sets out, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is in fact a concise but very rich handbook of the knowledge of the will of God applied to daily living.

The first thing Paul does, in the rest of chapter one, is to give the Colossian believers a deeper knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the One they are to please in every area of their lives. He teaches them about the greatness of the One they are to please. Christ is preeminent in the creation and sustaining of the entire universe, just as He is preeminent in their salvation. You are His by right of ownership, Paul says. That is the principal reason you are to please Him.

Paul also teaches the Colossians that Jesus Christ is preeminent in the Church, which He has purchased with His own blood. The focus of the Church is to please Christ by carrying out the purposes that He has ordained for it. Paul tells them that Jesus Christ is preeminent in his own ministry, and that they can tell whether someone's ministry is genuine or not by what he has to say about Christ.

Having proclaimed the preeminence of Christ in chapter one, Paul goes on to defend the preeminence of Christ on chapter two. He defends Christ's supremacy against three dangers that virtually every individual Christian and every local church will face sooner or later. First, he addresses the danger of substituting empty philosophies for Christ. Second, he warns against the danger of pursuing legalism instead of Christ. Thirdly, he points out the danger of following after man-made doctrines instead of Christ. Paul tells the Colossian believers that an ever-deepening knowledge of Christ is the sure cure for these three traps of the Devil.

In chapters three and four, Paul tells the Colossian believers how they are to demonstrate the preeminence of Christ in their conduct, in their character, in their homes, on the job, in their witness to unbelievers, and in their service to the Lord and His people.

In all of these things, Paul not only prays that they will be filled with the knowledge of the will of God, he also sets out to be instrumental as the answer to that prayer.

Being Filled with the Knowledge of God's Will Has a Purpose

This brings us to the seventh proposition with which we began this series: Knowledge of God's will has a specific purpose. We find this as we read on after verse nine in chapter one:

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

One of the dangers in the Christian life is to fill our heads full of knowledge of the Bible without having God's purpose for that knowledge at the forefront of our thinking. Many people, non-Christians as well as Christians, have Bible knowledge. They know all kinds of facts in the Bible. They may be able to quote a great deal of Scripture. They may even know a lot of theology. But they have this knowledge with the wrong motives in mind.

Many of them are people the Apostle Paul described in 2nd Timothy chapter three as those who are "ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." These are people, Paul said, who even "resist the truth." They do not have God's purpose for the knowledge of His Word as their purpose. Instead they have their own agendas in mind.

Their purposes, quite often, are rooted in pride. They evince an attitude that says, "I am the authority" - not God's Word. They have a superior attitude. They do not approach the Bible with an attitude of submission. They want their own will, their own way. Such an approach to Scripture is a deadly serious problem for a Christian, to say nothing of an unbeliever.

What Does It Mean to "Walk Worthy of the Lord"?

Paul is telling the Colossians that they must take care never to be like that. They must always remember that being filled with the knowledge of God's will has a purpose. At the beginning Colossians 1:10 he tells them what it is: "that you may walk worthy of the Lord."

That is the only legitimate goal in studying God's Word. If you have any other goal in mind, Paul is saying, you are on a dangerous path. The only rightful purpose for gaining knowledge of God's Word is so that you can be controlled by that knowledge, in order that you may conduct your life in a way that is worthy of being identified with the Lord Jesus Christ.

That is what it means to walk worthy of the Lord. The Greek word that is used here for "walk" is a compound word that literally means, "to walk around." When the word is used in various places in the New Testament, it takes on different shades of meaning according to the context. The Apostle Paul in particular uses this word for "walk" throughout his epistles to mean "how you conduct your life."

In Galatians 5:16 Paul says, "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." In other words, conduct your life under the control of the Holy Spirit, not your sinful flesh which is opposed to the Spirit.

Paul uses the same word several times in the book of Ephesians. In Ephesians 4:1 we have a very similar statement to Colossians 1:10 - "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called." We find the same thought in Ephesians 2:10: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." We are to conduct our lives in a pattern of good works that God ordained literally before the foundation of the world, for us as Christians to do. We are to "walk in" good works.

In Ephesians chapter two, Paul reminds believers that they once conducted their lives in a different way: "And you hath he quickened" - made alive - "who were [once] dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air" - that is, the Devil. Now that you are a Christian, you are to walk in a different way. You cannot conduct your life as you did before.

In First Peter chapter four, beginning at verse one, we read this:

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles - when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this reason the Gospel was preached also to those who are dead [in other words, believers who have already gone to be with the Lord], that they might be judged according to men in the flesh [and here Peter is speaking of the persecution they suffered], but [that they might] live according to God in the Spirit (1 Peter 4:1-6).

You Colossians, Paul says, are to walk in a different way. You are to "walk worthy of the Lord." You are to walk in a way that is suitable in view of your relationship with the Lord. You are to walk in a way that is worthy of the fact that the preeminent Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the Savior of sinners, the Lord of the Church, is your personal Redeemer from sin and wrath. Walk worthy of the fact that God the Holy Spirit lives within you. Walk worthy of the fact that you have a new family name: Christian. Walk worthy of the fact that you have a home in Heaven reserved for you. Walk worthy of the fact that you have a glorious inheritance awaiting you. Do not disgrace the family name. Walk worthy of the Lord.

That, Paul says, is the goal of being filled with the knowledge of God's will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Not simply so that you can have knowledge that will puff you up in your flesh, but so that you will have knowledge that will build you up in Christ, that will lift you up, into the heavenly realms where you are seated with Christ.

What are the characteristics of a worthy walk? We find them in Colossians 1:10-12, and they will form our next points of focus as we continue this series.

Next: Six Characteristics of a Worthy Walk

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