The Christian Life: God's Will

10. What Does It Mean to Fully Please Christ?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
This is a life-long process for the believer, involving an ever-deepening knowledge of who Christ is, what pleases Him, and the magnitude of His holiness.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part ten of a series. Read part nine.

This is a life-long process for the believer, involving an ever-deepening knowledge of who Christ is, what pleases Him, and the magnitude of His holiness.

The Only Legitimate Goal of Bible Knowledge

As we continue today in our study on the subject of the knowledge of God's will in Colossians chapter one, let me remind you once again of the great statement the Apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has given us beginning in verse nine:

  1. For this reason we also, since the day we heard it [that is, heard of your faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we], 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;

  2. that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

  3. strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;

  4. 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 accumulate Bible knowledge without having God's purpose for that knowledge at the forefront of your thinking. That can lead to pride, which leads to other problems.

As we have seen, being filled with the knowledge of God's will has a purpose. At the beginning of Colossians 1:10, Paul tells us the legitimate goal of Bible knowledge: "that you may walk worthy of the Lord."

Controlled by Knowledge of God, Not Taken Captive By the World

In Colossians chapter two, Paul is going to tell the Colossian believers that if anyone has any other goal in mind - whether it is mingling Biblical truth with human philosophy, promoting legalism, or inventing your own doctrines - then it means that you have detoured onto a dangerous road. You have been sidetracked from following after the truth. In chapter two, verse eight, Paul says, "Beware lest anyone cheat you [literally, carry you off as a captive] through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men." Again in verse sixteen, he says, "Let no one cheat you of your reward." This is serious business.

The purpose for gaining knowledge of God's Word is so that you can be filled with - in the original language, controlled by - the knowledge of God's will, in order that you may conduct your life in a way that is worthy of being identified with the Lord Jesus Christ.

You Colossians, Paul says, you are to walk in a different way from the world around you. You are to "walk worthy of the Lord." You are to walk in a way that is suitable of the Lord. You are to walk in a way that is worthy of the fact that the preeminent Lord Jesus Christ is your personal Savior from sin. You are to walk worthy of the fact that God the Holy Spirit lives within you. You are to walk worthy of the fact that you have a new family name - the name of Christian. 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. It is not so that you can have knowledge that will puff you up, but so that you will have knowledge that will build you up in Christ.

The Structure Paul is Building

We also saw last time that these verses state six characteristics of a walk that is worthy of the Lord. We begin considering them in more depth today. It is important for us to do this, because we have come to a place in the book of Colossians where Paul is building a structure. He is in the process of setting up a framework. And on that framework he is going to erect as a superstructure one of the most powerful, concise statements in the entire word of God about the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When men go to school to study theology, one of the things they study is the subject of Christology, the doctrine of Jesus Christ. And one of the first places in the Bible that they go for that kind of study, if they're attending a good, Bible-believing school, is this first chapter of Colossians. So we are watching now as Paul puts the framework in place for the deeper study of who Jesus Christ is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He is going to do in the future. We need to have this clearly in our minds.

So here, once again, are the six characteristics of a walk that is worthy of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first three are in verse ten, the last three in verse eleven.

  1. Walking worthy of the Lord means pursuing the goal of pleasing the Lord in everything you do, in all areas of your life.

  2. Walking worthy of the Lord means continually bearing the right kind of fruit.

  3. Walking worthy of the Lord means continually increasing in your knowledge of God.

  4. Walking worthy of the Lord means continually receiving God's strength.

  5. Walking worthy of the Lord means that God will build patience and longsuffering into your way of life.

  6. Walking worthy of the Lord involves continually giving joyful praise to God, because of what He has done for us through Christ. We find this at the end of verse eleven and on into verse twelve.

So now, we begin to examine each of these points in depth.

Fully Pleasing Him

Paul says, we "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." Permit me to give you an expanded translation of that last part, which takes us into verse ten: "that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may continually conduct and occupy your life, and continually regulate your behavior, in a way that is suitable and fitting and worthy of the One who is your Lord, with the goal constantly before you of fully pleasing Him."

Three Keys to Pleasing the Lord

This is what it means to fully please the Lord. These verses in their context tell us of three aspects of that life-long effort.

The first thing we need to understand - and if you have been following these studies from the beginning, I think this will be an obvious point - is this: You cannot fully please Him unless you understand what pleases Him - that is, His will. That is why we gave so much time and attention to verse nine, "that you may be filled with (that is, controlled by) the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." That is how you will understand what pleases the Lord, by getting into His Word, and thus understanding His will.

Secondly, you cannot fully please the Lord unless you understand who He is. Paul goes into considerable depth on that subject in the rest of chapter one. He gives us a rich and comprehensive picture of who the Lord Jesus Christ is - and what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do in the future. Desiring to fully please Him is thoroughly bound up in an understanding of who He is.

Thirdly, pleasing the Lord has to do with the relationship we have with Him as our Savior and Lord. It is a slap in the face of the Lord to say that He is your Lord and Savior, but live like the Devil. We are to "walk worthy of the Lord." The word translated "worthy" literally means, "of equal weight." The idea is that we as Christians are to live a life that is as much like the life of the Lord Jesus Christ as we possibly can.

God's Will: Holiness

Above all, fully pleasing Christ has to do with holiness. God says, "Be holy, because I am holy." That is the standard. And in that connection, I want to call your attention to First Peter chapter one, beginning at verse thirteen, where we read this:

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind [in other words, get your mind ready for action], be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

"For this is the will of God," Paul writes to the Thessalonian church, "even your sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4:3). One of the great tragedies of the postmodern evangelical church is its lack of the pursuit of holiness, which is of the very essence of the will of God. We shall examine that issue further in our next study.
 

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