A Study of Colossians 1:9
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; (Colossians 1:9)
Paul’s first ministry for these saints is this one: he earnestly and sincerely prays for them. This unceasing prayer truly helps to understand the imperative to “pray without ceasing”. We never stop praying. The Apostle of Grace then lets them know the contents his prayer for them. After hearing their love for him in the Spirit from Epaphras (Colossians 1:8), he began to pray without ceasing for them from the very day. What great praise must have filled the heart of the jailed apostle—the ambassador in bonds! But it did not end with praise, but with desire for their good and desire for their growth in the Lord.
Now we find here the desire from Paul that these saints would be filled with the knowledge of the will of the Lord. If we take a sneak-peek to chapter 4, we find out that Epaphras has prayed that the Colossian assembly would “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12). In answer to this prayer, the Lord moved Paul to write this epistle to teach and reteach that completion is found in Christ, and in Christ alone.
Here in verse 9 is the first time this word “filled” is used in this epistle. To the Ephesians, Paul writes telling them to be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). Notice the comparison of the command to be filled with the Spirit as opposed to being drunk with wine. One who is drunk, is filled with alcohol. When filled with the Spirit, the Holy Spirit dwelling in believers controls them. This is not manifest in the supernatural signs that were prevalent in the Acts period when the Kingdom was still being offered to Israel, but in this way:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25)
This filling with the Spirit manifests itself in day to day life. Our walk in the Spirit is not a walk where we disassociate ourselves from reality, but where we walk through reality in the power of the Spirit. It is by faith that we walk (2 Corinthians 5:7), and as we yield to the Spirit as He leads by the written Word of God, we walk in the Spirit.
Notice that following the command to be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18, there is following a description of what the filling looks like, and how it is accomplished. As we yield to the Spirit following these commands, our work instructions, we become filled with the Spirit, walking in the will of the Lord. Then as we become filled with the Spirit, we are more able to walk in the will of the Lord. The yielding to the Spirit, an active choice, becomes a change in life and lifestyle, so that we are filled, and walking in the sphere of the Spirit. This is what Paul, by the Spirit, says the Spirit-filled life looks like. This is also how we get there:
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. … Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it…Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. … And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; … And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with Him. (Ephesians 5:19-22, 25, 6:1, 4-5, 9)
It is allowing the Holy Spirit to control your life and attitude to live well with each other. This is truly supernatural. Remember well, that the Spirit-filled life is not possible for those who do not belong to Christ.
Now in our passage in consideration, Paul prays that the saints would be filled with the knowledge of the will of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. This is not merely knowledge of the facts, but it is walking in the sphere of that knowledge. In this case, we must also remember where we get the knowledge of the will of God. It is not from signs and feelings and inner promptings. It is from the written Word of God. It is not from randomly looking at Scripture passages and applying them to yourself, but from reading and understanding what God is saying and what God is doing.
Now, regarding the will of God, it would do the Body of Christ a great service to itself to get settled on this fact, that it is stated in Scripture by Paul, by the inspiration of God (1 Timothy 3:16), that Paul himself is an apostle, one sent by Jesus Christ our Lord, by the will of God. This is stated in 1 Corinthians 1:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, and 2 Timothy 1:1. I have written more about this in the first study on this series in Colossians. To put this into practical application, the person who is going to be filled with the knowledge of the will of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding must accept that God is speaking to the Body of Christ in Paul’s epistles. The following scriptures will be sufficient to rest this case, and notice that in “red letter” Bibles, they are all in “red letters”:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me; and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. (John 13:20)
But the Lord said unto [Ananias], Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My Name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: (Acts 9:15)
But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me. (Acts 26:16-18)
As I had made this case in several of the previous studies, I had no intention of making it again, but when studying the will of God and seeing how many times the will of God is mentioned regarding Paul’s apostleship, any study of the will of God would be incomplete without reinforcement of this truth.
Now as we trust the Scripture to make known to us what the will of God is so that we can be filled with the knowledge of it in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, we must go to the Scriptures to learn it. The question is whether or not we trust our Bibles to reveal to us the will of the Blessed Author. Aside from the “1:1’s” that I spoke of earlier, let us look to Scripture first to see how they speak of will of God. Here are a few important examples:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
The will of God is what God wants done and what God is doing. Does God want us living as a sacrifice, a living sacrifice and not a dead one, holy and acceptable to Him, not conformed to the world but transformed by a renewed and a continually renewing mind? The scriptural answer is an emphatic YES!
Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
The Macedonian assemblies gave of themselves first, and then gave a gift out of their poverty to minister to the saints. This was the will of God. Is it the will of God that we give ourselves, and even give out of our poverty to help a legitimate need? YES!
[The Lord Jesus Christ] gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: (Galatians 1:4)
This verse on the will of God that makes all others possible. What is God’s will for us regarding the present evil world? To deliver us from it! How? By the death of Christ for our sins! What is God doing in this present evil world (age)? He is reconciling sinners to Himself by the cross (2 Corinthians 5:18, Colossians 1:20-22) and making one new man (Ephesians 2:15), the Body of Christ. In the future Kingdom age—the age to come—He will make the wrongs in the world right and it will be an age of justice: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6) While we hunger and thirst for righteousness (justice) today, we should truly be thankful that He is dealing with us according to His mercy (Titus 3:5).
Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. (Ephesians 6:5-8)
The will of God is for those who are called by His Name to be of service to others. This service to others can be service to Christ with the right attitude. Now service for others that is wrong cannot be said to be service for Christ, but whatsoever good thing that can be done can be done as unto the Lord, and this is His will. And we will receive from the Lord the reward of our work, even if we never receive it from those we are for whom we are working. What is more, He will reward the bondservant or the free man. Notice also that the “masters” are to know that they have a master too, who has no respect of persons. What better incentive to treat those doing work for you properly. This is the will of God!
For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, Who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 4:2-8)
Here too, do we need any more comment about God’s will regarding matters of sins against one’s own body (1 Corinthians 6:18)? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:20). There is no “it’s my body and I can do what I want”, or “I’m not hurting anyone because we are both/all consenting adults”! We can and should expect this kind of behavior from those who are not in Christ, but in Christ we are sanctified by position, and a duty of being sanctified by position is to be sanctified in action, respecting the body that belongs to the Lord as HOLY.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
The last mention in this section concerning the will of God is to give thanks IN everything. Not necessarily for everything, but in everything. If there is anything that should characterize the people of God, it is thankfulness. The Apostle Peter wrote in anticipation of suffering to come the following regarding the will of God:
For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: (1 Peter 2:15)
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. (1 Peter 3:17)
That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (1 Peter 4:2)
Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:19)
While the scriptures have much more to say about the will of God that is very clear, there may be questions raised about things that we do not have a clear revelation regarding God’s will. The first thing in this, to walk in wisdom and spiritual understanding, is to be sure that we are walking according to what IS clear. The Lord has not left His will for us to grasp after in the dark. He has made it known to us in His Word. This is the case even for God’s ultimate plans for the future:
Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him: In Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ. (Ephesians 1:9-12)
As we seek the wisdom and spiritual understanding found in the word of God, let us trust in His command, and His enabling. If He has commanded it, He will not leave it to us to accomplish it without Him. Let us remember that He has surely revealed to us the will that He wants us to walk in.
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:17)
Our Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), and that is why the wait for His return seems to be endless. He will not wait forever, but we can thank Him that He waited for us, and that He will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). That all are not saved is evident, but the will of the Father is that all will, so our Lord Jesus died on the cross to bear all of our sins. How foolish to spurn such a precious gift!
He also will have all come to the knowledge of the truth, so it is imperative for us to find that truth in the one place that He has revealed it: in His Word! We must as Christians be faithful to that Word and not to our traditions, dogmas, denominations, creeds, private thoughts, or any other thing.
As the Lord Jesus died to deliver us from this present evil world, He died for you too!
BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED!