A Study of Colossians 1:9–11
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; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness… (Colossians 1:9–11)
Now we will continue this study in Colossians looking further into the content of Paul’s prayer for these dear saints that he has learned about through Epaphras, his fellowprisoner. The previous study concentrated on knowledge of the will of God. Knowing the will of God is the first step to walking worthy, because we cannot walk the path before we know the path. Indeed, it is also true that we cannot know the path until we walk it, so this is again an iterative process. We learn, know, and walk, and we learn more as we walk. The Lord teaches us as we walk.
Look at the diagram for a pictorial description of this “process”.
Notice how I attempted to show the “increasing in the knowledge of God” as feedback loops to the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding of verse 9. We gain knowledge of the will of God by revelation—we read it in His Word. We also come to a full and perfected knowledge of His will as we walk and experience the will of God in action:
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:1–5)
Yes, the trials and tribulations of life work to increase the knowledge of God. Notice also on the left-hand side of the diagram that we are strengthened with all might so that we can walk worthy, and that we can endure all things with patience and longsuffering.
As we move down this diagram from the knowledge of His will to walking worthy, let us examine what walking worthy looks like:
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:1–6)
In his epistles, Paul always teaches the doctrines with a goal in mind, and that is to affect the lives of the saints. For instance, the doctrine of the one body and one baptism found in Ephesians 4 reminds us of 1 Corinthians 12:13, in which the entire purpose of this section is to mold behavior that ceases to puff one believer against another because of the perception of having greater gifts than another. The goal is for the Body of Christ to be a united body in which all of the differing gifts and manifestations of the Spirit work toward the goal of building each other up.
Now walking worthy also includes being fruitful in every good work. As we studied in verse 6 in the previous study of verses 3–8, the gospel of the grace of God brings forth fruit in all the world. It brought forth fruit at the time when Paul wrote this epistle and continues to now. In fact, even before his Roman imprisonment, Paul and those with him were called “these that have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). As this gospel brings forth fruit in all the world, it brings forth fruit leading to every good work in individuals and assemblies as well. These good works in which we believers are to bear fruit are not specified. They do not need to be, for they are not limited. They are never completed, for just as a fruit-bearing tree continues to bear fruit, a fruit bearing Christian will continue to bear fruit.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10)
Notice no minimum or maximum amount, but it is “as we have therefore opportunity”. This is what we are made for!
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
Remember that this comes on the heels of learning the facts that our grace through faith salvation is not of ourselves and is the gift of God, not of works (Ephesians 2:8–9). These good works are the natural outworking of being filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual understanding and being strengthened with all might according to His glorious power. These good works that we are created unto are not things that we need to accomplish to prove the Lord right in saving us, because He never saved us because of ourselves, but because He loves us. He did, however, save us to this new life which has good works in us that are as natural as breathing. We breathe because we are living, and we walk in the good works that God ordained for us to walk in because we have been quickened together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).
One more matter before we leave this study: I drew this diagram as a process to illustrate the process, but the truth is that it is very simplified compared to what is really happening in the Christian’s life. The Christian, and the Body of Christ composed of true believers, are both living and breathing organisms that live because we have life, and that life is in the Son. It will not be as a simple mechanical process. Our life is one of submission to the Lord and His work in us. It is important to remember that it is not just to “wait for the Spirit to move” before we do anything, but to believe what He has said, and for us to obey His word to us, as He wrote by Paul’s hand. Then we will mature and walk worthy. This is absolutely a God-empowered and supernatural work, but as Paul told the Philippians:
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12–13)
Our place is to work with God and “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). As we submit to His will that He has revealed to us, He will empower us to more and more walk worthy. The goal:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: From Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:13–16)
Until next time, let this prayer from the apostle for the saints be our prayer for each other as well. We have a wonderful, powerful, and gracious Lord who is willing that we grow in Him.