Tuesday, August 29th, 2023
Scripture: Col. 1:9 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,
Col. 1:10 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;
Col. 1:11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously
Col. 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
Col. 1:13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
Col. 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Teaching: Paul, and Timothy (hence the “we” in verse 9), begin to address the first issue for the Colossians: they were being influenced by Gnosticism, or a growing philosophical movement in Greece that taught that the continual pursuit of greater wisdom led to both credibility and a kind of salvation for the individual, and they were applying it to Christianity. They had believed the Gospel when it was first told to them by Epaphrus, but now, they had false teachers in their midst preaching a message of greater salvation by the acquisition of greater or secret knowledge. Paul addresses this obliquely in verse 9, telling them that he and Timothy have not ceased in praying and asking the Lord that the Colossians be “filled with the knowledge of His will and in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” This is not referring to a progressive filling throughout life or one to be attained by greater knowledge, but one poured out all at once by the baptism of the Spirit in the moment they declare their faith and believe in their hearts that Jesus is Lord and Savior.
In the same way, we, as Christians, do not receive progressively more of the Spirit indwelling us in life; we receive it all at once, and we grow in our ability to heed His counsel. We see Paul speak to this in verses 10-12. Notice, in these verses, Paul does not connect the idea of “filling” of the Spirit with salvation, so as to cause more confusion over how one receives salvation; instead, Paul connects it to the effects of Spirit filling: walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing him in all respects, bearing fruit, and increasing in the knowledge of God. These are not the means of salvation but the fruit of Spirit filling/indwelling -- this is what they can expect after Spirit filling. What’s more, in verse 12, Paul offers further evidence of immediate Spirit filling by connecting the works of verse 11 to the heart posture of verse 12: giving thanks to God for it all, understanding that they were not qualified themselves to “share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” Said another way, Spirit-led people walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord, but they do it joyfully and thankfully because they know they cannot do it without the Spirit God has graciously given them. They do not boast in their good works and good living.
Verses 13 and 14 further drive that point home, that it was God who rescued us from the “domain of darkness” and “transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” This passage calls the Colossians to see that any gain in knowledge or righteousness in this present life is not by their own making or attained by their own striving – it is given by God in Christ Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. There are no levels of Christianity to attain, only fruit to bear in joy and thankfulness to our God who gives it. To a group being tempted by thoughts of greater knowledge leading to greater salvation, Paul's words here would have caught their attention.
Takeaway: Salvation is of the Lord; He pours out His Spirit on us in full measure when we come to faith. We are given the Holy Spirit entirely in this moment; the growth that occurs in the life of a Christ-follower is called sanctification, or a steady renewing of our mind and repentance of our hearts to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord. Some also call this “growing in spiritual maturity.” What Paul wanted to make clear to the Colossians is that becoming more Christ-like does not bestow some kind of extra salvation. Paul wrote in Ephesians, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Colossians 1:9-14 echoes this by showing what Spirit indwelling does and how it bends our hearts to thankfulness for such wonderful fruit bearing rather than boastfulness.