And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered 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. – Colossians 1:9–14 (ESV)
You can lead a life that God approves. This isn’t simply a life that the LORD gives grudging approval to but one that He praises. As we read in Romans 2:28-29: “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.” In fact, today’s passage from Colossians focuses on their living in such a way as to please God. Paul gives three key foundations to a life that God approves of:
- First, a person must be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. You can have three distinct relations to the will of God. You can be ignorant of it; you can be acquainted with it; or you can be filled with it. To be filled with the knowledge of God’s will involves regularly meditating upon His revelation and trying to put what you are learning into practice.
- “Second, Paul also focuses here on the powerful work of God. While he has already introduced the active work of the ‘gospel’ as one that is ‘bearing fruit and growing’ (v. 6), the emphasis on God’s power here is reflected in words and phrases such as ‘being strengthened’ (v. 11), ‘will all power” (v. 11), ‘His glorious might’ (v. 11), ‘delivered us from the dominion of darkness,’ (v. 13) and ‘kingdom’ v. 13). For Paul, to misunderstand the gospel is not simply a deficient mental act; it is a denial of God’s power on behalf of His own people (David Pao).”
- Third, you might still be thinking: “But there is still no way that I could qualify myself to have a life that God approves.” Paul anticipates this concern by responding that while you can’t God can and has: “… giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” Note that the different ways Paul talks about our salvation here all involve a status that has been given to us or something accomplished for us rather than upon our own inward transformation.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 45
Q. 45. Which is the first commandment?
A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.