B1.1 Paul’s prayer
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
Paul now enlarges on his prayer for the saints at Colossae. It is interesting to see what he does and does not pray for. We need to remember that Paul only knew of them from Epaphras. No doubt this servant of God would tell Paul of their needs and of any particular problems that need resolving in the midst (and which church doesn’t have them!).
But Paul doesn’t mention anything like that here. This doesn’t mean that he would not have prayed for any particular need that Epaphras mentioned, but it is not what is in view here. It is interesting to see Paul’s thinking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in the light of the errors that the Colossians faced.
Paul’s prayer was that they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
B1.2 The mind transformed
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.
In this well-known passage Paul tells believers to present their bodies a living sacrifice to God. That is to be wholly given over to Him and His service. Then he continues that we must be transformed in our minds so that we can prove the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.
Immediately this tells us that God’s way of thinking and doing things is totally opposite to that of the world’s system.
Part of the error of which Paul was warning the Colossians was that of vain Philosophy. This will be dealt with in some detail later on, but for now we observe that Greek philosophy was a major influence in what is called ‘the Colossian error’. Men’s philosophy meant using the carnal mind to make sense of the world, and to arrive at solutions to problems of humanity. It was all carnal thinking, ever learning but never coming to know the truth.
With Legalism and Mysticism, the other strands of the error, it was attempting to find God’s will by either fulfilling the law or by some man-made religious effort. The law shows up our guilt and does not provide a way out, let alone the power to do so if it did. If this is the case, then we might well ask: how can the law be the solution to the problem of the human condition? Mysticism seeks to find God by certain experiences. But it is man searching for truth outside of Christ, all by self-effort.
Only by the transformed mind can we really know God’s will. Paul in this passage makes it clear that it is the transformed mind first, THAT you might prove etc. It is not by men’s philosophies trying to work it out, nor following some legalistic route, nor yet get caught up in some mystical experience, whatever it may be called. But by presenting ourselves as living sacrifices, not being conformed to this world, and by being transformed by the renewing of our mind. It is by this we may know the will of God.
B1.3 The world passes away
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
John’s exhortation here is that we don’t love the world (ie its system). This is because the world and all its lusts (desires) will pass away.
The Vain philosophy of men is not of God but from below Jms.13:13-18. It is of the world’s system, and this too will pass away. So, if it will pass away what value does it have spiritually?
The [Mosaic] Law has come and has gone for Christ has fulfilled it to the letter. the Law has been replaced with something far superior – The New Covenant. The Mosaic Law has already passed away so what value does it now have? it cannot save anyone and nor can it enable one to live the life God wants of us.
Within Mysticism we will see that ascetism is also mentioned. This is where men and women attempt to please God by severe disciplines on the body (horsehair shirts, whipping oneself etc.). This is the world’s way of doing things, the pride of life, “if only I could punish myself enough then God will accept me”, is the underlying idea. This, of course is blasphemy for the only punishment God accepted was that of His Son. This also is of the world and will also pass away. We need to renew our minds on these things
B1.4 Spiritual wisdom and understanding
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.
Paul prayed that these Colossians would be filled with wisdom and spiritual understanding. True wisdom and understanding comes from above. Proverbs tells us that true understanding is when we trust in the Lord and not leaning on our own understanding. Vain Philosophy, Legalism and Mysticism are all from below and do not give us true wisdom and understanding.
Christ alone is our wisdom I Cor.1:30.
We must trust in the Lord and not lean on our understanding. This includes the vain Philosophies, Legalism and Mysticism. These things are not of God but of the world, flesh and the Devil. We must avoid putting our trust in any of these things, and trust in God alone.
We need to acknowledge God in all our ways, if He is to direct our paths. God will not share His rightful place in our lives with anything, or anyone else. We must abandon everything that takes our heart off of Christ and trust God alone.
True wisdom and understanding come from above. Christ is made unto us wisdom I Cor.1:30 and by the wisdom of this world men cannot know God I Cor.2:1-5 etc. Let us, therefore seek that wisdom and understanding that comes from God alone and reject that which the world offers.