Colossians 1:9. 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,
What does it mean to live from the indwelling life of Christ? What would it look like if our union with Christ was truly the controlling force in our lives each day? Or to ask it in a much simpler way – what does it mean to live by faith? Faith in God? Faith in Christ?
This life of faith is exactly what Paul is praying for in his opening to the letter to the Colossian church. He’s praying that these believers (and us) would live the normal Christian life of faith in the indwelling Christ. The life that is filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
But you notice he doesn’t pray for them to have “more faith.” Why not? Because living by faith means not thinking about your level of faith. Faith is meant to become an instinct. Trust in Christ’s indwelling life and love is supposed to fill us, and control us so instinctually that we don’t even stop and consider it to be faith anymore. It’s just life. It’s just living. Like breathing. Breathing takes faith. Faith that the oxygen will still be there, and fill your lungs, and not harm you, but give life. But when was the last time you actually thought about your breathing as an act of faith?
Many Christians wander through the Christian life obsessed with their faith. You just gotta have faith. I need to have more faith. I guess I just didn’t have enough faith. Speak the “word of faith.” We pray and beg and plead for faith.
Don’t get me wrong, faith is supremely important. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). But the paradox of faith is that faith focused on itself ceases to be true faith. Faith in faith will destroy you, not save you.
So what does Paul pray for? What should we be praying for? – that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Paul is praying for these precious saints, and us, to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. That God’s will would control us. Shape us. Guide us. Taking over our thinking, our wisdom, our mindsets, our understanding of life. It must instinctually guide every thought, word, and deed. Being filled with the knowledge of God’s will IS faith.
Here’s another place where we likely get it wrong. We read “be filled with the knowledge of God’s will,” and begin to think about decision making, and life planning. As in solving the riddle of who should I marry? Or which job should I take? Or should we move? Basically, should I go through door A or door B?
But simple decision making is not what the New Testament is talking about when it talks about God’s will. Rather to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will IS to be filled with the knowledge of Christ and his love and grace, his salvation, the new life that is inside of each of us, transforming us to Christ’s likeness. God’s will for your life is that you be saved by grace and sanctified by grace, until you are conformed into the image and likeness of Jesus. This is the spiritual wisdom and understanding that can only come from knowing Christ himself.
Look at how Agur in Proverbs 30 explains our source of wisdom and understanding:
The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.
The man declares, I am weary, O God;
I am weary, O God, and worn out.
2 Surely I am too stupid to be a man.
I have not the understanding of a man.
3 I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son’s name?
Surely you know!
Agur is telling us that to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding you would have to ascend into heaven and then come back down. And no one has ever done that.
But there is someone who descended from heaven and then went back up. Jesus. And he is God’s true wisdom and understanding. And knowing him is God’s will for our lives. No more and no less. And every decision we make, door A or door B, can lead to us knowing Christ and his grace. Every choice we make can be wise when they lead us into the fullness of trusting Christ.
“To live is Christ” means being filled with the knowledge of God’s will (Christ-likeness) and being instinctively controlled by the wisdom and understanding of God (Christ himself). That’s faith. That’s our union with Christ.
Is your faith in your own faith, or is your faith in Christ?
You in Christ
It is God’s will for you to become like Christ. How does being in Christ guarantee this process’ completion?
Christ in you
Where can you see your life being more and more instinctually controlled by Christ?
Seven Songs: Christ our Wisdom.