Godly Behavior Is the Result of Godly Thinking
Paul prayed that we would "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. May you be strengthened with all power . . . for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father" (Col. 1:10-12).
These are marvelous Christian characteristics, but how are they achieved? Verse 9 gives us the answer: "Be filled with the knowledge of [God's] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." The Greek word translated "filled" speaks of influence or control. It's the same word Paul uses in Ephesians 5:18: "Be filled with [controlled by] the Spirit." When you're filled with the Spirit, he governs your choices. Similarly, when you're filled with the knowledge of God's will, your choices reflect godly wisdom and understanding.
When you're filled with the Spirit, he governs your choices.
The phrase "spiritual wisdom and understanding" indicates more than merely knowing God's Word. It speaks of applying it to your life under the Spirit's power and direction.
As you prayerfully saturate your mind with God's Word, it begins more and more to control your thinking and behavior. And the Spirit uses the Word to renew your mind and to protect you from conformity to worldly attitudes and actions (Rom. 12:2).
Enjoying A Bountiful Harvest
Every farmer who enjoys a plentiful harvest does so only after diligent effort on his part. He must cultivate the soil, plant the seed, and then nurture it to maturity. Each step is thoughtful, disciplined, and orderly.
Similarly, bearing spiritual fruit is not an unthinking or haphazard process. It requires us to be diligent in pursuing the knowledge of God's will, which is revealed in his Word. That is Paul's prayer in Colossians 1:9, which he reiterates in verse 10.
The phrase "increasing in the knowledge of God" (v. 10) can be translated "increasing by the knowledge of God." Both renderings are acceptable. The first emphasizes the need to grow, the second emphasizes the role that knowledge plays in your spiritual growth.
As your knowledge of God's Word increases, the Holy Spirit renews your mind and transforms your thinking. As you gaze into the glory of the Lord as revealed in Scripture, you "are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another" (2 Cor. 3:18). You "have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator" (Col. 3:10).
Scripture commands you to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Is that characteristic of your life? Are you looking forward to a bountiful spiritual harvest? God always empowers you to do what he commands you to do.
Attaining Spiritual Stability
An alarming number of Christians seem to lack spiritual stability. Many are "tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes" (Eph. 4:14). Others lack moral purity. Many are driven by their emotions rather than sound thinking. While we still proclaim a sovereign, all-powerful God, our conduct often belies our creed.
Despite our inconsistencies, the power for spiritual stability is ours in Christ as we allow the knowledge of his will to control our lives. Paul describes the working of that power in Colossians 1:11. There the Greek words translated "strengthened" and "power" speak of inherent power that gives one the ability to do something.
The phrase "according to" indicates that the power for spiritual stability is proportional to God's abundant supply—and that supply is inexhaustible! The literal Greek says you are being "empowered with all power according to the might of his glory." That thought is akin to Philippians 2:12-13, where Paul says that the power for working out your salvation comes from God, "who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
In Colossians 1:11 the result of God's enabling is the attaining of "all endurance and patience." "Endurance" speaks of perseverance regarding people; "patience" speaks of perseverance regarding things or circumstances. When you endure and are patient, you are spiritually stable. Your responses are biblical, thoughtful, and calculated—not worldly, emotional, or uncontrolled. You bear up under trials because you understand God's purposes and trust his promises.
Paul said, "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might" (Eph. 6:10). That is possible when you trust God and rely on the infinite power that is yours in Christ.
This article by Dr. John MacArthur was adapted from the ESV MacArthur Drawing Near Devotional Bible.