The Transformation that Comes with Information

by Joanna Pierce on April 26, 2018

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 (Colossians 1:9–10, KJV).

Context of the Book of Colossians

Paul spent a great deal of time in prison during his lifetime, but it wasn’t the typical prison institution of the 21st century. Paul had various freedoms: he could have visitors, move around, and write letters. Colossians, Philippians, Ephesians, and Philemon are known as Paul’s prison letters.

Colossae was a trading center in the middle east, and was a crossroads of ideas and religions. There were a few churches established in the area as there was a heavy Jewish population that fled there due to persecution about 200 years before Christ’s birth. Epaphras, a follower of Paul, established the church at Colossae (Colossians 1:7), but Paul was writing a letter to them to dispose of a heresy that was surfacing within: Gnosticism.

Transformation with Information

Paul’s main thesis of Colossians was for the church 1) to be filled with God’s wisdom and to have understanding and 2) to produce good fruit as they grew in their knowledge of the Lord (Colossians 1:9–10). Many people today aren’t versed in God’s Word. If they are, they don’t understand the Word or haven’t applied it to their life. Knowledge of God is not a secret only few may discover. All are called to have God’s truths revealed to him/her and to transform his/her life (Colossians 1:25–26).

Knowledge isn’t meant to come into our life without changing us. There is work on our part after hearing to Word. God wants to live in us and thereby change us (Colossians 1:27). A believer should be changed when they encounter a revelation from God; it must change their purpose in life and walk with Him. The ultimate change in will be the fruit we bear.

Purpose of Prayer

Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae is praying a specific prayer with a specific purpose. He wants the church to:

  • Understand what God wants them to do
  • Gain spiritual wisdom
  • Walk in a way that honors and pleases God
  • Produce every kind of good fruit
  • Learn to know God and to do better
  • Be strengthened by God’s glorious power
  • Have great endurance and patience
  • Be filled with joy
  • Give thanks always

Ultimately, Paul wanted the church to be filled. This is where Gnosticism comes into play, the heresy Paul was addressing.

Gnosticism

Gnosticism valued the accumulation of knowledge. However, the premise of this ideology was the belief that a “lesser god” created the world we live in and was responsible for all the sin, sadness, trials, etc. we face day-to-day. This belief system coexisted with Christianity as Gnostics pitched their doctrine as a supplement to other religions. Their stance was that you could be a Jew and obtain a “fullness” with Gnosticism. Gnostics believed if you abided their doctrine, you would be “complete” in whatever religion you followed. Furthermore, Gnostics believed Jesus was just an illusion or that he wasn’t the true God incarnate.

What is evident to us today, and to the Apostles then, is that Gnosticism is wrong. The Apostles confronted this false teaching; they preached anyone who claims Jesus isn’t God has the spirit of antichrist (I John 4:3). Paul noted all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are only in Jesus Christ, and in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:2–8). Ultimately, knowledge has no worth unless it leads to a changed life and right living.

Paul’s Teachings

Paul taught the church that God’s motive was not what the Gnostics taught. God’s motive was redemption (Colossians 1:12–14). When God creates something, it’s to make up for a deficit in our life. God creates in us so we can be more like Him—this is our life’s pursuit.

The wisdom of God will help educate us about what’s true, right, and holy. Throughout our walk, God will constantly renew us in the knowledge of Him (Colossians 3:9–10). Through this process we need to 1) understand what’s in us that’s not like God, 2) identify what’s in our life that we need to change, and 3) adjust.

Much of this happens through prayer and reading the Word, which is why we must set our affections on things above (Colossians 3:1–4). The fullness of the truth and wisdom of God should change our lifestyle. But, this transformation isn’t automated—it takes work from us and a desire to be like our Lord and Savior (Colossians 1:21–23). When we kill the desires of our flesh, we can make our lifestyle match on the outside what God has changed on our inside (Colossians 3:5–8).

Practicality in Life

Gnosticism didn’t have any life-application and didn’t make sense for the believer. Therefore, Paul starts to dispense the wisdom and knowledge of God, directing the church in the way it needs to be transformed. Paul wanted the church to understand God’s instruction will not just cause a change in the individual but the world around them as well (Colossians 3:11). When it comes to the Kingdom of God, He’s in everyone and He changes us.

Throughout the book of Colossians, practical examples are provided to apply to daily living. Paul addresses the need to love, forgive, have patience, and be fruitful in everything we do (Colossians 2:12–15). He discusses relationships and how wives, husbands, children, parents, and servants should behave and interact with one another (Colossians 2:18–22). Into Chapters 3 and 4, Paul also talks about the improvement to our prayer life, testimony, and our speech.

The bottom line Paul wanted the church to understand was the transformative power of God’s knowledge in our life. When we apply that knowledge, we will ultimately see a change in every part of us. This is God’s ultimate desire for the church.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on April 25, 2018 with Pastor Nave