One of the things we went through in the biblical living class was the cycle of sanctification. Often Christians wonder why their spiritual walk stalls, why their growth falters and how to recover and reignite that growth. We addressed this from Colossians 1:9-10 this week. Paul, having never visited Colossae writes to this new church and tells them that he prays for them, saying he prayed “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.” Paul reveals here three steps to spiritual growth and provides us with some key considerations in our own walk with the Lord.
Paul’s request for the Colossians is “that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” He follows this with the purpose of this knowledge of God’s will, “to walk worthy of the Lord in everything pleasing Him.” It seems evident that we need to know what God wants in order to be able to walk in a manner worthy of Him. So what is God’s will? In a nutshell, our holiness (1 Thess 4:3), thankfulness (1 Thess 5:18) and to do good works (1 Peter 2:15). There are of course much more nuance to the will of God but the point here is that we have to know it in order to do it. We can conclude from this that the first step to spiritual growth is to know what pleases God and the second is to set about doing it, or “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.”
The rest of the verse carries its own structure modifying “to walk worthy.” The two participles (“bearing fruit” and “increasing”) are in the present tense suggesting that these are contemporaneous with “to walk.” These two results of walking worthy are both measures of spiritual growth. If we are growing in Christ, we should be bearing fruit (Gal 5:22-23) and our knowledge of the Lord should be increasing. This presents a third critical stage of sanctification, the result of walking, or growth. Notice also that there is a connection between obedience to what we know of God’s will and bearing fruit and growth in knowledge?
Therefore, the process of sanctification here can be summarized as:
- Learn what God wants
- Do it (respond in loving obedience)
- Bear fruit and increase in knowledge of God
So why do we stop growing as a Christian? If we stop walking in obedience to what we know, then these results also stop appearing. In other words, it is not enough to simply know God’s will, we have to do it if we want to continue to grow. But then increasing in the knowledge of God (the result of walking worthy) implies our knowledge of what pleases God will also increase, meaning we need to grow in obedience. If we stop increasing our obedience, so too we will stop growing, similarly, if we we stop learning what pleases the Lord we also limit our ability to increase our obedience, stalling our growth.
If you’ve stopped growing, consider your walk with Christ. Are you obedient to what you know pleases Him? Have you stopped learning what pleases Him?
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