Last week in the first part of our study about the Cosmic Christ, we saw that the Apostle Paul addressed the sinister false doctrine that had found its way into the Church of Colossae. Paul first gave thanks to God for the Colossian believers because of their faith in Christ Jesus and love for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for them in Heaven (Colossians 1:3-5). Then, Paul introduced the heart of the problem:
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:9-14
Paul told the Colossians he was praying that they would be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” The false doctrine the Colossian believers were facing 20 centuries ago was eating away at their knowledge of God’s will. Because of that, they lacked wisdom and spiritual understanding.
I’m reminded of something C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, The Screwtape Letters. In the book, Screwtape (Satan) wrote a series of letters to Wormwood (a demon) about guiding his patient (a human) away from the knowledge of their mutual Enemy (God). Even after Wormwood’s patient became a Christian, Screwtape continued to advise the demon about keeping the new Christian from becoming effective in the Army of God – “As always, the first step is to keep knowledge out of his mind.” How true! Even after people are saved by grace through faith in Christ, Satan can continue to influence their thinking by keeping them from focusing on the knowledge of God’s will. Satan accomplishes this in a Christian’s life in many ways. Here are several off the top of my head.
- Christians believing in their own sufficiency, instead of depending on the sufficiency of God
- Christians being proud of their faithfulness, instead of boasting of the One Who is Faithful in all things
- Christians trusting their personal interpretation of God’s Word, instead of trusting God’s Word for His Interpretation
- Christians believing they know a lot about being spiritual, instead of looking to the Spirit of God to train them to be like Christ
- Christians believing they don’t really matter to God, instead of understanding that God has already given them everything that really matters to Him
- Christians focusing on the supposed importance of their temporary positions in local assemblies, instead of appreciating the real importance of their eternal position in the Body of Christ
- Christians depending on the power of their presence, instead of depending on the Presence of His Power
- Christians desiring places of prominence in their world, instead of desiring God’s Will to be prominent in their lives
- Christians insisting on their way in life, instead of praying for God’s Way in their life
- Christians becoming easily disappointed in everything Christian, instead of rejoicing in everything belonging to Christ
- Christians looking at things through the world’s perspective, instead of seeing everything from God’s Perspective
- Christians fretting about their challenges in life, instead of enjoying their opportunities to serve
- Christians fighting against each other about insignificant differences, instead of fighting with each other against the common enemy
- Christians telling others how much they know, instead of listening to how much God Knows
- Christians trusting in the riches of this world, instead of trusting in the God Who Created this world and everything in it
- Christians doing what they love, instead of loving what God Does
- Christians complaining about what they don’t have in this world, instead of rejoicing about what they do have in Heaven
- Christians pitying their place in this life, instead of praying for a place in eternity for others
- Christians believing that the Grace of God means they can do whatever they want, instead of understanding that God’s Grace means doing what He wants
- Christians viewing their faith in Christ as one of many choices in life, instead of understanding that Faith is the One Choice Christ made for us
Satan has been “tricking” Christians for centuries, so his list is much bigger than this. We need to find ways to deal with our enemy’s chicanery. Fortunately, God has already given us His secrets to dealing with the devil.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:13-18
Do you see the role that knowledge plays in a Christian’s ability to withstand in the evil day? Putting on the whole armor of God begins with girding our waist with “truth” and ends with taking the sword of the Spirit, which is the “word of God.” What is the Word of God? Better question – Who is the Word of God?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:1-3
The Greek word for “word” is logos. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God. The Greeks understood the word logos to mean the expression of thought. Jesus is the Logos of God – the very Expression of God’s Mind. This is where the Colossians were running into serious trouble. Satan was confusing them about what was in God’s Mind. Because the Colossian believers were confused about that, they were confused about what to believe and how to behave. That’s why Paul wrote them he was asking God to fill them with the “knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,” that they might “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work,” completing the circle by “increasing in the knowledge of God.” The Colossian Christians were messed up in the way they were living their lives because their thinking was messed up. Knowledge and behavior always go hand in hand. That’s why Christian education is so important. When Christian teachers trade the teaching of the pure expression of God’s Mind for the impure expression of the human mind, things in the Church can and do go terribly wrong.
Bishop J.B. Lightfoot wrote this in his work Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon – “The Person of Christ is described first in relation more especially to Deity, and secondly, in relation more especially to created things. The fundamental conception of the Logos involves the idea of mediation between God and creation. A perverted view respecting the nature of the mediation between the two lay at the root of the heretical teaching at Colossae, and required to be met by the true doctrine of Christ as the Eternal Logos.”
Let’s think about that this week. Meditate on the meaning of Paul’s introduction to the Colossians as it related to 1st Century believers, and to how Paul’s words are still true for those of us living in the 21st Century. We’ll conclude our study of the Cosmic Christ next week.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”