Paul in Colossians 1:9 says he never ceases to pray that the believers in Colosse be “filled the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding”. What does this mean?
The will of God is really important for us to know.
Let us start with what the Bible itself declares unequivocally to be the will of God for us.
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you“. (1 Thessalonians 5:19)
One of the fundamental commandments for Christian living is the commandment to be THANKFUL to God the Father. There is never a time when we are not supposed to be thankful to Him. I find that this is a still a discipline I must work on in my life. The carnal mind doesn’t do this naturally. However, the rewards are great for those who are obedient in this area. For one thing, you will be HAPPY if you are thankful to God. The more thankful you are, the happier you will be.
Thankfulness puts us in the frame of mind where we are going to be humble enough to receive God’s blessings. Every time we receive something from God, the right thing to do is NOT to be proud, but to be THANKFUL to God. What do we have that we did not receive? Every good thing we have comes from God. Even the capacity to be diligent, to use and develop the things God has entrusted us with – this capacity comes from God himself. So we need to be thankful. This is the will of God. We need to be FILLED with the knowledge that God wants us to be thankful to Him.
“For this is the will of God: your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
Sanctification includes a lot of things. It means getting all the satanic thinking out of our hearts and minds, for one thing. So all kinds of selfish, cruel, hateful, resentful, bitter and unkind thoughts need to be jettisoned from our minds. But Paul gets down to a sensitive issue when he spells out that sanctification means that we abstain from sexual immorality. Our undisciplined flesh is sometimes very attracted to sexual immorality unless and until we have learned to put those things to DEATH. The attraction is based on the strong pleasure that sexual activity can create. It is also based on the definite temptations of demons who work on our minds as much as they can to make us lust after sexual experiences that are not part of God’s plan for us. Sexual sin has long term negative consequences and the impurity associated even with things like masturbation can defile our consciences for a while. We are not supposed to live “in passion of lust like heathens who do not know God”. I can tell you that it is definitely possible to live above these kinds of things whether you are single OR married. And to do so is a DEFINITE part of what it means to be sanctified. God wants us to be fully convinced of this.
There are other areas of sanctification that are important – vital even. It is absolutely essential for everyone who hopes to enter Eternal Life to FORGIVE others. This can never be emphasized enough in our world, where people are doing wrong and injustice to one another on a regular basis. If you want to be saved, if you want to be forgiven yourself, you must forgive others – meaning – TEAR UP THE I.O.U. or the debt that the other owes you. Don’t expect them to pay you back or make it up to you. Otherwise, as Jesus said, “For if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will YOUR FATHER forgive YOUR trespasses” (Mark 11:26).
Deliverance from evil spirits is part of our sanctification. This is the will of God for us. It is definitely God’s will that all demons come out of us. But if you have practical experience in this area, you will know that most of the time, this does not happen automatically. There is a fight involved.
Once you get sanctified in your mind, and all demons out, and the Word of God starts to dwell in you richly, then a lot of other terrific things are going to flow from that. All those things are the will of God for a person who is doing God’s will and letting the Word of God dwell richly in them.
Things that Might be the Will of God at Certain Times
Therefore let them also who suffer according to the will of God in doing good entrust their souls to him, as to a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:19)
We don’t want to hear this, but there are definitely times when SUFFERING is the will of God for our lives. Thankfully, we are not ALWAYS called upon to suffer. But there may be seasons of it.
I am not talking about suffering with sickness. In other places in this website, I think I demonstrate pretty clearly that it is the will of God that we walk in health. The promise of health and healing is conditional, and just as it is with regards to the sanctification of the mind, so it is with health and healing. It is a battlefield. Satan will fight in this area. He will attempted to exploit every weakness he can find in your life. Even if it is something so simple as for example drinking too much coffee, overworking, and thereby getting adrenal fatigue.
If you suffer with sickness, please don’t call it the will of God, please don’t call it “Paul’s thorn”. There are plenty of ways to suffer which might be the will of God for your life, not that I wish any of these things on you. The main way we suffer is in the times we have to resist temptation. Another way is through persecution by the ungodly. And the Bible says that anyone who wants to live godly in Christ Jesus SHALL SUFFER persecution.
Saying no to ourselves causes a kind of mental and emotional suffering for a season. It could be a very short season – like a few minutes or hours. The illusion Satan wants to create at these times of course is that our suffering will continue indefinitely as long as we resist Satan’s offers. But this is a lie. If we reckon ourselves dead to sin and resist the devil, soon enough the suffering of resisting temptation will pass. Thank God for that.
Paul lists his sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11 – and doesn’t mention sickness once. He mentions things like prison, persecution by the Jews, slander, betrayals, seasons of hunger, lack, demonic harassment, shipwrecks and other tough circumstances. The burden of caring for others can lead to a kind of suffering also. when it all gets too much. This is when we need to learn to cast our cares upon the Lord and let Him do the caring (1 Peter 5:7). We don’t have an infinite capacity for burden bearing and we should not try to have one either.
The Specifics of God’s Will for Your Life
Once you have these basics in place, you are better equipped to begin to discern the inner witness of the Lord concerning specific things God has for your life – things like where to live, what job to do, who to speak with, your relationships with others. It is God’s will for you to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and the Holy Spirit will guide you into God’s specific plan for your life. There are articles on this site about How to Hear the Voice of God which may be helpful to you.
We see therefore clearly from Scripture that to be filled with a knowledge of God’s will, we will be fully convinced of the importance of constant thanksgiving, sanctification, sexual purity, right thinking, right speech and resisting Satan even when it hurts. May God impress on our hearts the truth of these things so we can be filled with the knowledge of His will, even as Paul prayed for the Christians of his time.
In a future article I want to look at what it might mean further to “be filled with the knowledge of His will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding“.