In this week’s featured sermon, Alistair addresses how knowledge of God and conduct of life go hand-in-hand. In writing to the Colossians, Paul’s main concern for them was that they would not only think biblically, but that they would live biblically. Paul realized the culture of the day greatly emphasized intellectual growth; however he hoped that the knowledge of God would make itself evident through the depth of their moral transformation. Nothing less than the holiness and loveliness of Christ was Paul’s aim for the Colossian believers.
All too often you hear Christians create a caricature of Paul by saying that he was not concerned with conduct, he was only concerned with faith and grace. These same people pit Paul against James saying that they contradict each other. However, this is far from true. Actually, in all of Paul’s letters he greatly emphasizes and values good works, but works as the fruit of faith not the root of faith. More specifically, we see it here in Colossians 1:10 “…so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”
Paul understood that the knowledge of God is directly linked to how we act as Christians. He understood that, as Alistair says, “God is first interested in what we are, then in what we do because what we are determines the effectiveness of what we do.” Paul deeply wanted the Colossians believers to realize that the knowledge of God was both the foundation and apex of faith and that as their knowledge deepened, their lives would be pleasing to Him.
Alistair also points out that all too often we are taught that the incentive for living the Christian life has a “what’s in it for me” attitude? Sometimes this is directly stated, sometimes it is more subtle. But too many times our motive as Christians for obedience is so that we will be blessed, so our lives will be more fulfilling, and so that we will be satisfied etc. However, Paul clearly teaches that the motive for living a God-pleasing life of obedience is to glorify Christ. Other good things may follow, but our incentive is out of a deep love for Christ that wants to bring him glory and please him in every good work (vs.10).
Finally, we are also reminded that unbelievers are watching. Often times they do not understand a lot of the discussion we have as Christians, such as doctrinal arguments or denominational quarrels. However, they can see the power of the Gospel through a transformed life. Our actions are often the first thing they notice; so our conduct is a major tool for evangelism. This can be very convicting: do we live a life pleasing to God especially around our friends? Our family? Our neighbors? Our colleagues? Or do we engage in gossip, slander, coarse joking etc.? Can people see a transformation in us by how we live?
We have said before that the key to living the Christian life is not just trying to be better people and relying on our own strength. Rather, we need to understand what Christ did for us and allow his grace to empower us for good works. We also learn today that knowledge of God ties directly into our actions as Christians. Therefore, if there are points of conviction in your life, a good starting point would be to read, meditate and memorize God’s Word, because it is ultimately through His Word that we grow in knowledge and grace.
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