What exactly is heresy? The best working definition I found to fit what I am presenting in this: an opinion, doctrine, or practice contrary to the truth or to generally accepted beliefs or standards. You may recall last Sunday that I would mention other “influences” this early church was facing. Remember, it is assumed that Epaphras that founded the church in and around the time of A.D. 55 or so. The letter he writes to Colosse is around A.D. 61, making this a very young church family. So, as Epaphras “declared to us your love in the Spirit” (1:8), he also had reported the many influences that sought to rob them of their newfound freedom in Christ. They faced “philosophy and empty deceit” (2:8) that were simply out of alignment with those things taught “according to Christ” (2:8). More about that in future lessons. Today, we pick up in chapter 1:9, and find the apostle Paul being guided by the Holy Spirit, pointing these young Christians towards what is most important, the truth found in their Savior.
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you…
Once again, I am moved by the care and support the apostle Paul reveals to them. His concern for their spiritual well-being is undeniable and his prayer is specific to their need. He wants them to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (1:9). If this sounds at all familiar, you would be right. Paul also prayed for those in Ephesus that “the eyes of your understanding be enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling” (Ephesians 1:18). Paul’s reason for this prayer to the church in Colosse was, “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him” (1:10). I like how the ETRV translates this, that they “live in a way that brings honor to the Lord and pleases him in every way.” Once again, Paul exhorted the church in Ephesus to do the same, writing, “Live as children of light…and find out what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8, 10). The quest to please the Lord is found in the acquirement of wisdom and understating. Wisdom is speaking of insight, intelligence, or as one commentator put it, mental excellence, while understanding is means a mental putting together; that is, “the critical judgment to distinguish between truth and falsehood.” It is the “solid food” the writer of Hebrews speaks of that when exercised, enable a Christian to “discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). It would be their task to seek after these truths with vigor in order to fight against the throws of the false teachings around them.
…being fruitful to every good work and increasing in the knowledge God…
Such growth will also enable them to be “fruitful”; that is, to be fertile, to bear fruit. What fruit? It will empower them to “walk worthy of the Lord” (1:10). This desire to conduct oneself in such a way is common in Paul’s letters (Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27). This desire and effort to grow in one’s understanding is not so they can gain anything of greater value than what they already had (Life in Christ), but it is because of that marvelous gift. The “goods works” (Ephesians 2:10) that they had been “created in Christ Jesus for” is a gift that needs nurturing. Their willingness to seek this spiritual growth would help them from becoming “ineffective and unproductive” in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2nd Peter 1:8).
I am intrigued by what God wanted these earlier Christians to do. And it is all because of what Jesus had done for them. That is what heresy does, it seeks to distract us from our goal in life, which is to please God in all that we do. And the best way to do that is distract us from the reason we do so, that is the hope we have in Christ. In my next lesson, we will dive into that hope and be reminded once again why we seek after Christ likeness. Until then, may you be “strengthen with all might, according to His glorious power” (Colossians 1:11). Walk this day in the confidence of the cross and the truth of that empty tomb.