Knowledge is power. So has been said by many in many different contexts. You can’t act on what you don’t know. You can’t do what you’ve never been taught. Hard to have conviction and backbone if you only know what you believe but you don’t know why you believe it.
To be sure, there’s risk in the accumulation of knowledge. When knowledge becomes more about the knower than what is known, it loses its power. When knowledge puffs up, when instead of transforming the heart it inflates the ego, then instead of bearing the fruit of understanding, it often brings forth the thorns and thistles of quarrels and controversy.
So what’s got me thinking about the accumulation of knowledge this morning? Paul’s prayer for the believers at Colossae.
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. . . . Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
(Colossians 2:1-3, 6-7 ESV)
Paul writes to the Colossians because they were in a battle for the mind. Teaching was seeping into the church that was in danger of taking them “captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human traditions” (2:8). Though these outside arguments were “plausible” (2:4), they would serve only to delude, distract, and derail believers from the faith.
So what was Paul’s battle plan? 1) Encourage, or strengthen, the hearts of believers. 2) Knit together in love the souls of believers. 3) And keep on preaching, teaching, and equipping the minds of believers. Having been rooted in Christ, build them up in Christ. And this, through “the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.” “All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” found hidden in Him. And so having being rooted in Christ, and set firm through the teaching of Christ, they would be able to walk in Christ.
There’s a direct link between what you know and what you do. A straight line between understanding and obedience. A direct correlation between learning and living, between perception and power.
Knowledge of the mystery of Christ as revealed in the word of God is the secret sauce for the sanctified life.
Not that its about the knowledge itself. We’ve all encountered those who think they know it all but love so little. Those who can quote chapter and verse about Christ but who demonstrate so little in their daily walk of Christ.
But equally true, the Spirit’s transforming work in us “by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2) can’t happen if there’s nothing in our mind to work with. Nothing to illuminate if we never crack open our bibles. Nothing to reveal if we’re not serious about pursuing the revelation. The living and active dynamic of the sword of the Spirit remains inert if its never drawn from its sheath (Heb. 4:12, Eph. 6:17).
Paul wanted believers to walk in Christ. To be rooted and built up in Christ. To be established in the faith. And this, “just as you were taught.”
The wisdom to discern deceptive teaching comes as a result of the accumulation of divine knowledge. The power to live in newness of life directly related to the degree of full assurance that it is “no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).
Sure, knowledge can puff up. Let us beware of it. But knowledge is also power. Let us pursue it.
Rich in full assurance of understanding. Rich in faith. Rich in the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.
Only by His grace. Always for His glory.