The Supremacy Declared: Walking Worthy of the Supremacy (Col. 1:9-14)
My family immigrated to the US in the early ‘80s. Since then, we have always tried going back every few years. I remember on one particular trip, we decided to do some shopping in the city. However, we were warned by our relatives not to get ripped off by merchants who prey on foreign vistors. So to arm ourselves, we decided on two things. First, we were going to take our uncle, who lived there, along on our trip. He would be able to tell us if we were getting a good deal or not. Secondly, my dad thought we should not try to give ourselves away that we were American. So my dad dressed like a South Indian. He put on some sandals, carefully rolled up the sleeves of his favorite polyester shirt, untucked it and wore his pants kind of baggy (apparently that was the style). My mom and sister wore traditional dresses. I tried my best to dress like my dad, even though I felt really uncomfortable.
So off we went to the city. But guess what? Every single person (almost) stared at us everywhere we went! And the guy at one of the stores did try to rip us off. We were amazed. When we were coming home, we asked our uncle how they knew we were from America. With a smirk on his face, he replied, “Well, first of all, you kept saying “yeah” for everything. We don’t use that word around here. Second of all, everyone could tell you all were American by the way you walked. You walk with your head held high. We don’t walk like that.”
Did you hear that? From the way we talked and the way we walked, people could tell we were different. Metaphorically speaking, can people tell who is supreme in your life by the way you walk? Is there a difference? How do I live my life worthy of the supremacy of the gospel? Do people know I am a child of the King of Kings by the way I conduct myself? Just a few weeks ago, the governor of NY, a strong opponent of prostitution, resigned due to a scandal that revealed that he himself was involved in prostitution. It was a shame! I felt ashamed I was from NY. I am sure his family and friends were ashamed. I am sure he was ashamed himself. There are a lot of people soliciting prostitutes all around, but why was he in the spotlight? Because of where he sat! His position! It was his position that dictated how he was to conduct himself, but he failed.
Believer, you are a child of the King. Ephesians tells us that you are seated in the heavenly places (2:6), seated with Christ at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1)…you are co-heirs with Christ of a huge inheritance (Rom. 8:17), worth more than all the billionaires on this earth combined, because you were bought with the precious blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1: Col. 1:12-14). So, our walk is everything! Our position dictates how we ought to walk. One of my prayers in life is that the Lord would take me home before I ever drag his name in the mud by the way I live or embarrass him. I want to walk worthy of His supremacy. He is Supreme! Just look at what He has done for me, in me and through me. But what does the walk of supremacy look like?
We are going after that today, and the message is entitled, “The Supremacy Declared: Walking Worthy of the Supremacy.” Paul has just finished his thanksgiving section and now moves on, in typical Pauline fashion, to a prayer for the Colossians.
Last time we saw how thankful he was for the gospel coming to the Colossians. In fact, the gospel coming to them was like no other message in the world. It was supreme, exceeding all others and we looked at seven things that made it supreme.
Now as we continue in verses 9-14, we see in Paul a prayer the details what the supremacy of Jesus Christ looks like in the everyday life of the believer. Let’s read this portion together. Look at verse 10 again, which is the key to this section…”so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him.” Walk in Scripture means way of life. Here are 3 things Christian life is not:
a) It is a walk, not a marathon.
b) It is to walk, not to sit. It is active. It is like riding a bicycle, either you are moving forward or falling off.
c) It is to walk, not just to talk.
It is step after step, continuously, repeatedly, hour by hour, day after day, doing what? Pleasing the Lord. How we get there is what we are looking at today. Let’s ask the Lord’s help.
So what does it mean to walk worthy of His Supremacy?
Paul says since he heard the good report from Epaphras, he and perhaps Timothy, Epaphras and a few others (seeCol. 4:10-14) have continuous corporate prayer meeting for them. Not that Paul and his companions are praying for them 24 hours a day, but when they do pray, they pray for them. Paul models a couple of things here about prayer. First it is immediate. He hears it, he prays. We would do well to pray for people on the spot. Otherwise we might sin in forgetting to pray for someone when we said we would. Second, it is unified and corporate. He has people to pray with. Do we? Third, he prays for continued growth. Normally we are always looking for those in trouble or are in desperate situations (which we should). However, we would do well to pray for those who are doing well for continued growth in the Lord. He does not say “well, since you have arrived, let me pray for someone else.” He prays for more growth. We never graduate from the school of Christ until He takes us home or He comes again for us. In the meantime, our goal is to grow into the stature of Christ (Eph. 4:15) and our prayer constantly should be to grow another inch as the Lord gives us time. How sad we would it be if we took Abbie to the doctor month after month and she hasn’t grown any inches or gained any pounds! It would break our heart! Would the Lord look at you today and would His heart be grieved the same? Some of you may have grown a lot in the past few months. To you, continue in…you don’t need to compare yourself to anyone except Jesus and should pray for more growth! We want to grow to His stature! In order to get there, we must walk worthy and here is how. What I am going to do today is to use a tree to symbolize the various aspects of a worthy walk according to Paul. What are some major parts of a tree?
I. THE ROOTS: It means I am being controlled by what God wants for my life (Col. 1:9)
Paul wants the believers to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. “Filled” (a word common in Colossians) means to be controlled or dominated by. The tense is such that it implies we cannot fill ourselves. It is something God is doing. God is filling us with knowledge, in other words, a deep, thorough knowledge. Knowledge about what? God’s Will. The false teachers had told them they had secret knowledge, but here Paul says all the knowledge you need….God has it, we need it (Hos 4:6—my people perish for the lack of knowledge) and wants to fill you with it! Not just that you know it, but that it might completely control your life!
There is a lot of talk about God’s Will. And normally when people say, “God’s Will,” what they mean is something they are trying to discern regarding some aspect of their future….which college to go to, which car to buy, whom to marry, which job to take, etc. Those things are not in and of themselves bad. However, when Scripture talks about the will of God and trying to discern it, it is more concerned about what kind of person is making those decisions. So it not who I should marry, but am I marriage material? Which house should I buy? Perhaps the question should be, how can I be the best steward of my finances in my house shopping? Ps. 143:10, Rom 12:2.
His will is, in this context, God’s design, purpose, plan, intention for his people. The knowledge of his will is really “to experience what God wants for you.” How do I get access to God’s will? By being in His Word! The more I am in God’s Word, the more He will fill me with His knowledge. Everyone wants to know what God wants for their lives, but no one wants to read the manual. Here are some things that are definitely His Will:
b) Being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:17-19)
c) Sanctification (conforming to the image of Christ 1 Thess. 4:3)
e) Some suffering (1 Pet. 4:19)
f) Giving thanks (1 Thess. 5:17)
Our prayer must always be for ourselves and
those we are praying for that we would be “filled with the knowledge of His will.” That means any opportunity we get to put ourselves in the position for God to do that, we must take. Let me give you a few ways to increase in knowledge:
1. We come to church with a Bible in hand and ready to devour the Word. We are underlining, circling, writing notes in the margin. How sad that some of you come week after week, waiting for the pastor to chew the food and put it in your mouth, tickle you and make you feel fuzzy inside. No, we must go after the Word. God provided manna for the children of Israel. He didn’t put it by their pillow or magically ingest it into their stomachs. They had to go out and get it!
2. We take the Bible wherever we go, even on vacation. Nowadays you can get pocket NT’s or Bibles small enough to carry.
3. We listen to praise music/teaching tapes/Bible audio.
4. You get yourself into a small group.
5. You attend Sunday school.
How pathetic it is that we can watch hours of tv and video games and all other kinds of entertainment to be filled with emptiness and not have time to be filled with the knowledge of the Word. We are eating cotton candy instead of meat. God wants to fill us more than we are wanting to be filled. But Paul goes to say, it is not enough to get the facts, you need two more things: spiritual wisdom (6x in Colossians: 1:9, 28; 2:3, 23; 3:16; 4:5) and spiritual understanding. In other words, we need to:
a. Know when to apply (wisdom)
b. Know how to apply it (spiritual understanding)
In other words, what’s the point if you know how to share the gospel, but you regularly miss opportunities to share it? What’s the point if you know how to go about resolving conflict, but you miss the opportunity to do it? Knowledge becomes just information if I do not know how to and when I should apply it. Knowledge may help you make a living, but wisdom and understanding helps you make a life. Notice they are spiritual items: the Holy Spirit is their source…you can’t get it from this world.
Illustration: DA Carson quote
Is there anything that our own generation more urgently needs than this? Some of us have chased every fad, scrambled aboard every bandwagon, adopted every gimmick, pursued every encounter with the media. Others of us have rigidly cherished every tradition, determined to change as little as possible, worshiped what is aged simply because it is aged. But where are the men and women whose knowledge of God is as fresh as it is profound, whose delight in thinking God’s thoughts after him ensures that their study of Scripture is never merely intellectual and self-distancing, whose desire to please God easily outstrips residual and corrupting desires to shine in public?
People cannot live by bread and Jacuzzis alone. We desperately need meditative and reflective dependence on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4). The need takes on painful urgency when we discover that even within our churches, let alone the nation at large, there are rapidly declining standards of the most basic Bible knowledge. True, basic Bible knowledge does not ensure the kind of knowledge of God’s will that Paul has in mind. But ignorance of the Bible, the focal place where God has so generously disclosed his will, pretty well ensures that we will not be filled with this knowledge of God’s will, this knowledge that consists in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Application: Mark 6:52.
II. THE FRUIT: It means I am productive (Col. 1:10a)
When I am being controlled by God’s Will and able to make biblical truths into applicational realities, guess what happens…you start bearing fruit for God. Paul already mentioned that the gospel already bearing fruit and growing (Col. 1:6). He is praying for more at Colossae! Bearing fruit in every good work…every place God has me in…whether at work, home, school, with my friends, etc. Jesus says just like branches “hang out” (literally “to abide” John 15) with the vine, naturally they bear fruit. Fruit can be many things:
a) Converts (1 Cor. 16:15—Stephanas, the firstfruits of Achaia)
b) Praise (Heb. 13:15)
c) Giving financially (Rom. 15:26-28)
d) Godly living (Heb. 12:11)
Illus: Luke 13:6-9
6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree,
planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for
fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 So he said to the
man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three
years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
8 “ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ ” (NIV)
Are we bearing fruit or taking up space?
III. THE BRANCHES: It means I am growing to know God more and more (Col. 1:10b)
Notice the jump from verse 9: knowledge of God’s will to knowledge of God. He moves from knowing the Word of God to knowing the God of the Word. Beloved, we must pursue the Lord. God told David, “Seek my face” (Ps. 27:8), but we often think “Seek my hand.” The Psalmist says, “ I want my soul to follow hard after thee/clings to you” (Ps. 63:8) We pursue so many things than the Lord. We pursue man’s approval, toys and trinkets, power and prestige…but God says, “Seek me.” I can tell you that after seminary I had substituted pursuing God with pursuing knowledge. They call seminary, cemetery for that very danger! I remember one day I was sitting at home and this prayer came out of my mouth, “I miss you Lord.”
The day we stop pursuing the Lord is the day we stop growing and maturing. God doesn’t just us to study Him, but to seek Him.
Ilus: the boy with the kite. God is always tugging on your heartstrings for you to get to know Him.
IV. THE TRUNK: It means I am strengthened to endure trials (Col. 1:11)
See what is happening to the person walking worthy of the Supremacy of Christ? As he puts himself in an environment to be controlled by what God wants him to do and given the power to discern and do it, he is being productive, he gets closer to God and he also receives strength for trials. Look at the text. Notice this is a a)continuous strength. The tense is “being continually strengthened.” That’s how God supplies strength. It is not a booster shot. It is an IV….constant as you need it—-supply of strength. Secondly, it is b) connected strength—You are connected to the inexhaustible supply of strength…”according to his glorious might.” See the word “according to.” When the multimillionaire gives “of” his wealth to some good cause he may be giving very little; but when he donates “in accordance with” his riches, the amount will be substantial. The Holy Spirit gives not only “of” but “in accordance with.” It is not your own strength. c) strength for circumstances and crazy people! Strength to endure—that means to handle trying circumstances, while patience or longsuffering deals with handling difficult people. Sometimes it is not the circumstances, but it’s people who make it difficult. God says, I got strength for difficult times and difficult people. It is not a grim strength, just enough to get by, but a glory strength. God is ready to give an all sufficient source of strength for all of the trials all of the time.
We see the supremacy of the Christian walk here as well. All religions say here is the standard you have to live up to…good luck in getting there. God says to the believer….my standards are high…in fact so high there is no way you can reach it, but I am going to live inside you and help you be what I have called you to be. I am going to fill you with my standards, give you wisdom and understanding to do it…these are my ways. But I give you my ways to do my work, that is to bear fruit and get to know me more and while you are doing that, I am constantly strengthening you to handle everything that comes your way by life or by people. Wow!
Ilust: The only thing that helped us during the trial of losing my job was to know that God was a Father, like I was going to be a father to Abbie.
I need strength to be a husband and father. I need strength to be a brother and son. I need strength to minister here. I need strength when I feel overwhelmed. I need strength in the face of temptation. I need strength all the time! Don’t have to be a leaky bucket, I can swim in the ocean of His strength.
V. THE LEAVES: It means I am a joyful and thankful person because of salvation (Col 1:12-14)
Lastly, Paul prays for the believers to be a joyful
and thankful people because of what God has done for them. Here there are four things God has done. He qualified us, rescued us, transferred us and redeemed us. If God does not do one more single thing in your life, you still have plenty of reasons to praise Him. I don’t know about you, but when I am down and out and I am weak, one of the things that gets me ushered back into the presence of God is to remember his saving power in my life. Religious leaders have died, but only Christ, God’s Son, died on the cross for the sins of the world. The picture in these verses is that of a great general setting a nation free from bondage and moving the people into a new land of blessing. What angel ever died to redeem sinners (set them free)? What religious rules ever produced forgiveness? It is the cross that lifts Jesus Christ high above all.
DA CARSON: If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, he would have sent an economist. If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician. If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would have sent us a doctor. But he perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death; and he sent us a Savior.
Review (Tree) Powerpoint.
Walk worthy card
 D. A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers, 95 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1992).
Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament, 577 (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1997, c1992).