From the Word
9 And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
Colossians 1:9–11, RSV
The apostle’s words are “be filled,” that is, not only hear and understand God’s will, but become rich in the knowledge of it, with ever increasing fullness. You have begun well; you are promising shoots. But something more than a good beginning is required, and the knowledge of God’s will cannot be exhaustively learned at once on hearing the Word. “Knowing the will of God” means more than simply knowing about God, that he created heaven and earth and gave the law, a knowledge which even the Jews and Turks possess. When this point has been reached further enlightenment is necessary if man is to be saved. He must know the meaning of Christ’s words: “This is the will of my Father, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life.”
This spiritual knowledge, or confidence, is not so easily learned as other things. It is not so readily apprehended as the knowledge of the law written in nature. Indeed, that more than anything else hinders the Christians and saints from obtaining the knowledge of God’s will in Christ, for it compels the heart and conscience to plead guilty in every respect and to confess having merited the wrath of God; therefore the soul naturally fears and flees from God. Then, too, the devil fans the flame of fear and sends his fiery arrows of dismay into the heart. The wicked world eagerly contributes its share of hindrance against Christians as a people of the worst type, condemned enemies of God. Our flesh and blood is a drawback, making much of its own wisdom and holiness and seeking thereby to gain honor and glory or to live in security of life and wealth, pleasure and covetousness. Hence on every side a Christian must be in severe conflict, if he is to succeed in preserving the knowledge of God’s will. Verily, there is need of earnest and diligent use of the Word of God and prayer, that Christians may not only learn to know the will of God, but also to be filled with it. Only so can the individual walk always according to God’s will, and gain strength to enable him to face fears and terrors against the devil, the world, flesh and blood.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 417–18.