Everything we do and say in this life has a motive behind it. Because of the Holy Spirit that dwells in those who know God, those motives, more often than not, are good motives, but sadly, we don’t always have the right motives in our hearts when we do things. Furthermore, at times, it is very difficult to know what our motives are or to know our heart well. But God has given us his Word that acts like a mirror and a sword; it cuts through all the stuff in the surface and reaches our innermost parts to show us who we truly are and what is really in our hearts.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
What does the text mean?
This passage is so rich in content. The writer of Hebrews begins by telling us that the Word is “living and active”, that is, the Bible reflects the character of the one who gave it to us; he is a living God and is also the giver of life. That is why, if you are to know Christ and have eternal life, you must go to the place where the words of life are found—the Bible. His Word is also active because God is a dynamic, working God and the Bible was given by God the Holy Spirit who is constantly at work in us to convict us of sin and to teach us his Word.
The Bible is then described as “sharper than any two-edged sword” which pierces through to the innermost part of us. When the book of Hebrews was written, the sword was the most powerful weapon and the one that did more damage, but a two-edged sword was even more useful than a regular sword. The Word of God then, like a butcher cutting through meat and bone to separate everything, cuts through what lies in the surface to expose what really matters—our hearts and intentions. The Holy Spirit uses his Word to cut through everything and judge our deepest thoughts and desires in order to bring us to repentance and conformity to Christ. In other words, the Bible exposes anything in us that is not Christ-like; it shows us our hypocrisy, unworthiness, selfishness and pride, even if it all looks good in the surface.
What does it mean to me?
Brothers, this passage shows us that God cares primarily about what is in our hearts, he cares about our motives and he sees them even if others do not. At times, we instinctively act in a hypocritical way and show by our external actions something contrary to what lies in our hearts. Unfortunately, very often we ourselves are blinded to our own intentions and heart because of our lack of constant exposure to God’s Word. I encourage you to begin spending time in God’s Word constantly so that the Holy Spirit will show you what truly lies in your heart. Let the Word show you your selfishness, self-pity, self reliance, self-love, self-atonement and even your self-condemnation. Let it cut through what lies in the surface so that your exposed inner being may be healed by the power of our Lord. Let us in humility come to the Word and permit the Holy Spirit to penetrate the depths our hearts so that he begins a true transformation in us and not just a superficial change of conduct.
God bless you