12 For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart. 13 No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
The image of a double-edged sword grabs you as you read today’s passage. With the skill of an experienced surgeon, this Word moves to and fro through the soul and spirit, cutting away the dangerous matter and removing that which is unholy.
Laid bare before God, the Christ follower is exposed to the holiness of God as He works to reshape the mind and soul of those who follow Him. A Word that is living and effective is one that never loses its power nor diminishes in its effectiveness. It is as dynamic for its readers today as it was for those first readers in that day.
I am one of those strange kids who loved biology, especially when it came to the laboratory. The highlight of those classes for me was the dissection of animals: worms, frogs, and even young pigs. I will not recount the gory details because I might lose you here. But it’s hard to read this passage without recalling those days in the lab.
On the surface, you would see your average earthworm or frog. They all looked the same. But with one precise cut of the scalpel, the layers were pulled back to reveal something more fantastic. There were intricacies inside that no one could ever know from just one casual glance. Only the one who was willing to wield the scalpel could uncover what really lay at the heart of the animal. With each day in the lab, my understanding of what was inside grew.
God’s Word offers us that same chance to get beneath our “skin” and see to the heart and soul of who we are. The interesting thing, though, is that God already knows us better than we know ourselves. Read it again: “No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed…”
Okay. So if God already knows all about what’s on the inside, what’s the point of this sword? It’s important because of what it reveals to us about ourselves. Like a mirror shows us clothes that are wrinkled or hair that is out of place, Scripture teaches us about the ideas and thoughts we carry around inside. It not only lays us bare before God but it helps to judge our thoughts and actions as we move through the transformation process. It shows us where junk needs to be removed, where evil needs to be cut away and where thoughts need to be reformed.
Here’s the key, though. Just as a surgeon cannot remove a cancer unless the patient yields himself to the surgeon’s knife, you and I cannot be transformed by a Word that we are not exposed to on a regular basis. Sharp swords do no good until they come into contact with something. The challenge for you and I is to daily put our lives before God’s Word and allow His Spirit—working through this Word—to do the reclamation process of sanctification.
- Start by committing to a daily exposure to the Word. It doesn’t have to be large chunks of Scripture nor extended periods of time as you begin. Remember, the Bible can do what only the Bible can do. Devotional books and inspirational readings cannot take the place of God’s Word in your life.
- Learn to journal (a fancy word for writing down your thoughts) about the areas that God is exposing in your life. Maybe it’s a habit He is changing. Maybe it is a thought He is reforming. Track God’s process in your life as you allow Him to work.
- Try a word study using a particular area where you know your holiness needs some “work.” For instance, if anger is a problem for you, use your computer or a study bible to look up that topic and where it appears in Scripture. As you read, ask God to begin His transformation process in you by cutting away the “junk” and judging your thoughts and ideas as only He can.
- Ask God to open your eyes to areas where you may be blinded to your own struggles and weaknesses.