(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
Sharper than any double-edged sword - Part 2
28th December 2013
Two weeks ago, we began to look at this passage:
Then, we interpreted "the word of God" here as referring to Jesus Christ. But as we saw in our study of 7th December, "the word of God" can mean the Bible. Indeed may evangelicals use it primarily in this sense.
As Paul says in 2 Timothy 3v16, every word of scripture is God-breathed. God spoke the scriptures into being, and He continues to speak through them. When a Christians studies the Bible, he often finds that it's much more than an intellectual exercise; sometimes a Christian just knows that God is speaking to him through the passage he's reading. The Holy Spirit applies the passage to the person reading it. It can seem as if a few words have been highlighted with a marker pen. Some say words jump out of the page. Sometimes, the reader just feels like God is speaking directly to him.
The Bible is Sharper than any double-edged sword. It's God's scalpel. By His Holy Spirit, He uses it to perform surgery on the deep parts of our being - our attitudes, our doubts, our fears, our sins, our self-image. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. There is no part of us - body, soul or spirit - that the Bible cannot reach.
At the moment that God speaks to us through the Bible, we have a choice. We can choose to believe the message. Or we can choose to find a reason not to believe it. Or we can simply choose to ignore it.
Usually, we can easily find a reason not to believe that a particular Bible passage has any relevance to us, if that's what we want to do. We can say that it's only relevant in ancient cultures. We can say that we're more enlightened now than the Bible writers were. Or we can simply claim that the passage doesn't describe our situation. Or we can simply try to forget what we've read. If we do either of these things, we may find that God brings the same message to us again, perhaps several times. But sooner or later, God may well stop talking to us about this issue, and maybe about other things, too. If we don't listen when He speaks, why should He keep speaking?
But if we accept God's message, it changes us, making us better, happier, freer people.
Even those who've been Christians for many years can resist the word of God sometimes, fearing that it will harm us. But mature Christians know that the word of our loving heavenly Father is always good for us.
The Bible judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. If we dare to call ourselves Christians, should we not submit ourselves to God's judgement? And if we trust God, then surely we know that whenever He speaks to us, it's for our good.
However much we pretend to each other that we're holier than we really are, we can't hide anything from God. We can't pretend to Him that we're better than we are. He knows exactly what our attitudes are, exactly how we sin in thought, in word and in deed. As the next verse says:
Since God knows exactly what's wrong with us, the important question for each of us is this: Do we trust God to forgive and heal what's wrong with us? If we do, we'll allow Him to use His word to perform whatever operation is required to put us right. We're accountable to God, and we can only be made healthy by God.
Does this seem a bit scary? It seems the person who wrote the letter to the Hebrews sensed that we might find it so. The next thing he writes is:
God speaks to us through the Bible - the written word of God - and it can be an uncomfortable experience for us when the Bible speaks about our imperfections. But our great high priest Jesus Christ is able to sympathise with our weaknesses. Jesus has been tempted in every way, just as we are. He never sinned, He never gave way to temptation, but He knows how hard it can be.
When God speaks to us through the Bible, He doesn't do it to punish us, but to heal us. He speaks because He has sympathy for us.
If you're a Christian, then I'm sure you're disappointed by your sin and ashamed. All Christians have a desire to be as pure as Jesus, and we all fail. God sympathises with you in your struggle between your God-given desire to live right and your sinful flesh. He wants to help. And He will help, if you'll receive His word and try to obey it.