The Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, is truly a mighty weapon of warfare against the deception and bondage of the devil!
The Very Depths
“For the Word of God…is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12}. The Word of God is very penetrating. It is like an extremely sharp knife that can cut through even the hardest of substances.
In this same verse, the Holy Spirit says the Scriptures are “piercing, even to the division of the soul and spirit”. These two phrases in Hebrews 4: 12 show us that the Word of God can reveal the very depths of the human heart, even what appears confusing or hidden. Reading or hearing the Scriptures can reveal the subtle differences between the soul and spirit, and show whether a person is living a soulish life or a spiritual life.
The Greek word for “discerner” is kritikos, from which we get the word “critic”. The Holy Spirit purposefully chose this word to describe the role of the Scriptures in our lives. In this we can see that God’s Word provides the standard, or “measuring rod”, against which our lives are to be compared.
God’s Word gives us something to measure our lives by, to see if we are living in a way that is pleasing to God. However, the Bible does not measure our outward actions alone, which can appear pure to human eyes. His Word also reveals our inward motives, those secret things in our hearts that are behind our actions. “…But all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb 4:13; see also Proverbs 16:2).
It would be no stretch of interpretation to say that God’s Word tests both a man’s earthly life and his spiritual life. His bodily life and his spiritual life alike come under the scrutiny and inspection of the Word of God.
There are times when we might doubt our own motives. Sometimes false condemnation can slip into our hearts. That’s when the Word of God can either reassure us or convict us, and help us to know how to respond to God and His work in our hearts. The Holy Spirit will use the Word of God to guide us into righteousness.
To avoid using this “critical discerner” only on others, we should remember the lesson Jesus taught His disciples. In Luke 6:37-42, Jesus warns us against being judgmental and critical of others, especially when we might be blind to an even worse condition in our own lives. A person who is quick to condemn the faults in others, while ignoring his own shortcomings, will be of little help to God in influencing the lives of others for Jesus’ sake.
We can serve the Lord and others best by first and foremost applying the discerning power of the Word to our own lives.
“…that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water with the Word” (Eph 5:26). In this passage, the Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul, uses imagery (or symbolism) to create understanding in the minds of both Hebrews and Greeks. This verse compares the work of the Word of God to being washed with water.