More Than Just Skin Deep

The Sword

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NASU)

This verse describes the Word of God as being more than a mere “rulebook” or “guide” to godly living, but instead having a true living power of its own.

Using the figure of a piercing sword, we see the Word striking into the very core of man; reaching into the depths of his true self. In line with this figure, there are three important considerations.

Outward vs. inward

There is more to obedience than outward piety. Jesus dealt with this very problem by confronting the Pharisees and numerous occasions (such as Mat. 15:15ff). The Word is not going to approve of us simply because of our outward actions, but because of the inward intentions that go with them. While no man could judge such things in another, the Word (because of its Author) can. This has sobering implications, leading to questions such as: Am I serving God today because I love Him and want to, or am I serving God because it’s expected?

No deception

The Word will not be deceived. The father of lies has succeeded in some of the greatest deceptions, convincing the world that God does not exist, that he does not exist, and that sin is not a real problem. However, we are responsible for much deception in our own lives as well. We attempt to convince ourselves of the benefit of unethical behavior, the justification of sin, the “minimal” impact of sin, etc. Our lips may even claim one thing while our heart claims another. The Word will not be deceived and it is foolish for man to even attempt it.

Can change anyone

A power that can change the heart can change any man. The wisdom and knowledge of man can only accomplish so much. We have the ability to treat illnesses, but not to stave off physical death. We have the ability to counsel lawbreakers, but not to cleanse a soul. Only the Word of God can produce such a profound change in the behavior and lives of men, and this is possible only because the Word of God can strike the very heart of man.

What Kind of Heart?

In light of the power of the Word of God to strike the very heart of man, it is important for us to consider what kind of heart is being struck. Outward cleanliness is important, but only with a clean heart. The Word will not be fooled and knows our true heart. No heart is so broken that it cannot be struck and changed by God’s Word. It is our choice whether we will let it strike us each and every day.

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