“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”(Hebrews 4:12-13 NKJV)
God’s Word wasn’t simply given to give us information. It was given to us to transform our lives so that we could be more like Jesus. The information we read in God’s Word is meant to have a transforming power on our lives. The information we read for ourselves or hear preached is meant to change the way we think and when our thinking is changed our actions will be changed. The only way it can do this is if we are convicted and broken over the things Scripture challenges us on.
The author compares God’s Word to a two-edged sword. He says it cuts and can divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The metaphor of a sharp sword pictures the Word of God cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires revealing what we are really like on the inside. The Word of God can reach past our outer actions and cut us deep in our attitudes and desires. That’s tough stuff there. This means that God’s Word doesn’t just convict us about things we are doing that we shouldn’t be doing or about things we aren’t doing that we should be doing. It also convicts us about our motives, our attitudes and the things we think but don’t say.
When we are convicted we have a choice about how we respond. How we respond to this conviction demonstrates the level of authority God’s Word has in our lives. There are three possible responses and Biblical examples of these responses that we see in Scripture.
Brokenness and repentance. The example that I think best demonstrates this is from Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost. The church is gathered in an upper room praying and waiting on the promise of the Father to come and endue them with power from on high. As they wait the Holy Spirit comes and falls upon the group. As all this is going on Peter stands up and preaches the Gospel message about Jesus and at the end of the message the people say this to him.
“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37 NKJV)
As they heard the Word of God preached they were cut to the heart with conviction and brokenness and asked what they needed to do in response. They were broken over their sin and so their overwhelming desire was to fix the problem.
Anger and rebellion. In the book of Acts we are told the story about a deacon named Stephen. He is arrested and brought him before the Jewish high counsel and told to explain what he’d been saying about Jesus. Stephen takes the long way around on this and starts off by talking about Abraham. He then basically does a quick survey of Jewish history from Abraham to Jesus and the people respond.
“When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.” (Acts 7:54 NKJV)
“Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” (Acts 7:57-58 NKJV)
This group was also cut to the heart with conviction but instead of repenting they chose to become angry with the messenger and rebel against God’s Word. Fixing the problem was not on their minds.
Apathy. Those who respond this way simply don’t care and aren’t affected by anything that said. We see this response in the book of Ezekiel.
“As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’ So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.” (Ezekiel 33:30-32 NKJV)
They wanted to hear what Ezekiel preached. They gathered together as if they were really the people of God and they listened to the message from God but they had no intent of ever putting any of it in to practice. Going to hear Ezekiel was little more than entertainment for them. They simply didn’t care what God’s Word said to them. It didn’t convict them and cause them to be broken over their sin. It didn’t convict them and anger them over what the preacher had said. They simply did not care and so had no intent on making the changes Ezekiel preached about.
Which of these three responses do you think demonstrates that God’s Word is the authority in your life? If you guessed anger and rebellion you’re wrong. It’s the response of brokenness and repentance. There will absolutely be times when God’s Word convicts us. At times we will be convicted when we read it and at times we will be convicted when we hear it preached. Our response of brokenness and repentance demonstrates that God’s Word is the authority in our lives.