As I was preparing dinner one night, the knife I was using to cut up the raw meat had grown dull and wasn’t slicing cleanly, leaving me sawing away in futility while my frustration grew. For whatever job one undertakes, having the proper tool in good working order is essential, and this is especially true in anything requiring cutting.
In multiple New Testament references, the word of God is described as a sharp tool. Paul, in his inventory of the armor of God, described the word of God as the “Sword of the Spirit” (Galatians 6:17). When John had a vision of Jesus from the island of Patmos, out of His mouth came a two-edged sword (Revelation 1:16). A two-edged sword, when properly sharpened, is an especially useful or dangerous tool, as it can cut or penetrate from any angle.
The writer to the Hebrews develops this idea of the sharpness of the word of God further: “For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating 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. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we must answer” (Hebrews 4:12-13, NASB).
In that passage from Hebrews we read that the word of God is living and active – it is not archaic or irrelevant. It is in force, it is effective, it has not exceeded its use-by date. And that living and active word is capable of penetrating any chamber, no matter how secure. We read that it can divide the soul and spirit, the bones and the marrow, the thoughts and intentions of the heart. The word of God is a scalpel that can probe the most secret parts. There is no veil, no chamber, no membrane, no protective covering that cannot be sliced open and exposed by the word of God.
And furthermore, we read that no creature is hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we must answer. We cannot hide anything from God – He sees all and can compel us to reveal even what we would prefer stay hidden. No matter what we do to conceal or keep secret the desires of the heart, the motivations of our thoughts, the things we wouldn’t ever want anyone to see – at some point those things will be laid bare. The word of God will open those private chambers, and our faces will be forced to meet the probing eyes of God, from whom nothing is hidden and to whom all of us must answer.
Trying to disguise our deeds and intentions is as old as the Garden of Eden. The first time in human history that someone disobeyed God, what was the first thing they did? They hid! They sinned, and when they looked down, they had been laid bare. So they hid. But they discovered that no creature can be hidden from His sight, so they tried to disguise their motivation – Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. They didn’t want God to know their true motivation – that they thought they could become like God. But all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him to whom we must answer.
If you would rather not find yourself suddenly laid bare, exposed by the sharp truth of God’s word, it would be wise to do a little self-surgery. We can do that, you know? We can use the word of God to examine our own behaviors, thoughts, and motivations. It might not be easy or comfortable, but there is no better tool for the job.
“Search me, God, and know my heart;
Put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there is any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.”
(Psalm 139:23-24, NASB)
~ Matt Kinnell, NHIM Board Chair