The Sharper Sword

The Bible is a piercing book. That’s what the author of the book of Hebrews means when he calls the Word, “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12). The adjective “sharper” originates from the primitive root temno, meaning, “to cut.” The Word has cutting power. In other words, the Word of God is incisively penetrating. As a two-edged sword pierces through body parts, so the Word of God pierces through the innermost man. It does not go just into the head, but it pierces the deepest parts of the inner being. It may shape our thoughts without at first our realizing that we are changing, which then brings our minds closer to God’s way of thinking. John Calvin says, “If anyone thinks that the air is beaten by an empty sound when the Word of God is preached, he is greatly mistaken; for it is a living thing and full of hidden power, which leaves nothing in man untouched.” The Word of God is not stagnant. When confronted by its truth, we are always forced to make a decision. It will not let anyone remain neutral.

A biblical illustration of the penetrating power of the Word is found in the book of Acts. On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached a message of which the main point was, “Men of Judea, throughout biblical history God promised to send you a Messiah, and when He came, you killed Him.” When they heard him say, “whom you crucified” (2:36), his hearers knew exactly what he meant. At that point, the truth hit them between the eyes and they realized what they had done to Jesus. The next verse says, “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart.” The two-edged sword of the Word of God demanded a response from its hearers—“what shall we do?” The answer was, “Repent” (2:38). The piercing Word twists and turns to expose whatever is in our hearts of which we must repent. It is the divine scalpel used by the Divine Surgeon to cut and expose the cancerous sin that must be dealt with in order to gain spiritual health.

As we faithfully counsel one another, therefore, we must let the Word of God do its cutting work. We must always speak the truth in love, but we must always speak the truth. Our counsel must be Word-saturated so that the Spirit’s tool will be readily available for Him to convict those in sin and bring them to repentance. But we must also be careful to remember that God does not overwhelm His children by showing us all our sinful ways at once. Believers are His works in progress (Phil. 1:6), and His ways are filled with compassion and grace (Ps. 103:8).

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