“The Word is meant to be a sword to divide joints from marrow, soul from spirit, and show me where I, too, need to repent, change my behaviour and make things right.”
Hebrews 4:12 – 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.
I love this verse, but must admit that I’ve not always understood what it meant. In my youth I would just get excited about the sword part.
However, now something stands out to me. The part about the word of God (which isn’t a book BTW – it’s Jesus) dividing between soul and spirit.
Spirit is truth. Soul is feelings and emotions.
As sinners before being born again, we were driven by our souls. If it feels good or feels right – do it. Proverbs has some insight on this – “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
If you make me mad, I’ll feel better if I yell, scream, punch . . . Fill in the rest with your favorite. The way seems or feels right to unbelievers. But when we are born again we become justified and righteous. It is at this point that we live by faith. No longer trusting in what we feel or see, but by faith.
In fact, many times, the only time we have the opportunity to live by faith is when our feelings are in conflict with the truth. The Bible goes to great lengths to convey what a child of God is like. He is a partaker of the divine nature of God. He bears the fruit of the spirit naturally because of the seed in him which has enabled him to become born again.
Let’s just look at one of those fruits. Patience. How many times do I sell myself short and have a full-blown identity crisis because I don’t feel patient? After all, God wants me to be patient. I know this. I read it in my Bible. So what do I do when I don’t feel patient?
I live by faith. I submit myself to the Spirit of Truth that says that I am patient and the devil flees from me. “Ok God, thank you for making me patient. I don’t feel patient right now, but I submit to what you said. You said I was patient and kind. Thank you that you don’t define me by my feelings – by my soul, but rather by the truth, and the truth is that you’ve made me one Spirit with you. Thank you for this opportunity to remind me who I really am. I am patient. I submit myself to you and to your truth.”
When we do this, the enemy loses a foothold in our lives. He’s been counting on us to go into 3 days of depression and try to work ourselves back into the holiness we once held before we felt impatient.
Yes, the Spirit of God shows us our weaknesses and shortcomings. Not so we work harder to control them, but so that we will submit to His will and truth about who we are.
It is the truth that sets us free.
If the truth that I know and believe says that I’m just a sinner saved by grace who will inevitably sin everyday, then I wonder if that’s the only experience of freedom I’ll ever enjoy. God should understand my weakness, because He made me this way.
Does that look like freedom to you? Wasn’t the truth supposed to set us free? So if the truth that we’ve been taught keeps us bound in our sin, is it really truth?
If it’s the truth that sets us free, then what keeps us in bondage (to sin)? Wouldn’t it be a lie?
What if the truth I believed was that the blood of Jesus was enough to cleanse me from all my sin . . .That all the old passed away . . . That everything has been made new . . . That I have fellowship with Him, so there is no longer any darkness in me . . . That if I remain in Him, I will not sin . . .That I am now a partaker of His divine nature . . . That just as it was natural and easy for me to sin as a sinner, it is now just as natural and easy for me to produce good (righteous) fruit now that I am a saint . . .
The list could go on.
What if that was the truth that I believed? Would that eliminate my ability or capacity to sin? No. But could it preoccupy my mind enough that sin is no longer my focus. Neither in trying to avoid it nor in the condemnation I felt from doing it. What if my focus was on His wonderful ability to cleanse me if I ever do sin? What if my focus was on producing good fruit instead of avoiding bad fruit? What if it wasn’t so much about working to change my behavior as much as it is about believing God’s Truth?
What if the Word of God actually helped me divide between the truth and my feelings?
Through the Holy Spirit of Truth, Jesus reveals to us the truth of who we are, our identity in light of what He’s done through the finished work of the cross. Some days we may not feel any different in certain situations and circumstances than we did before we were born again. It is in these moments when we feel a familiar spirit, one that appeals to our sensual self through our feelings and emotions, that we have the opportunity to live by faith. To submit ourselves to the Spirit and Truth about who God says we are now that Christ has come, and allow the Word to rightly discern between the deception of my feelings and the reality of who He is in me – the only hope I have of glory!