30 Days in the Bible, Day 4: Hebrews 4:12-13
Our passage today has a curious phrase that describes the penetrating power of the Word of God. The Word is said to penetrate “even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.” The pairs in these phrases have been subject to much interpretation and speculation over the centuries. The fact that there is no consensus on what they mean seems to indicate that there is something else the author intends to convey by using this phrase.
I think the point made here is that the power of the Word penetrates to the most intimate parts of the human being. It drives into the immaterial, spiritual part of our selves, and it even affects the inner life of our body. Modern medicine has shown the connection between the body and the spirit. (Of course, many deny the existence of a spirit, and just talk about the “mind.” They leave out just what the mind is if there isn’t any spirit.) The Word of God can and does disturb us to the very depths of our being.
This is what verse 13 teaches us. Everything we do, no matter how secretive we may be, is known to God. Whether we act with our physical bodies or within our spirit, God uncovers all we think, say, and do. The Word shows us what God’s standard is, and we realize as the Word confronts us just how far short of that standard we fall.
If it wasn’t for the forgiveness available to us through Jesus, the Word’s penetrating power would leave us spiritual and physical wrecks. That very disturbance, however, shows us our need for salvation, and the Bible also reveals to us the way to that salvation, the person and work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Even more, Scripture reveals to us that we have forgiveness of all of our sins, even those we commit after salvation, through the blood of Jesus. Our hopelessness is turned to hope through Him.
As we become aware of our sinfulness, and as God’s Word reveals His standards and His provision, our very core is shaken and remade. The penetrating power of the Word shows us our need, and shows us our Savior. When we come in faith to Jesus, we are reborn and remade, and our life at every level is changed forever.