Dis·cern·ment – the ability to judge well.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Reality and healthy survival demands our being able to judge well to live well. That ability to judge well is what our Sovereign Judge, Resurrected Perfecter an Evidence of Truth have united to provide us. Defining the “division of soul and of spirit” requires more imagination than the grisly image Hebrews paints of a sword whacking through bone to reveal the living inner part, the marrow, that actually provides it needed nourishment.
Hebrews is saying the soul is like a boney structure we might identify as the biblical hard heart. The penetration of that boney structure has to happen to reveal the marrow, the Spirit, inside that hard heart. That allows the Spirit and the Word of God to become the needed nourishment of our growth, impact the intentions of our heart and teach us to judge well. It’s the total package.
Mark 7:5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders
instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”
…14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
…the missing verse 16 in the NIV is footnoted to be v4:23 “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Before I’d even read this chapter I was struck by seeing the amount of “red” on the page. Jesus had a lot to say about their traditional observations but tradition wasn’t the problem. God had given man 10 very important commands to be traditionally observed. The problem had become letting outward religious actions take the place of an inward relationship to God.
That’s what makes Jesus’s use of food as an example so perfect. God designed us as an efficient system with both emotional and physical needs. Faith is still a dietary matter. It’s making the choice to let God himself be responsible for our nourishment and then tradition can become food that changes our heart not just a physical ritual temporarily taken in and then eliminated. “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.”
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The image of that sharp, double-edged sword makes being changed by the word of God sound so brutal…and painful. Here’s an idea to consider about how that sword might be working in you as you read.
Have you ever read a familiar part of Scripture and been surprised to find you see something new and meaningful you’d never seen before?
I think that’s the sword at work cutting up the Word of God into smaller, easier-to-digest pieces for you. Thats how it becomes the nourishment needed to reunite your soul and your spirit. That’s complete renewal that penetrates your bones, your heart and your mind. That’s God’s Plan Be.