Dividing to conquer

Watch out for that Bible, it's pretty sharp.

God’s word is such an amazing gift. Instead of leaving us to try and figure this thing out on our own, the Spirit of God has authored the book that provides inspiration, wisdom and “training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

The word’s effect on the life of a believer is immeasurable. As we allow the word of God to dwell in us richly, we begin to undergo a surgical process of sanctification, regeneration and transformation.

Hebrews 4:12 gives this commentary:

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit (emphasis added), joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The Christian belief is that the Bible is a living document, just as Americans make that claim of the Constitution. It is not outdated or irrelevant to our time, but because of the manifold wisdom of God, the Word remains “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

As much as we can talk about the word being “alive and active,” that is not the focus of this entry. This conversation will be geared towards God’s word being “sharper than any double-edged sword, [penetrating] even to the diving of soul and spirit.”

As often as I have read this text, I have never pondered what it is actually saying until recently. Sure, it was a nice scripture to quote, but there was not any enlightenment as to what the passage says of the word’s true power.

This power is used to separate the soul from the spirit. It is my belief that the passage also identifies “joints and marrow” so as to visualize the relationship between the soul and spirit, and testify the word’s ability to split the two.

For starters, to comprehend what is being communicated through this text, we must identify what the soul and the spirit are and differentiate between them.

The soul, amidst probably more definitions that one can count, can be defined as “the seat of our thoughts, affections, and reasonings” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia).

Human beings, however, were actually created as spirits even though we possess a soul. If you will recall, God said in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.” Jesus, in John 4:24 says, “God is spirit.” Furthermore, Numbers 27:16 calls God “the God of the spirits of all mankind.”

God, in his goodness, wrapped us spirits in tangible flesh that we might be partakers of life’s pleasures. Without discretion, however, man’s sin resulted in death—both spiritual and physical.

Before Adam actually returned to the ground, he fell out of a state of fellowship with God, because God is spirit. God’s words to Adam after Adam had sinned were, “Where are you” (Genesis 3:9).

Through Jesus, man has the ability to say, “I once was lost but now am found,” because God has reconciled us to himself. Now that God has revived our spirit by placing his Spirit on the inside of us, we can now operate in a spiritual dimension.

Now, let us revisit 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.”

Romans 10:17 records, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (KJV).

It is God’s word, then, that allows us to “walk by faith [and] not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7/KJV). Instead of walking according to the rationale and fluctuating emotions of the soul, the word gives us a spirit of faith (2 Corinthians 4:13) that allows us to even accept a gospel that preaches a crucified Christ—a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles (1 Corinthians 1:23).

Though the soul is a very vital part of our existence (after all God did create it), Christians are commanded to “walk by the Spirit [that we] will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). I do realize, though, this particular reference identifies God’s Spirit and not our own.

Two things must be understood pertaining to the soul and spirit in relation to this passage. First, the soul caters to the desires of the flesh. All of our passions and perceived human needs are contained in the soul and energized when our flesh responds to the prompts of the soul.

Secondly, God’s spirit is in union with our spirit. Romans 8:16 reads, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

The soul will cause us to be downcast and disturbed like the psalmist David (Psalm 43:5). Conversely, Galatians 5:22 identifies one fruit of the Spirit as joy. Though the fruit is of the Holy Spirit, the seeds are planted in our own spirit and grown by watering with the word of God (Ephesians 5:26).

If we are constantly walking according to our emotions and intellect, then we cannot be truly walking with God. God, in his sovereignty, knows fully well of our desire to satisfy our flesh by these means. For this reason, God’s word comes to separate our emotions and rationale from our spirit that we would be strengthened in our faith.

God also separates our spirit from our soul because our spirit is what he uses to communicate with us. Proverbs 20:27 posits, “The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.”

We cannot be so emotional and bound to logic that we are spiritually desensitized—unable to walk by faith; after all, “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). The word of God separates our reason from our faith. God wants to strengthen and mature us spiritually, and he tares asunder soul from spirit to do so.

Jesus said in John 6:63, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”

The soul will leave us relegated to the flesh, but the word will allow us to exchange our emotions and perceptions for God’s truth.

I believe this is the revelation David has in Psalm 42:11:

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.


~ by christianballenger on August 25, 2011.

2 Responses to “Dividing to conquer”

  1. “God’s words to Adam after Adam had sinned were, “Where are you” (Genesis 3:9).” – This hit me deep. Adam sinned and his spirit died causing him to lose his connection with God. God in turn called out, asking Adam where he was hiding. It’s sad and poetic.
    Keep writing, I really enjoyed reading this

  2. Wow it took me all day and night to finish reading this because it is so deep and very good. Your writing has gone to the next level
    You are ready!

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