Hebrews 4:12-16 Truth & Grace, the twin engines of growth
12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two- edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (the word’s searching and piercing work towards us).
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
In the quest to find true rest, the word of God molds and strengthens us towards the goal and the great high priest is ever present to help in times of need. Today’s passage teaches us the importance of planting the seed of truth so that we can harvest its fruit in the future. The truth of the word and the grace of God are twin engines that propel us towards our ultimate glory and rest.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword…
The Word of God has three properties: Living, active and sharp. It is living as it imparts life; it causes the reader of the word to regenerate his spirit in hope, wisdom and power leading to heath and prosperity.
The Word is active or potent when consumed; it destroys the works and values of evil residing in the believer. It also strengthens and empowers the body to do great exploits.
The Word is sharp and able to penetrate the psyche of a man no earthly counsel can. Every person possesses an inertia in his soul preventing him from recognizing his true condition and resist change. The word encapsulates and traps values that run contrary to God’s laws and are hidden deep in the soul. The division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow depicts the inner elements that are interwoven and indistinguishable. However, the word of God is able to discriminate and navigate effectively through these elements with pin-point accuracy. The discriminating power of the word exposes the deceptions and cover of the evil one: thoughts and intentions of the heart that lurks within giving him clarity into his inner world.
Because of the soul searching and piercing properties of the word, the believer’s inner world becomes clear as crystal: all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him. Therefore, believers are held accountable to God at the revelation of the word to respond to Him in repentance.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens…
We have a great high priest who has overcome all earthly temptations; who has accomplished His mission and gained full approval of the Father. Passed through the heavens depicts full vindication and approval by God. Since this high priest is not absolved from the temptations common to humanity, He is able to empathize with every human weakness and struggle against sin and suffering. The text reminds us that this high priest has remained fully loyal and faithful to God in His journey to the cross. Hence, He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, which is the human propensity towards sin. To sympathize is more than just having compassion; it is being involved in the suffering of another, sharing his pain and destiny.
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace…
Because this great high priest is able to remain loyal to God: One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin, He is fully qualified to help us overcome our own struggles. Therefore, what should our attitude be when approaching this great high priest? We have to draw near to the throne of grace with confidence. Confidence (or parresia in Greek) depicts the freedom to approach and to speak freely without fear or rejection. Grace is the impartation of faith to stay the course and accomplish our calling.
Every time we read the word, a seed is planted that will bear fruit in the future. Because the word is alive: the word of God is living, it takes time to grow before we see its fruit. Therefore, we must never stop reading the word even though it may seem dry at times. The word is like a seed that buries itself in the soil of our heart. As long as we continue to read and yield to the Spirit’s prompting, it will in time bear the fruit of hope, wisdom and power. Many search the word for promises of a better life but ignoring the instructions pertaining to truths for living. As a result, the seed gets stolen before it takes root. Yet many could not bear fruit because weeds and the cares of life choked the seed. Therefore, we must redeem the time by reading the word and planting the seeds of truth daily. And in due time, there will be fruit for harvest.
God has given us the permission to approach Him while we are in the mire of sin. Men cannot lift himself out of his sin, failures and weaknesses apart from coming to the God of mercy. God knows our limitations and desires us to come to Him while we are in the mire of filth and murder. However, human instinct tells us that God demands holiness. But Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Purity does not mean holiness, but it does mean transparency and being willing to acknowledge our sins and repent. Pure water is perfectly transparent; likewise a person with a pure heart does not veil himself or justify his sins before God. God loves not a righteous person, (for there is no one righteous, Romans 3:10), but He loves one who is transparent and repentant before Him. For such a person, there will be no questions asked, as all sins are forgiven and forgotten. There will never come a time when we are fully ready to approach God, but now will be a good time.
The first step to growth is to be fully aware of one’s own condition. It is impossible to grow unless we see in crystal clarity our present condition. In order to progress, we must be conscious of our strengths and weaknesses. Just as a doctor must necessarily understand a patient’s condition before he could prescript an appropriate remedy. Therefore, we must seek to first understand ourselves, and then channel our energy to grow in the right direction. The word illuminates our eyes to see our inner world and identify areas that needed cleansing: the word is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. In reading and mulling over the truths of the word, we allow the Spirit to search our soul and reveal the key towards our breakthrough. The word unlocks hidden issues that block the wisdom and blessings of the Spirit. Many churchgoers do not want to see their true self, for they are still unwilling to make changes to their lifestyle and worldview. Hence, they only want to hear the message of forgiveness and to remain oblivious to the state of their heart.
- When we read the word, we need to allow God full excess into our inner world so that He may reveal to us areas that needed His cleansing work. Write down on paper the issues in your mindset that God is working on and decide how you could work with God to overcome those issues.
- Make it a habit to go to God immediately whenever we are weak and tempted. Dwell in God’s presence until the storms of temptation have passed. The grace of God is effective in removing the lust of the flesh, the negative emotions and the pride of life.
Dear Lord, as I read your word, reveal to me the hidden issues of my heart so that I may deal with them. Cleanse me and mold me as I yield myself to your empowering grace. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.