Power of the Word

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

In the last blog, I wrote about a case for redefining the use of how we use the word “soul”. I want to apply that new understanding with a scripture that I think is frequently misunderstood.

I want to suggest to you that the word ‘psyche’, translated ‘soul’ in this passage may be incorrect. What if ‘soul’ represents the “thoughts of your heart,” and the ‘spirit’ represents the “intentions of your heart?” If joints could be analogous to our thoughts, marrow would be analogous to our intentions, what’s at the core.

It might be time to eradicate the term “soulish” from the Christian subculture. Rather, I would say that it would be better described as our thoughts and intentions that are not yet perfected. We have many thoughts and intentions, but only some of them will reflect the heart and mind of God (Is 55:8).

Pope John Paul II talks about the difference between ‘Ethics‘ which addresses the law according to the mind, and ‘Ethos‘ which addresses the heart behind the law. Jesus addressed the issue of outward compliance with the Pharisees. Jesus taught that if we have an outward appearance of compliance (ethics) but the heart is still sinful, we have fulfilled neither the commandment nor the purpose behind the law. Once both the thoughts (mind) and intentions (heart) have been sanctified, there is no more need for the law. The law then has done its job as a tutor driving us to Christ for our redemption. Remember that Christ came to fulfill the law, not abolish it.

One of the purposes of the word of God is to sift us. It reveals not only where behavior is in need of being saved, but also our intentions. Whether it’s the outward behaviors or the inner intentions of the heart, the word is capable of revealing our need for a savior.

So what is the application for all of this?

If you’re like me, there are areas where I appear to be righteous on the outside, but am still unloving on the inside. Love is fulfillment of the law.

The only hope likes in the one who sanctifies us and leads us into all truth.

At the cross, which is an altar, a divine exchange can take place. When the power of His word (logos) brings up issues for our mind (thoughts) or our intentions (heart), take them to God. From God’s perspective, the cross was to be a place of both death and resurrection (something dies and something better takes its place). If we let something go, ask God what He wants to give you in its place. While the altar of the cross may seem foolish to the world, to those who are in the process of being saved, it is the power of God (1 Cor 1:15-31). His power is made perfect in humility.

Rhythm of the Spirit

I had a dream a few years ago remarkably contrasting the rhythm of the flesh versus the rhythm of the spirit.  I’ve been hearing a scripture in my spirit which I believe points to the rhythm of the spirit.  If we look at scripture and the life Jesus lived and modeled, I see something interesting.  In John chapter 10, Jesus has caused someone who was blind to be able to see.  He proceeds to describe himself as the “door” and “the good shepherd,” and then he says this:

John 10:17-18

“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.  No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

The commandment Jesus received from God was to lay his life down and to take it up again.  This is to be done in accordance with the spirit.  God loves a cheerful giver.  OK, Daddy, what do you want me to be doing right now?  Should I lay my life down for someone else [love your neighbor]?  Or, should I take it back in order to establish place a healthy boundary [love God and self].

I see both in the life of Jesus.  Most of the time, we see Jesus laying his life down for someone else.  There were also times he established healthy boundaries in accordance with the spirit and in obedience to God.  Think about the times he just went away to be alone with God [take it up again] or when it seemed that God had another plan.

We see a similar picture with Moses in Exodus chapter 4.

Exodus 4:2-5

The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.”  Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— “that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

The Hebrew word for staff has it root word as ‘natah’, meaning to be stretched out, extend, or an offering.  A staff would represent someone’s authority and the things they lean upon for life.

In obedience to God, Moses was to lay his life down for the sake of others.  Moses reaction in the natural was to run from it.

What do I see symbolically?  Moses would take up his life again by laying hold of what was at the end of the sign.  I believe the sign points to the life of Christ, laying His life down and becoming a curse for us.  He had to willingly become the tail so he could become the head and we could become the body.

The Hebrew word for caught is the word ‘chazaq’, meaning to strengthen, be resolute, become courageous.  Laying hold of Christ would be what would make him strong and allow him to take up a resurrected life.

So what does this mean for me?  I believe a life lesson in learning the rhythm of the spirit.

God, what would you have me do right now?  Lay down my life, or take it up again?