TO CHEW ON: "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12
This well-known verse begins with the word "For," signalling that there is a logical connection with it and what has just been said.
If we look at the verses that precede it, we see that the writer is intent on his readers entering into "rest," something that "they" didn't do. So what is this rest, and who are they?
My Bible's commenter on Hebrews gives an explanation in a footnote:
"Israel's failure to enter Canaan becomes a solemn warning, lest professing Christians fail to enter the rest that God has promised. The rest is not entrance to Canaan, as it is in Hebrews 3:18, but that historical event is a type of the rest to be enjoyed by Christians. Some commentators view rest as a future heavenly rest, while others feel that the term describes the present experience of the believer who has fully surrendered to the lordship of Christ and is totally controlled by the Holy Spirit" - Guy P. Duffield, notes on Hebrews, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1733 (emphasis added).
I would agree with the second interpretation (that rest refers to the present experience of the surrendered, Holy Spirit-controlled believer).
And now our verse connecting the potency of God's word with rest comes to life. For we see that God's word is meant to help us achieve the state of full surrender to the Holy Spirit by showing us where we are still hanging onto our own plans, ambitions, and the ways and means of achieving them (even at unspoken levels—"...a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart"). That sword-word pares those self-centered aspects from us as we obey it. Then, with the Holy Spirit in control, we can enter into complete rest knowing that He takes full responsibility for us and our concerns.
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for this picture of rest from striving, rest from working in my own energy, rest from trying to make things happen. I've been guilty of these things way too many times. Help me to achieve the rest the writer talks about by paying attention to where Your word shows me I am expending self-effort in self-exalting projects. Then help me to have the faith and courage to give every concern and project to you. Amen.
MORE: Showing lies to be lies
Pastor John Piper, who interprets the rest in these verses to mean a future heavenly rest, explains how God's word warns and protects us from the deception we sometimes secretly hold onto.
"The good news of God's promises and the warnings of his judgment are sharp enough and living enough and active enough to penetrate to the bottom of my heart and show me that the lies of sin are indeed lies.
Abortion will not create a wonderful future for me. Neither will cheating, or dressing provocatively, or throwing away my sexual purity, or keeping quiet about dishonesty at work, or divorce, or vengeance. And what rescues me from this deception is the Word of God. The Word of God's promise is like throwing open a great window of bright morning sun on the shiny-back roaches of sin masquerading as satisfying pleasures in our hearts."
- By John Piper. ©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org Read all of "The Word of God: Living, Active, Sharp.*********
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.