May 29, 2013
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 the intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13
In my office there hangs a great broadsword.
Made by my father, this sword was his only foray into the forging of ancient weaponry. The project, which, on and off, took him over a year, was a labor of love. Heating, pounding, pulling -- he shaped that thing and put an edge on it. A good, healthy swing will cut through a 2 x 4.
But the sword in my office is probably a lot heavier than the sword referred to in the passage above. The author of Hebrews 4 is talking about a weapon that pierces and cuts with surgical precision, not a sword which hacks and chops.
Unfortunately, there are more than a few people who hack and chop with their Bibles. One of those people is Evelyn Mills Moore of Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Am I being overly judgmental? I don't think so. You see, Moore used her Bible to beat the tar out of another woman. That's right. She used her Bible as a weapon, which left bruises and abrasions on the other lady. Indeed, the beating was so bad Moore was arrested, and her bail was set at $105,000.
Now I'm sure none of the tens of thousands of you who will be reading this devotion would ever do such a thing.
You know better.
Even so, over the years I have seen Christians use various Bible passages to berate, belittle and abuse others. I've seen passages taken out of context and applied to people and situations where they just didn't belong.
Even worse, I've seen the Law being applied to sinners who already had hearts that were filled with sorrow, and words of Gospel comfort being extended to those who felt perfectly fine and at peace with their misdeeds.
The text is clear: the Lord's Scripture is designed to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. If that heart is filled with all manner of evil and wrongdoing, the Law of God can be applied to bring that sinner to repentance and confession.
But when the Word discerns a heart is well and truly sorrowful, the Gospel must be administered to provide the peace, forgiveness and comfort that was won for us by the Savior through His life, His suffering, His sacrifice, His death, and His third-day resurrection from the dead.
When that happens to us we should be glad, for we know, washed in the blood of the Lamb, we shall be fearless when we stand before the Lord before "whom we must give account."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, keep me from misuse of Your Word. Let it accuse me when I am guilty and forgive me because I am a repentant servant of the Savior. Then, I pray, may it guide me, so my sin and guilt is less frequent. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries