The Word of God Is Alive and Active


January 13, 2020

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

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


Yesterday, we discussed the nature of Scripture as inspired, or God-breathed, and recounted the ways God’s Word works to teach, rebuke, correct, and train us in righteousness. Today’s text from Hebrews echoes and further elucidates these same ideas.

For the word of God is alive and active.

As a publisher, it never ceases to amaze me just how quickly books age. Authors want the most recent copyright date possible. It is as though their words carry a life expectancy and it seemingly gets shorter and shorter every year. Most words don’t age well. Sure, some authors’ words carry more weight than others, and yet even the best authors with the best-selling books know once their words hit the page the clock starts ticking. I mean, no one seems to be talking much anymore about the phenomenal, best-selling book of only a few years ago, The Purpose Driven Life. Then, of course, there are the classics, aptly defined as books that everyone likes to talk about but no one actually reads.

All of these words we write, publish, and read are good, meaningful, insightful, helpful, and even powerful, and yet none of them make the claim Scripture makes concerning its words:

For the word of God is alive and active.

The Word of God is in a category all its own. Even among the world’s collection of so-called holy books, nothing even comes close to rivaling the Holy Bible. Why? Because alive and active words can do things other words cannot.

Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow.

This sword, like a surgical instrument, heals as it pierces, penetrates, and cuts out even the most malignant cancerous growths of sin and death in our inner being. Remember our foray into Psalm 19:11, where the psalmist noted, “by them [the Word of God] is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”  Our First Word–Last Word text for today concludes with this claim:

it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

This is good news. We do not have to judge the thoughts and attitudes of our own hearts or anyone else’s. This is the purview of the Word of God. We do not need to be self-critical, just surrendered. Notice how the Word of God gets beneath behavior. A big part of our problem with sin is the way try to battle it at the level of our behavior. Too often, by the time sin reaches our behavior, we have already lost the battle. The Word of God wills to intercede and intercept far before behavior and activity.

It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

All we need do is subject and submit our everyday, walking-around lives to this alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, mysterious, miraculous and merciful Word of God: reading, ruminating, rememberizing, researching, and rehearsing. Consider the marvelous consonance of Hebrews 4:12 with Psalm 19:12-13:

But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression. 

There is only one way this does not work, which is to absent ourselves from this wonder-working Word.

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

First Word. Last Word. God’s Word.


Our Father in heaven, thank you for your Word, which endures forever. Thank you that your Word is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. Thank you for the precise way it cuts to the place where soul and spirit meet and mercifully judges the thoughts and attitudes of my heart. Give me grace to simply show up and surrender my deepest and inmost self to this amazing Word of God. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 


How have you and how are you experiencing the Word of God as this double-edged sword, mercifully judging the thoughts and attitudes of your heart? Do you tend to focus your energy at the level of behavior? Don’t you want to engage at a deeper level? Now you know.

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

One Response

  1. So many times I have read it, listened to people expound in the power of the word. And yes it has transformational qualities. But do you feel it has been as effective as it’s potential. We are alive and have power, yet we still lack the ability to perfect. Jesus attributed it to many things. Mostly external forces. That being said, do you believe if these same external forces that can keep us from our full potential may have influenced the Bible in the same way? There have been some terrible things done throughout history, using the Bible as the criteria. We have never reproved it though it exhorts us too. It seems a lot of books would not have had to be written if we were allowed to read and understand God’s word the way it was intended . The very fact that God’s name has been removed thousands of times should throw up red flags. Truth and Holy spirit are one in the same. You can’t pretend to ignore the lies and still have God’s active force. Although the text clearly indicates the discerning aspects, it troubles me that we most always draw the conclusion of judgement. God says he knows the desires of our heart. Does all judgement end in discipline or being “rebuked”. How about those who walk everyday with God , using Jesus as their template. Can judgement be favorable? Can God praise and encourage, maybe even defend us…..because He is happy with us? Yes, He can. There should be a weeding going on to remove the weed from the wheat. Verses stating women should not teach. Saul’s use of the Liars creed. Parts of pagan initiations. These do not belong in God’s Word.

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