As Christians, we should love the word of God. We should study it carefully and apply what we learn to our lives. But, when we use the word of God to slice up others, we are not only hurting them and possibly leading them away from the Lord – we risk getting cut to bits ourselves.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.– Hebrews 4:12
I know the above scripture can be taken in many contexts, but what I want to write about is using scriptures in battling other people. We really should be careful.
In writing this, I’m writing to myself first and foremost. I’m not coming to you as someone who merely has some idea about this, I’ve lived it – and I’ve suffered for it many times.
It can be so easy to use the word of God to hurt people, and many times we don’t mean to. We might even feel justified at times, even taking some measure of pleasure in knocking haughty people off their high horse or battling someone who misuses the scriptures by turning their own devices on them through the word. But, it’s called a two-edged sword for a reason.
It all comes down to our own hearts. This has been a hard, long lesson for me, and I don’t even know if its sealed up in my heart as it should be. This is a good example too of knowing something in your mind verses in your nature. We can know not to do something, but when doing the right thing is against our natures, we need the Lord to write it in our hearts – and praise Jesus, that’s exactly what he does!
Anyhow, what I’m trying to get at, is we should be very careful – not only in how we use the scriptures doctrinally – but how we direct them towards other people. For example, we see Jesus oppose the hypocrisy of the Pharisee. He does so with the truth – His truth. But, the truth kills just as well as it makes alive. Do we want the spiritual death of others on our hands?
He that leads into captivity must go into captivity: he that kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and faith of the saints. – Revelation 13:10
Sure, the above scripture could be taken a more literal way, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something when considering it in another light. One thing we don’t want on our conscience is turning people away from the Lord because we wielded his words too harshly. In effect, we are leading people into spiritual captivity, because they aren’t able to receive the gospel of freedom from sin through Jesus.
Again, I’m writing this as someone who has done it. I’ve knocked people out with my clumsy use of His word – and I’ve cut myself up pretty bad too. I know how easy it can be, and how we might even feel our judgment is righteous. We can know evil from good and we should do our best to help people who are harming themselves spiritually, but it’s all in how we do it.
There is a reason why we are to rebuke people in the spirit of meekness. There is a reason why we are supposed to be patient with others. There is a reason why we are to proclaim the gospel in love and not in a manner that tears down. We have sinned. That’s why.
Only Jesus has been without sin, and only He has the authority to divide spirit and soul. Only He can rebuke in the way we see Him talking to the Pharisee, calling them vipers, hypocrites, and the like. We should be careful in doing so. When we think we are so righteous that we can take it upon ourselves to bring down others harshly – even those who we know are enemies of the gospel – we are wielding His two-edged sword. Do we really think we have that authority? I know I don’t, that’s for sure.
Every time I judge someone harshly, even if it’s only in my mind, the Lord gives me over – and it’s happened a lot. I count it as a kindness though, because through it I’ve learned a lot about struggles that I wouldn’t otherwise understand. But, just because God can cause all things to work for our good doesn’t mean we go around doing things we should not do.
Someone told me once that it’s more productive to talk about what is right then battle every wrong. There is simply too much of it. And really, it’s in God’s control, so effectively we are trying to take down things He allows to stand. It won’t happen. It’s futile, and we often do more harm than good.
The true gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive enough for many, so the last thing we need to do is go around poking people in the eye, especially when we walk around with giant beams in our own. Again, we are not Christ – though we push forward and believe in His promises for perfection – we need to understand the spirit we are in.
We are not the judges of this earth, not at this time, so we need to leave the heavy-duty sword wielding to the only one who has the right: Jesus Christ.