Summary: Based in Hebrews 4:12-16 expository sermon on Christ as High Priest and our receiving mercy and grace by His actions on our behalf.

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Heb 4:12-16 NKJV 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. (13) And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (14) Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (15) For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. (16) Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

In the Roman military there were many weapons, long sword, pike, spear, and short sword. Of those the most dangerous was the short sword, it was a two-edged sword so that the soldier using it could stab or cut from either side. If his stab was successful, then he could move that sword left and right and tear his opponent apart. The writer of Hebrews had this in mind when this passage was written. I remember very clearly attending a Church service at New Dorp Baptist Church in New Dorp town, Staten Island NY in November 1974. The pastor preached a sermon that deeply touched my soul, as he read the scriptures that night, the Spirit convicted me of my sinfulness. When the invitation was given at the close of the service, I walked down the aisle to the altar. Up until that night I was sure I was a Christian, that night however, I realized that I called myself a Christian, but I had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and had not been saved. My life changed in 1974, I became that year a convicted soul, knowing my own sinfulness and knowing too that I had been saved by the grace of God, through Jesus Christ.

The gospel cut through all my excuses, all my holy stuff that was just fluff. I had grown up in the church, I was a member of the Moravian Church, had gone through all the training and joined the church when I was 14 years old. Knew all the rituals, served as an acolyte, even served as an usher. Then in 1962 I joined the U. S. Army and in three years learned how to drink, gamble, and other things. I had effectively left the faith, I still called myself a christian, but I was not a follower of Christ any longer. Satan had lured me away with various tricks that convinced me that it was more fun to be a nominal christian than to be a disciple of Christ.

Then that gospel message, cut through all the junk that I had built up over those years, convicted me of my sin and brought me to my knees at that altar. Like the two-edged sword of old, it chopped up my carefully constructed tower of lies and shone God’s light into my very soul. That is what the writer is talking about here, it is indeed a discerner of our true thoughts and deeds. It is alive, and it winnows its way into your very soul. In the word, God discerns who we are and what our true self really has become, and through the word, we are transformed into the image of Christ. Matthew Henry writes: “Those sinful habits that have become as it were natural to the soul, and rooted deeply in it, and become in a manner one with it, are separated and cut off by this sword. It cuts off ignorance from the understanding, rebellion from the will, and enmity from the mind, which, when carnal, is enmity itself against God.”

Verse 13 reminds us that there is nothing, that can be hidden from God. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” One of the truths of this is that the writer than goes on to state that Christ is our great high priest, aware of our own humanity.

It is Christ as the High Priest who dissects our sacrifice, as the High Priest of the Temple would cut open the animal sacrifice right to very spine to ensure that it was clean on the inside as it looked to be on the outside. So too does the Lord look deep into our hearts and minds and by that sword of the word, discerns what is our true state of being in this world. Just as one day we will stand before Him in truth at the judgment seat, to be judged then as to our true state for eternity. Will our name be found in the book of life, or will be sent to the nether regions, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. Are we true disciples or just faking it to get by thinking that God will not notice.

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