I was pierced by a sharp sword this morning

May 26, 2023

close-up photography of gold-colored and black sword

My heart needed piercing

Struggle with sin is a lifelong Christian thing, so I’m told. I’m thankful that there is a struggle, and it is not capitulation to sin that is a reality in my life. Yet at times I am tempted to give up - especially when my sin keeps repeating like clockwork day after day, and my confession are expressed regularly, daily, like a washing machine cycle, getting more frequent as time goes by. There are times, the guilt and conviction are seemingly absent, and that my heart towards my sin has become callous.

I felt this morning would not be any different. Waking up, recognizing that I have sinned the night before, I felt going through the motions of confessing my sins and reading my daily devotions. John Flavel is the flavour (not flavel) of the month of May in the devotional I am reading. The topic is God’s providence. The passage:

He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

Psalm 34:20

As I was reading this passage and John Flavel’s commentary on God’s providence, I was reminded (and am thankful) that God’s providence has preserved my body - each part. If I am to look around the world, there are those who have lost or injured gievously and may never use those body parts properly again. As I was reading, I thanked God for his preservation of my life and my body, but in my heart I was saying, I know these things already, until I kept reading…

…when suddenly, I felt my heart pierced by the words on the page

Consider how every member which has been so tenderly kept, has nevertheless been an instrument of sin against the Lord;

John Flavel

I am guilty! I have disregarded God’s faithful and loving providence in keeping my body healthy and useful - which is meant to honor and praise Him - for my selfish sin. O God, you do not deserve such travesty from me, whom You have lovingly kept and preserved. Forgive me o God! Let me no longer use my body for instruments of unrighteousness. Let it be used for your kingdom and glory. Oh my heart, hear the words of the faithful preacher, John Flavel, and consider the purposes of your body:

Why does [God’s providence] protect you so assiduously, and suffer no evil to befall you? Is it not that you should employ your bodies for God, and cheerfully apply yourselves to that service He has called you to?

John Flavel

Preacher, Wield that Two-Edged Sword

I thank God for His word is truly sharper than any two-edged sword. I also thank God for His messengers like John Flavel, whom I didn’t know of until recently. I thank God that He has raised messengers to wield the sword of His Word by preaching it to His people. When a messenger preaches His Word faithful, he unleashes the sharp sword that is the Word of God to the hearer’s heart. - piercing it, unveiling the thoughts and intents hidden inside it.

In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

Revelation 1:18

Before we unpack what this passage is all about, it is important to note first what are the seven stars, and what is this sharp two-edged sword. I have been reading Doug Wilson’s commentary on the book of Revelation, and there it was pointed to me that the seven stars are the pastors (angels or messengers) of the seven churches in Asia Christ is about to address (according to John at the last verses of chapter 1 in Revelation). Wilson also states that the sharp two-edged sword that comes from His mouth strongly pertains to the message of Christ to the seven churches, a.k.a. His Word.

Two important truths are relevant to our discussion in this passage. First, the seven stars are in the right hand of Christ. The right hand notes another two crucial truths: it is Christ who holds and preserves the preacher, and it is Christ who is the source of authority for the preacher to preach. Just as the right hand man is the executioner of the authority of the one on the throne, so as the star in the right hand of Christ, the preacher has the responsibility to communicate to the church of Christ the message of Christ faithfully and authoritatively. The preacher cannot change the message to sooth the sensitivities of the age, nor can he shrink from declaring the message as if another authority is greater than the One who sent him to proclaim.

Second, His Word is called sharp two-edged sword, not just here, but also in Hebrews 4:12. The intent is to cut or pierce, the intent is to change forever. One who is cut will be hurt, but will also be forever changed. That is the power of His Word. That is what I felt this morning, and the intent is that I will never return back to my old self ever again, for I have been pierced, not slightly, not prickly, but thoroughly. Yet the two-edged sword is the Words of Christ communicated faithfully by the preachers of Christ.

Preacher, any attempts to change the message or restrain the message will blunt the message. Preaching a changed gospel or a dilluted Gospel is like taking a toy sword to a fight against forces who have real swords. You may look like you are wielding a sword, you may stab someone with your whole might and enthusiasm, but it will never pierce.

So preacher, preach the Word - the life-changing, heart-piercing, faithful Word of God. Preach it faithfully, preach it regularly. For in doing so, God will surely ensure that there will be mornings where you or the people of God in the church you serve will say, “Ouch! My heart was pierced with a sharp sword this morning.”

So preacher, preach the Word - the life-changing, heart-piercing, faithful Word of God. Preach it faithfully, preach it regularly.

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