He had seven stars in His right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from His mouth, and His face was shining like the sun at midday.
Can you imagine talking to a guy who has a sword coming out of his mouth? You'd constantly be stepping back, putting some distance between you and him just so you didn't get cut up! When the Apostle John saw Jesus – with a sword coming out of His mouth – he just collapsed in a faint. I have always had some difficulty with this part of the description of our Lord in this first chapter of Revelation. I can handle the brazen feet, the white hair, the golden girdle, and all the rest of the description. They are glorious, even fantastic, but seem normal. The sword thing, however, has always seemed, well, clumsy. It's accurate enough though. Think about it – with every syllable of every word our Lord speaks, a sword darts out of his mouth. That sword cuts right into our hearts, slicing away the darkness, cutting away the dross and all the other nasty stuff that resides there. The word of God cleans us up and makes us pure. It sanctifies us and makes us holy. The word of God transforms us from creatures of darkness into emissaries of light and prepares us for entry into His presence. When you think of it this way, it sheds light on a couple of other scriptures. Take a look at Romans 12:1,2:
Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind….
“Transformed by the renewing of your mind….” We kick the word "sanctification" around in Christendom a lot. It literally means to be made holy. It is both a state of being and a process. We are holy (sanctified) right now! Jesus’ blood washed us clean from our sins and made us holy. His righteousness is our righteousness and we may, right now, confidently walk into the very presence of God. On the other hand, we are being made holy. As we walk through this life we’re walking through a process. Until either death or the Lord’s return, sinful thinking and sinful actions are still something we have to struggle with. God is, through the double-edged sword of the word of God, cutting away that darkness that still plagues us. That process is transforming us – sanctifying us – into becoming holy. Through the blood of Christ we are holy and are, at the same time, being made holy.
Here’s another related scripture:
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.
The writer of Hebrews was well aware of just how sharp is the word of God. If you’ve ever cut up a chicken to cook for dinner, you can relate to this one. You need a sharp knife to separate the joints so you can cook the individual pieces. A dull knife turns the job into drudgery and you end up tearing the joints apart instead of having nice, clean cuts to work with. In this scripture, that tight joining of the joints in our bodies is a metaphor for just how close our souls are joined to our spirits. The word of God is sharp enough to separate the dark “ideas and thoughts” of our souls from our reborn and remade spirits. Now, this concept is deep and I’m not going to try to delve into it here right now. The truth is, I personally need to ponder this scripture and maybe do some extra study before I could ever feel ready to tackle the “separation of soul and spirit” topic. (You should do the same. Spend some time pondering these scriptures, and then feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear what you’re thinking.)
In the meantime, think about the imagery of Revelation 1:16. Every word that Jesus speaks is a darting sword that cuts deep into your being, cutting away the darkness. On one hand, I think that’s really cool and I want it to happen really fast so that I don't have to deal with all that nasty, dark stuff. On the other hand, it scares me. What will He find in me to cut away? Will it hurt? I am willing to let Him have at it – I’m going to keep reading and meditating on His word – but I’m apprehensive about it at the same time.