The Scalpel and the Sword

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.  But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2: 14-19

The scalpel is a surgical instrument.  It’s clean.  It’s sharp.  It cuts around the smallest vessels.  The surgeon takes this surgical instrument carefully into his hand and he makes a makes a calculated incision.  With a sure and steady hand, he goes only as deep as the procedure requires.  His cut is measured to minimize the invasiveness of the instrument.  In preparing for the procedure, he focuses on the end goal.  The surgeon wants to remove the tumor, the foreign cells that threaten the life blood of God’s creation.  He is diligent not to contaminate the field that would cause an infection. At most, he hopes to leave only a hairline scar as evidence that he was ever there.  He carefully considers each step of the procedure.  He first takes great care to sanitize his own hands and surgical instruments.  He removes obstacles that would cause him to stumble as he extricates the tumor.  He must put the interests of the patient before his own.  He sets his mind on the ultimate outcome of bringing healing so that life may go on better than before. 

The sword is an instrument of war.  Swords are used in battles against the enemy.  The sword is big and heavy.  It has the capability cut a body in half.  The sword is wielded to bring certain death.  As the warrior approaches the enemy, he is swift.  The warrior doesn’t worry about infection, because the enemy is to be destroyed.  The warrior hopes to shatter the enemy by death or surrender.  He doesn’t concern himself with the damage he may leave behind.  

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.  –Ephesians 10-20

The scalpel and the sword – one is intended to save and the other is intended to destroy.  The Lord has given us His Word as the sword of the Spirit.  There is no greater weapon than the sword of the Lord, but there is a great responsibility that comes with using it.  When we utilize the sword of the Word, we must consider how the powerful instrument should be used.  The sword is used against enemies.  Our enemies are God’s enemies.  The enemy is Satan who desires to kill, steal, destroy God’s children, and divide His church, His Body.  The Word of God is powerful, weighty, and mighty and it has the power to heal, restore, and unite. The Word also has the power to destroy our enemies.  Unfortunately, it has that same power if misused within the body of Christ.  The Bible warns us in 2 Timothy to rightly handle the Word of Truth.  If not handled properly, it will lead to more ungodliness and spread like gangrene. 

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. – Proverbs 12:18

Sadly, there are those in churches that use the Word of God to pound the heads of their brothers and sisters in Christ.  The user of the Word will bring the sword of the Word down harshly to kill the spirit of their brethren.  They’re fighting the war, but they’re not recognizing the enemy is of principalities and powers.  If not rightly used, the Word can be formed into a sword of judgment, legalism, and religion.  The user of the Word must determine how the instrument of the Word is to be used.  Should the instrument be used as a sword or a scalpel?  Are we confronting the enemy of God or are we confronting sin in our brethren? Yes, sin is the enemy, but its removal requires different tools depending upon whether the sin is contained within the body or outside the body.

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.Hebrews 4:12

In the body of Christ, the sword should be transformed to a scalpel.  The scalpel is just as powerful as the sword but in the hands of the disciplined user, it brings forth life.  It does not destroy life.  The scalpel of the Word can detach the tentacles of a deadly tumor that threatens the blood supply to healthy cells.  When trusted with the authority to speak into the life of a brother or sister in Christ, we must choose the scalpel.  We must prepare the field through prayer.  We pray for God’s leading.  We pray we may be used as an instrument of God to become one with the scalpel.  Before surgically removing a splinter from our brother’s eye, we must first remove the telephone pole from our own eye.  To see clearly, to not introduce infection and gangrene, we must cleanse ourselves before the Lord.  We cannot appeal to our brother in Christ to allow us the authority to do surgery if we haven’t properly prepared ourselves. 

The surgery of addressing sin in our brethren is a delicate procedure.  The procedure requires a peaceful spirit and a steady hand.  We must rightly use the Word of the Lord to cut into the flesh.  The cut is not to maim or harm.  The purpose of the incision is to expose and remove the tumor of sin, leaving behind healthy cells now rejuvenated by the blood of Christ.  A sword is too bulky.  A sword cuts too deep and too wide.  It could leave permanent damage and a long-lasting scar on our brethren.  Whereas the sword is a great weapon for battles against the enemy, the scalpel is a tool of precision to separate only death from life. The process of using a scalpel may take longer than its counterpart, the sword.  Using the scalpel, we must rightly divide the healthy cells from death in our words.  We don’t want to destroy the goodness of God in our brethren in our efforts to eradicate sin.  We cannot cut our brother in half in our efforts to remove the tumor of sin.  We use the Word of God with wisdom and knowledge.  We don’t attack the entire person with a sword to remove the tumor of sin when the situation requires the careful precision of the scalpel. 

Too often, well-intentioned Christians bring the sword of the Word to surgery with their brothers and sisters in Christ.  Our brethren are not our enemies.  Satan is the enemy.  If someone is truly our brother or sister in Christ, then they have the Spirit of God in them and they cannot be our enemy.  In addition, to destroy the brother is to destroy the Spirit of God in him.  Many people leave the church due to legalism and religiosity.  Both legalism and religion contain the Word of God, but they are not rightly used in handling situations of sin within the body of Christ.  This occurs when we wield the Word of God without the Spirit of God. The sword of legalism and religion is heavy, large, and sharp, and it will leave deep and visible scars.  The sword cannot be wielded recklessly in the body of Christ.  Therefore, we must transform the sword as a scalpel within the body of Christ.

In church counseling, use the Word as a scalpel. The Word of God is powerful; life and death are in its power. It must be steadied by the Holy Spirit to prevent inflicting catastrophic damage. By implementing the Holy Spirit in grace and mercy, you turn the sword into a surgical scalpel. The Bible gives these attributes to Daniel – problem solver, understanding, excellent wisdom, and light.  The Spirit of God spoke through Daniel.  Our motive should be to properly discern the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Our motives in addressing our brethren must be pure to prevent contamination and gangrene.  Gangrene will infect the entire body.  We are the body of Christ.  When removing sin in our brother in Christ, we are removing it from our body.  We are doing surgery on our own body because we are united in Christ and surgery requires a scalpel.  

Therefore, be a physician cleansed by the indwelling of the Word.  Reconstruct the sword to a sanctified scalpel in order to reconstruct the body.  Sharpen the instrument of the Word for exact precision.  Prepare and cleanse yourself. Make a precise incision covered in prayer.  Carefully attempt to cut the tentacles of sin without destroying a healthy spirit.  With a sure and steady hand, go only as deep as the procedure requires, not cutting into healthy life cells.  Realize the end goal is to remove the tumor of sin and still allow for God’s life blood to flow freely.  Be diligent not to contaminate the field that would cause an infection.  Don’t leave a scar.  Be a trusted instrument of love, peace, and wisdom.  The scalpel is only as good as he who wields it.

Proverbs 16:19-29

It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
    than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
    and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
The wise of heart is called discerning,
    and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
    but the instruction of fools is folly.
The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
    and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
    sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
    but its end is the way to death.
A worker’s appetite works for him;
    his mouth urges him on.
A worthless man plots evil,
    and his speech is like a scorching fire.
A dishonest man spreads strife,
    and a whisperer separates close friends.
A man of violence entices his neighbor
    and leads him in a way that is not good.

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