Question: Hebrews 4:12 says,
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of the Soul and the Spirit and of the joints and morrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Can you tell me how the Word of God can divide the soul and spirit?
Answer: From the word of God we know the soul is the seat of man’s emotions and appetites, i.e., his desires. The spirit is the seat of man’s understanding and intelligence. (1 Corinthians 2:11; Job 32:8). No doctor, surgeon, psychiatrist, etc., has ever been able to locate the soul and spirit within a person. Yet, the brain, that mass of tissue in our skull, receives instructions from our soul and spirit. The brain, with its trillions of neurons and neurotransmitters, then directs the body to react to the desires and emotions of the soul as the spirit directs.
May I illustrate. A young man and girl are dating. They are attracted to each other, and drawn closer and closer by their feelings. Their flesh wants intimacy; but the Word of God says "No!" to adultery. The Word of God comes to their minds sharply and seeks to SEPARATE their emotions, appetites, and lusts of the soul, FROM the spirit. The spirit could say, "Go ahead, it’s all right."; or, "You had better listen to the Word of God and say "No." In other words, the Word of God steps in and seeks to SEPARATE the spirit from saying "Yes" to our emotions; and leading our spirit to say "No" to our emotions, as directed by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
Another illustration may suffice. A man and a woman are dating and become very much in love. The man treats her like no other ever has. He is very polite, constantly praises her for everything. He is loving, gentle, kind, exactly the kind of husband she has always dreamed of. There is only one problem. She is a Christian and he is an Atheist! Finally he proposes and waits for her answer. Her emotions, desires, and feelings say "Yes!"; BUT, being raised in a Christian home, the Word of God comes to mind. The Holy Spirit is reminding her of 2 Corinthians 6:14.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"
Immediately, the Holy Spirit, using the Word of God, summons her to withdraw from this relationship. This is a powerful blow, piercing to the core of her conscience, or her "heart." (Romans 2:15). Remember, the Holy Spirit, by bringing the Word of God to her mind, seeks to SEPARATE the young lady’s spirit from following the emotions, appetites, and feelings of her soul. This would cause her to say "Yes!" to God’s Word by breaking off the relationship, which will later lead to disaster.
Haven’t we all, at some time or another, followed our feelings and emotions, instead of God’s Word...and, later, wished we had listened to the Lord?
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12).