Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
What item, or power, is able to by-pass the Old Man which is the outer man or visible part of man’s being, and penetrate to the soul of man? Scripture tells us the Word of God is able even to the point where we are unable to hide from the revealing power of the Word.
There are two points: first, the Old Man is defenseless against the Word. He can defend himself from various and sundry intellectual arguments and perhaps perform great physical feats where he proclaims his own greatness but he has no ability to stop the Word from entering his soul and doing Its work.
Jesus address’s this in Luke when He tells the Pharisees in Luke 11:37-40, “Now when He had spoken, a Pharisee *asked Him to have lunch with him; and He went in, and reclined at the table. When the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised that He had not first ceremonially washed before the meal. But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also?”
Jesus as the incarnate Word speaks to the Pharisees’ self-proclaimed superiority by renouncing their perspective and drawing their attention to their soul. Verses 53-54 show the ability of His Word to reveal the intentions of their heart: “ When He left there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile and to question Him closely on many subjects, plotting against Him to catch [Him in something He might say.”
The second point of Hebrews 4:12 is that it explains why preachers preach the Word because it penetrates into the soul of the hearer. Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees above, and in fact the whole of His ministry, proves the point of the power of the Word proclaimed and therefore heard. It is the only power that by passes the Old Man and his arguments and penetrates into the souls of a man revealing the intentions of the heart and thus producing a response.