50: God’s Word Discerns Thoughts and Intents of the Heart


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What You'll Discover in this Episode:

God’s Word Divides Joints and Marrow


The Word of God not only divides soul and spirit, but, as expressed in Hebrews 4:12, it divides “joints and marrow” as well. 


  • On the surface this seems to have nothing to do with spiritual life in Christ. 
  • It is, however, another instance in which our Creator uses the visible, tangible elements of His creation to illustrate the unseen aspects of His new creation.  


In 1 Corinthians 12, the physical body is likened unto the body of Christ:

  • “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.”    (1 Corinthians 12:12)

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  • Tom Zimbelman says:

    “Walking and not being weary” is so needed, yet we are so easily exhausted in our walk/ministry. “Running the race” dead with the same issue.

    Pastor Jeff does a great job at distinguishing between joint and marrow in this regard. When we depend on our own “joints” – our selves – we grow weary. When we depend on the life giving “marrow” – waiting upon the Lord – we gain strength. John 15:4 says, “ “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”
    ‭‭(John‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭KJV‬‬).

    “We need the life of Christ in our discipleship ministry.“ Amen!

    • James L Padilla says:

      “We need the life of Christ in our discipleship ministry.“ Amen!
      Amen Tom! Without a doubt…Cut and dried…:) 🙂 🙂

    • harry e innerst says:

      I like the idea of the life giving marrow. Sometimes I don’t like the idea of waiting. I am so apt to move ahead in my own strength. Abiding and waiting is where the strength is.

  • Harry Innerst says:

    This is a very rich teaching. I had never thought of the joints and marrow quite like that. By trade I am a machinist. I have learned to use a lot of different machines. You can do some amazing things with machines. Like the marrow there is life giving or life preserving item needed, and that is lubricating oil. If you forget to keep the moving parts well lubricated, that machine will cease to work. As a matter of fact it could be absolutely ruined. In this Christian life, if we do not abide in the vine and rely on the life giving aspect of the marrow, the out working parts can cease to work, and our work can actually be stopped. We need the lubricating, life giving flow of the Holy Spirit to make us effective servants of Christ.

    • James L Padilla says:

      Hi Harry…This is an excellent analogy that you used, as it perfectly coincides with the podcast. “Like the marrow there is life giving or life preserving item needed, and that is lubricating oil. If you forget to keep the moving parts well lubricated, that machine will cease to work. As a matter of fact it could be absolutely ruined.” Granted ministry is not easy, and we are always hearing of Pastor’s and others “burning out.” Even in our own Christian experience (outside of full time ministry) there is always the fight to press on. It is only when the machine is well lubricated that the machine is ready to properly perform (spiritually speaking), but when the machine is without the sufficient amount of lubrication, it is unable to perform to the correct standards, it malfunctions, and even gets ruined and/or maybe even ruins the part it is cutting/shaping on.
      Wow…this is awesome Harry…How important is God’s word, and it’s ability to “cut deep”, to “cut assunder”, even to the dividing of “joints and marrow?”
      A very rich teaching indeed.

    • Margaret Deherrera says:

      I agree with if we do not abide in the vine, and rely on the life giving aspect of the marrow, the out working parts can cease to work, and our work can actually be stopped. We can become weary and tired by not using the parts that we have to. If we do not allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and give us guidance we can actually do things the hard way and not do anything the right way and produce bad fruit. So it’s always good to sit and wait for the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you instruction

  • Ritter Savino says:

    I love how the Lord uses physical things to show the spiritual true. God doesn’t have to do that, yet He does. Thank you, Pastor Jeff, for your teaching today. The part of “and of the joins and marrow” have been a part that I get confused to understand, but you made it easy and I thank you. I never would have thought to use the cross references you used for this verse to identify the joint and marrow. Hebrews 12:1 “and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (joint) “looking unto Jesus” (marrow). And John 15:4-5 where it talks about “producing fruit” (joint), and “abiding in Him” (marrow). I think I understood it this time. I have to always remember to look for those spiritual truths that the Lord wants me to see, because it is what transforms me. I love when you said that God’s Word is His heart breathed out. When I encounter with a situation that a brother or sister is going through, I asked them when was the last time he/she were in the Word. I would say that about 80% of the time, their answer is either I don’t have time, or when I read, I fell asleep, or I don’t understand. It is grieving to me when this happens because I know that only God and His Word can absolutely transforms us. I have given them a challenge to read the Bible for 7 days. Many take the challenge and come back very encouraged, and it is such a blessing, specially if they continue to do it. You said that the Word of God will not be returned void, and I believe that with all of my heart. His Word is powerful and alive, but like you said, we need to be in it. The Word of God is about Him . Thanks again Pastor Jeff and God Bless!

  • Jordan Chavez Matzel says:

    I thought this the previous podcast, but I am so thankful that you described the meaning behind all of Hebrews 4:12. I’ve heard people read this verse so often, emphasize the first half, and they acknowledge that it is described as a two-edged sword, but don’t seem to know or care to know what it means to divide joints and marrow, and skip over the last part; that it is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is important to view the verse as a whole, as we understand the need for God’s word to pierce our hearts, down to the marrow in our bones (where life flows!). It is such an amazing description and picture of the way we were created as humans and how God ministers perfectly to us through His Word. He discerns our thoughts and intentions; He knows exactly how we function and what we need to function well. Inorder for our joints to work well, we need to rely on life-giving marrow (Jesus Christ). I love how powerful and personal God’s Word is to His children.

    • harry e innerst says:

      I love that idea of the marrow being where the life flows. The bones a ridged but the joints could not work properly without the life that comes from the marrow. What a great illustration.

    • Ritter Savino says:

      You are so right Jordan, I was one of those people. I read this passage so many times, and I by passed the part “joints and marrow”. I understood in general what the passage was saying, but i didn’t realized what I was missing. We can miss so much if we don’t give the time to seek deeper to His Word. It is so important to read the whole passage and to understand every details of the passage, to see God’s heart in it. It is the only way that we will know Him really. Thanks!

    • Stacy Wiggins says:

      Well said Jordan! I loved the emphasis on the thoughts and intents of the heart. So many times in ministry, we come to those unreachable places in the lives of those we are trying to minister too. We have to turn to the Word of God to cut deeply and evaluate and deal with unseen thoughts and motives.

  • Autumn Duncan says:

    This was a great reminder for me and anyone who hears this message. I appreciate the explanation about the spiritual applications regarding the marrow and joints. The marrow is correlated to the life giving or sustaining as the joints are the outworking activity of life. As Pastor Jeff reminds us that it’s important of sanctification. We need to wait on the Lord, the outworking is beautiful and as we wait, we are putting our confidence in Him. This was an important reminder as the Lord is building this in me especially over the last few years as waiting on Him can be challenging but as I wait, it builds my faith and takes away the anxiety or worries.

    • Anne Marie Maguire says:

      Thanks Autumn I love what you said about the importance of waiting on the Lord. “We need to wait on the Lord, the outworking is beautiful and as we wait, we are putting our confidence in Him.”
      A very good point that we must spend time waiting on God, looking to Him for his direction in our lives and ministries.

    • Margaret Deherrera says:

      Thanks Autumn for sharing, I agree we should wait on the Lord and in doing so we are putting our confidence in Him, That has been one of my big struggles is waiting on the Lord to get guidance, I am learning to pray and be still and give time for God to answer instead of always trying to do things my way.

  • Hannah Somerville says:

    I’m really enjoying the exposition of Hebrews 4:12. We have already discussed:
    “piercing even to the soul and spirit” and how the word of God is clear, and alive, it is powerful. Now, we look at how Gods word “divides joint and marrow” Things tend to make more sense to me when I have a physical illustration. I am glad even joints and marrow can communicate spiritual truths.

    I did a little research on definitions of joints and marrow. According to (https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/bones-muscles-joints.html): “The bone marrow contains stem cells, which produce the body’s red blood cells and platelets, and some types of white blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues.”
    “The joints make the bones move.”

    In the physical seen human body- the joints are: what connects the bones and marrow is: where the blood cells are produced in the midst of the bone, it gives life to the body.

    Spiritual application:
    The word of God is life sustaining. The Holy Spirit working through the word in the inner man, is what brings life. This also shows us a picture to think of, that it is really the deep parts that God works in.

    • Autumn Duncan says:

      Hi Hannah! I appreciate you sharing your research and what you learned. It’s amazing how the Lord uses knowledge in one area and applies it to out spiritual application that he wants to learn. When this was written, I wonder if they know about what the marrow in the body does. It would be interesting to research the application of those words and when they became part of the medical community.

    • Kim says:

      Thanks for looking into the science behind this. I also love how God uses physical examples of spiritual truths. This is applicable to all of us, because we all can relate to the makeup of our human bodies. When we look at how intricately God made the body, along with this spiritual picture, it makes me realize how concerned God is for our spiritual life.

  • Kim says:

    This podcast was once again very challenging. I like where it talks about who is it who doesn’t grow weary or who soars? He then goes on to explain that it’s none other than those who wait on the Lord. Waiting on the Lord is so crucial to succeeding in our Christian life and yet it is so hard to continue in. Personally, I get so easily distracted, but when I find those times to truly plug in to the Lord and wait on Him, it is so refreshing and God always ministers to me. It’s like was said on the podcast, “Every time you meditate think that it is even greater than it was before.”

    • Anne Marie Maguire says:

      Very true Kim, It is so easy to become distracted.
      As we wait on God and overcome distraction we receive such a greater blessing from God.
      God always gives a word of encouragement or insight that renews our relationship with Him or fills us with strength for the work ahead.

      I read this great book years ago called: “The practice of the presence of God” by Brother Lawrence, a monk who said that we can develop a habit of conversing with GOD continually. In the everyday things like washing the dishes, he just communed with God.
      I was reminded of this idea while reading your comment.

    • James L Padilla says:

      Hi Kim…the verse in Isaiah 40 ministered to me as well. I once heard a Pastor say that the root word “wait” in the Hebrew has strong ties to worship. It has an emphasis to binding together, and focusing our thoughts and hearts strongly in a certain direction. “Those who wait on (worship) the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
      I like how you put this, “when I find those times to truly plug in to the Lord and wait on Him, it is so refreshing and God always ministers to me.” Thanks for sharing, I appreciated your comment.

    • Josiah Arceo says:

      Oh wow. Your comment reminds me very much of Psalm 27. At the end of the psalm, David admits that he himself would have lost heart unless he believed that he would see the goodness of the Lord. He then finds that he is able to find strength because he let himself wait on the Lord.

      I think the reason why we tend to be discouraged in following after the Lord in certain areas is because we are hesitant to believe that He will follow through. What has helped me in the past is remembering that there is no one on Earth or outside of it that can love me as perfectly as God can.

    • Stacy Wiggins says:

      I recently had a conversation with someone who was basically saying the same thing as you … “it is so hard to continue in”. As we were talking about it, I sensed the Lord saying to me “tell them to pray for the want to”. When we ask the Lord to give us an appetite for Him, that is a prayer He will answer.

    • Hannah Somerville says:

      I was just talking about this concept of waiting with my roommate. How crucial patience and waiting is to our maturity. Yet, I will be the first to admit it is one of the hardest lessons to endure. Thank you for your honesty and encouragement. I want to practice waiting on the lord more.

  • Johan Alarcon says:

    Johan D. Alarcon 2
    Department of Biblical Counseling, Calvary Chapel University
    BC201: Biblical Counseling: One on One Disciple
    Gods Word Discerns thought and intents of the heart, Podcast Assignment Ep.3
    Instructor: Pastor Jeff Christianson
    March 15, 2020

    I love how God through his Word, uses physical illustrations to communicate to us, especially when the bible speaks of “many members, but one body”. In the podcast you were Referencing the book of Leviticus chapter 17 verse 11 saying, “there is life in the blood”. Which once again (a physical illustration). Not only the bible is inspired by God, the word of God makes a distinction between bone and marrow and speaking about the marrow is where once again the blood is produced. Walking in the spirit and walking in the flesh, are contrary to one another, something I had to learn through many trials. But walking in the will of God, His word sustains us. In the podcast you mentioned how you have some people that are on lookers whom focus on the joints, where they will eventually wear out. But those who put their confidence in Jesus whom is the author and the finisher of our faith, we will be strengthened with endurance, which is an attribute that I pray for. In my life I believed in God, but didn’t display my faith, because I took no action, and we all know that faith is an action towards what we believe.

    • Ritter Savino says:

      Johan, His Word is living and powerful. His Word absolutely sustains us. Pastor Jeff mentioned that God’s Word is His heart breathed out; is inspired, authoritative and is clear. His Word is able to change our lives. 🙂

    • Josiah Arceo says:

      The last couple of statements you made stuck out to me. It reminded me that there is a difference between a complete faith and an incomplete faith.

      For a long time, I asked the Lord to change my heart. I would pray this often and sometimes in tears. I never understood until recently that not only did I have to ask God for help and believe in his promises and provisions, but that I had to take action as well. I didn’t know that personal progressive sanctification relied on my actions too. I’m learning to follow faith up with obedience.

    • Hannah Somerville says:

      Johan. Great points.
      I especially agree with your comment that: “some people that are on lookers whom focus on the joints, where they will eventually wear out. But those who put their confidence in Jesus whom is the author and the finisher of our faith, we will be strengthened with endurance, which is an attribute that I pray for. ”

      When our confidence is in anything else but Jesus it will surely fall short. We often rely on our own Strength and ability or what it looks like on the outside . I love to look at faith as a inner working of God in us which produces action and you are right faith without works is dead!
      Thanks for sharing.

  • jim says:

    I have truly been enlightened on not only the spiritual implication of the division of the joints and marrow, but also its very valued importance….. Marrow: a soft fatty substance in the cavities of bones, in which blood cells are produced (often taken as typifying strength and vitality)….Wow, how awesome is this when we apply it spiritually.
    All of our strength, all of our courage, all of our hope and even all of our energy should be coming from this life giving force (spiritually speaking). No wonder the Apostle Paul said that “in Him we live, we move and we have our being” (Acts 17:28). No wonder Jesus himself said that “without Him we can do nothing” (John 15:5).
    Without this life giving spirit of the Almighty God all of our outworking (the joints), all of our efforts, and even our very breath is meaningless. This is why Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven…” (Mathew 7:21).
    This is truly a sobering teaching with powerful illustrations from Gods word.
    The “…many members, but one body,” illustration really paints a picture perfect visual of the body of Christ for me. There is so much in that one statement from 1 Cor. 12:12 concerning how the body of Christ is to operate. Then we add the biblical teaching and illustration of the division of the joints and marrow to the illustration of the body of Christ…well…it’s almost overwhelming…the depth of the spiritual knowledge that God wants to pour into us through His word, through His Holy Spirit, and through His servants. Help Lord, my cup runneth over…:), 🙂 Thank you Pastor Jeff. Looking forward to next week!

    • Autumn Duncan says:

      Hi Jim. I agree and love what you wrote in your last paragraph about the one body of Christ. You’re statement about the spiritual knowledge and it’s depth that God wants to pour into us is amazing. I appreciate the teaching by Pastor Jeff so we can grow in our understanding and deepen our walk with our Heavenly Father.

    • Tom Zimbelman says:

      Hey Jim-

      I love how you describe marrow: “a soft fatty substance in the cavities of bones, in which blood cells are produced” Awesome! Blood cells are simply produces in this hidden area of otherwise dry bones. To me, it shows how the creative power of God generates life within us in the secret places, our “closets” where we come to Him in prayer and fellowship. It’s there in that oneness with Jesus where we receive His life-giving power.

    • Ritter Savino says:

      Hi Jim, I like when you said that all our strength, and of our courage, and all our hope and even all our energy should be coming from this life given force spiritually speaking; without Him we can’t do nothing. It is so crucial to understand that as Paul says, In Him we live, move and have our being. I’m so thankful for God’s Word and the pictures He uses for us to understand! Thank you Jim for your comments on the teaching, it was encouraging. God bless!

  • JoAnn says:

    The dividing of joints and marrow is certainly a need in my life! I am prone to be Martha – serving to exhaustion. But I need the live-giving marrow of God’s word. I need to be looking unto Jesus, having the perceived ‘non-activity’ of soaking in God’s word and abiding in Christ so that I may run with perseverance in the good works that God has prepared for me. Without waiting on the Lord, my works will be, as Pastor Jeff said, ‘fake fruit!’ I need to run without weariness each day, but I cannot do that unless I am abiding in Jesus and taking in the rich nourishment of God’s word.

  • Josh says:

    The Word of God is not just merely words on a page used as a tool to communicate ideas. Gods Words are actually; alive, life-changing, dynamic and eternal as its promised power works in and through us to change us and equip and empower us to influence and overpour on to the ones around us. His Word reveals who we really are deep within the heart and what we truly lack. It discerns that which is within our thoughts and minds, both good and evil. We must not only hear, read, and speak the word, but we must let it shape our lives through obedience.

    • Alejandro Anchondo says:

      Your last line is powerful! There are too many “Christians” who know nothing of the Word or worse, know it and don’t let it shape there lives. I believe its in James where it is written be “not hearers only, but doers of the Word (paraphrase).” Through obedience to the Word and personally investing in our own growth and change… the Lord takes over and makes the difference. Where we would always fail, He causes new growth and victory.

    • Tom Zimbelman says:

      Right on, Josh. These are simply printed words on a page – the Word of God is alive. “Dynamic” is a great word. Great points on how we are equipped, empowered, and changed by His Word, and also how are intents and motives are revealed. Yeah, it’s painful sometimes but it’s good.

      • josh says:

        Thank you Tom, my heart today is far worse than I realized yesterday. Often, the things that can hurt the most are usually the most rewarding and worth it.

  • Anne Marie Maguire says:

    Thanks Jeff for taking the time to explain this portion of scripture, it is vitally important, especially what you said about burn out and sustaining the inner life in Christ.

    “Your joints will burn out because you’re not sustaining the inner life of the Spirit because your marrow is neglected. The word of God makes a division between the marrow and joints. Life giving versus outworking activity.”

    We can have all the outward activity but no power of Spirit behind it.

    That’s why we need to abide in Christ and look to him and his resources and strength. Without developing the daily inner life with Christ we cannot bear fruit “apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5.

    I pray Christ would give us the ability to grow in Christ.

    • Brittany Whitaker says:

      Thank you for sharing this. I too appreciate this reminder. Too often I see people in ministry that just start operating in auto pilot. It is very easy to get used to the daily functions of ministry and begin operating out of habit, ability and skill instead of by the Holy Spirit. I have even found myself in a place of just going through the motions in ministry and not waiting on the Lord and truly seeking Him as I should for guidance. The burn out comes quick. I am so grateful for God’s mercy, love and grace to refresh us, wake us up and redirect us. Always leading us back to His Word.

  • Sherra Krabbenhoft says:

    I love how God uses a physical element to define a spiritual truth. Marrow as the life producing part, joints are the outworking. The Word will show what is life giving and what is the activity. IS. 40:31 – The outward action is made possible by waiting on the Lord. This is where we gain the strength to go on. By looking to God for our source, we are to abide in Him. What an important reminder to all those in ministry. Because of what I do, I see on a daily basis the effect that working out of human strength has on those in ministry, the physical, emotional and spiritual drain is real.

    • Alejandro Anchondo says:

      I also really appreciated the insight to that verse. I had never heard an explanation on the “joints and marrow.”
      The drain of ministry done in human strength might be more intense than non-ministerial jobs done in human strength. Even worse, the likeliness of doing damage and harm instead of making progress exaggerated when ministers in any capacity try to minister on their own. If we wanted to have a counseling session with a counselor who wasn’t relying on the Lord for strength and wisdom we could just go to a secular counselor.

    • Brittany Whitaker says:

      Thank you for sharing this. I am so blessed by this reminder that it is the work that the Lord does inside of us that produces the outward actions. So often I see believers trying to do the “christian things” to prove to themselves and others they are godly. Unfortunately the darkness of their hearts quickly begin to seep through. It’s particularly sad to see this in young bible college students that simply don’t totally understand the fact that God wants to do a work in their hearts because they are often trying to fit into the christian culture around them instead of being still in the presence of God, trusting in Him and asking Him to guide them through His word.

  • Alejandro Anchondo says:

    I am currently studying in Romans. It is clear that the Law can’t change a person but Grace changes them fundamentally.
    It is so cool to see how that applies to “joints and marrow” since the difference is the source of life and the outworking of it. Even Paul says that grace and faith don’t nullify the law but rather through grace and faith “we uphold the law” (Rom 3:31). The difference is the where the power comes from. The “law” of joints and the “grace” of marrow work together. We who are saved by grace can live lives that truly honor God.

  • Brittany Whitaker says:

    There are often times girls come to me with heavy things on their heart in search of guidance and healing. On many of those occasions I have discerned they are either not telling the whole truth or that there are much deeper things they are struggling with than they even realize. I appreciate the reminder that we are able to deal with those unreachable things in the heart that people struggle with by abiding in God’s word. We have to turn to God’s word because it is the discerner of the intents of the heart. We need God’s word to cut deeply and deal with unseen thoughts and undeclared motives. I also appreciate the mention of us not being able to rely on mere academics alone. This is something I see far too often which results in people not being nurtured, or cared for deeply. Unfortunately I see many leaders not remembering that in ministry we are dealing with souls. We need the Word of God, we need His Spirit. The Word is His heart breathed out, it is sufficient for all we need. God’s word effectively works in our heart when we’re in it, abiding in Him.

  • James L Padilla says:

    Watch 2-minute video. You will add a brief comment to the podcast community.

    I thought that Dr. Kelly Brogan, M.D was very sincere in her video. It seemed to me that she deeply cared for individuals in her field and she was very concerned that they get the best care possible. Instead of simply writing scripts/medicating and moving on to the next patient she spoke of engaging in deep and thorough investigations to discover the root issues. According to Dr. Brogan, this search for a solution can even lead to a simple, but very effective change in diet. She also touched on the importance of the spiritual need/crisis that most of humanity will at one time throughout life come to question. This was very informing and it made great biblical sense.

  • Josiah Arceo says:

    I enjoyed when Pastor Jeff made mention of John 15. As soon as he said it, I was able to anticipate how it would fit into his podcast for the week. The main points of this week’s talk was on how important it is to differentiate the difference between working for salvation and working out of salvation.

    It’s so important to know the difference between the two concepts because one works out of a response to God’s love, being dependent on God to do the work whereas the other type of work is done from one’s own strength depending on one’s own motivation. As Jesus said in John 15, it is tantamount to abide in Christ because it is only through Christ can the believer do anything.

  • Stacy Wiggins says:

    Another great podcast. Kudos to Pastor Jeff for getting in so much information in a short time!
    I loved the explanation of joints and marrows in the various Scripture verses that were pointed out. The life-giving strength (marrow) that comes from the Word of God is so important for the outworking of our faith (joints). We can become so busy in ministry that we often focus on the outworking and neglect the life-giving. The John 15:4,5 verse says it all … Abide in Me (marrow) and you will bear much fruit (joints). God uses people who are abiding in Him and His Word. We are to know God and in turn make God known to those around us.

  • Margaret Deherrera says:

    Thanks Pastor Jeff for this pod cast explaining how the Word of God divides Joints and Marrow, and what each stand for. I never heard it explained like that. Marrow is the life sustaining place and the joints is the outward ability of life. The Word of God can divide joints and marrow but you have to have both at work to not hit burn out. You have to wait on the Lord so you don’t run and grow weary, We have to put our confidence in the Lord. I like how he uses joints and marrow to explain to run a race with endurance by using both joints and the marrow. looking only unto Jesus.

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