“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalms 119:11 ESV)
In Don Whitney’s famous book Spiritual Disciplines, he gives Scripture memorization as one of the key disciplines for the Christian life. But why is that? Why is memorizing the Bible such a necessary and beneficial part of the Christian life?
Because of Psalm 119:11. Because of sin.
Memorizing Scripture is not an end in itself, and I hope we all know this. We don’t memorize Scripture to become obnoxious egg-heads that can quote Scripture verbatim but can’t ever seem to tell you what it means or how it applies to one’s life. We memorize Scripture–we “store [His] word in [our] hearts”–so that we may not sin against Him. But there are certainly more reasons why we memorize.
In this post, I seek to show why memorization–though a neglected discipline–is necessary and worthwhile for the Christian. And I want to show that by going over three ways in which we can practically use the Scripture we memorize:
We memorize Scripture to:
- Fight against sin;
- Remember God’s promises; and
- Meditate on Him
I want to go over each of these briefly and explain why it’s of utmost important to memorize Scripture.
Memorize to Fight
You see it here in the above verse: we “store up his word”–we memorize–so that we may not sin against Him. In order to not sin against Him, we must fight sin. We must wage full-fledged war with our sin. This is a fight that is necessary to fight.
When temptation comes our way–whether by our own thoughts or by external circumstances–having Scripture in our minds already prepares us to actively oppose sin.
For example, though it may be a simple, short verse, 1 Corinthians 6:18 is vital in one’s fight against sexual sin: “Flee from sexual immortality…” If you have this verse memorized, I can promise the Holy Spirit will bring it to your mind when this type of sin comes your way. When it comes to sexual sin, we fight by fleeing, as the verse continues on. You must have nothing to do it. Run from it!
Memorizing various parts of the Bible is extremely helpful as it relates to fighting sin. If we don’t have it memorized and temptation comes, we may forgot the verse that reminds us that Christ is more satisfying, which in turn may give us away to our sin. Be diligent in memorizing Scripture!
Memorize to Remember
Last year, my wife and I went through the most difficult trial in our lives. We got pregnant for the first time only to find out there was never really baby. The pain we experienced was tremendous; although we didn’t lose a child, we certainly lost the joy of thinking we had a child.
There are many verses in the Bible that point to God’s promises and faithfulness. But no verse, in my opinion, is better for situations like this than Romans 8:28, which says:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those called according to his purpose.
Memorizing this verse means having a constant reminder in your head of God’s faithfulness to turn every situation–whether good or bad–into something good. Knowing, believing, and memorizing this verse doesn’t eliminate the pain; it does, however, remind me that God is working for my good and His glory. He wants me to become more like Jesus and uses trials like these to accomplish that.
Memorize to Meditate
What better way to meditate on the Lord–in all His holiness, majesty, and grandeur–than by memorizing Scripture? We always talk about mediating on God, on His promises, but how do we do that? One good way is to memorize a select verse or passage.
Memorize Romans 8:30. It may just be one verse but that one verse is jam-pack full of rich, theological truth about God and us. Memorize that verse and you will be able to meditate on God’s preserving power for us. Maybe add a song with it. I suggest “He Will Hold Me Fast,” which is about the Lord holding us fast–preserving us–to the end.
And another thing that should be obvious. Christian meditation is not like the meditation we think about. We don’t sit quietly with our palms out and say, “Ummmmm.” That is not biblical meditation (and, to be honest, no Christian should do that). Biblical meditation is pondering and thinking on the truths of God and applying it to ourselves. Meditation isn’t mindless; rather, it is the process of using your mind to think on God and His work.
Memorize to the Glory of God
Memorizing Scripture isn’t meant to be something you check off your list; we aren’t told to do it in order that our heads might swell up with information. Scripture that is memorized in the head but not in the heart is useless and vain. It’s striving after the wind.
Memorize in the head in order that you can cherish it in the heart. That is Bible-memorization to the glory of God! Just like studying theology, memorizing Scripture can sometimes be misused when we only store up Bible verses so we may simply know them. There are countless souls who have memorized large amounts of Scripture but are undoubtedly headed for Hell.
Memorize to fight your sin. Memorize to remember His promises. Memorize to mediation on Him. Memorizing is simply a wonderful way to grow more in the likeness of Jesus Christ. So memorize.
Soli Deo Gloria