Here’s a final reason why we should memorize Scripture. It is a true source of spiritual power for us. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart…that I might not sin against you.” Do you see what this verse is saying? The act of filling ourselves up with God’s Word by studying it and committing it to memory protects us when the siren song of sin comes calling.
I can’t count the times when my mind was being overrun with dark thoughts. Lust or anger or fear was rushing in. I began to call to mind or say aloud Scriptures I knew or a psalm I had memorized. And within seconds, the power of the temptation broke apart, like fog before sunlight.
Jesus himself illustrated the truth of this verse in his dramatic encounter with Satan recorded in Matthew 4. Jesus is just saddling up to begin his public ministry. This is days, perhaps hours after his baptism. Satan comes calling to knock him off his horse even before his ministry begins.
(The Enemy will do that, you know. If you accept Christ, early in your young faith, a test will come. Or if you make a decision to step it up in your faith – “You know, I’m going to start reading my Bible every day. I’m joining a LIFE group. Enough of this being a Sunday only Christian. I’m going all in for Jesus!” – if you cross that Rubicon, you can bank on it – Satan will push you back against a wall, and say, “Oh no you don’t”.
And God will allow it. Matthew 4 tells us that Jesus was led ‘by the Spirit into the desert’ to go mano-o-mano with Satan. Why would God allow your faith to be tested? Every weight-lifter understands it. Muscles only grow when you break them down through resistance. Then as the muscles repair themselves, they come back bigger. What doesn’t kill you – makes you stronger. And see, you knew how that sentence ended because you had memorized it already.)
How does Jesus pass the test? When Satan comes at him, Jesus resists his advance by quoting Bible verses he knew.
This is the ultimate sword fight. Satan attacks. “Turn that stone into bread!” Jesus ripostes saying, “Man does not live by bread alone!” Satan comes at him again. “Jump off the temple, the angels will catch you.” “Do not put God to the test!” Jesus replies quoting another verse. Satan comes at Jesus a third time. He shows him the splendor of all the kingdoms of the world and says, “Jesus, all this I will give you, if you bow down and worship me.” Come on Jesus, switch sides. Join my team. You know you want to! His way ends on a cross. My way ends in power beyond your wildest dreams! And Jesus fires back yet again with another verse he has memorized. “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
My friend, you have incredible power right at your fingertips. Just begin the work of laying up God’s Word in your heart. As with Jesus, Satan will come and press you where you are weakest. “You are alone in this world. Nobody likes you!” “No, Satan, I am not alone. Jesus promised to be with me always to the end of the age.” “You know, you’re never going to have nearly enough money to do what you want in life. Time to worry, don’t you think?” “No! For it is written, ‘Be content with what you have, for God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” “You know, just one more click and you’ll be able to feast your eyes on one beautiful creature after another.” “No! The Bible says my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I will honor God with my body!” “How cruel of God to take the love of your life from you. Your tears mean nothing to him.” “No! It is written that my Lord is a man of sorrows and familiar with grief. He takes up my sins and carries my sorrows.”
The only antidote to the poison of Satan, to the lies of our culture, and to the deceit of our sin nature is to stand anchored on the truth of the Word of God.
So what are you waiting for? Memorization is not rocket science. Nicholas Carr tells us how to do it. “The key to memory consolidation is attentiveness. Storing memories and equally important, forming connections between them, require strong mental concentration, amplified by repetition.” Or do what Pastor Rick Warren advises: Review, review, review.