In the past four blogs of our Habits of Grace blog series, we’ve discussed the spiritual disciplines of sabbath and fasting and how to practically live those out as Christians working in the sport industry. Most Christians are familiar with sabbath and fasting, but a less common spiritual discipline is Scripture memory. On the surface, Scripture memory can seem daunting and challenging, but it is a discipline that provides believers with an arsenal of God’s Word that can go with them no matter where they go or what situation they are in. In this blog, we will discuss the benefits of Scripture memory and why it can be a game changer for our lives as Christians.
The “Why” Behind Scripture Memory
Dallas Willard, professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California, wrote, “Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization” (“Spiritual Formation in Christ for the Whole Life and Whole Person” in Vocatio, Vol. 12, no. 2, Spring, 2001, p. 7). These are powerful words from Professor Willard and challenges the Christian to consider the importance of memorizing God’s Word for themselves. In an article that he wrote in 2006, pastor John Piper shares six reasons why scripture memorization is an essential part of walking with Jesus. These six reasons are conformity to Christ, daily triumph over sin, daily triumph over Satan, comfort and counsel for people you love, communicating the gospel to unbelievers, and communion with God in the enjoyment of his person and ways.
Conformity to Christ
If you wanted to become like LeBron James, what would you do? You would watch, inspect, dissect, and imitate his every move. In the same way, if we as Christians desire to become more like our Savior, Jesus Christ, we must watch, inspect, dissect, and imitate His every move. How will we do that if we do not spend time in His Word, in which God reveals Himself to us? This is why Scripture memorization is a vital aspect of becoming transformed into the image of Christ. In John 17:17, Jesus prays, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” The word sanctify literally means to be set apart for a purpose. When Jesus prays to His Father that His followers would be sanctified, He asks God to sanctify them by the truth, which Jesus states is God’s Word. Therefore, God’s Word carries much power because not only is it His personal revelation, but it is the truth that we, as believers, are called to build our lives on. As Christians, Scripture memorization is essential in keeping us in a continual state of transformation into the image of Christ because we know and remember God’s Word as we go about our lives.
The Christian life is a daily war against the temptations of the flesh and the devil. It is not by accident that Jesus states in Luke 9:23 that His followers must pick up their cross daily and follow Him. The Christian life is a daily battle, and in that battle, it is important to carry ammunition. Pastor Piper gives us a picture in his article of sin tempting the body into sinful action, and the ammo that we as believers can have against that sinful temptation the moment it occurs is God’s Word. Scripture memorization reminds us of God’s value and commands the moment we need them. If we do not have Scripture memorized, we have no ammunition to fire back at our temptations. Similarly, Scripture memorization is a weapon that can defeat the temptations of Satan. This idea comes directly from Jesus’ ministry when He was tempted in the wilderness in Matthew 4. Each time that Satan tempted Jesus with a different sin, the response of our Savior was a passage of Scripture. Memorizing God’s Word protects us from the enemy's lie that temporary sinful choices are better than obedience to Christ.
Comfort and Counsel for People You Love
There are plenty of moments when the people we love could benefit from the goodness that God’s Word offers. However, we do not always have our Bible handy to give our loved ones that Word. Therefore, Scripture memorization can be a tool that spurs our loved ones along in their faith as they need it. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” In moments when our loved ones require gracious words, there is no better way to provide that than with God’s Word.
Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers
More often than not, the opportunities that God provides us to share the gospel are not when we conveniently have our Bible on hand. Similarly to Piper’s last point, if we do not have Scripture memorized, specifically gospel-related Scripture, our evangelism will not be as effective. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.” The best way to communicate the gospel is by sharing God’s Word with unbelievers. This is where the importance of Scripture memorization truly hits home because practicing this simple spiritual disciple can open the door for a lost soul to be saved.
Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and Ways
In his final reason for why Scripture memorization is so important, pastor Piper shares that Scripture memory is an essential part of a believer's communion with God. We commune with the invisible God through meditating on His attributes, expressing our gratitude to Him, seeking His help in times of need, and sharing our love for Him. Keeping this in mind, we can see how important Scripture memorization is in communion with God. If we do not have His word stored in our minds, then it becomes more difficult to express these things to God because we may forget His attributes, why we are grateful, how He can help us, or why we love Him. As we continue to draw closer to our Savior in this life, it is important to keep His word at the top of our minds so that we can glorify Him continually.
As daunting as Scripture memorization can seem, it is evident that this often-forgotten spiritual disciple is one of great value and importance. In our next Habits of Grace blog, we will discuss how you can practically apply Scripture memorization to your life!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to hear from you!