Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Value of Memorizing Scripture

By Dr. Charles F. Stanley
The world constantly pressures us to adopt a way of thinking that is contrary to God’s Word. Unless you and I make some effort to combat this onslaught of propaganda, we will fall victim to its debilitating poison. Satan wants us to accept his lies uncritically and, as a result, leave ourselves vulnerable to temptation.
One of the best ways to counter the Devil’s attack is to fill your mind with Scripture. You need an arsenal of memorized verses, deeply rooted in your heart, to effectively combat his agenda (Ps. 119:11). If you have to dig up verses out of the caverns of your mind in a moment of temptation, they will do you no good. They need to be fresh in your thinking, and flowing from the core of who you are.
The process of Bible memorization is never effortless—like most worthwhile things, internalizing God’s Word costs us something. Here are a few pointers to make it easier for you:
1. Learn to exchange Satan’s lies for God’s truth. Choose verses that focus on the areas in which you are most tempted. For example, everyone should have several verses memorized that have to do with lust or immorality. We are bombarded at every turn with the promise of pleasure through illicit sex. What a lie! Yet all of us have the potential to buy into that way of thinking and fall into sin.

I also believe we should memorize verses about the dangers of gossip (James 1:26) and a Christian’s duty to obey the government (1 Peter 2:13-15). When we know specific scriptures to combat Satan’s lies, his logic will fall apart under the scrutiny of God’s Word.
2. Set small goals at first. One verse a week is enough to begin. Don’t set out to memorize an entire book of the Bible, because there’s a good chance you will fail  and then give up completely. Remember, the ultimate goal is not to memorize Scripture, but to live a godly life because you have God’s Word hidden in your heart. 
3. Review the verses you memorize so that they become part of your long-term memory. Use index cards to keep all your verses together. When you have a few moments between appointments or tasks, you can pull your cards out and review them. Verses that correspond with the temptations you face will stick most readily in your mind.  
4. Personalize the Scripture you memorize. Where appropriate, substitute your name or a personal pronoun to make the verse apply to you. For instance, say, “Lord, I choose to set my mind on things above and not on things on earth, for I have died and my life is hidden with Christ in God.” Or, “Lord, I am casting all my cares on You, for I know You care for me.”
5. Quote the verses audibly when you are tempted. Why? First, I do not believe Satan and his host can read our minds. He can put ideas there, but Scripture does not indicate he can read your thoughts. In terms of challenging the Devil and putting him in his place, I am not convinced that mentally reviewing verses does as much good as voicing them.
Second, it shifts the tension from an internal conflict to an external one. We tend to latch on to temptation emotionally and think, This is the way I am. Otherwise, why would I feel this way? When you speak the truth, it reminds you that your enemy is the Devil. He roams around like a lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Satan would rather have you internalize the battle so he can remain anonymous. Even when we have made bad choices and become “our own worst enemy,” it is extremely helpful to pronounce the truth out loud.
The last reason to express the truth audibly when tempted is that Jesus did so. There are times when you will have to whisper, and other times you can speak at a normal volume. You may feel silly the first time you try this, but you will notice an immediate difference when you do. As I begin speaking the truth aloud, I often feel a sense of courage and conviction sweeping over me. Usually, this turns to joy, and what started out as a bad thing becomes a time of praise and rejoicing.
Christians get bombarded by daily pressures to adopt the standards of this world. When we memorize God’s Word, we realign our thoughts with the Lord’s values and standards. Refreshing your mind with His perfect eternal perspective will help you resist the temptation to conform to the world (Romans 12:2). Then you won’t fall prey to Satan’s lies.

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