Two weeks ago a seminary professor came to our church and recited 2 Timothy. All of it, from 2 Timothy 1:1 to 2 Timothy 4:22. (You can listen to it here.) Sound amazing? Perhaps even impossible?
And yet, pause now and think about all the songs you sing along to on the radio–those you know word for word. Add to them the commercial slogans and theme songs you know.
When my daughter was seven or eight, the church we went to had a contest. The child who could memorize the most verses won an American girl doll. My daughter memorized 51 verses in four weeks. Sound amazing? Like she’s at superchild? Nope. She just wanted the doll.
See, it’s not that we can’t memorize. We memorize all the time. Our brain’s like a sponge. The question is not do we memorize but instead, what are we filling our brain’s with.
Think back to your favorite song. There was a time when it was new to you, but the more you listened to it and tried to sing along, the more familiar it became until familiarization turned to memorization.
Can we do this with Scripture?
I believe we can, which leads me to my next question: Why don’t we?
I think there’s a couple reasons. First, I think we lack confidence. I don’t think we realize how truly phenomenal the human brain is.
I also think we lack follow through. I’m talking to myself now. Where I tend to pray I have slips of paper with verses written on them–verses I wanted to memorize, yet five months later, I’ve hardly given those verses a second glance. Think back to my song analogy. We don’t learn the songs we don’t listen regularly to, right?
I think we lack focus. Again, talking to myself about those verses in my basement. I started with one that seemed to pop out at me one morning while reading Scripture. Soon, another verse spoke to me, so I wrote it down. Now I have a stack of verses to memorize with no clear plan as to how I’m going to do it. I need focus.
Mostly, I think we underestimate the power of God’s Word and how crucial it is to saturate our brains with lie-combatting-truth. According to the Bible, God’s Word is just that–the very words of God.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (NIV).
God’s Word is alive and powerful, speaking to millions, in this moment, in a personal and real way. God uses His word to purify our hearts, revealing wrong attitudes and motivations:
Hebrews 4:12 says, For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires (NLT).
God’s word is an offensive weapon against our enemy the devil. At every moment, a spiritual battle rages. Right now, your enemy, the devil, looks for a way to devour you. But greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world, and according to Ephesians 6:10-17, we’ve been given all the armor we need to survive and stand firm. Notice all the weapons listed below. Every one of them but one is a defensive weapon. We have one offensive weapon, and that is the word of God, which is the sword of truth.
Ephesians 6:10-17 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Notice how Jesus used Scripture as an offensive weapon in Matthew 4:1-11:
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him (NIV).
Did you notice how Satan responded each time Jesus quoted Scripture? He gave up and tried a new tactic.
God’s Word is a powerful, offensive weapon, sharper than a double-edged sword, able to expel negative thoughts, anxiety, fear, hatred, bitterness, resentment, discouragement–all emotions Satan uses to keep us focused on ourselves and ineffective in our lives and faith walk.
But if you belong to Christ, Satan can only work by permission. How about we arm ourselves with God’s powerful Word, daily, saturating our brains with truth, so we won’t be like ships tossed about by the waves.
Tomorrow at Living by Grace, we’re going to start memorizing Scripture together. I hope you’ll join us. And pop in today as we talk about the benefits we’ve seen of speaking, memorizing, and praying Scripture, why memorization can be a struggle, and what steps we can take toward success.