For a long time, I thought that the point of memorizing Scripture was to remind yourself not to sin when confronted by temptation. Here is how the process worked in my mind.
Step 1: We memorize a few Bible verses.
Step 2: When temptation comes, we can recall these verses to mind.
Step 3: By remembering these verses, we can “remind” ourselves not to sin.
In other words, I saw the Bible more like a phone notification than a sword to wield. I assumed the primary purpose of Scripture memory was to remind myself not to sin. However, Bible memory is more than merely a reminder not to sin. It is also the means by which we don’t sin — it’s our weapon.
I am sure you can recall times in your life when sinful thoughts or desires solicited your mind. Perhaps you confessed the sin and asked God to help you fight the temptation. Maybe you felt let down when a few minutes later, the thought remained. How did you respond? Did you give up? After all, if prayer doesn’t “work,” nothing will — right?
I admit this has been my response on more than one occasion. But, what if in moments like this, we changed the way we understand Scripture memory. Instead of using Scripture as a reminder, what if we saw it as the very means by which we don’t sin? After all, we can be confident that when we are memorizing or quoting Scripture, we are thinking God’s thoughts after him.
Let me give you a simple example of what it looks like to use Bible memory as a “sword” rather than as a “phone notification.”
Suppose this evening, as you’re trying to fall asleep, a sinful thought towards a person comes to mind. By God’s grace, you become aware of it and confess your sin to the Lord. You ask God to help you believe the truth and to avoid rationalizing lies. But, let’s say that this sinful thought doesn’t immediately go away; if as you are praying, you find that this idea continues to plague your mind?
Here is an idea. Try quoting Scripture until you fell asleep — using the Bible as a weapon against sinful thoughts. It may seem elementary, but when you quote the Bible, you’re thinking God’s thoughts. By repeatedly quoting a passage of the Bible, you are forcing yourself to think God’s thoughts instead of your own. You’ve stopped using the Bible like a “phone notification” and started using it as a sword.
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