One of the signs that Jesus gave us regarding His return would be the increase in deception (Matthew 24:4, 5, 11, 23, 24, 26). And anyone can tell that deception is on the increase. For believers, it’s important not to fall for deception. The only good way to do that is to know the Scriptures.
It’s easy to recognize the false teachers that exist if you’re able to take what they say and compare it to what the Scripture says. In fact, knowledge of the Scriptures is the best antidote against false teaching.
Now, I’m not talking about memorizing the whole Bible! But it’s definitely good to memorize verses that speak to your heart. Before I talk about the actual memorization process, let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of memorizing Scripture.
The psalmist said in Psalm 119:11: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
Memorizing Scripture can help us in our battle against sin! That’s exactly what Jesus did when the enemy came to Him in the wilderness and tempted Him (Matthew 4:1-11). Three times the devil tempted Jesus and all three times Jesus responded by saying, “It is written…” after which He quoted Scripture (vv 4, 7, 10). The only way Jesus could say this was because He obviously had memorized the Scripture.
Memorizing Scripture can also help us while we’re sharing our faith with others. That’s what Peter did on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 2:16-21 he quotes the Prophet Joel in explaining what was happening there in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit was poured out in the upper room. Again, Peter obviously had memorized that portion of Scripture and with the help of the Holy Spirit he was able to use it to help others understand.
Read the book of Acts and you’ll discover that the Apostle Paul also had memorized Scripture because he was able to quote from it every time he was witnessing to people.
Another benefit is in helping us to walk in the Spirit, In Ephesians 5:18-19 Paul says, “(18) And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (19) Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”
It’s hard to speak psalms to yourself if you don’t know any!
The other thing I count as a benefit is the fact the John 1:1 reminds us that Jesus Himself IS the Word of God! He is the living expression of what the Word of God reveals. And I can abide in Him by memorizing that very Word of God. That’s an awesome thought.
Now, one important thing to remember is that memorizing Scripture just for the sake of memorizing Scripture isn’t necessarily a good thing. Returning to Psalm 119:11 for a moment, look at what the psalmist says: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (emphasis added)
It’s not enough to just memorize Scripture; we need to hide it in our heart! If we’re not doing that then it won’t do us much good. Remember that Jesus said, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). See that? “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” If we want to be able to use the Word of God as Jesus, Paul, Peter and so many other men of God did, then we need to hide it in our heart.
The way to hide Scripture in our hearts is by not just memorizing it, but by meditating on it. Think about not just the words, but the meaning of the verse itself. Ask yourself how the verse applies to you. How does it apply to your life in the day and age we live in? God’s Word is timeless so it definitely can speak to my situation today and it can speak to your condition as well.
So how to memorize Scripture? You can do a search on the Internet for Scripture memorization plans but I can give you a few pointers that work for me.
1) Do NOT tell yourself that you can’t memorize Scripture because of… (fill in your favorite excuse). Right now you know the phone numbers of various friends, work, etc. You know the names of your kids, your nieces, nephews, etc. You know what time your favorite TV program is on. Get the picture? You CAN memorize Scripture, but you’ve probably chosen not to. At least up until now!
2) Pick a verse that has some meaning to you. For instance, Psalm 119:11 is a timeless piece of advice from God unto us. Plus, it’s quite short and should be a good place to start.
3) Write the verse down in a notebook, or on an index card. I use a Palm TX that has a notes feature. So I type the verse out in the Palm software before loading it into my TX. There’s something about writing it out, or typing it, that starts the memorization process. You have to think about what you’re writing and that’s good.
4) When memorizing the verse, start by saying the Book, chapter and verse reference. For instance, you’d say out loud, “Psalm 119:11.” Then read the verse through out loud several times. Each time you get to the end, say the reference out load again. After several times through, start looking away from your note and attempt to say it without looking at it. At this point I’m saying it out loud very smoothly while my eyes glance at then away from my note. A couple of minutes will start to get the words ingrained into your memory.
5) Several times through out the day, pull your note out and do step four again. Eventually, if you stick with it, you’ll be able to do it from memory.
6) On subsequent days, rehearse the verse again and again as indicated above. Within a week you should have the verse stored away for quick reference! Once it IS memorized, start meditating on it. Think about the Words. Pray and ask the Lord to help you to understand the verse. You’ll be amazed at how the Word comes alive
7) Memorizing Scripture takes some discipline (that’s why followers of Christ are referred to as disciples). Stick with it and you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn. Even after you start learning new verses you’ll want to go back and rehearse the verses you’ve learned previously. This also helps to get it into your heart.
So how many verses should you memorize? My suggestion is to learn a new verse each week, at least for now. Think of that for a moment. Memorizing one verse per week for a year is 52 verses. That’s roughly two chapters of the Bible!
And I can tell you from experience that the more you memorize, the easier it gets to memorize more. I can also tell you that once it’s hidden in your heart the Holy Spirit can help you retrieve it very quickly when necessary for witnessing, resisting temptation, etc.
So what are you waiting for?