The Joy of Memorizing Scripture…by Jim Nelson
The Joy of Memorizing Scripture
I want to share a personal story from my family, and yes, I was given permission. Two years ago, my daughter Nicky moved home from Bend, Oregon. She wanted to be near family and receive help in dealing with a problem which had become a larger issue for her. Nicky went through a difficult divorce and started using alcohol to medicate her pain. Little by little, the alcohol became a bigger problem for her. Lynn and I are so proud of her for wanting to take on this trial with God’s transforming grace.
With this as a backdrop, last summer Nicky and I spent about 4 months together studying and applying Romans chapters 6, 7, and 8 to our lives. These are some of the most amazing and theologically powerful chapters in scripture on the subject of progressive sanctification. Nicky wanted to grow deeply in her relationship with our Lord Jesus. This has been very helpful to Nicky and the real bonus for me as her Dad, was to watch her grow in her love and obedience to the Lord. The process of walking more and more by the Spirit and less and less by the flesh is part of the battle we all go through as believers. As a Dad, nothing is more important than to see your children being transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit as they trust in the Lord.
During this time we had many discussions about our new life in-Christ, and the never ending war we all fight daily with our sinful flesh. A few weeks ago, Pastor Tony talked about the need to “embrace our battle with sin” as he taught us from Hosea chapter 7. Actually, a mark of a true believer is that they are battling with their sins and temptations with God’s transforming grace. We spent a lot of time in chapter 6 where the Apostle Paul teaches us the important Biblical truth of being “dead to sin and alive in Christ”. We had written 21 pages of notes on these three chapters.
We talked about the importance of memorizing verses. Nicky reminded me that when Jesus was tempted in the desert He always told Satan, “It is written and then quoted scripture” at that point Satan left Him. Memorization has been a real help to Nicky and to myself over the years. Nicky and I learned many valuable Biblical truths just in Romans 6. Here are just a few we want to share with you. Hopefully these will be helpful to you.
1) We have come to understand that we now have a totally new relationship to sin, it is dead.
2) Christ broke the power of sin, it no longer controls our lives.
3) Sin is a terrible master and it finds a willing servant in the human body.
4) Whatever you yield to becomes your master.
5) Sin charactizes our old life, holiness characterizes our new life.
6) Freed from sin does not mean that a believer is no longer capable of sinning but that we are no longer a slave to sin.
7) We came to understand the importance of a daily surrendering of our body, mind, and will to the Lord.
8) We are a slave to sin by our natural birth and a slave to righteousness by our new birth. A beautiful picture of being a new creation in Christ Jesus.
As one commentator put it, “Christ’s obedience resulted in His death on the cross. This is the same goal Christ has for each of us – death of our old sinful nature so that He might live through us.”
I believe that memorization is of the utmost importance in the Christian life and in spiritual growth. Some commentators tell us that memorizing Scripture is perhaps the single most crucial element to spiritual growth and victory over sin. Psalm 119:11 “I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. The Word of God is the believer’s only truly potent weapon against sin, it’s the sword of the spirit. When placed in the mind through Bible memorization, it is a strong influence for godliness and righteous living. Hebrew 4:12 tells us the Word of God is “living and active” meaning that it has supernatural power to mold us into Christ-likeness when we meditate upon it. There is no better way to mediate on the Word than to have it in our minds and memories, and it then became a powerful resource for us.
I want to thank Nicky for all of our wonderful and deep discussions, because of this, I renewed my personal focus to memorization. After months of studying, discussing, and applying Roman 6, I decided to memorize the first 14 verses for myself. Then, over a few more months I was able to memorize all of chapter 6, what an amazing chapter! For me the benefits of memorizing Romans 6 are too many to count. I now recite and meditate on this chapter daily making it part of my prayer and worship life.
Can I encourage each of you to either start or continue to memorize verses? The benefits are victory over sin, the strengthening of your faith and having a deeper joy in your Christian life.
What an amazing Savior we serve!
Your brother In-Christ, Jim Nelson