To paraphrase Charles Spurgeon, the best memory is the one which remembers what is best worth remembering. The memory is an amazing gift from God. And this gift is used most powerfully when it is used to recall Scripture by heart.
Throughout the Bible, we are reminded of the importance of the Bible. As you read its various authors inspired by the same one Holy Spirit, you can’t help but feel the Scriptures oozing out of these men. What they wrote became Scripture, but what I mean is that preexisting Scripture seemed to be in each of their hearts. When God the Holy Spirit chose to speak through someone, that person was someone who clearly had memorized Scripture.
Likewise, the most powerful preachers are not the most entertaining; rather they are those who are walking Bibles, spilling out truth because they have diligently taken the Scripture in. Those who influence us the most for Christ seem to be the very ones who have been personally influenced by rich encounters with the Scriptures. It’s not hard to list the benefits of memorizing Scripture. Dallas Willard said:
Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization” (“Spiritual Formation in Christ for the Whole Life and Whole Person” in Vocatio, Vol. 12, no. 2, Spring, 2001, p. 7, credit to DesiringGod.org).
We could create a longer list than this. But here are six benefits of memorizing Scripture.
1.We Are Benefited By Memorizing the Bible Because God Reveals Himself Through Scripture
God speaks to us in many ways. But one of the primary ways he reveals himself is through the Bible. Without this objective, absolute truth guiding our various, personal experiences, we will certainly get off track. We must not trade in a personal relationship with God for an academic understanding of doctrines. We must not idolize the Bible or replace the Holy Spirit with the book written through the inspiration of the Spirit. But he Bible is central in experiencing and knowing Christ.
We are called to “look to Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). Certainly Jesus is not literally in the pages of Scripture like some sort of transubstantiation. But the truth about Jesus which helps us to see him personally is found in Scripture first and foremost. 1 Samuel 3:21 explains, “And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” Luke 24:27 says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
One of the primary benefits of memorizing the Bible is that it helps us stay intimately connected to God.
2. Memorizing the Bible Benefits Us Because It Helps Us Be Filled With the Holy Spirit
If you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you must be filled with his inspired words. Again, the Bible is not the Holy Spirit. The printed words and pages of the Bible are not tangible fragments of the Spirit. But the Bible, in its original form, is the inspired words of the Holy Spirit. He spoke eternal truth through mortals with personalities in a specific historical time period. But the words of the Bible are the literal words of God the Holy Spirit.
It makes sense then, that if we hope to be filled with the Spirit as we are commanded to be (Ephesians 5:18), then we must be filled with the Spirit’s actual words. The Holy Spirit is with and in every Christian from the moment of their conversions. But throughout life we are often more or less filled with him. If we hope to be filled more often than not, we must recognize the great benefit of Scripture memorization.
3. Bible Memorization Brings Peace
Isaiah 26:3 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” The primary cause of a lack of peace is not the circumstances in our lives but our worrying minds about the things happening in our lives.
The mind is always working and thinking. If it is not centered on God, it will be centered on something else. Memorizing the Bible benefits us because it helps our minds to stay focused on truth, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
Spurgeon said, “A Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t.” Restless thoughts, lustful thoughts, depressed thoughts, and all other unhelpful thoughts can be crushed more effectively by nothing other than memorizing Bible verses.
4. Memorizing Scripture Benefits Us Because the Bible Is Our Weapon Against Satan
Satan and our spiritual enemies can hit us at any time with varying types of attacks. To fight the enemy effectively, we not only need to read our Bibles, we must take the word of God with us wherever we go. For the Bible is our main weapon against Satan (Ephesian 6:17, Matthew 4:1-11).
Memorizing the Bible is like imitating the instructions of Nehemiah who told the Jews to work with one hand and to hold their weapons in the other. They had to rebuild the wall, life needed to go on, but there was also a very present danger of being attacked at any moment (Nehemiah 4:17-18).
We too are in the same situation. We can’t waste our lives and get stuck in fear by only thinking of when the enemy might attack us. But we must also accept that eventually we will get assaulted. Therefore we must be ready by having the word of God memorized and hidden in our hearts.
5. Our Memorization of the Bible Benefits Others
Memorizing the Bible is crucial for our evangelism and love for others. The mind of unbelievers is controlled by the devil (Ephesians 2:2-3, 2 Corinthians 4:4).
If our weapon against Satan is the Bible, then to try to free people’s minds with testimonies and stories is foolishness. There’s nothing wrong with putting your person flare on evangelism. We all must do this because we are people, not machines who spit out Bible verses. But only God using his truth can set someone free. Therefore to help rescue people from the lies of the enemy, we must speak the word of God to people (2 Timothy 2:24-26, Romans 10:14-15, 17).
If we want to fulfill Paul’s charge to his protégé Timothy, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2), we must take serious the benefits of memorizing the Bible. What better way to be ready to proclaim the word of God in our everyday lives than to have it memorized? As Spurgeon said, “Be walking Bibles.”
When we hide the word of God in our hearts, the fruits of the Spirit will be visible in our lives. For out of the overflow the heart, the mouth speak.
6. Memorizing the Bible Will Help Bring Guidance in Both Mundane and Monumental Decisions
Lastly, life is full of decision making. Mundane choices fly at us at a dizzying rate. We literally make thousands of subconscious choices every day. Additionally, massive decisions come at us on at least a monthly occurrence.
Making decisions can be a big process. A lot of different techniques can be used. Pros and cons, getting counsel from others, sleeping on it – all of which can be really helpful. Ideally, however, for Christians, most decisions are made through a process of two routs: wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17). Wisdom is used to apply principles and truth to our decisions. Revelation is when we get a special confirmation from God.
Either way, knowing the Bible is crucial. God will never give us a special revelation that cannot be confirmed in Scripture. If you feel led by God to do something that violates what the Bible clearly says, then God is absolutely not speaking to you.
While we should pray about everything, I believe for the vast majority of our decisions, God is basically saying, “Well, what have I already said about this in my word?” Certainly the Spirit must help us apply the Bible to our personal circumstances, but the guidance we often need is given to us through God’s wisdom found in the Bible.
Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.” (Psalm 119:24)
But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:25, NIV)
Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. (Proverbs 6:21-22)
If we are required to make decisions so regularly, it is not hard to see the benefit of having Bible verses memorized to help guide us through mundane and massive decisions alike.