We have seen that there are five things we are to do with the Bible if we are to enjoy its full medicinal properties in restoring our soul. The fourth is that we need to memorize it.
How are we to deal with temptation? Jesus gives us a clear example of how he handled the same pressures we face, albeit it at an even more intense level as he was personally confronted by Satan. His response each time was to use the Word of God as the sword of the Spirit to fend off those attacks. He always overcame by identifying relevant Bible passages that addressed his situation which he in turn addressed to the enemy.
What we need to note, however, is that in the Gospels’ story of the Temptations in the Wilderness, each of the verses he quoted came from Deuteronomy. He had an arsenal of weapons at his disposal, and the ones he needed that day were all in Deuteronomy. I wonder how many of us could quote passages from Deuteronomy if they were the ones that were the keys to coping with some particular crisis we faced?
We tend to think that Jesus had an unfair advantage over us. After all, was he not the very Word of God himself? Had he not, in a sense, written those verses in the first place though his instrument Moses? But we are told that he had laid aside all his special prerogatives as the eternal Son of God when he became truly a man. As a man he had to learn the same way we have to learn. That’s why, as a 12-year old boy we see him sitting at the feet of the religious teachers in the Temple, listening to them. So learning verses from Deuteronomy, and seeking to understand what their application is for real life, was a human task for him as it is for us.
But having embarked on that learning task from childhood, he was able to say with the Psalmist, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps 119:11). We have the special help of the Holy Spirit in times like those. His unique work is to bring back to our remembrance the Word of God so that it becomes the Sword of the Spirit at the moment of crisis (Jn 14:26). He can remind us of what we have forgotten; but he cannot remind us of what we have never read or learned!
For more on these ideas, including some tips on how to memorize scripture, a couple of audio resources are available on our web site: How to Read the Bible, and How to Study the Bible. See also a free pdf file of a booklet on how to approach the scriptures: The Bible – God’s Life Word