Believers desiring victorious living are often instructed to memorize Scripture as a means to experience victory. An example often cited is Jesus using Scripture against the devil’s attack in what we call the temptation of Christ. Scripture memory is undoubtedly an incredibly valuable practice, but is it the crux of the matter or a stepping stone to accessing victory?
The real issue is faith, for apart from faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). But the foundation of faith is in the words of God, for faith comes by the word (rhema/specific word) of God (Rom. 10:17). Therefore, the value of memorizing Scripture is the readiness in mind of truth that can be trusted in various situations of life. The key, however, is not merely memorizing or going a step further and quoting Scripture. The key is actually depending on the memorized/quoted truth.
Jesus did know the Scriptures by heart. He did quote them to the devil. But it was more than this, for the devil also quoted Scripture. The element that cannot be overlooked is that the truth connected to the words must be understood and depended upon. The key is faith in God based on the words. Faith accesses grace according to the words being trusted.
A preacher once went down a tragic path into a secret affair. As a child of God, he was under conviction about the matter and would quote Scriptures on the way to doing wrong. Though this memory exercise revealed his conviction, the mantra of biblical words alone did not deliver him from sin. He neglected to trust in God for divine enablement to obey based on the truth of the words.
Memorizing Scripture is a valuable practice. So is quoting what you know in your heart. But understanding the truth is vital, and ultimately, there must be faith based on those precious words. The victory that overcomes the world is faith (1 John 5:4), and faith is based on the specific word of God.
John Van Gelderen