Computer users have a nemesis which has earned a bad reputation–computer viruses. If only some vitamin C and plenty of liquids could prevent these destructive, unpredictable codes from destroying computer files and crashing hard drives! A popular solution is to run a program on your computer recognizes and neutralizes these software saboteurs before they do their dirty work. In order for such an anti-virus program to function, however, it must be installed.
In a similar way we need protection from the countless false, destructive messages that our culture sends to us daily. The “program” that we need to install in our memory banks is God’s Word!
Although Bible reading and studying are important, this article narrows the focus to Scripture memorization. Bible memorization is a strategic way to “renew your mind” (Rom 12:2). You may be thinking, “but I don’t have a good memory… ” I admit some people have extra-ordinary potential to commit things to memory. Like the Brooklyn, New York high school student who memorized 4000 digits of the mathematical “pi” [the ratio of the circumference of any circle to its diameter–3.141592+]. (By way of contrast, I had to look up these seven digits of pi…)
A more profitable example of memory work comes from Old Testament scholar Robert D. Wilson–perhaps the most knowledgeable scholar of the Scriptures of the 1800s. He dedicated his life to learning the text of the Old Testament so that he could defend and teach God’s Word. He learned all of the languages relevant to biblical research and committed the Hebrew translation of the New Testament to memory!
We may be inclined to conclude that memory work is out of our reach. Instead, we should realize the potential God has given us. How many people who claim to be unskilled at memorizing can recite all kinds of facts about their favorite sport team’s players and statistics? How many can recall details of books they have read, movies they have seen, conversations they have had? In other words, strategic Bible memory is within the reach of everyone who values it!
Is this seemingly daunting task really worth the effort? Notice the counsel Joshua received prior to his conquest of the Promised Land: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success “(Joshua 1:8-9). Wouldn’t memorizing be a good way to do this?
Notice the wisdom of the first Psalm:
“Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he MEDITATES day and night” (Psalm 1:1,2).
We can have additional inclination to say “no” to sin when we heed this discovery:
“How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word…
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:9-11).
The Lord Jesus was able to wield the “sword of the Spirit” and reject Satan’s temptations by reciting from memory strategic Scriptures (Matt. 4: 4-10; Eph. 6:17).
This spiritual discipline is especially valuable to the one who needs to appropriate by faith his/her identity in Christ. For example, if a believer has the problem of self-rejection (believing they are not acceptable to God) they need to refute this lie by memorizing Bible portions about their identity in Christ (such as 1 Pet. 2:9 and Col. 3:1-3). In Christ we are accepted in the Beloved One (Eph. 1:6).
The child of God who thinks of the LORD as austere and ready to punish them should memorize verses about His love. Isaiah 49:15-16 is a beautiful example:
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.”
Some Christians have read literature about the abundant life and understand many of the related concepts, but “the light hasn’t come on.” The Holy Spirit’s tool for illumination is the Word of God:
“The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple ” (Psalm 119:130; John 16:13).
We are instructed to reckon as true our union with Christ, and to set our minds on things of the Spirit (Rom 6:11;8:5,6).
When we memorize and meditate on strategic verses, we are blessed with stronger faith. Pastoral counselor Harold E. Burchett listed a typical sequence of truths which believers need to perceive:
1. Christ died for us.
2. Christ died for ME.
3. Christ died on my behalf as my substitute.
4. I therefore died and rose with Him.
5. I may now claim this freedom from sin, and His new resurrection life, in my daily experience. 
Have you ever been plagued by troublesome memories that are hard to shake? You try to put your mind elsewhere, but the negative thoughts zip back like a boomerang? A key to getting out of this rut–you guessed it–is to memorize and meditate on God’s written truth.
Compare removing those bad thoughts with removing air from a glass. How could this be done? One could try to rig up an elaborate vacuum machine, but it might crush the glass. How about a simpler solution: fill the glass with water. The water displaces the air. Likewise, when we let the “washing of water by the Word” cleanse our minds, the negative thoughts are largely displaced (Eph. 5:26). (This is the good kind of brain washing!)
So how can those who haven’t been memorizing Scripture get started? Ask the Lord for wisdom on the technique that best fits your learning style. Some folks use 3″x5″ cards on which they print verses. They carry them along and review them regularly. Continue in prayer to focus on God’s revealed truth (Eph. 1:15-18).
A proud Grandfather once told me that his four year old grandson had memorized a number of Bible verses by watching a musical video that features Scripture memory songs.
What verse of Scripture has had an impact in your heart lately? Why not commit it to memory this week? Enjoy the insights of meditation and share the Word during times of fellowship and witnessing. There is no better spiritual “anti-virus” program.
 People Helping People, by Harold E. Burchett, Moody Press, p.82.
 Memory resources: The Topical Memory System, by the Navigators http://www.navigators.org/us/resources/illustrations/items/Topical Memory System
Or my Scripture memory project that corresponds with GFI’s four phases of discipleship/counseling: https://gracenotebook.com/scripture-memory-project/
Some readers may be reluctant to embrace such spiritual disciplines as “works” that somehow compete with grace. However, the grace teacher Paul instructs us–by the Holy Spirit–to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness (1 Tim. 4:7,15). It’s not either/or, but both/and.
Information on dealing with computer viruses: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/129972
Copyright 2000 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to copy for non-commercial use. Biblical quotations are from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson.