8.08.2010

Romans 8:1-4

A few friends on Twitter and I have decided to memorize Romans 8 in its entirety over the next x number of weeks. Here is the first chunk (I'm not peeking, I promise!):
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death, for God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteousness requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
- Romans 8:1-4 (ESV)
Hover over that link and make sure I memorized it correctly!

I was first seriously turned on to the idea of Bible memorization by this sermon preached by John Piper. I imagine I listened to that sermon for the first time at some point in 2009. It took a good hold of me and began my journey into Bible memorization.

The chief motivations I have had for Bible memorization are the following passages: John 15:1-7 and Psalm 119:9-11. I especially like Psalm 119:9-11 because of its ridiculous relevancy to my life and extremely straightforward point.

Do you want to fight sin? Do you want to not sin against God? Are you a young man? Do you desire to have a pure heart, a pure mind? Pure thoughts? Let me offer the biblical address to your questions:
[9] How can a young man keep his way pure?
        By guarding it according to your word.
[10] With my whole heart I seek you;
        let me not wander from your commandments!
[11] I have stored up your word in my heart,
        that I might not sin against you.
 (Psalm 119:9-11)
 Let me offer you this stream of thoughts that went through my head when I read this verse:
  • I am a young man.
  • I want to keep my life pure, because I sure know that I am impure in many things.
  • Hmm, how can I do this? [Reads verse] Ooooohhhhh....
  • Ok, looks like I need to start packing away the Bible into my heart.
Now let me offer one brief thought (and this entire post is totally stream-of-consciousness style, so forgive me): memorizing Scripture won't strictly keep you from sin. Why do I say this? Because Satan memorized Scripture. (And he probably knows way more of it than we ever will!) Therefore, just because someone - even if they are a devil! - memorizes the words of the Bible, they will not become more holy in thought and deed.

There's the rub it seems. Even if you memorize the Bible, you are not necessarily going to sin less, become more sanctified, etc. The Pharisees and Satan memorized gobs of Scripture. And yet, this verse clearly says something about not sinning and storing up God's word in your heart.

Let me offer a few brief thoughts for you to consider regarding this seeming paradox of memorization and sanctification.
  •  To grow in holiness, one must guard their their path, their way, their life (thoughts, actions, decisions) according to and with the word of God. The only offensive spiritual weapon we see described in Ephesians 6 is the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God". Be as a soldier scouting through a forest, ready to attack and kill sin at the sound of the slightest rustle of the forest. Guard your life by reciting the promises, warnings, and admonitions of the Bible throughout the day as you memorize.
  • Let your efforts towards holiness be whole-hearted. When discouraged, flee to the promises given us by our Lord. Know that he will never leave us or forsake us. Know that God is 100% for us. Know that "He who spared not his own son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).Chase God and seek him wholeheartedly. Intently think about your life and your path and seek to stay on the way that leads to life, but it is the same path that so few find.
  • Store up the Bible in your heart, not just your mind. Merely storing and reciting words from the Bible will do nothing for you if they do not affect your heart and find their way deep into your soul. Let the words of God be as scalpels and surgical tools that are cutting away sin from a failing heart. Open your self to divine surgery.

6 comments:

  1. Let me just say, as someone a bit older, "Amen". I wasn't saved when I was your age (good grief....I just made myself seem old), so I know a bit more about the 'world' than I care to admit. Sometimes I wish I could go back and do it over. However, I also hold onto the promise of Romans 8:28 and know that God even uses the sins of my past to help shape my future. The only think I would add, or maybe clarify, is to be gospel-focused on everything in your life. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (which includes sanctification). Preach the Gospel to yourself everyday. That is where you will see amazing transformation.

    Keep up the good work. I enjoy you tweets.

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  2. awesome post man. Such a great motivation to get into deep, strong spiritual disciplines. Keep up the good work (that's enabled by salvation, not done in order to gain salvation). :)

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  3. Thanks for the kind comments Chris and Christopher.

    The only think I would add, or maybe clarify, is to be gospel-focused on everything in your life.
    Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES. I 100% agree and also confess that this is where I go astray. I seem to be one who tends more towards legalistic sins and controlling of my own actions, and naturally this is diametrically opposed to the gospel.

    Feel free to drop reminders *often* on the comments to point me back to the gospel, and the person of the gospel, our glorious Lord and loving Savior Jesus!

    (Although if I fail to include a mention about keeping things "gospel-centered", don't necessarily think I am not keeping Christ in mind...although I would rather have any reader/commenter err on the side of caution and give me a helpful, pointed reminder!)

    Chris -
    enabled by salvation
    Absolutely! The line there is fine and I wonder how many times I cross it into error. That number will decrease by his grace!

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  4. Thanks for this post. It's encouraging to find other people with a desire to memorize scripture. This summer as I've been working with Cross Community Baptist in Queens with Ms.Val we've been memorizing scripture together. I've been able to complete John 1 and started Romans 12. Memorize helps me to truly understand and hide the word in heart more than just reading it. Doing this in groups is great as iron sharpens iron(Proverbs 27:17). Thanks for sharing with us.

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  5. Jessica-
    Awesome! That's what I like to hear! Romans 12 is a great chapter to memorize. Very practical methinks...although all the Bible is, but I think that chapter is pretty clear!

    BTW, I love to hear where you all hail from! Gives great encouragement and a reminder that God is indeed working all around the world...

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  6. Hey Trevor,just thought I'd let you know that it's Jessica Finton from SUNY Cortland.

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