How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from Your commandments! I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:9-11
How can we keep our way pure? By guarding it, as prescribed in the Bible. Let’s think about that word “guard” first. In the New International Version, Proverbs 4:23 reads, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” And in Proverbs 4:13, “Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” We guard and protect the things we value. There are some things that are really important that we don’t realize until later that we should have guarded it, but we didn’t. We didn’t realize how important they were until much later, perhaps after we already suffered loss.
We need to guard our ways, our steps, our minds, our hearts and our lives. We have an enemy of our soul, Satan, who is a roaring lion, as 1 Peter 5:8 instructs us: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” NIV How true. We don’t even need him, we’re pretty good at destroying ourselves through an unrestrained feeding of our flesh. Without self control empowered by the Holy Spirit and a careful attention to our desires, they can drive us in destructive directions.
The Bible is filled with commandments about how to guard our way. There are the character sketches that God has given us that show us what happens when we don’t pay attention. We have people like Lot, Jacob, Samson, Saul and many other real people who God inspired the writers of the Bible to record so that we might not make the same mistakes that they did. As we read about those people, we are really reading about ourselves. Their tendency to sin and grab for the wrong things are our same tendencies, because we share the same sin nature.
How do we emerge victorious? We seek God with our whole hearts. Not with a half hearted attempted, a short burst, or a sea of good intentions. Our whole hearts. No turning back. And we hide God’s Word in our hearts that we may stand undaunted against the desires that “wage war against our soul,” as 1 Peter 2:11 warns. We store up God’s truth, His promises and His cautions and we pull them out when we need to use them.
My challenge to you is to actually commit Scripture to memory, to store up God’s word into your heart. It has been my habit since childhood. I have gone from memorizing verses, to chapters and now several books of the Bible. Has it kept me from sinning? I know that hiding chunks of God’s Word in my heart has kept it there to pull out when needed, and for the Holy Spirit to bring it to mind to convict, guide, redirect and to counsel me on the spot in a variety of ways.
What is your habit of memorizing Scripture, and how has it benefited you?