The Victorious Christian Life

A Lesson Series for the Earnest Christian

© 2002 by Thomas W. Finley, 2013 Revised Edition

Lesson Eighteen: Practices of the Overcomer - Handling the Word of God (continued)

Besides feeding, or meditating, upon Scripture there are some other valuable ways for the believer to handle the word of God. These would be reading the Bible, studying the Bible and memorizing Scripture.

Reading the Bible

Of course, we can learn these things from Bible teachers or others, but the truths of the Bible become more real to us when we read them ourselves. When we learn things directly from Scripture, I do believe that they stick with us more than by getting the information second hand from others. However, fellow believers can help reinforce or adjust our concepts of Bible truths, and that is important. We should be open to learn from others.

On the other hand, it is only when we are reading the Bible ourselves diligently that we can spot where a teacher might be off, or even a false teacher. I recall being in a large Bible conference a few years ago when a popular author made a statement about the children of Israel. Because I had read the Old Testament quite a few times, I instantly knew that his statement, in which he was making application to our experience, was wrong. I wonder how many other people there realized that. Perhaps many in the audience accepted what he said without questioning it. After all, he was a famous author on Bible themes.

I would encourage every believer to read the Bible every day. One of the best ways is to be on a reading plan that covers the entire Bible in a year. We need to read all of the books of the Bible in order to get a complete understanding of God and His ways with men. Most Christian book stores carry small pamphlets that contain a reading plan for reading the Bible annually. Also, Christian websites with Bible tools usually have plans you can follow. It only takes about fifteen to twenty minutes a day to read through the Bible in a year.

No matter how one reads the Bible, it is important to do so regularly. It should be a daily habit (Matt. 4:4). Victorious Christians are people who are in the Scriptures, reading them and absorbing them. You may recall that in an earlier lesson it was pointed out that the Bible is the “language” that God uses to speak to His people. If Bible texts and stories are not familiar to us, then God will not be able to use them to speak to us as we live our lives. He may speak to us not only when we are reading a passage, but also when we are engaged in daily affairs. The Holy Spirit will often take a verse from our memory and bring it to mind at the right moment (Jn. 14:26).

When we read the Bible we should be careful to quiet our hearts before God and be open to Him. We should read with a seeking and prayerful spirit. If we do not turn our hearts to Him in sincerity to hear and learn from Him, then the Bible will be a veiled book to us. However, if we open up to Him, then the Holy Spirit has a way to make the Bible alive and meaningful to us.

But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:14-17).

We should also remember that any time spent in the word of God with our hearts open to Him, whether we are reading or meditating or searching the Scriptures, will result in our being sanctified unto God. This means that the Scripture has an effect of counteracting the pull of the world and its lusts upon us. “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). Certainly, then, we can see the necessity of being in the Scriptures in order to be victorious.

I recognize that some believers, especially in third world countries, cannot read. Such believers should take advantage of every alternative opportunity to get into the word of God. For example, those who can read may read to those who cannot. Various electronic means can also be used to have the Scriptures read aloud to the illiterate.

This may be an appropriate place to comment on the reading of Christian books other than the Bible, such as spiritual books, biographies, commentaries, etc. One can certainly get some spiritual help from good books. There are so many books available today, however, that the mass is overwhelming. Which ones are really worthwhile? Unfortunately, many are not.

It is very difficult to advise you in this area. If you know of a godly and mature Christian, their input may be helpful on the selection of books. Regrettably, however, there is confusion today even on some fundamental issues (such as law versus grace as noted in earlier lessons). So, even some more mature Christians may still not have the best discernment. The more you read your Bible and grow, the more discernment you will develop (see Phil. 1:9-10). Nevertheless, I encourage you to read the best books you can find.

Searching the Scriptures

I know that for many readers this topic is daunting. You may imagine that now I am going to tell you to learn Greek, buy stacks of lexicons and commentaries, and spend many hours trying to analyze difficult Bible passages! Be encouraged, I am not going to do that! Only those called as teachers or elders may have to do that. But, every saint, even the sisters (who are not supposed to teach doctrine in the assembly – 1 Cor. 14:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:11-14), needs to spend time occasionally searching the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). The basic reason we search the Scripture is to learn the truth from God. Whereas the teacher of God’s word may learn in order to teach, as well as apply the truth to his life, every saint has things they need to learn from God in order to follow Him and be pleasing to Him. That is surely needed if we are to live the victorious Christian life.

As we progress in our Christian life there will be questions and issues along the way that need to be resolved for us if we are serious about following Jesus. It is at least at these times that we need to search the Scriptures in order to learn from God what He wants us to do. I could give many examples.

For instance, suppose you are a fairly new Christian and are quite excited about the Christian life. Then perhaps a colleague at work learns of your interest and begins to share with you about growing spiritually. Perhaps that co-worker begins to share with you that to be more spiritual you need to speak in tongues. Maybe he or she even gives you a booklet to read concerning the subject, or presents some verses. What should you do? That is the time to search the Scriptures!

A good approach would be to use a concordance to look up all of the passages concerning speaking in tongues. You may see cross-references to other verses that could be pertinent. Of course, you would do all of this prayerfully before the Lord, asking Him to guide you into the truth. In addition, on many subjects, you will find that there is literature available by preachers or teachers who want to expound their view on some question. You may certainly benefit from this, but a safe approach would be to read the best literature on each side of the discussion (Pr. 18:17).

Also, if you are a woman, you would be wise to realize that God has given men the assignment of interpreting doctrine, and you should ask your believing husband (or Christian father, if unmarried) for help before you make a final judgment on any Biblical question (1 Cor. 14:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:11-14).

Searching the Scriptures can be helpful for many areas in our lives. When a couple has children, then that certainly opens the door to a new area of experience, concerning which they should consult God’s word. Every husband and every wife needs to find and meditate on the Scriptures given for husbands and wives in the Bible (e. g., 1 Cor. 7, 11; Eph. 5; 1 Pet. 3, etc.) Finances are a big issue, and we believers should search the Scripture concerning our use of money and the issue of debt. After all, we are accountable to God for our stewardship.

The list of topics goes on and on, but fundamentally we should realize that as questions or issues arise in our lives, we should not just take what others say about them. We should certainly not let tradition dictate our path. All of us can at least look up the verses involved in order to see what God would speak to us. Be sure to read the cross-reference verses too. You will be surprised how much you learn from this simple exercise if you are truly seeking to learn and follow the truth. Commentaries and books can be helpful or not. You may use them, but realize that they are imperfect. Don’t go to a commentary as the arbiter of a question. Keep seeking the Lord if the issue is still not clear.

The basic principle that I wish to convey here is that the overcomer wants to hear from God concerning the truth. That is why the victorious Christian should not be afraid of going to the Bible himself or herself in order to search out a matter. This was the attitude of the noble Bereans (Acts 17:11).

There are lots of Bible tools available. There are many study Bibles, which have all sorts of various helps. Every believer should have at least a Bible with a good verse cross-reference system. A fairly comprehensive concordance will help, as well as an English dictionary to get an accurate understanding of words. Today, there are many helps available for free on the Internet. For example, at www.crosswalk.com there is a Bible study tools section that has a Bible word search program, concordances, dictionaries, lexicons, commentaries, etc. Another excellent site with study tools is www.studylight.org. Take advantage of these free on-line tools. Also, a Bible software program called “e-Sword” may be downloaded for free at www.e-sword.net. This is an excellent, comprehensive program. A donation may be made for the program if one wishes to do so.

I do want to recommend one book, which will help you learn the principles for sound Biblical interpretation. Unfortunately, believers violate these principles regularly, and thus they end up with erroneous interpretations of Bible texts. The book is entitled How to Understand Your Bible, and it is written by T. Norton Sterrett. It can be ordered through any Christian bookstore.

Finally, searching the Scriptures can be a very rewarding experience. After the labor is finished, you will often find that you have a clear answer from God about how to follow Him in an issue of life. It is very satisfying to know that you have heard directly from God and have His mind. That will give you great confidence to follow Him, even if others disagree with your path. Often overcomers are directed down a narrow path that others are not taking.

Memorizing Scripture

Memorizing Scripture can be very helpful to the believer. The benefit of memorizing Scripture seems to be threefold. Firstly, as we memorize the Holy Spirit can use that process to feed us and enlighten us. Secondly, the memorized verse can be available for the Holy Spirit to bring to our mind at the right time to guide us in our Christian life. Thirdly, the verse can also be available to be shared with others, whether when witnessing to unbelievers or when helping fellow believers. These are great benefits and the biographies of famous Christians often speak of the practice of memorizing Scripture. Therefore, I encourage you to do so.

Yet, in my own experience, I have found that the first two benefits can also be gained just from reading and meditating on the word of God. My experience, however, may be different from that of others. I am familiar enough with the Bible from reading it and meditating on it over the years that a great many verses can come to mind without memorizing them (of course, my recollection of them is not word-perfect). Also, I have found that memorized verses do not stick with me on a word-perfect basis for very long. Still, I definitely believe that key verses, such as those of our union with Christ for example, are important to memorize. These are verses that we may want to claim every day.

I encourage you to select at least those verses for memory that seem very important to you. These may be verses that help you maintain peace or help you claim victory. In other words, memorize those verses that will be keys for you in living a victorious life.

Some good identification verses for memorization would be Romans 6:6-7; 7:4, 6; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 2:20; 6:14; and Col. 3:3-4. Other good verses to consider would be 1 Cor. 10:13; Phil. 4:6-7; Heb. 4:16; 10:19-20; 1 Pet. 5:6-8; 1 Jn. 1:9. Then, you may want to branch out and try to memorize other portions of God’s word and see how that benefits you. However, you should not feel that there is a demand upon you to continually memorize Scripture in order to be victorious. Most of us can write down verses, or use a Bible to read them, when we want to meditate on them during the day. Christians who live under persecution, however, are much more likely to need to memorize Scripture.

Finally, let us always remember that we should come to the Scriptures to find Jesus, and to enhance our relationship with Him. We should seek truth in order to fit into His plan for our lives. It is possible to get sidetracked looking for “knowledge” alone, which will take us away from knowing Him as our life. The Pharisees were supposed experts in the Bible, but had no real heart for God. Jesus never praised them, but instead kept focusing on their “heart problem.” Here is what He said to them, as recorded in the gospel of John: “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life” (Jn. 5:39-40). Let us learn from this negative example, and come to the Bible in order to know Him and follow Him.

Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13, NASB)