Vol. 3, No. 12
The devil is after our souls today. Maybe more so than ever before. We need every help we can have to resist the devil and overcome him, and to anchor our souls. The knowledge of the Word of God is one of the best offenses and defenses that we have to perform this task.
Jesus used just such knowledge in resisting the devil (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). He spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted of the devil. He ate nothing in those days. When the time was finished, the devil said unto him, "If thou art the Son of God, command this stone that it become bread" (v. 3 ASV). Jesus then said unto him, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone" (v. 4), quoting Deuteronomy 8:3.
The devil continued his temptation by showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and offering to give him the authority over all these if Jesus would worship him. Jesus answered, "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Luke 4:8).
Then the devil continued his temptation, telling Jesus, "[C]ast thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, to guard thee: and, on their hands they shall bear thee up, Lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone" (Luke 4:10-11). Jesus answered him by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, "Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God" (Luke 4:12).
From this we see that Jesus used Scripture to refute the devil and to overcome his temptations. It is inferred from this and other places that Jesus knew the entire Scripture by heart and could quote it when he wanted to. Such knowledge as this is needed by us in resisting the temptations of the devil. Jesus used Scriptures in Matthew 15 to resist the Pharisees and, thus, teaches us to do so.
The psalmist tells us the great value of Scripture. He tells us in Psalm 119:163-165, "I hate and abhor falsehood; But thy law do I love. Seven times a day do I praise thee, Because of thy righteous ordinances. Great peace have they who love thy law; And they have no occasion of stumbling." According to this, those who love and know God's law have no occasion to stumble or fall.
The psalmist says in Psalm 119:11, "Thy word have I laid up in my heart, That I might not sin against thee." God's Word helps us to resist temptation, to know truth, and to know and overcome error. The psalmist says in verses 5-6, "Oh that my ways were established To observe thy statutes! Then shall I not be put to shame, When I have respect unto all thy commandments." God's Word helps us not to be put to shame and not to be overcome by temptation. Almost every verse in Psalm 119 shows the need for God's Word and how it protects and helps us.
Psalm 19:7-11 says,
"The law of Jehovah is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of Jehovah is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of Jehovah are right, rejoicing the heart: The commandment of Jehovah is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of Jehovah is clean, enduring for ever: The ordinances of Jehovah are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the droppings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: In keeping them there is great reward."
Paul encourages us to know the Word of God. He says to Timothy,
"But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a babe thou hast known the scared writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
From this passage, we learn that Timothy from a youth learned God's Word. It made him wise unto salvation. It was profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for instruction. By them he was made complete unto every good work. Paul encouraged Timothy to study. "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV).
Christ knew the truth and wanted us to know the truth. He said that God's Word is truth (John 17:17) and that the truth would make us free (8:32). The truth will fortify us against the devil anytime.
God's people were destroyed for lack of knowledge. Hosea said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children" (Hosea 4:6).
Americans are biblically illiterate. The Gallup Poll surveys and the Barna surveys have indicated this much. For more than 50 years, I have carefully watched the Gallup Polls on Bible knowledge. They always indicate that people do not read the Bible and do not know the Bible as they should, especially to claim to be a Christian nation. Less than 11 percent are daily Bible readers. Less than 50 percent have ever read the Bible through one time. Only about 35 to 40 percent can name the four gospels.
Children are declining in religious training. Less than 35 percent go to Sunday school regularly. Many 17- and 18-year-olds are quitting the church.
Many people, including Christians, do not know who Abraham or Moses or David or Isaiah or John the Baptist were. They do not know the great countries and cities of the Bible, such as Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, Alexandria, Carthage, Antioch and other places.
We must study the Bible. We must come to know the Word of God. We must use the knowledge of the Word of God to resist temptation and to overcome evil and to do good. Bible knowledge is the anchor of our souls.