Although music is only one of the many facets of worship in the Scriptures, the purpose of this blog is to briefly, yet carefully explore music’s modern role in the worship of our Creator and Savior. As those who have been born again worship at the feet of Jesus, hearts bowed low both before His Cross and His Throne, may we never check our minds at the door of His throne room!  Our worship is not born from mindless melody, rhythm and beat designed to tweak our emotions.  True praise ought to always emanate from the knowledge of the Holy, revealed to us by His Spirit and His Word. 

Music…in and of itself.  First and foremost, may we never seek to make music our source of revelation.  While songs might inspire and ‘speak’ to us, ultimately Jesus Christ, revealed by His Holy Spirit through the heartfelt study of His Word is where our true motivation and love should reside and reflect. As we grow in our understanding of the true and living God, praise ought to overflow into thanksgiving to the One who died for a wretch like me. Although this generation of Christians has learned to seek fun and exciting rhythms, may we never forget to seek to understand and know our God through His Word before all else. “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding. God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.” Psalm 47:6-8 (Emphasis mine.)

Music…A dramatic influence.  It is an understatement to say that music is a dramatic and driving force in the technological age in which we live.  It most certainly has a motivating effect on the listeners of today.  Are we not trained to respond to music?  Its influences are virtually everywhere.  Think about it…what would a movie or TV program be like without its soundtrack?  How many restaurants and stores attempt to effectively use music to motivate their patrons?  And now that we have entered the digital age, the possibilities for musical motivation seem almost endless. But even though our generation is the first to have such amazing technologies, we are not the first to be moved by musical melodies.

Throughout time, music has arguably remained a very powerful tool in effectively altering the state of the listener.  Every generation has utilized music both for entertainment and spiritual enlightenment.  Music is not simply entertainment, but a tool that can, when properly crafted, influence us greatly. With this as a basic foundational understanding may we always, always remember to enjoy and make music with biblically discerning hearts and minds.   

Beware… Musical Wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Not only pastors, teachers and evangelists spread false doctrines.  With music as such an integral part of our society, why would the enemy avoid utilizing this popular and powerful medium?  It is clear he has not.  Although music has been used to influence and direct those in darkness for centuries, we are facing a time in the Body of Christ when the enemy’s lies are openly allowed entrance through musicians and their music.  Below is a short excerpt giving us a glimpse of the seduction we face today. 

Michael W. Smith has most likely sent tens of thousands to the feet of mysticism proponent Brennan Manning through his endorsement of Manning. In light of Manning’s spiritual views, that is very troubling. For instance, in Manning’s book, Above All (in which Smith wrote the foreword), Manning echoes the words of Thomas Merton biographer and mystic William Shannon when Shannon (and Manning) rejected the idea that a loving God would send His son to a violent death: THAT God does not exist, they both insisted. What’s more Manning actually teaches mantra-like meditation is his book, The Signature of Jesus.

David Crowder, also at the conference, is the author of the contemplative-promoting book, Praise Habit (referring to the habits worn by Catholic nuns). In an interview with LifeTeen.com (a web site for Catholic teens), Crowder admits: “Much of the Catholic traditions and writings have been influential in my formation of faith … I’ve found much inspiration there.” These Catholic traditions referred to are those emulated by monks such as Thomas Merton and Thomas Keating.”  (Emphasis mine.) See the entire article at: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=181

Influences… It always amazes me to read some of the musical influences stated by those in today’s Christian music scene.  Why when asked about musical influences and inspirations do so many artists list bands that have been so clearly influenced by anti-Christian sources, i.e. Eastern philosophy, meditation, drugs, etc.?  There is discussion within the Body of Christ over music, and I by no means hope to settle others’ debates. I do, however, desire to encourage every thinking believer to carefully check their own influences. May we always remember that those who influence us were also influenced themselves and those influences, like seeds are most likely passed on to their hearers. And many of these seeds have the potential to entangle us again with the world from which we were so graciously set free from.  Galatians 5:1 says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” 

Motivations…  Should music make us, or should we make music?  As a Christian, this should be an easy answer.  We are confident that only the Lord, not music has the power to transform (make) us.  As He works within us, we cannot help but express Jesus’ love and truth that springs forth.  For some, music becomes one of the means by which we allow the love for our Maker to shine forth.  But just like any other saint, those who write and make music are called to carefully point others to the truth, not to the music itself.  Music should not be our ultimate motivation, rather we should be motivated to point others to the One who moves and transforms His children.

The Challenge… The challenge to both the musician and those enjoying their music is the same.  Music has the power to subjectively reach and move our emotions.  And while God has created us as emotional creatures, we are not designed to be directed by our emotions.  Unfortunately, in the sinful state of our hearts, emotions have the tendency to drift toward lifting up self, turning us away from our Maker.  The challenge in making music is that we ought always desire pointing the hearer to the objective reality of God’s truth found solely in His Word- The Bible.  We all need to beware of allowing music- its subjective and emotional rhythms, timbres, tones, and melodies to be more important than the primary, and objective Influence and Motivation- The Lord Himself.  In this self-centered and soulish generation, it can be a difficult task to carefully draw that line between the objective nature of God’s Truth and the emotional, subjective nature of music.  Praise and worship, in the musical sense should always require an active mind thinking on Him, not merely enjoying a song for music’s sake. 

There are times where the unintended, or perhaps intended ideas of relativism and subjective, emotionalism might take center stage in the hearts and minds of those enraptured in certain songs.  May we make extra effort as listeners and makers of music to clarify that line so that there is no confusion as we enter into worship.  May we always desire to praise our King with understanding, always allowing the Lord to speak more clearly to and through us than the vain philosophies of this world.  May we continue bowing low before our Lord, never allowing man’s ways to be our influences or motivations.  Praise be to God that His ways are above ours, and His power greater than this world’s!   

Finally… be lovers of the Truth!  The answers to life are not found in music, rather in the truth of God’s Word! Truth, not emotionally charged rhythms, is how God ultimately communicates to men.  Man is separated from the animal world because God has created men alone with the capacity to understand.  And understanding is ultimately produced by and expressed in words, not in pictures and not in rhythms.  In God’s Word, Jesus says much concerning the truth.  As a lover of music, I must always remember that I am called to be a lover of the Truth more than a lover of music.  This love for the Truth of God, His Word, and the reality of His creation is what should daily move me more than anything else.  Consider the following verses concerning the value God places on the truth (all emphasis mine):

  • Psalm 51:6a– “Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts…”
  • John 8:31-32– “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
  • John 17:17– “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10– “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
  • 1 John 5:20-21 “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

My prayer…   It’s my prayer that I never worship music, rather worship the Lord Jesus in Spirit and in Truth.  Some times this worship will involve praising God through music made by those who love Him; who love the truth.  My heart’s desire is that I always consider carefully my own influences, allowing the Lord to transform me into His image, so that I may truthfully, lovingly, and even musically point others to a thoughtful understanding of Jesus Christ, and Him alone!

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, [even] in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” 1 John 5:20-21

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