"Not of the Father"

Music is naturally a very spiritual thing; after all, Who created music?  From the very beginning, music was created for the glorification of God.  Of course, the entire book of Psalms is dedicated to the praise of God through music.  Like every piece of the Lord’s creation, music was untainted –until the deceiver came.  Satan, contrary to God, is all about the glorification of himself.  However, the devil knows that men would generally never purposefully worship him, so he uses our favorite person instead: self.  Satan’s path for our destruction is to take our focus off of God and place it onto ourself.  Take the fall, for example.  Did Satan lie and tell Eve that if she ate of the fruit of the tree, it would make Satan “King of the this World?”  No.  He told Eve that she would live forever.  Satan took our focus off of God and placed it onto ourselves –just part of the beginning of sin –and he hasn’t stopped using the same plan.

Matthew 16:23 “But he [Jesus] turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

Satan knows our weaknesses better than we do.  That is just why he uses music to ensnare the Christian.

One major problem with the world’s music is that it is all about self –including CCM artists as a whole.  Churches today have geared their services toward self.  They follow the philosophies of post-modernist psychologists –insert God’s name every once in a while, and call it preaching.  The same goes with most “Christian” music.  They follow the world’s philosophies, trends, and styles, then add God’s name every once in a while, and call it “worship.”   That is why we as Christians must, shall we say, buck the trend of the world.

Even among some fundamentalist Christian churches and colleges, there has been a trend toward self-glorification instead of God-glorification.  Instead of the music being directed off of the singer and toward the Lord, the music is directed to the singer and away from the Lord.  This would go for specials and congregational singing.  There is also more of an emphasis on the way that the singer performs, instead of what the singer is singing about.  One wise teacher I had in college said on more than one occasion that he would rather hear someone sing way off-tune from the heart, than to perform perfectly with all of the wrong motives.  I could not agree more!

Singing a special is not about being some sort of American Idol celebrity in the church.  There was a dear, old lady in a church that I was in once, who truly lived what she sang and gave all glory to God, but was never the most talented singer either.  I believe that she is the one that God looks down upon and knows that He is receiving all of the praise!  I have also been in churches where a person who sings a special is given a standing applause for an “over-the-top” piece of music with all of the world’s styles, and very little honor is given to Christ.  Oh sure, he may say it is for Jesus, but saying it doesn’t make it true–living it does.

What are, then, the world’s styles?  I am not advising to go and turn on your radio to a given station and listen for a minute; you can do that while passing through your local supermarket.  Specifically, here is a little list I have compiled of things that are worldly–different details that I have been taught with diligence from my parents, pastors, and teachers through my short life:

  • A focus on the rhythm instead of the melody.
  • Certain drum rhythms that have been spawned in America only in the last one hundred or so years, yet is the centerpiece of nearly all country, rock, R&B, hip-hop, and jazz music–as well as most CCM.
  • Voice tricks (as I call them) –hitting every note between two written notes, sliding, scooping, etc.
  • Swaying and “feeling the music.”
  • The trend away from militancy for the Bible and towards a gentle, “touchy-feely” relationship with a non-judgmental God.
  • Clapping, hooting, and wolf-howling towards a special music singer.
  • Entertainment vs. spiritual strengthening and preparation of the soul for the preaching.

The World or the Flesh

1 John 2:15-16 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

I believe that this passage and the verses surrounding it in 1 John have a good amount of practical principles to live by as a Christian.  The Bible is a tool to know what is of the Father and what is of the world.  Most of us have learned it since Sunday School: “the lust of the flesh,” “the lust of the eyes,” “and the pride of life.”

It is easy to ascribe the word lust simply to promiscuous sins; however–as James 1 describes–lust is the root of all sin.  “The lust of the flesh” is anything that draws you to fleshly sin.  What in music can appease our flesh rather than Christ?  Again, a rock beating, performance-based kind of music is what is appeasing to our flesh.

A statement I have heard a few times is, “I really want to listen to the right kind of music, but it just seems so boring and dull to me.”  One reason that can be true is that it is very easy to please our flesh, but it takes more work to please the Spirit.  The truth is though, once you start trying to please the Spirit, it will be easier to resist the flesh, and its music.  Another reason the above statement can be true is another lesson I learned from a teacher in college: “You like what you know.”  Someone who is struggling with this issue sometimes says, “I know what I like, and I’m not going to change.”  Nonetheless, the opposite is true, that person really likes what they know. If we can dwell around spirit-pleasing music and become used to it, we will like it!  But it is for the same reason that we have to be vigilant; because if we start becoming accustomed to the wrong type of music, we will begin to like what we know there too.

The second description of the world that 1 John 2:16 states is the “lust of the eyes.”  Now, music is not commonly attached to our eyes, or the lust thereof, but we still must be watchful of temptation in that area as well.  Again, the idea has to do a lot with the performance aspect of music.  Music in church is not a “show.”  It is not about lights and cameras and who is singing.  The attention of the eyes should be off of the singer and on the Savior.  We cannot be so easily swayed when we sing or play special music at church to want some sort of approval from the congregation.  The only approval that we need is from God.

Then there is “the pride of life.”  The knowledge of music should never puff us up.  Musical talent should never puff us up.  Realize where ability comes from and acknowledge God as the benefactor!  For the CCM musicians, forsake the riches and fame for the humility of Christ.  For us, whether singing in the congregation or in front of them, forsake the spotlight for the lowliness that God demands.  My wife just yesterday repeated a story to me from a class on counseling she is taking.  The teacher was pointing out the fact that the writers of our hymns–far from perfect though they where–wrote the words they did because they were genuinely stirred by God.  As a rule, many or most of today’s song writers are out to make the next “top of the boards” tune.  Praise God for so many faithful song-writers we have had over the centuries, and still continue to have today that wrote from their heart, and not their wallet!

I will say as a testimony that when you listen to good music, it will stir your soul.  God will revive your heart and refresh it anew.  Sometimes it will cause tears, but other times it will make you, as a Christian, more zealous to carry the Gospel boldly to the lost.  The Spirit of God lives within us, and is honored when biblical, Christ-honoring notes enter into our ears and heart.

Here are some resources that I have found helpful, though I disclaim some of the positions of the first link’s author on other issues:

Bible Guidelines to Christian Music

Way of Life–Christian Rock

Way of Life–Music

Frank Garlock and Kurt Woetzel’s Music in the Balance

David Cloud’s Rock Music Versus the God of the Bible, Contemporary Christian Music in the Spotlight, and CCM: Some Questions Answered and Some Warnings Given

The New Face of Fundamentalist Christianity–Part II

The Trojan Horse of Compromise

I think I have always been a fan of music.  Since I can remember, I have loved listening to something while working, studying, and relaxing.  Music surrounds us: now more than ever.  With the creation of the iPod and internet, it is almost as if we cannot escape it.  Even as I am writing now, I am listening to something!

I am no where near an expert of music theory or technique; however, I, like any other discerning Christian, can know what is right and wrong.  Yes, there is a right and wrong!  To deny that would be to deny the very cardinal doctrines of holiness, sin, and God Himself.  It is not neutral.  A Christian’s standard of music, like any other standard, derives itself from God’s Word.  Examine the following passages:

Ephesians 5:19 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

An adjective is used in these verses to describe what kind of music Christians are to listen to.  Adjectives are words that modify nouns (Thank you, freshman English!).  The noun that is specifically being modified is songs.  The adjective is spiritual.  The word spiritual means “something of the Holy Spirit.”  Therefore, our little analysis says that our music is supposed to consist of psalms, hymns, and songs of the Holy Spirit.  All of those are good things–holy things of God.  On the contrary, since there is good and holy music, there is also bad and unholy music.  According to the Bible, it is impossible for music to be neutral.

We can know what is good and holy from the Bible.  That is one reason God gave us His Word.  Without question, it is our sole authority for faith and practice.  God did not give us His Word without the guidance and illumination of the Holy Spirit.  With the Word and the Spirit, we have the Power of God to rightly discern what is right and wrong–without question.  Even to the person who is not completely studied in the science of music, God gave us an even greater gift: the Word and the Spirit!

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

This is just one place among many in the Bible where we can rightly judge music.  Does the music you sing or listen to match up to the Word of God?

Another issue other than neutrality is that of Contemporary “Christian” music.  I inserted quotations there for a reason.  This type of music is not Christian.  Some may say, “Oh, but the words are Christian.  That makes it good!”  Again, that abruptly strays away from principles laid out in the Bible.  Other than the words themselves, there is the music that actually makes it music!  In several passages in the Bible, music is labeled under different types.  There were different types of music during the godless worship of the golden calf, and the song at the temple dedication.  Would God have allowed the calf worship music at the His temple dedication?  Of course not.  Then why do so many churches use the world’s music in their services?

The answer to that question is that the Satan is master of deceit.  He so frequently uses the tool of music to drag churches closer to the world–step by step–and not always slowly.  I believe that Bible-believing fundamental Baptist churches are Satan’s chief target.  Who else preaches the Bible with God’s power?  Who else has a zeal for the lost of the world to be saved and discipled.  Yes, I believe that the devil has planted his prime target of compromise on fundamental Baptist churches.  His easiest way of bring that about is music.

A Scenario

Greg Wilson is a thirty-year old husband, father, and deacon at Glenn Avenue Church in Rockland Gap, Pennsylvania.  He grew up in this church–his family was at the church every time the door was open.  From the time he could remember, his family involved themselves in the ministries of the church.  His father drove the church’s Sunday School bus, and helped with the upkeep of the church; while his mother had taught a children’s class for many years.  Greg, along with his two siblings, grew up in an overall good home.  Mr. and Mrs. Wilson tried to train their children according to the Bible all the way until they left the home.  While attending the church’s academy from K5 on up, Greg really became what some would call a “good guy.”

The pastor of Glenn Avenue Baptist Church was also a very godly man.  He had been the pastor for forty years at the time of Greg’s graduation from high school.  The pastor always encouraged the youth at his church to attend Bible college, and possibly feeling called to the ministry, Greg knew that’s what he wanted to do.  The research of different Bible colleges was tedious.  He found one that he thought God might want him at, and asked his pastor’s advice.  His pastor advised against it, mostly because of the college’s weak music standards.  Greg, though, had basically already made up his mind.  Even against his parent’s counsel, Greg enrolled for his first semester at that college.

He arrived at the college’s exciting campus a couple of days before classes started.  He attended the church services at the church that the college was a part of for the first time on August 30th.  He did realize that the special music at that college was different and perhaps worldly, but looked over it.  Over the first semester, Greg began to actually enjoy the music of the college.  He had also been introduced to some other types of music at the college, thanks to his roommates.  The head of his dorm room liked to listen to some very questionable southern gospel groups now and then, which made Greg uncomfortable at first.  His parents taught him that music like that is not right.  But again, he became accustomed to his roommate’s music, and soon became a big fan.  In some college chapel services, Greg heard even more worldly music during the specials.  Music looked more like an entertaining performance rather than devotion and glorifying God.  Then, on occasion, he would hear one of the staff preachers say that music should never be a separating issue among loving Christians.  Preachers would say that it is one of those “nonessential” issues.  Sure, Greg’s college’s brochure said that they believed conservative music; but not-so-subtly, that church and college rejected separation from worldliness in music.

Greg graduated, married his high-school sweetheart, and moved home to work in a good job, and help serve in his church.  Greg and some other friends who had went to the same Bible college slowly began to question their pastor’s stance on music.  They secretly accused him of being too “old-fashioned” and in need of some new life–especially in music.  Now and then, Greg and his friends might sing a special, lead songs at a church activity, or teach a Sunday School class.  It was there that they introduced these questionable types of music to the church.  Most of the members didn’t know different, except that this was the Greg who grew up in a good family in their church, went to Bible college, and knew “everything.”

The pastor of the church knew little of the festering that was happening beneath his nose at the church.  The devil was at work–bringing the church down to insignificance.

At home, Greg and his wife began to develop a taste for “Christian rock”, praise teams, and even mainstream country/western music.  Along with the writers and promoters of the music came their standards and ministry philosophy.  Greg began to be influenced by Calvinists, the emergent church crowd, and different Bible versions.  Now he said he would never go “all the way” with those people, but over the years, he became one of them at heart.  The faithful pastor of Glenn Avenue Baptist Church sadly retired three years after Greg and his friends had graduated.  With this, the younger crowd of the church voted in a compromising, neo-evangelical type of pastor in just a few months.  Over the next five years, Glenn Avenue Baptist Church dropped the name Baptist for the sake of “tearing down walls of separation.”  The pastor also introduced a praise team, and eventually a set of drums and electric guitar.  Soon, they changed from the Authorized Version of the Bible to the New English Bible.  The pastor was Calvinistic in doctrine, so soul winning efforts diminished.  The older generations in the church, including Greg Wilson’s parents, tried to fight the change to no avail.  Some left and went to other churches, while some stayed and gritted their teeth just because that’s where they had always gone to church.  This church of Jesus Christ had been rendered insignificant by the devil.  Greg Wilson was just a tool to introduce worldliness.

…now all of this is fictional.  There is no Greg Wilson, or Rockland Gap, or Glenn Avenue Baptist.  Yet, scenarios like this are occurring all over America in our churches.  Much of the time because of Satan’s Trojan Horse–music.


Compromising music in our lives does not just come all of the sudden.  There are things that happen that get us away form the Word and the Spirit that convict before we ever compromise.  We must stay close to God by faithfully devoting time to Him each day through fervent prayer and meditation in the Bible.  Just as Colossians 3:16 says: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom…”  We cannot let Satan obtain a foothold in our lives.

Do not let yourself gain an appetite for even questionable music.  Whether it be labeled “Christian”, folk, oldie, or “gospel.”  Dwell on and develop an appetite for good, sacred, spiritual music that truly brings honor to our Savior!