Music Is A Powerful Tool Use It Wisely
I love to sing even though when I do so my wife’s poodle starts howling. There is a certain pitch I hit that touches the nervous system of that dog. She says the poodle is singing, but it sure doesn’t sound like it to me. It sounds like the dog is in pain. When I was in high school I enrolled in a music class and in the school band. I learned a lot from our music teacher. I played the trumpet and baritone. I remember when I was in grade school my Mama bought me an accordion and paid for lessons. I hated that squeeze box. It just didn’t seem masculine enough to me. Music played an important role in my youth. I have good memories of Mama at the piano and us boys standing around singing gospel songs with her.
1. Music Has A Power Over Our Lives. That is why discretion is so important when it comes to music. If we are not careful we will find ourselves in a quagmire of ungodly music. It is entirely possible to allow the power of music to become the main attraction. Music is like a plate on which we serve a meal. The focus should be more on the food than on the plate.
The decline of a culture can be directly tied to the decline of music. It is not an insignificant thing. According to Ephesians 2:1-2 there is a “spirit of disobedience” in every unsaved person. The power Satan gives to a Madonna, Justin Bieber and other musicians is real. God’s people must guard themselves from the power of music that is promoted by Satan.Christian Music should rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to draw and convict the unsaved of their need for Christ. If there is no conviction there can be no conversion. I saw the slow shift of the “Saturday Night Singings” in my church to professional Gospel Quartets performing in massive secular auditoriums. After a while that led to carnality. It went from being about the message to being about the performance.It was the custom of Jewish families to sing together, so it is not a stretch to assume that as a child Jesus sang. We also know that He sang with His disciples in the upper room as they partook of supper. “And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:30) This would be the last time He gathered with His disciples during His earthly ministry. Jesus blessed the broken bread and the fruit of the vine. Then He passed the bread and juice to them. They parted by singing a song of praise to God.
2. There Is Clear instruction On Music To The Local Church. The Scripture gives us a clear exhortation to abstain from being drunk and a clear command to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then, the Bible commands the church at Ephesus to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Ephesians 5:18-20
The church at Ephesus was instructed to sing these type of songs and make melody in their hearts to the Lord. This is a clear command to the local church. If the local church is to be a reflection of her head Jesus Christ, then she must obey this clear command. To do otherwise is to disobey our Lord and to open the door to let the world into church through the power of music.David was the human pen for the majority of the Psalms. The book of Psalms is often called the “hymnbook of the Bible.” The Psalms were songs given to men in the midst of their struggles, their suffering, and even their victories. The Bible speaks of singers, musicians, and musical instruments more than five hundred times. When choir members, special singing groups, soloists, and orchestra members are in tune with Christ and with each other, their music can bring about or enhance a spiritual event.
3. Music Will Bring Out The Best Or Worst. Music's influence will bring out the best or the worst in people. That is the power and influence music possesses. Plato said, “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes the laws.” Aristotle believed that if you listened to music that reflected a certain mood, you would experience that same mood. Dr. Jack Hyles said, “If one listens to the wrong kind of music, he will tend to become the wrong kind of person; but, conversely, if he listens to the right kind of music, he will tend to become the right kind of person.”
Depression seemed to be a regular occurrence with King Saul. The further he strayed away from God, the deeper his depression. I Samuel 16:15 states that he was troubled by an evil spirit. When his servants noticed Saul’s condition, they recommended a solution in I Samuel 16:16. “Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.” To soothe the evil spirit, they sent for David.“And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.” I Samuel 16:23Notice that David did not sing a word. He simply played it for King Saul. The music refreshed Saul. If David could create a sound from the harp that calmed a depressed King Saul, then the power of music cannot be denied or ignored. Music is an invisible reality. God’s people must be careful in both their private and public choices of music.Music affects us in three ways: physically, mentally, and spiritually. Music also has three primary parts: melody, harmony, and rhythm. Melody comes from the Greek word meloidia, which means “choral sing.” Meloidia is derived from melos, “tune,” plus aoiden, “to sing.” Thus, the musical term melody. The Bible command us to be filled with the Spirit, teaching us that melody and the fullness of the Holy Spirit are related.Our mind responds to harmony, the intellectual part of music. The word harmony comes from the Greek word for joint, which implies the concept of fitting together. Thus, the harmony joins the melody and the rhythm together. Our body responds to the rhythm. Rhythm is the Greek word rheo, which means “to flow” or “to pulse.” Rhythm, then, is the physical part of music. Remember, music can be evil or good, depending upon its use.The melody must dominate the music of the Christian. The harmony must follow the melody in the supportive role in the music. Last of all, the rhythm must be under strict control in music. In essence, this is a picture of the Christian with his body and its desires under strict control. Romans 8:13 explains, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” I Corinthians 9:2 says, “If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.”
4. The Key To Good Music Is Balance. Rhythm must not be forsaken. It needs to be in a proper relationship with the harmony and melody. In our day, the melody (spiritual) and harmony (intellectual) are not just being overpowered; they are being dissolved by the overpowering, pulsating rhythm (physical). America’s music, both in the church and in the society, reflects an obsession with the physical. It will take discipline in leadership to be able to see down the road the results of unbalanced music.
James 1:27 tells us, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” What makes worldly music?Because of its identification with the world, some music should be considered worldly. The writer and the associations identified with the music will help determine its flavor. If the places where the world congregates to feed their flesh use a certain style of music it would make sense that it is probably worldly music.If those places started playing hymns such as “The Old Rugged Cross” or “Amazing Grace” the musicians would probably be booed, and many customers would leave. Why? Because the music does not match the setting! Then why do so many pastors and Christians think their music belongs in the church? God’s music is meant to bring praise to God, not to entertain man.In his book Music in the Life of Man, Julius Portnoy says, “The Christian musician is a member of two worlds, the spiritual and the material. The choice is his: to create sacred music that is pleasing to God because it ennobles character or to defile the miracle of creation and produce secular music which arouses lust and desire.” God's people are to remain unspotted by the world and music is a part of that which must remain unspotted.There is a sound that the world’s music gives out. When music is heard, the mind immediately forms an image because of the sound. What image comes to mind when barroom or honky-tonk music is heard? Conversely what image do people get when they hear the music in our churches? What image are Christians projecting from the music they play in their cars or in their homes? There is a direct correlation between the power of God and the music of God.In many cases I do not see balance in the music put in front of the people. The Jesus movement was a big thing in the 60's. The music philosophy was that nothing matters but the uplifting of Jesus. There seems to be a revival of, nothing matters if we are uplifting Jesus in our music today. However, there is a whole counsel from the Scriptures on music that does matter. Music is a powerful tool use it wisely.
The Bible makes it very clear music does matter. The future of fundamentalism depends on a strong position on music that adheres to our fundamentals positions. This is a part of God's plan for the spiritual maturing of God's people. The local church is responsible to maintain Biblical boundaries and that certainly does not exclude maintaining the right kind of music. Music is a powerful tool use it wisely.