It is safe to say that practically everyone has been exposed to music in some way, shape, or form. In our modern society, music is not only seen as an art form, or listened to for pleasure and enjoyment, but used for its incredible persuasive influence. Music is piped into work offices to help keep the work pace high, utilized to influence your shopping in stores, and is even being used therapeutically. Musical styles are even labeled because of their use. For example “Doctor office music”. Music also has a way of bringing events and periods in our lives to our remembrance; thus, we have “young” and “old” peoples music. Music plays a dominant role in society, and has become a way to celebrate, motivate, rejuvenate, and even mourn, for music touches man emotionally, and in a variety of perceptions.
Music is a gift of God to man, part of the beautiful creative work of His hands. Just as God has unveiled knowledge of the functions of the human body to man through the sciences, so throughout the years, He has unveiled another glorious part of His creation, music. Music can truly be enjoyed and appreciated for its structure, beauty, and richness. With countless styles and instruments, the compositional possibilities are almost endless, providing something enjoyable to everyone's taste. There is no denying God’s wonderful creation of music, but we must understand God’s highest purpose in giving us music is that it might be used to bring PRAISE AND WORSHIP TO HIM. If God has been glorified through music, or by His music has reached someone, then we have connected with the spiritual value of music.
Although music on its own merit is not necessarily worship, Scripture indicates that music is perpetually and integrally connected with worship (Rev 5:9,10). In fact, it is through music that we come into the presence of the Lord -
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving (offering the sacrifice of praise by singing) and into His courts with praise (Tehillah, singing high praises to God), come before His presence with singing…Psalm 100.
Remember it is this Tehillah
, the singing of praise, that God says His presence would inhabit (Psalm 22:3
). Where else in Scripture do we have this kind of promise of His manifest presence? It is through singing (one aspect of music) that he comes. I appreciate that God does not require a specific musical proficiency level to be able to accomplish this, but desires us to use what he has deposited in us to sing from our hearts -
“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and ALL that is within me bless His holy name”
He has put the music in you, so use it to bless Him. You see, God places a new song in our hearts when we receive Him and are made alive in Him. In Psalm 40
, David said it exactly that way,
“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God...”.
The song God places within us is not of the world, but of praise
So then, what kind of music is appropriate for the believer? In a very general sense, we observe three categories of music:
- music which is dedicated to or set apart for worship of God. Music of or pertaining to God; from God, to God, about God. God-centered, Christian-oriented, spiritual music. This music will bless and exalt God and enrich people with spiritual truth. In sacred music, an appreciation for the music itself is fine, as a matter of fact, liking the music can very well help to open us to the spiritual dimension, but the emphasis and focus must center on the person and message of the Lord.
- music of man rather than spiritual. This music is temporal. Music of man for man; music for art sake only; music for celebration, enjoyment/pleasure, entertainment, musical skill development, etc. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with some of this music, although it should not consume most of our attention because its main focus is horizontal and not directed to God. Classical music repertoire is important for musical skill development (and makes the ministry of sacred music more effective, enhancing the excellence a musician desires to give God, for the Lord is worthy of our best!). Of course, many composers throughout the development of music were highly dedicated to God and were anointed to produce music that still ministers in a powerful way today. Study J.S. Bach.
To expand on secular music further, take a song like “Happy Birthday”; not really “spiritual”, but is not really something we have to avoid. It helps us to celebrate and bless someone else in a simple way.
There is another “subgroup” of secular music that is to be avoided however, if at all possible. This is the kind of music that though not directly of “Satan” speaks of the weakness of man, and usually speaks of the fleshly desires in some way. If music encourages soulish and carnal thinking, attitudes, or actions, stay away from it.
- Music directly opposed to God, under Satanic or demonic influence - music which speaks of evil, profanity, wickedness, ungodliness. Have nothing to do with this kind of music; Satan has a counterfeit of God’s beautiful gift, but Satan’s counterfeit always leads to death…only God’s anointing on music can bring life.
While this is not a teaching on music evaluation, it is important that we are filling our musical cerebral and spiritual library with the kind of music that will ultimately bring glory to God. Some people struggle with flowing in pure worship because of a lifestyle of listening to the sounds that are not from Zion. Believe me, there are too many sounds that are not from Zion! Ask the Lord to give you discretion in the music you listen to. Ask yourself: what is the motive behind the music? What is the intent of the music? Fill your environment with music of worship and ministry to the Lord and you will find it not only easier to enter your times of worship, but to remain in the glorious presence of the Lord!