“Choose Music because It Teaches the Word of Christ” Let your music be filled with what the Holy Spirit fills you with.
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.19
Ephesians chapter 5. Last week, we discussed the controversial subject and this week we will as well. Last week was alcohol and this week is music. For the record, I feel much more comfortable discussing alcohol then music. A pastor is much more likely to get crucified for what is said about music than about alcohol.
I’ve heard of preachers being physically attacked because of what is said about music from the pulpit. These issues get people all stirred up. And you wonder why…. People typically insist on their own way. The gospel doesn’t stir them up, but these issues, boy oh boy…
And I’ll say at the outset here, I trust you didn’t come this morning with a noose! I also trust that you didn’t come here thinking that I was going to detail for you the degree of worldliness in each style of music. I do not have Scripture that comments on every style of music. But we will address style a little later in the message.
But first, let’s read Ephesians 5:15-21 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
From verses 18-21, Paul discusses being filled with the Holy Spirit. And we saw last time that what this means is that we are to be filled by the Holy Spirit. And we looked at a verse last time we’ll look at it again this morning which told us that what we are to be filled with is the word of Christ. The Holy Spirit fills us with the word of Christ. And the word of Christ is that glorious message of redemption. The Holy Spirit is at work in our lives to fill us up with the glorious message of Christ and his redemption.
And because of the contrast with being drunk with wine, we learned that we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. He fills us, he controls us with the word of Christ. We are not to be controlled by alcohol. We are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit who fills us with the word of Christ.
And verses 19 to 21 give us five evidences for being filled by the Holy Spirit.
And the first 3 deal with music. Verse 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Singing is the second one and the third one in verse 19 making melody with your heart to the Lord. The last two always giving thanks and verse 21 being subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
And that 5th one on being subject to one another, Paul elongates on in the rest of chapter 5 and into chapter 6.
The rest of chapter 5 beginning in verse 22 and into chapter 6 verse 9 all relate to that 5th evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit… our subjecting ourselves to one another.
Chapter 5 verse 21 says we are to subject ourselves to one another in the fear of Christ. We do do this. Wives do this toward their own husbands. Husbands do this when they love their wives. We subject ourselves to one another, we submit to one another.
In chapter 6, children do this when they obey their parents and slaves and masters do this as well. The role of husbands, wives, children, slaves, masters … this all relates to verse 21 when we are being subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
So really, verse 18 is the beginning of all this. Without the Holy Spirit filling us with the word of Christ and without us being controlled by God in this way, we will not be able to properly subject ourselves to one another. Proper relations within the home and at work require that we constantly pursue the Holy Spirit’s filling us with the glorious message of Christ’s redemption.
And so whereas drunkenness leads to reckless behavior, believers who are filled by the Holy Spirit will lead lives characterized by singing, thanksgiving, and submission.
And the first three evidences of the Holy Spirit filling us with the word of Christ concern music in verse 19: speaking, singing, and making melody.
Notice the words for music in the verse….psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We can’t make a big deal about the differences between psalms, hymns, and songs. They are songs of praise to God. But the 3 words are chosen to encompass the full range of songs which the Holy Spirit approves of.
And we know it relates to the Holy Spirit because of the word “spiritual” in the verse. Spiritual songs are songs that are, in some way, influenced by the Holy Spirit. Either He leads the person to write them or the Holy Spirit approves of them in some way.
And that understanding of the word spiritual also suggest then that there are some songs that are not spiritual. There are some songs therefore that people sing that are not influenced by the Holy Spirit. And we will address this in more detail later.
So, what is a song or what is music? If you look up in the Scripture various terms for music… before too long into your study, you’ll realize that the issues regarding music concern three things. The words that are sung, the sound, (which in our understanding includes things like rhythm, pitch, dynamics, beat, harmony, key, melody, tempo…and other things), but there is a third aspect to music that matters to God as indicated by Scripture and that is association. Let’s deal with each of these.
TRANS: Under the Words in our Music our singing has two “audiences” or “directions” in verse 19. One audience is that our music should be toward one another. And the second audience is on singing and making melody to the Lord. Teaching one another and worshipping the Lord.
Let’s take the first one. Teaching one another with spiritual music. So, we’re dealing with the words of our music. And for this one, we’ll use Ephesians 5:19 and as well as Col. 3:16.
The WORDS in our Music
Let’s first look at Ephesians 5:19…
Teaching one another with spiritual music
The first part of verse 19 Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
We are to speak to one another. This is what we do when we gather together in services like this and in our homes. When we pull out a hymnbook and we sing songs, we are speaking to one another.
And the idea of speaking carries with it an understanding of teaching. And this is the major point this morning: we need to choose music that teaches the word of Christ. I’m going to repeat that because that is what Ephesians 5:19 suggests. We need to choose music that teaches the word of Christ
And I’m going to have us to turn over to Colossians 3:16 again this morning. Go ahead and turn over 2 books to Colossians 3:16 and let’s see how this concept of teaching with our music is required. Colossians 3:16 We are exhorted to “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, [and that word of Christ remember is Christ’s glorious message of redemption for all and the out workings and benefits of that redemption. Now, keep going in verse…Let that word of Christ richly dwell within you…] with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Here we are told that the psalms and hymns and spiritual songs are to be used by God’s people. They are tools. And the way that we use these tools is by teaching and admonishing one another with them. That’s what Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs are good for. They are good for teaching and admonishing each other. That’s why they are here. So the point behind New Covenant music that glorifies God is instruction and admonishing. The word admonishing also refers to instruction, but the kind that warns and corrects.
And the foundation to the production and singing of godly is purposefully letting the word of Christ richly dwell within you. Godly music will reflect the fact that the author has obviously allowed the word of Christ to richly dwell within him.
And when the word of Christ richly dwells within somebody the music that he or she writes or the music that he or she listens to will be music that instructs or that admonishes.
Biblical music will, therefore, have words in it that instruct believers concerning the word of Christ. If the word of Christ is richly dwelling within us, the word of Christ will come out in the words to those songs.
Now, there are other uses for music… For example love. Human love is celebrated in the song of Solomon, a whole book describing the delights of human love between a husband and wife. As well as celebration in 1 Samuel 18:6 the people celebrate David’s victory over Goliath with tambourines and musical instruments.
As well Luke 15:24-25 describes celebration. Then the prodigal son returns home, the jealous older son approaches the house and he hears music and dancing because they were celebrating the younger son’s return.
But from Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, biblical music that glorifies God will admonish believers. We must sing songs that warn us against ungodly behavior. We must sing songs that correct our thinking and that instruct us. The words are crucial.
Songs like Melissa sang for us Tis the Christ, where it says speaking of the scene of the cross…
Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great,
Here [at the cross] may view [sin’s] nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Those words correct us. Do you write, listen to or choose to sing songs that instruct or warn others? If not, you are not giving evidence that the Holy Spirit is filling you with the Word of Christ.
If the Holy Spirit were filling you with the word of Christ, you would be speaking to all of us here. So do you choose to sing when we have congregational singing? God is telling us here that when we have our times of congregational singing, that we are to choose to sing these songs. To choose not to sing when we sing instructionally rich songs together is a choice to disobey the Lord’s instruction. You make sure that you make it a regular practice to speak to all of us in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs when we give you that opportunity every Sunday and every Thursday night.
And if you don’t know the tune, you can at least give voice to the words. “Speak to one another”, the passage says. So … “Choose Music that Teaches the Word of Christ.”
And if you are struggling with the hymns we sing, and you prefer other songs for whatever reason, please do not undercut the music philosophy that we have here in your own homes. You would do well to get out a hymnbook in your family devotional times and choose to sing those songs. There is a reason why we have the hymns in the hymnbook that we do. Some have been around for hundreds if not even for a thousand years! There is a reason why the Lord’s people have chosen these hymns over these hundreds of years.
But there is a movement today that wants to diminish or even throw away the hymns of yesteryear. What a shame! They want to party like it’s 1999, not like 1804 I guess.
The reason why we choose music ought not be the age of the music, but whether or not it instructs and admonishes us on the word of Christ.
We endeavor to sing music here that instructs us and warns us concerning the word of Christ. And that of course would include Christ’s glorious message of redemption and by extension anything doctrinally and scripturally rich and sound. The words are to reflect a rich dwelling on the word of Christ.
TRANS: So the first focus is our music directed to one another and the second focus is our music directed to the Lord. Heartily worship the Lord.
Heartily Worship the Lord
The words “singing” and “making melody” in verse 19 are really the same idea. So we are to sing and we are to do so with our hearts. And the point isn’t to differentiate between the heart and the rest of us. The point is to sing from the heart. Heartfelt singing is the idea.
And we sing in a heartfelt way to the Lord. We worship Him with our music. We speak to one another in our music to instruct and to correct each other … And we also sing to the Lord, worshiping him.
So, biblical music that honors the Lord is music that instructs in the word of Christ and warns us to correct our beliefs and behavior. And as we sing this music, we must heartily worship the Lord.
So, this affects our choices of music, doesn’t it? You know, we live in a day and age that is unique in world history for many reasons. One of those reasons, of course, is technology. The technology that’s available to record music and to play that music at will is unique to the last 125 years. Never before did God’s people have such access to an enormous amount of music.
And so, for the first time in the history of God’s people, for many, if not most, of God’s people today the majority of our weekly exposure to music is no longer when we gather together on a Lord’s day or a prayer meeting. Nor is it even in public. But the majority of our weekly exposure to music is in private, either in the home or in our automobiles.
And so because of that, Christians today are required to exercise discernment in this area. So, let me ask you about what you are listening to…. Does your music that you listen to in your vehicle or at home …. Does it instruct you in the word of Christ? Remember, that is the requirement of Ephesians 5:19 in Colossians 3:16.
Does it warn you within the Christian worldview? Do you choose the music that you do because of what it communicates? The implication of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 is that we are to choose music because of what it instructs. In the words, does your music communicate a Christian worldview? Does it reflect Scriptures ideals? Obviously, it needs to. This rules out whole segments of music today, doesn’t it? The world’s popular music …that they sing and put on their radio stations that influences their morality … that music has no place in the Christian life because it does not instruct in the Word of Christ. “Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you, teaching one another psalms and hymns….”
But you say, “I don’t even listen to the words of the music that I listen to.” Well, how is that a scriptural statement in light of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16? We are to be listening to the music because of what the words are saying. And this ought to govern why we sing the songs and listen to the songs that we do.
So, do you choose the music that you do, not because of its verbal instruction from the word of God, but because of how it makes you feel? Do you choose the music that you do because you “like” it and the reason that you “like” is not because of its verbal instruction from the word of Christ?
So when a Christian chooses certain music to listen to, it must reflect the teachings of Scripture. It must be obvious that the word of Christ has richly dwelt within the heart of both the person who has written the music and the person listening to it.
So again, I cannot emphasize this enough. Biblical music that honors the Lord instructs. It instructs in the word of Christ. And that’s the focus of the music. You walk away from the song captivated by the words…the words influenced by the music…but the doctrine is what strikes you.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Therefore, failing to choose music for what it instructs from the word of Christ is a failure to conform to Scripture. It must also admonish us and warns us.
You know, I am struck by the number of times the word “sin,” or similar words, occurs in the hymns that we sing.
Come, Every Soul by Sin Oppressed
Grace Greater than Our Sin
What can wash away my sin?
He breaks the power of canceled sin
Christ has for sin atonement made. What a wonderful Savior!
And there [at the fountain of the blood of Christ…and there…] have I, though vile as he, washed all my sins away.
These lines admonish us concerning our sin. The church of Christ is to be singing in order to teach, warn and to worship.
So we would do well to apply these principles, not only to continue down the right path of a biblical philosophy of church music, but we would also do well to apply these principles in our daily and weekly habits of music listening.
TRANS: So, the words of a song are important. They must teach scriptural values. But also the tune itself is important. The tune is important.
The TUNE in Our Music
Now, again, I am not prepared this morning to give to you what God explicitly says about various modern styles. But I am prepared to give you some principles to help you discern this issue.
The Non-Neutrality of Music
First, regarding the tune, I would like to discuss the non-neutrality of music. Music is not neutral. The common phrase is that music is amoral. But that is not true.
Some who advocate putting Christian lyrics to certain or any music styles claim that music is amoral. In other words, what they are trying to say is that music does not affect our moral decisions. They say just the tune itself does not influence our moral lives.
Argument from the Fall
But of course, we live in a fallen world. All of the earth is affected by the fall of man. The whole earth is cursed. Nothing has escaped the curse. Can music somehow not been affected by the fall? Is a tune the only thing that humans can’t use for ungodly purposes? And the complexity of music and its effect on human psychology baffles scientists to this day.
And because of this complexity and the capabilities that music has, it makes it all the more a potentially dangerous item, especially since it’s an issue of worship. And God does not take proper worship lightly, as is clear in many passages in the Old Testament. You remember that God killed two worship leaders, Nadab and Abihu. God calls upon us to use music to praise him. How much more, then, would music be something that Satan would want to distort for his own purposes?
So does music itself without lyrics … just the tune … Does the tune communicate moral values? And so are some styles of music inherently right or wrong? Yes it does. Even the fall of man leads us to this conclusion. But specific verses tell us this as well.
Let me get you to turn over to 1 Samuel 16:23. Toward the end of 1 Samuel 16, Saul asks his servants to provide a man who can play well on the harp. And he is asking for a man who is skilled on the harp because Saul concludes that he is being tormented by an evil spirit.
And so his servants go and fetch the boy David, the future king of Israel. And now 1 Samuel 16:23 So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him.
So in the providence and will of God, music played by human beings affected a purely spiritual being. God has so designed music that it, at least in that instance, affected even the spiritual world. And so of course the tune itself has moral influence on us.
The sound of certain music is described in the Bible. For example, in Psalm 81:2, a lyre is described as having a sweet sound. Job 21:12 describes the happiness associated with a certain musical style.
And in 2 Kings 3:15 the very hand of God came upon Elisha when the musician began to play. 2 Kings 3:15 “…And it came about, when the musician played, that the hand of the Lord came upon [Elisha].
The emotion that certain pieces evoke crosses cultures.
ILL: My wife and I watched a documentary about music recently. Toward the end of that documentary, they took certain musical pieces created by Westerners that were meant to induce excitement, suspense, sadness …. Classical style music that was meant to evoke certain emotions. And they took those pieces and played them out in the bush, in the jungles, to individuals never exposed to western classical music … to get their opinions about what they thought the music was communicating.
And they would describe that music in a very similar way to westerners. For example, when the suspenseful piece was played, the guy out in the bush who had no exposure to Western-style classical music understood that it communicated just that, suspense.
This phenomenon is universal. The fact that the tune communicates emotional content is inherently known by all. And the Bible also clearly teaches that the tune itself affects us morally.
TRANS: So, God-honoring music is music that instructs doctrinally or warns us in order to correct us in some way. And we have just seen that the tune itself is important as well. The tune can be one that pleases or does not please the Lord.
But one has to ask, “which tunes please the Lord and which ones don’t?” I’m not going to get too specific on the answer to that question this morning. But the Bible does help us on this point with the matter of associations. So we’ve dealt with the words in our song, the tune itself, and now thirdly associations. I have purposefully left out arguments for the inherent evil of some styles of music because that is more difficult to prove. But arguments concerning associations are clearly scriptural.
The ASSOCIATIONS of Our Music
We could turn to a number of passages, but one of them is our text this morning, Ephesians 5:19.
Remember, in Eph. 5:19 we are told to sing spiritual songs. And you remember that we pointed out that the phrase “spiritual songs” refers to songs that are, in some way, influenced by the Holy Spirit. Spiritual songs refers to songs that are influenced by the Holy Spirit.
And so then we can conclude that there are some songs that are not influenced by the Holy Spirit. But as believers who are controlled by the Holy Spirit…. The Holy Spirit who fills us with the word of Christ … we are to sing songs that are influenced by the Holy Spirit, spiritual songs.
So, if there is a believer who is all wrapped up in songs that are not influenced by the Holy Spirit, we can conclude then that that believer is not being controlled by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not filling that believer with the word of Christ. Take your pick…will you give evidence that you’re filled by the Holy Spirit or not? Choose music then that is influenced by the Holy Spirit.
2 Chron. 29:27 is another passage with this. I’m not going to ask us to turn to this passage. But in 2 Chronicles 29:27, literally in the Hebrew as the King James translates it, there is such a thing that the Levites were to sing what is called a “song of the LORD.”
And so the Levites were to sing songs that were “songs of the LORD.” In other words, there are songs then that are not songs of the LORD. And there would be, then, a distinct possibility that songs that were not of the Lord would be sung in the Temple and then the Lord would be displeased.
So the point here is that the association, at least, matters. This is a song of the Lord. This is a song that is characterized at least in some way by him. Sing those songs.
ILL: You could imagine a Levite in the Temple … “Hey, let’s sing this cultural song.” And the other godly Levites say, “No way! That’s not a song of the LORD!”
So, Ephesians 5:19, sing spiritual songs … songs influenced by the Holy Spirit. 2 Chronicles 29:27, sing songs that are in some way associated with the LORD.
But it goes a step further even when we get to Isaiah 23:15. You can turn to Isaiah 23:15. In Isaiah 23, the Lord is predicting the fall of the ancient city of Tyre on the Mediterranean sea.
And Isaiah 23:15-16 graphically compares Tyre to a forgotten prostitute …a prostitute that men have forgotten about.
And so to get the attention of her clientele, the prostitute has to do certain things. And those certain things that a forgotten prostitute does in order to get business is to sing her kind of songs … and trust me, they would not be songs of the LORD! Notice verse 15 at the end … there is something called “the song of the harlot.” And then verse 16 describes what this harlot does…. Isaiah 23:16 Take your harp, walk about the city, O forgotten harlot; Pluck the strings skillfully, sing many songs, That you may be remembered.
So, the city Tyre is mocked here. Tyre, who used to be a magnificent economic powerhouse is about to fall by God’s judgment. And when she does fall, she’ll have to sing her prostitute songs to get attention again.
And so in other words, there is such a thing as the song of a harlot, a prostitute. And that kind of thing no doubt would have been well known in that day.
ILL: You could imagine walking down the filthy street and you hear a melody … and you would know something about that tune … and would associate it with the immorality itself. And there is a godly response in that situation and it’s not bringing that tune into the Temple!
Could you imagine taking that tune …that tune that, culturally speaking, is associated with unemployed prostitutes and putting it into the holy of holies in the Temple of the LORD? Think of Nadab and Abihu … God will be treated as holy as unique.
But we no longer have a physical Temple under the new covenant. In the new covenant, in 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 6:19 each teach us that we are the temple of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 3:16 teaches us that a local church is the Temple of God and 1 Corinthians 6:19 teaches us that individually, we are a Temple of God as well.
So shall we take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute, associated with immorality? No!
The song of a harlot is a song that is meant to influence the moral decisions of those who listen to it. The prostitute is looking for business. Therefore, music’s association matters.
TRANS: And you remember earlier in the message, I talked to the point that the whole world is subjected to the curse of God because of the fall of man. This includes music. And because this is the case, everything can be used for good or evil. And especially music, because of its complexity and because God has chosen it specifically to be used in His worship. Therefore, we would assume, it is under special attack by God’s opposition.
And I showed that the tune itself can influence our emotions, joy, sadness, suspense. And because it can and because it is subject to the fall, do you not think then that different elements of music can be combined in order to tempt the deeds of the flesh? Different elements of music can be combined in order to tempt the deeds of the flesh.
So music is subjected to the curse of God because of the fall of man. It is very complex in its nature and God has chosen it specifically to be used in worshiping him. It is under attack, therefore, we can safely assume, by Satan. And the tune itself can influence our emotions. So because it is subjected to the curse of God and the fall of man, it would only make sense that different elements of music can be combined in order to influence the deeds of the flesh.
Do you know the deeds of the flesh? Galatians 5:19-21 19 …[sexual] immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Those whose lifestyles are characterized in this way do not inherit the kingdom of God. Do you not think that there are those who give hearty approval to these things…. Do you not think they are using their music to influence these kinds of deeds?
Well, if you ask them, they would say that they are using their music to bring about immorality and rebellion. This is some musicians’ purpose. This is what is called authorial intent. What is the intent …the design of the author of that musical piece?
Take this into the realm of a painting. If you were to study an abstract piece of art, in order to get proper understanding of that piece of art, you would do well to ask the author what that piece of art means. It’s the same with poetry or certain styles of writing. Some writing is very symbolic and metaphorical and the only way to determine its meaning is by asking the author what he meant by it. And if you use his writing or his artwork in a way that does not reflect the author or his values, you are misusing that piece of artwork.
And I want to argue now that certain modern styles of music are evil because of their associations. They are evil because of the author’s intent with the music and they are evil because of their cultural association.
Just like with the song of an unemployed prostitute. The prostitute has a certain design for her music. She wants immorality for money. That’s the purpose of her song. You don’t bring that tune into the temple of God, in the Old Testament Temple or in the New Testament Temple. In the same way, the authors of rock music tell you what they are trying to do with their music.
And we shouldn’t intentionally bring these tunes into our ears and on into our bodies for pleasure, our bodies are a Temple…nor should we bring them into the church, which is the Temple of God. Now, I’m picking on rock music, but this would apply to other styles as well. Styles have their clear associations. Some styles are all about sinful anger and gang-banging…others are about my wife has left me and so did my dog and my truck broke down….So, certain styles of music are evil because of the author’s intent.
Certain styles of music are evil because of the author’s intent
From an article I pulled from the web, I have a number of quotes.
Jimi Hendrix, who the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame described as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music” and author of a song entitled “Voodoo Child,” says… “The background to our music is a spiritual-blues thing. … We’re making our music into electric church music—a new kind of Bible, not like in a hotel, but a Bible you carry in your hearts, one that will give you a physical feeling. We try to make our music so loose and hard-hitting so that it hits your soul hard enough to make it open. It’s like shock therapy or a can opener. …We want them to realize that [rock] is just as spiritual as going to church.”
Little Richard, one of the early fathers of rock and roll and inductee into the Rock and roll Hall of Fame, has this to say about the music… “My true belief about Rock ‘n Roll…is this: I believe this kind of music is demonic… A lot of the beats in music today are taken from voodoo, from the voodoo drums. If you study music in rhythms, like I have, you’ll see that is true. I believe that kind of music is driving people from Christ. It is contagious.”
The metal magazine Ultrakill featured this statement about rock:
“…before heavy metal, the Devil took an interest in rock ‘n roll. The very term rock ‘n roll started as a Black American expression for [immorality]. And sinful procreation has been the Devil’s province for a long, long time.”
Rocker David Bowie, considered to be one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century and Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee said… “I believe rock ‘n roll is dangerous…I feel that we are only heralding something even darker than ourselves. … Rock has always been the Devil’s music, you can’t convince me that [it’s not].”
The manager of the Rolling Stone said this: “Rock IS [sexual immorality]. You have to hit teenagers in the face with it!”
MTV’s founder [that’s Music Television’s founder for you], Bob Pitman, says, “The strongest appeal you can make is emotionally. If you can get their emotions going, make them forget their logic, you’ve got them.”
Jimi Hendrix also said this: “Atmospheres are going to come through music…You can hypnotize people with the music and when you get them at their weakest point, you can preach into the subconscious what you want to say.”
Rolling Stone magazine claimed this in its 20th-anniversary edition, 1987… “It’s not just an exaggeration to say that rebellion is more than just an occasional theme in rock, [rebellion] is its very heart and soul.”
Just like it is legitimate to ask a painter the meaning of his painting, so also it is legitimate to ask the author of the song its meaning. Just like you wouldn’t bring the well-known song of a harlot into the Temple, so also we shouldn’t bring music associated with immorality and rebellion into our temples.
TRANS: This shows that certain musical styles are associated with the deeds of the flesh. And so therefore, a Christian ought not be associated with certain musical styles.
But culturally speaking as well. Culturally, there are music styles wrongly associated.
In 2004, a book was published entitled All Shook Up: How Rock ‘n’ Roll Changed America. It is written from a historian’s standpoint. And it describes how rock ‘n roll changed America, just as the title says. And the back cover itself proves the point. It goes this way….
“The birth of rock ‘n roll ignited a firestorm of controversy–one critic called it “musical riots put to a switchblade beat”–but if it generated much sound and fury, what, if anything, did it signify?
As Glenn Alt-schuler reveals in All Shook Up, the rise of rock ‘n roll–and the outraged reception to it–in fact can tell us a lot about the values [did you catch that? It can tell us about the values] of the United States in the 1950s, a decade that saw a great struggle for the control of popular culture. Altschuler shows, in particular, how rock’s “switchblade beat” opened up wide fissures in American society along the fault-lines of family [and] sexuality. …rock celebrated romance and sex, rattled the reticent by pushing sexuality into the public arena, and mocked deferred gratification [in other words, rock mocked putting off of the pursuit of pleasure.. and it mocked…] the obsession with work of men in gray flannel suits. And it delighted in … get this…[it delights in] the separate world of the teenager and deepened the divide between the generations, helping teenagers differentiate themselves from others. … As vibrant as the music itself, All Shook Up reveals how rock ‘n roll challenged and changed American culture and laid the foundation for the social upheaval of the sixties.”
Does this sound like a tune that is influenced by the Holy Spirit? And so just like the song of a prostitute, shall we take these tunes and bring them into the Temple of God?
Well, the church has done just that. From personal listening habits, to church performances, music that the world itself associates with immorality, rebellion, and gang-banging violence is being brought into the very Temple of God.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.19
So, are you choosing the music that you choose because of how it makes you feel or because of the truth that teaches? Now, God is not against good feelings.
But, the fuel for right emotion is truth, that’s why we need to choose music that instructs. The truths from the solid foundation of the Word of God, when empowered in the heart by the Holy Spirit, will produce right emotions.
But the aim of much of what is called music today is to produce emotions apart from truth. Our souls need to feed on the truth first and primarily and then when accompanied by godly music, will produce godly emotions. To reverse this is to be unscriptural and it is to disobey Ephesians 5:19 in Colossians 3:16…. But we are to let the word of Christ richly dwell within us and then to sing songs that reflect that word of Christ.
What you like in your music is a reflection of what’s already in your heart. You are either controlled by this age or controlled by the Holy Spirit. Music preferences are symptoms of a deeper reality. If you or someone in your family is struggling in this area of music, it’s usually not sermons like this alone that help them.
If someone is struggling in this area of music … How are their times with the Lord? How are they doing in prayer and in the word of God? Does their speech betray them that they are excited about the word of Christ …. This glorious message of Christ’s redemption and how he is redeeming people for his name sake… Because if they were so filled with this glorious message of Christ’s redemption … Their music would say that about them to.
So the solution to someone’s struggle in this area of music is to give diligence to understanding and comprehending the glorious gospel of Christ. And to ponder in prayer the benefits of the gospel. And once that is being done and that person’s speech betrays the fact that the word of Christ is richly dwelling in him, then a message like this will help.
And to that person it comes down to discernment and a conscious choice to love not the world like 1 John 2:15-17 says and not to be conformed to this world, as Romans 12:1-2 says. It takes discernment. And to discern requires that you be diligent on God’s word (Ps. 119:9, 104), that you be empowered by the Holy Spirit (1 Co. 2:6-16), and that you grow in godliness (Phil. 1:9-11).
#458, speaking of us as a Temple.
Paul explains how the Spirit enables us to discern the things of God that the world is unable to discern. The emphasis is on discerning the things of God, not the things of the world. But the implication is, therefore, that the Spirit of God enables us to discern the difference between the things of the world and the things of God. If you need further help, contact me about my teaching on worldliness. ↑