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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Our Entertainment: The Cultivating Of Holiness - Part 2

APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLES TO MUSIC

A review of the principles:
Romans 12:9 – Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Psalms 101:3 – I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.
1 Thessalonians 5:21,22 – Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Romans 6:19 – Simple concerning evil.
Psalms 119:37 – Refrain from beholding vanity.
Job 31:1 – Covenant with my eyes to not look upon a maiden.
Philippians 4:8 – Think on these things.
Proverbs 17:15 – Condemning the just and justifying the wicked.
Romans 1:29-32 – Do these things and have pleasure in them that do them.
Ephesians 5:15,16 – Redeeming the time.
1 Corinthians 15:33 – Evil communications corrupt good manners
Romans 14:23 – Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Scriptural considerations concerning music.
Does the Bible speak about music?
Song – 74
Songs – 20
Sing – 102
Sang – 12
Singing – 25
Singer – 2
Singers – 36
Music – 16
Musical – 3
Sung – 5
Psalms – 9
Psalmist – 1
Hymn – 2
Hymns – 2
Spiritual songs – 2
Instrument – 8
Instruments – 45
Trumpet – 60
Trumpets – 44
Timbrel – 5
Timbrels – 5
Harp – 29
Harps – 20
Organ – 3
Organs – 1
Stringed Instruments – 3
Psaltery – 13
Cymbals – 15
Cymbal – 1
Total 563 times.

This is not counting the other common phrases that have reference to music like “joyful noise” etc. . . .

Also this is not considering the fact that the longest book in the Bible is Psalms, which is nothing less than the Hebrew songbook.

It is difficult to make an argument that the Bible does not address the issue of music. The problem is that most people determine music choices based on what they like. Music choices should be determined based upon what God likes. As believers we should certainly have an interest in God’s view of music. We should develop our taste around things that please him.

When it comes to music tastes are developed. People have their likes and dislikes. I like hard rock, I like rap, I like country, I like classic rock, I like soft rock, I like blues, I like jazz, I like blue grass, I like hymns, I like southern gospel, I like praise music, I like some Christian adaptation of one of the above. . . . Most people never stop to ask themselves what does God like.

1Corinthians 10:31 - Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Can we listen to the music we like to the glory of God?

Colossians 3:17 - And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Can we listen to the music we like in the name of the Lord Jesus?

Colossians 3:23 - And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Can we listen to the music we like heartily, as to the Lord?

These are important question that should be approached with courage and honesty before the Word of God!


The spiritual nature of music.
Singing in heaven.

Revelation 5:9-14 – And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
Revelation 14:3 - And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
Luke 2:13,14 – And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Job 38:7 - When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Revelation 15:1-4 – And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.


The devil is musically inclined. It could even be said a master of music.

Ezekiel 28:13 – Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

We should not doubt that the devil is a musical creature. We should not be surprised and in fact should expect that he would use music to fulfill his own sinister objectives. Pagans have used music since the beginning of time.

Music is powerful.

1 Samuel 16:23 – 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.

If music can be used to drive a spirit away it is at least plausible that it could be used to call forth a spirit. Music has an impact in the spiritual world.

There is an abundance of material available discussing the impact that music has on behaviour. This is why it is used in retail establishments, restaurants, waiting rooms, and commercials. For the most part the only thing being studied is how and why music impacts behaviour.

We all know this instinctively. Do you not feel different listening to a light classical piece, or a John Philip Sousa march, or country and western, or rock, or hymns, or rap?

Classical music has the ability to create anxiety, peace, excitement, suspense, reflection, happiness, sadness, etc. . . .


An examination of secular music.
Rock music (hard rock, soft rock, punk rock)

The lyrics
It is a medium of music that extols immorality and drug use. It is often blatantly occultist in its themes. It is often anti-God.

The music
With its emphasis on beat and rhythm it is derived from African and Asian pagan sources. In other words from parts of the world that have historically been untouched by the gospel. Parts of the world where witchcraft, sorcery, and occult practices are and have been common practice. Where music has been the medium of conjuring up spirits and inducing mind-altered states, i.e. demon possession. I do not wish to take the time or space to validate these claims. Much has been written about this issue.

The musicians themselves have been very honest and up front about the nature, origin, and purpose of their music. It is meant to foster rebellion, loose morals, and be anti-establishment. Rock music has sought to capitalize on “shock value”. This is why every generation of music becomes more shocking.

The artist
They are typically immoral, rebellious, drug using, men and women who are encouraging that kind of lifestyle through their music.

How does rock music measure up to our Biblical principles for entertainment?
Would rock music be more honestly characterized as evil or good?
Would rock music put us in a place of hearing wicked things?
Can we listen to rock music and abstain from all appearance of evil?
Does rock music leave us simple concerning evil?
Does rock music cause us to behold vanity?
Does rock music cause us to have sensual, lustful thoughts?
Does rock music encourage us to think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, things of good report, virtue, and praise worthy ideas?
Does the music condemn the just and/or justify the wicked?
Does it cause us to take pleasure in those that live after the flesh?
Is it a good use of time?
Is my life being impacted in a negative way from listening to the music?
Can I listen to rock music with absolute assurance that God is not displeased with it?


Rap

The music
I, for one, am hard pressed to say that Rap is music. It is nearly all beat and rhythm. Melody is all but absent. It is basically a musical chant. With its roots in rock music the origin is ultimately much the same.

Lyrics
It is unquestionably vile. It is street talk formed into illicit poetry presented in hard beats and driving rhythm. It degrades women; it incites disrespect for authority (law enforcement). It is the music of gangsters.

Artist
They are largely gun toting, law breaking gangsters. They are involved in and encourage drug abuse and immoral living. Often times the low hanging pants and twisted ball cap accompany the persona that is created by rap music.

How does rap measure up to our Biblical principles for entertainment?
Would rap music be more honestly characterized as evil of good?
Would rap music put us in a place of hearing wicked things?
Can we listen to rap music and abstain from the very appearance of evil?
Does rap music leave us simple concerning evil?
Does rap music cause us to behold vanity?
Does rap music cause us to have sensual, lustful thoughts?
Does rap music encourage us to think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, things of good report, virtue, and praise worthy ideas?
Does rap music cause us to take pleasure in those that live after the flesh?
Is listening to rap music a good use of time?
Is my life being impacted in a negative way from listening to rap music?
Can I listen to rap music with absolute certainty that God is not displeased with it?

Country and Western (country music)

The music
Much of country music has embraced the more sinister elements of rock music. Why because it is powerful and addictive. Thus a more devoted fan base. The music is not the same as when the old cowboys were strumming a guitar. In fact Hank Williams junior was instrumental in popularizing the rock beat in country music. Also the Charlie Daniel's band too has been very influential in this area.

The music appeals to the flesh. There is a reason they call it “boot scootin’” music. It makes you want to hit the dance floor and do the “cotton eyed Joe”. Country music is utilized in many bars where “red necks” gather to pick fights and pick up women. Much of the music encourages this kind of behaviour. It is beer-drinking music. Creates a sad, depressed spirit that encourages one to drawn their sorrow with a twelve pack of “miller high life”.

The lyrics
Filled with themes about cheatin’ hearts, terrible jobs, heavy drinking, carousing, dancing, pride, sensual women, good-looking men, and “nobody tells me what to do attitude”. I spent a few years listening to country music during my adolescent years. I know first hand the kind of attitudes it encourages.

With country music someone always comes forward and says, “Well, preacher there is this one song that talks about family or country, or some other wholesome, worthwhile issue.” The problem is, even if that is true, and I’m not convinced, but even if it is, these people don’t just listen to that one or two songs. They are hooked on their country music.

The artist
Drugs and alcohol abuse are rampant. Immorality, adultery, fornication, adultery, etc characterize the industry. Immodest dress is the norm.

How does country music measure up to our Biblical principles for entertainment?
Would country music be more honestly characterized as evil of good?
Would country music put us in a place of hearing wicked things?
Can we listen to country music and abstain from the very appearance of evil?
Does country music leave us simple concerning evil?
Does country music cause us to behold vanity?
Does country music cause us to have sensual, lustful thoughts?
Does country music encourage us to think on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, things of good report, virtue, and praise worthy ideas?
Does country music cause us to take pleasure in those that live after the flesh?
Is listening to country music a good use of time?
Is my life being impacted in a negative way from listening to country music?
Can I listen to country music with absolute certainty that God is not displeased with it?
An examination of sacred music.


The purpose of sacred music.
Psalms 13:6 – Sacred music is an expression of the Lord having dealt bountifully with us.
Psalms 21:13 – Sacred music extols the power of God.
Psalms 30:4 – Sacred music is rooted in an awareness of his holiness.
Psalms 40:2,3 – Sacred music is a reflection of a new song.
Psalms 47:7 – Sacred music expresses an understanding of sacred things.
Psalms 51:14 – Sacred music exalts the righteousness of God.
Psalms 57:7 – Sacred music originates in a fixed heart.
Psalms 59:16 – Sacred music extols the mercy of God.
Psalms 61:8 – Sacred music motivates to spiritual duty.
Psalms 69:30 – Sacred music is an appropriate channel for praise.
Psalms 77:6 – Sacred music is an opportunity for reflection.
Psalms 95:1 – Sacred music is an expression of joy.
Psalms 101:1 – Sacred music magnifies the whole of God’s character.
Psalms 105:2 – Sacred music tells the story of God’s wondrous works.
Psalms 137:3,4 – Sacred music is incompatible with certain environments.
Psalms 138:5 – Sacred music is characterized by the ways of God.
Psalms 147:7 – Sacred music is an expression of thanksgiving.

The expressions of sacred music.

Ephesians 5:19 - Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Psalms – A set piece of music, a spiritual ode. Striking the chords of a musical instrument.
Hymns – A song of praise to God.
Spiritual songs – Songs that deal with spiritual truth.

Singing and making melody. Not making beat. Not enjoying the rhythm. Good music has the emphasis on melody. All music has all three elements; beat, rhythm, and melody. In sacred music the emphasis should be on melody. When the emphasis slips into beat or rhythm then the music loses its ability to be a proper conduit for spiritual truth.

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.
Music is to spring from a heart that has the word of Christ richly dwelling in it. How do we know if the heart has the word of Christ richly dwelling in it? People are quick to point out that we can't see the heart and thus have no valid basis for judging. They conviently over look the fact that the Scripture says, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh", and "out of the heart are the issues of life".

Spiritual music is not simply entertainment but to teach and admonish. The music we listen to does it teach and admonish us.

Singing is to be to the Lord. It is not to be seen of men. It again is not about entertaining. It is about spiritual ministry rooted in Biblical truth.

A graceless heart is not an appropriate channel for spiritual songs. It matters who is doing the singing.

The instrument employed.
Psalms 33:3 – Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.
Psalms 98:6 - With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.
Psalms 81:2 - Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.
Psalms 150:4 - Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Psalms 150:5 - Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Psalms 144:9 – I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee.



Stringed instruments.
Guitar, mandolin, Banjo, piano, etc. . .

Wind instruments.
Brass and woodwinds. Every thing from a Piccolo to a Tuba.

Percussion.
Bass drum, kettledrum, snare drum, bells, triangle, timbrel, chimes, cymbals and a host of other things that people can knock together.

This is where people often have trouble. Nothing is inherently wrong with percussion. The abuse of these things most often occurs in the form of a trap drum set!

Contemporary Christian music.
The term “contemporary” is another clear example of where the use of terms immediately places us at a disadvantage when discussing an issue. If one says contemporary Christian music is wrong then they are already at a disadvantage by the terminology used. The complaint can easily be made that, "You are just against anything new". We should not be against anything new, music or otherwise.


The proper term to use is not “contemporary” but “worldly”. The use of this term is validated by the testimony of those who promote CCM. They contend that their purpose is to give the world Christian lyrics presented in the kind of music they like. So they have opted to use the world’s music to transmit the Christian message. Thus the appropriate term is “worldly” music.

CCM itself is a broad term that involves many different types of music. A quick look in most Christian bookstores and you will soon get an idea of the kinds of music available under the “Christian” label.
Christian rock
Christian rap
Christian hip-hop
Christian punk rock
Christian jazz
Christian country
Christian blues

Some of the more subtle venues are:
Praise/worship
Southern gospel


Succinctly put CCM is the blending of “Christian” lyrics with worldly music. The question becomes is such a blending appropriate. Where is the principle of separation that is so evidently set forth in the Scripture. Many believers listen to this kind of music because they are afforded the opportunity to listen to the kind of music they “like” while having their conscience soothed that it is Christian! Where is the obedience to the command to “ . . . .come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; . . . .” CCM producers, artist, and promoters will tell us that instead of not touching the unclean thing we should use the unclean thing to attract the world.


The music
Christian rock, rap, hip-hop, punk rock, jazz, and blues.

We still have before us the same problems as before. Inserting a few religious terms or themes cannot sanctify the music. The origins of the music is not altered simply because the word Christian is attached. The confusion of the antithesis in music does not elevate the nature of the music it lowers the use of the term “Christian”. Just because the music is bought under a Christian label does not justify the emphasis on the beat and rhythm while minimizing the melody. We are to be making melody to the Lord!

The lyrics
Rarely do these songs have any genuine theological content. In this respect the lyrics match the music. The lyrics are often sensual in nature. Is the person singing about their boyfriend/girlfriend or Jesus? If someone is singing something about Jesus or to Jesus that could be sung to their boyfriend/girlfriend then they are not duly worshipping the Lord. The singing is not spiritual enough in content! I have heard some of the songs that actually sound like a romantic relationship was in mind???

The lyrics are often universal. They could sing them to a thoroughly secular crowd and they would enjoy the lyrics just as much. Try singing Amazing Grace, All Hail The Power of Jesus Name, Redeeming Love, or The Old Rugged Cross to a thoroughly secular crowd and see how much they enjoy it. The enjoyment is diminished because the message is clear, and the cross once again becomes an offence!


The artist
The artists are at times as licentious as their counterparts in the secular industry. I just read a story in Reader's Digest about how Amy Grant and her present husband found themselves in love while they were married to other people?? Often times the only difference is that they don’t usually have the resources to exploit themselves like their counterparts in the secular industry.

Bob Larson in his book The Day Music Died, “Even if the lyrics of a religious rock hit might be non-objectionable to a Christian it should be remembered that anyone singing in pretense of glorifying Christ, without knowing him personally, is committing an act of blasphemous sacrilege . . . . There has undeniably been a trend in rock music to capitalize upon the name of Jesus for commercial gain.”


Southern gospel
Much of this music, I might say virtually all, has embraced the style of music that could be considered rock/jazz/blues.

There is nothing wrong with quartet music. The southern gospel music genre sprang from quartets that would gather in churches and sing for the edification of God’s people. As the music became increasingly commercialized it has become increasingly worldly. Now the emphasis is putting on a good show! It has become raw entertainment. Consequently most of the groups have at least one comedian in their midst. We should be careful about to whom we commit sacred music.


It is, as is all of CMM, heavily influenced by the ecumenical/charismatic influences of the day. They preach through their singing unity at the expense of truth. Their music is designed to elicit an emotional response. Emotion is not wrong. But religiously emotion should flow from truth and not artificially manufactured through the manipulative powers of music. Our music should stir our spiritual man, not our emotions. If our spiritual man is sufficiently stirred then the emotions will be stirred.

The cold/lifeless spirit in most churches has people craving for an artificial high that can be produced through music. Southern gospel is often guilt of targeting the emotions of a man while bypassing the spiritual man. It takes honestly and discernment to tell the difference!


Music
Heavy on beat and rhythm. Melody is often nothing more than in the background providing the tune. The slow transitions of music over the years in this area have led many people to embrace a genre of music that they would have rejected at the outset.


Lyrics
Often times this genre of music plays loose and fancy with the truth. They are more concerned with telling a good story than singing the truth. This goes back to the problem of eliciting an emotional response. At times it can border on the sacrilegious. Making light of Bible stories.

This is the problem I have with Veggie tales! If you want to simply teach a lesson on morality do not lower a Bible story to your own taste. Make up a story. Find a story in secular history.


Artists
They are for the most part entertainers. If I want to be entertained by music I believe there are some choices outside the context of sacred music that would be an acceptable alternative.


Praise/worship music.
Music

Once again, the rock beat is heavily utilized. The music is usually very loud. The music is extremely useful in charismatic churches. Why? Because it creates a certain atmosphere that is conducive to the “spirit” induced frenzy that they attempt to work people into. CCM and Charismatic movement are strong partners. Much of the use of this kind of music originated in charismatic churches. Many of the artists are charismatic.

Lyrics
Repetition is used with great impact. It is the heathen that use vain repetition in their prayers and their chants. It is often shallow beyond belief. There is little teaching and admonishing one another with these kinds of songs.


Artist
The Gaithers have been a major influence in this area. The charismatic movement has been fraught with highly publicized moral indiscretions.


A source for good music is http://www.faithmusicmission.org/


Music for entertainment.
There are some choices available. When I mention them you may say, “I don’t like that!” Well remember it is not about what we like it is about what we should like. More to the point it is about what pleases God. It will take a little bit of effort to find it. It will be worth it once you have altered your musical taste to things that are not an affront to your spiritual man.


Classical music
Some of this has probably been infected by the permeation of rock music in our culture, but it is still very easy to find classical music. Classical music offers a wide variety.


Ballads
I think of the western ballads. Bury me not on the lone prairie. Git along little doge. Actually songs that were sung on the cattle drives in the old west.

Marches
John Philip Sousa
Patriotic, cution must be exercised here when choosing an arrangement. The point is there are many choices if a person is willing to look for them and is dedicated to making a change.
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