Music, Worship, and You
Updated: Sep 19, 2019
There is remarkable power in music. Music is a very impactful form of communication that may either lift your emotions up or bring your emotions down. It can forge a bond of unity among people or tear down in a destructive manner. Furthermore, music is capable of telling a story that resonates with an individual’s current circumstance and mood. As such, our deepest emotions are frequently found in the expression of one of our favorite songs. Jeremy Painter rightly says, “Humankind always dreamed of flying, but, not created with wings, we learned to sing instead. Our strongest emotions find truest expressions in music. What we believe with conviction we sing about … music can make us larger, better versions of ourselves.” Painter believes that music is one of the ways that cultural teachings are spread from one generation to the next and is the most satisfying and preferred method of teaching.
A discussion on various genres of music can incite colorful debates leaving people with mixed emotions and opinions. In fact, some individuals view music as a lifestyle, with music remaining at the center of all they do. It is therapy to their soul, and the day cannot get started without music pumping and priming. I find myself in this category of people!
Music is composed and performed for many purposes, ranging from artistic preferences, to religious and traditional purposes, or entertainment merchandise for the global marketplace. However, Martin Luther, a 16th century German theologian and writer, once said, “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise. The gift of language combined with the gift of song was given to man that he should proclaim the Word of God through music.”
There is a multitude of genres of music that influence many churches, including Apostolic Pentecostal churches; however, these influences, regardless of social and artistic ideologies, are not without biblical parameters. It is only through the teaching of sound biblical principles that we can conclude what is suitable and what is not. Music is indeed one of the most beautiful things in the world; however, the topic of music should be examined and considered through a biblical perspective in order to find its proper place in worship, as well as its position in our lifestyle. What is the biblical origin of music, its place in worship, and how can it be put into practical application for daily living? Let’s briefly look at a few things.
The scriptural passage of Genesis 1:1–5 proclaims God’s majestic and sovereign power of bringing the chaotic cosmos into proper order and operation. It sings the praises of the sovereign power of this magnificent Creator and all that He creates. It declares everything that He creates depends on Him for its existence. In other words, the unrivaled power of the Spirit of God brings divine order out of chaos. God masterfully guides the function of the cosmos just as it was designed to function, and He calls it “good” (Gen 1:4).
Long before God created man in His own image and long before the creation of physical matter, He created an innumerable company of angels. The apostle Paul asserts, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Col 1:16). The psalmist records, “Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts … Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created” (Ps 148:2, 5). The Lord spoke to Job from the whirlwind regarding the creation of the world and asked, “Where were you … when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4, 7).
The Bible clearly teaches the creation and existence of angels that belong to God’s heavenly court and service. While angels have great power, there are various orders of power, rank, and authority which exist among the angels. There are three powerful archangels which have access to God’s throne room: Michael (Dan 10:13; Jude 9); Gabriel (Dan 8:16); and Lucifer (Isa 14:12–15; Ezek 28:12–17). The scriptural account in Ezekiel 28 portrays Lucifer with great beauty, wisdom, and power. He was given abundant authority and was made ruler over part of God’s majestic universe. There is no question that Lucifer possessed great musical ability, but his very intrinsic being is described to show that he was, in fact, music (Ezek 28:13). He was the anointed archangel created to blend and produce beautiful harmonious tones and pitches. Undoubtedly, he was an archangel of great power and glory, but he was not satisfied with his God-ordained status in heaven. He exalted himself and reached for equality with God (Isa 14:12–15; Ezek 28). His pride greatly inflated him, and while he desired the worship that was reserved for God alone, his rebellion against God did not succeed (Luke 10:18; Rev 12:4, 9). Isaiah’s and Ezekiel’s prophecies describe Lucifer’s subsequent fall. The Word of God does not indicate that Lucifer was deprived of his musical ability, but denotes only that he lost his position in heaven.
We must remember that the original design for music was created for God and Him alone (Col 1:16; Rev 4:11). Worship is the activity of heaven through which the innumerable angels glorify and magnify God. This is clearly shown by the prophet Isaiah’s vision of heavenly seraphim crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa 6:3). God created a majestic and beautiful world, beginning with the angels, that would continually praise and worship Him, and He called it good. Yet, God desired to create a human being in His own image who would worship Him of his own free will. Therefore, God created humanity with an eternal soul, giving him the ability to make choices and express emotions through various means, including music.
Since the original, heavenly design for music was worship, it is safe to believe it is still God’s purpose for today. Regardless of how times change, music genres morph, and society progresses, Jesus Christ, the one true God, must remain at the center of our worship. It does matter what we listen to! Ask yourself: does what I listen to bring honor to God? Does it draw me closer to Him, or does my personal choice of music merely satisfy my fleshly affections? Let’s consider this truth: God will not share our affection with things that come between Him and us. Jesus Christ still desires and deserves our worship, including through the avenue of music.
We should not simply assume that all music which does not worship God is harmful; however, some music is extremely destructive to our souls. We need to understand there are biblical parameters found in the Word of God when it comes to music, worship, and you. In the simplest of terms, we should daily seek first the kingdom of God (Matt 6:33) and keep our day-to-day priorities in order and balanced. Only through passionate worship and obedience to God’s Word, being born again in truth and staying Spirit-filled, will we keep our lives centered in Jesus Christ.
Regarding worship to God, Moses instructs, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God will all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deut 6:5). Jesus commands a total surrender of worship by proclaiming, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt 22:37). God’s principles have not changed, for He changes not (Mal 3:6). He is a jealous God, and He will not share His glory or worship with another.
If we are consistently listening to ungodly or worldly music, our mind, our thought life, will not align with the instructions given by Paul. He states, “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” (Phil 4:8). The apostle Paul powerfully declares, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom 12:2). Furthermore, the Word of God says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov 23:7). When we communicate with God through the avenues of godly music, we will know and recognize His voice and feel the leading of His Spirit. Jesus emphasizes that, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Would you agree that some of the best times in prayer and worship are when we hear the still small voice of Almighty God? As we sing praises and worship Him, His powerful presence fills the atmosphere drawing us closer to God. David beautifully asserts, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” (Ps 19:14).
Even today, Lucifer, or Satan, desires your worship. It is reasonable to believe that he will use music to draw us away from our total worship to the one true God, Jesus Christ. When we fill our minds and hearts with worldly music, and allow those words to come out of our mouths, we are giving the musical worship to Lucifer that he craves. Indeed, music is powerful and one of the most beautiful things in the world. It stirs our every emotion and builds our faith. Our purpose for listening to music should always be focused on bringing glory and honor to Jesus Christ. The choice is ours.
Thank you for reading my post. Be blessed.
Pentecostal Worship: A Biblical and Practical Approach by Gary D. Erickson
Handbook on the Psalms and Wisdom Literature by Jeremy Painter
The Speaker’s Quote Book by Roy Zuck