Evaluating Music and Worship
Does this music violate a clear command of Scripture?
- Does this music promote the works of the flesh?
- Does this music promote something that I am to put off or put to death?
- Does this music strengthen the appetites of the flesh and weaken my resistance to sin?
- Does this music control me like an addict?
- Does this music allow me to be a good steward of my time?
- Can this music be enjoyed to the glory of God?
- Music is expressive. It like any other form of art paints a picture that impresses the mind, emotions, and the body.
- We should honestly evaluate the music, not just the lyrics.
- The statements of the artists are very revealing of the music that they are crafting.
- Good secular may or may not be good sacred, because we are entering into a different realm the moment that we bring God’s name and worship into the picture.
Sacred music as worship:
Four Important Passages:
Exodus 20:2-7 “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”
Leviticus 10:1-3 “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.”
John 4:23-24 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Colossians 3:16-17 “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. 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.”
What is worship?
According to Thayer: It means to kiss the hand as a token of reverence. Among the Orientals, especially the Persians, it meant to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence. In the NT it has the idea of kneeling or prostrating oneself to do homage or make obeisance.
What does God emphasize about worship in the Scriptures?
I Chronicles 16:29-31 “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth.”
Psalm 29:1-2 “Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.”
Psalm 30:4 “Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.”
Psalm 33:1-6 “Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise. For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”
Psalm 47:6-8 “Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.”
Psalm 98:5-6 “Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.”
Psalm 147:1 “Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.”
Psalm 147:7 “Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:”
Psalm 150:1-6 “Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.”
Revelation 4:10 “The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne,”
I Corinthians 14:15 “What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.”
Synopsis of OT and NT passages:
- Worship is to be done from a position and an attitude of prostration.
- Worship involves giving God our strength and our praise.
- Worship is focused on God’s character and His wonderful deeds.
- Worship must be doctrinally accurate
- Worship is to focus the mind on truth which moves the emotions to an eruption of praise.
- Worship is to be with overflowing emotion.
- Worship is to be with an attitude of reverence, fear, thanksgiving, and joy.
- Worship should be done with understanding.
- Worship should be beautiful and skillful.
- Worship should never treat God’s name, character, or deeds as common place.
Several suggestions concerning our worship: Content of the message and style:
- There is room for diversity in worship, yet it has important controls over it.
- Worship is only valid when it is directed to the proper object, the God who is revealed in Scripture. We must be wary of anything that causes self-absorption, man-centeredness or an improper view of God.
- A church’s worship style or methodology reflects that church’s theology (view of God).
- It must be characterized by reverence, dignity, joy, and humility. Remember you are approaching the Sovereign Creator God, who is robed in majesty, holiness, and righteousness.
- Worship transcends culture. When we worship in the home or church, we leave our living room and enter God’s realm.
- “Good secular” is not necessarily appropriate in the sacred realm. We must ask this question honestly: “Does this come into our worship for a theological reason or for another reason?” If not for a theological reason, then it is not appropriate.
- Historically, when did this worship style enter the American church, and why did it occur? With what theology was it associated?
- God takes worship seriously. Do not forget the record of the death of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10.
- Sincerity of heart does not justify false worship any more than it would justify a false doctrine.
- Worship must never replace the ministry of the Word. Worship flows from the ministry of the Word.
- Worship must never directly appeal to the emotions. It should always be aimed at the mind, which will in turn impact the emotions.
- Worship form and music are never neutral. Remember that music is art and the artist has carefully crafted his work to convey a message.
- Association is important. Remember that you will be linked with a group by association.
- One thing will always lead to another. If we open the door, many things will follow after.
- True worship comes from pure motives of the heart.
- Self-motivated/self-gratifying/self-elevating “worship” is subtle self-focused idolatry.
- Worshiping anything or anyone other than the God who is revealed in Scripture is subtle idolatry.