First in a Series on The Difference Between Good Music and Bad Music
Used by Permission: Alan and his wife Ellen Ives have a wonderful music ministry and they travel to many churches presenting this information. They play a number of instruments and have music cassettes and CD's available. Perhaps they could be a blessing to your church. They can be reached at Concord & Harmony, 328 Rosalia Street, Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901.
We are going to try and nail down how to tell the difference between good and bad music, especially if the words are O.K. How can I tell if something is sensual or not, if something is spiritual or carnal? I think of a fellow that didn't know anything about music, and he said to me: "When I read my Bible, when I pray, when I listen to preaching, the Holy Spirit teaches and ministers to me and comforts me, rebukes, instructs, corrects me--whatever it is that I need. But I can tell that the Holy Spirit of God is working in me." And he said, "When somebody sings a song, I expect the Holy Spirit to do the same thing through that song."
I had sung a blues arrangement of "No One Ever Cares For Me Like Jesus," and he said, "Never sing that one in church again." This was years ago.
This man could hardly play "She'll Be Coming 'round the Mountain" on the harmonica, but he told me that, and I promised him that I would never sing that song that way again.
This young man is responsible for his whole family coming to Christ. And the entire time that I have known him, he has spent time alone with the Lord and has put the Lord ahead of any friendship that he has with another man.
When we're all done with this thing, if too much is scrambled--I will try to make it simple--but if it is scrambled, you can always just ask the Lord. Say, "Holy Spirit, teach me; is this song good or bad?" If you have a question, ask the Lord. "Try the spirits" is what 1 John 4 says, "whether they be of God." You'll be able to tell. Some songs are so bad you'll know immediately you ought not to listen to them. Others are more difficult to tell. I still have questions about certain songs I listen to. There are some songs that seem to have a good message, but something doesn't seem right. We want to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and if there is something wrong in the song, we don't want to sing it.
Let's look at 1 Peter 5:8-9. "Be sober; be vigilant; because your adversary, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."
This is a message to Christians. We must be careful, because, though Satan cannot take a child of God to Hell--and praise God for that--he can take a child of God just about everywhere else, if we let him.
I'll never forget something that great preacher R.G. Lee said in the middle of a message in which he was preaching on the crazy devil-possessed man of the Gadarenes. He talked of how Christ cast the devils out and sent them into the swine. I remember him preaching very fervently: "The devil will live in me if I let him; the devil will live in you if you let him; but if you kick him out, he'll go and snook up to some dirty, lousy hog and feel in good company. And that shows you that the devil's second choice is a hog."
I never forgot that. I thought, if I let my body, my spirit, and my thoughts be a place that harbor things that side with Satan, what a mess I would be. I don't like the thought of that. This book says that my body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and I want that. God says I am to be holy, and I want my body to be holy. I long to be that way, and the Holy Spirit within me longs to have me be that way, longs to have you be that way.
It's a troublesome thought. When I think of devils filling up a hog and how dirty that is, I think, why would I ever want to be close to anything that would be comfortable in a hog? I thank God someday we will be delivered from the body of this death, and we won't be near anything that's dirty or unclean. You say, is that your own righteousness? No, that's the Holy Spirit within us that tells us so that we want things to be holy and pure. I never had those desires at all before I got saved, but I do now.
In the area of music, I am careful, because at one time it swallowed me up. The devil had my testimony so that no one thought I was saved. For two years they couldn't even tell. Through sin, the devil can swallow up our testimonies.
So we are to be sober and vigilant; mark it down. Someone might say, "But that sounds like a tiring thing." Well, maybe it is, but what it produces in the end is some liberty in Christ and a lot of joy. It's worth it to look out for trouble, and music is a trouble area.