Some good questions and responses to the last post have prompted me to expand my thoughts on the subjects of Christians, music, and Christian music. Questions like “Is it sinful to listen to secular music?” and “What about different forms of music?” encourage me because they show that you people are paying attention. Don’t think you’re lost when you come to a fork in the road. In most cases it means that you’ve followed the map well, there just isn’t a simple road to follow. Think things through Biblically and you’ll get to the right place.
That said, most Christians struggle with the pursuit of “secular” things after they become Christians. They associate the things they did as unbelievers with unbelief, even if those things are theirs to pursue as Christian liberty. Pre-Christ baggage taints our ability to enjoy things that God has freely given to us. the book of Colossians, on the subject of true spiritual growth teaches us that it isn’t the thing, but the heart that is the source of sin. False teachers promoting a phoney “higher spirituality” told the Colossians that they could grow as Christians by abstaining from certain material things, saying “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle.” But the thing, be it a certain food or drink or a song, does not cause sin. Hearing a song does not make us sin.
However, our hearts can respond sinfully to things, in this case secular music. For this reason I direct our attention to Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. ”
This text should guide the way we think about music. As Christians we pursue personal holiness to the glory of God. If the music we hear interferes with that, we turn away from it. Here are a couple of questions for personal consideration:
1.) What is the song about? Understanding lyrical content is important. Don’t try to walk the line by making the song be about something else. Artist’s intent is the rule. We don’t like it when people interpret the Bible any way they want because what God meant is what it means. Do the same with the music you listen to.
2.) What does the artist want you to think about the subject? Are you invited to glamorize sin or consider sin exciting. One of the best films I’ve seen in Schindler’s List. It depicts terrible, dehumanizing atrocities in graphic detail. But it deplores those acts, and serves to help the viewer realize the extent of the evil. On the other hand, much music invites the listener to consider sex trivial, to consider acting out in anger like “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” by Drowning Pool, or to see drug use as funny like “Because I Got High” by Afroman.
3.) What must it look like when you sing along? Lyrics that don’t mesh with Christian life are like a needle running off of a record. Is that what you think? Then why are the words coming out of your mouth?
4.)What is your emotional response? If the music makes you feel angry, cocky, tough whatever…pitch it.
Hope that’s not to much to think through. remember it’s the heart that uses things such as music for sin, so first and foremost be dealing with your heart. If you seek out music to gratify your desire to sin, or if you relish toying with sin in the way you enjoy music, cut it out. Ask God in all things to reveal the inclinations of our hearts which are often hidden to us (Jer 17:9).
Music is largely open for our enjoyment. Most of it is composed by unbelievers, yes, but much of it is still free for us to enjoy. Just be discerning. And remember: enjoy!
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