Part four is here.
In Ephesians 5:17-20, we read, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.”
What a rich passage! It really makes a case for us to study God’s Word in that first verse as there are so many things to understand! We need to be wise in these troubled days, for the days are evil. Jesus will be coming back again, and it may be very soon.
One thing that I have found extremely helpful in understanding music is what Kimberly Smith explained in her book Music and Morals: dispelling the myth of Amoral music. She wrote that there are normally four beats in a measure of music: 1, 2, 3, 4. In good, wholesome music, the first beat is prominent, with the third a little less prominent: ONE two Three four. We see this in most hymn music, classical music before the 1900s, and some folk music in various cultures.
On the other hand, in various music that is purposefully played to rebel against God and lead people away from Him, we see something very different. In music performed for voodoo dances and other satanic and evil worship times, the beat sequence is swapped: one TWO three FOUR. A variation of this would be to have a drum pound out every beat without emphasis on a single one. When this is done, it goes against the natural beauty of the music of God’s creation, and is used in rebellion against Him.
If you are interested in reading more on this aspect of music, I would highly recommend that you read Music and Morals by Kimberly Smith. She brings out many things that I only have a small grasp on, and she has read many books, including one written by Mickey Hart, a talented drummer who traveled the world in search of the spirit behind the beat that he played. Her research is invaluable.
But to continue on with Ephesians. I wonder if we could imagine for a moment the apostle Paul in a dark prison cell with Silas, having been flogged and beaten and thrown in a cell with their feet in stocks. They are singing. Imagine for a moment, that with the rats scurrying by, they are singing the yellow submarine and, in breathy, gravelly voices (the technique in modern singing styles), they are singing a psalm of praise to God, while pounding an excited beat on the floor. Doesn’t fit? Would you sing that way when you meet God face to face and behold the glory of the Lamb in His resurrected power?
It’s interesting how we can get so caught up in our momentary lives and not consider the way we do our various activities. Singing is a wonderful gift, but used in the wrong way it can become a problem.
The breathy technique of singing I referred to is a sensual style that is meant to arouse sexual passions in the hearer. You will notice it in popular love songs, and many other types of music. Unfortunately, many types of ungodly techniques have seeped into our churches and musical worship. I have concerns about the way Christians tend to adapt and take on worldly practices without even consulting the Bible to see whether it is right or wrong to do so.
God’s Word tells us to abstain from any form of evil (1Thessalonians 5:22), to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), and to make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts (Romans 13:14, Galatians 5:16). Yet I have heard people singing like this while claiming to be worshiping God in church services or in praise songs on a CD.
Lest you think that none of this really matters in our daily lives, let me remind you that we live a lifestyle of worship, not just a few hours on Sunday during church services. Our lives should emit an odor of the incense of worship. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, so He hears every song we listen to and sing. This is not a passive relationship; it is active. He is grieved by our sins, prays for us when we don’t have words, and rejoices over our victories. Should we not educate ourselves in His Word so that we can understand how to please Him?
Come back for part 5 tomorrow!