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  • Rick LoPresti

Just play the music

Shortly before Moses died, he prophesied that Israel would someday seek a king after being established in the promised land, and he gave specific instructions for who should be chosen and what he should do (Deut 17:14-20). After Joshua died, there was a period of about 300 years during which what were called judges provided Israel with spiritual leadership. We can read about that period in the book aptly called Judges. The last judge before kings began to reign over Israel was the prophet Samuel (1Sam 1-8). When Samuel grew old and the Israelites saw that his sons were not fit to lead, they fulfilled the prophecy of Moses and asked for a king (1Sam 8). A man named Saul was chosen. Saul started out doing good and walked humbly, but he fell into loving his position more than God and righteousness. He disqualified himself from being king through several errors including two major ones (1Sam 13-15), so God chose a young man named David to replace him and the Spirit of God came upon him from the day he was anointed (1Sam 16). When this occurred, the Spirit of God left Saul and instead an evil spirit began to trouble him. Nobody in Saul’s administration knew what to do about it. There is no record of anyone trying to lead Saul to repentance or praying for his deliverance from the evil spirit. The only idea anyone had that is recorded in the Bible is that someone suggested they find a skillful harp player to come and play before Saul when he was troubled by the evil spirit so he could feel better. By “coincidence”, someone there knew David could play harp, so they brought him before Saul to play. Saul was indeed refreshed by David’s playing, but that did not address nor resolve the underlying problem he had. Even though Saul loved David and made him his armorbearer, he did not even recognize him at the battle of the Philistines wherein David killed Goliath (1Sam 17:55-58), or at least did not remember whose son he was although he knew (1Sam 16:18-22). The next day after this battle, David once again came before Saul to make him feel better when the evil spirit came upon him, but this time Saul attempted to kill David with a javelin (1Sam 18:10-12). After this, Saul made at least 19 other attempts to kill David (1Sam 18-26). The music did not solve Saul’s problem. It only served to temporarily and superficially deal with his spiritual condition. The problem was not David nor his music. It was Saul, who eventually sought a witch and asked her to conjure the dead prophet Samuel (1Sam 28), and he died in battle against those same Philistines he had seen God give Israel victory over before (1Sam 31).

People often use various things such as music to feel good. Music in itself is neither good nor bad. It depends on the spirit and content of the music, and what it is being used for. Music can be beautiful and a worship to God (the book of Psalms, Mt 26:30, Eph 5:19, Col 3:16, etc.), or it can be demonic. Music is often used as entertainment, even among Christians. Modern technology has created a society saturated with music. This is not completely evil in itself as long as we remember to use it for its highest purpose – the worship of God. It becomes a problem when feeling good replaces being good which is doing the commandments of God (Jn 14:15, 1Jn 5:3). The word “world” can have two basic meanings in the New Testament. It can mean the people living on the earth, as in “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son…(Jn 3:16)”. It can also mean the value system of the unsaved people of the world (Jam 4:1-4, 1Jn 2:15-17). It should come as no surprise that the world does not seek unto God for answers. They follow the carnal mind which is enmity against God (Rom 8, 1Cor 1-2). However, it should deeply trouble Christians to see other people who call themselves Christians only seeking to feel good rather than to keep God’s commandments. This has become far too commonplace and even encouraged by those who claim to be spiritual leaders. The prophets, Jesus, and then the apostles warned us of this, especially concerning the last days (2Tim 3:1-7, 2Tim 4:1-4, etc.). John 1:10-11 says the world knew Him not even though He is their Creator. We get and see that. However, it also says, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” It is even more disturbing to see people who call themselves Christians who don’t really know Him like they should and are failing to receive Him as He is. God is seeking for people to worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23-23).

While there are certain parallels in trends in the church and the world, some trends of the world are very dangerous to Christianity. This is true in many areas including music. While what is called pop music has always been rather simple and trendy, there has been a significant commercialization, oversimplification, and homogenizing in both Christian and secular music which has been accompanied by a dumbing down in education in the church and society in general. Biblical ignorance and illiteracy have invaded Christianity. This is more than just an issue of style.

It is understood that to some degree we can use material and to some degree ignore the source, but is there a line in the sand where too far is just too far? Three of the biggest producers of Christian pop are Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation, and all those connected to them which are many. Not only have they fully embraced these musical trends and are a main part of their propagation, they have diverted drastically from the Bible. Bethel practices paganism and witchcraft. They perform grave soaking which is a pagan and demonic attempt to communicate with the dead like Saul did. They have a school which costs thousands to attend where people can “learn” to perform miracles. Hillsong embraces Chrislam, a merging of Christianity and Islam, and sodomy. They have pagan celebrations with mostly naked people on stage such as the “naked cowboy”. The center of their Christmas celebration is not Jesus Christ. It is the pagan goddess which in the Bible goes by such names as Ashtoreth, Diana, and the queen of heaven. That is too far. That is more than enough cause to “boycott” their music. Do we think that their music has no spiritual impact on those who listen to and use it? Do we think that using their music doesn’t speak an implicit endorsement? At least secular music doesn’t pretend to be Christian for the most part. Some lyrics of Christian music are doctrinally incorrect. We are supposedly worshipping the God of the Bible but contradicting His written word. There is some room in music for artistic license with grammar and such, although it should not be the norm; but there should be no room for doctrinal errors.

Christians need to step up to the challenges and dig deeper than saying “just play the music”. That is another way of saying, “We like their music and can’t be bothered with these issues. It’s much easier and convenient to just ignore those things.”, or “we really don’t care or think it matters”, or “I just want to feel good. The music is my escape and entertainment. Don’t mess with that.” What happened to seeking God and His truth and righteousness for your spiritual needs? What happened to separation from the world unto God which is called holiness (2Cor 6:14-18)? It is also more than just music. It could be anything. It is an approach to God and life. Do we just want to deal with issues superficially like Saul, or do we want to go deeper like David? Their results speak for themselves.

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