“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
While there is no “Thou shalt not …” with regards to secular music in the Bible, we know that anything that this world produces usually degenerates into evil. Music, in all its forms, is simply a chain of sounds strung together, but it is what they are used for that makes them holy or sinful. We have to ask, in light of our text, if the message of popular music is pure and created to honour God? The Lord is concerned about what we fill our minds with, for it will either edify or destroy us. Almost all secular music encourages impure thoughts and actions, therefore it ought not be used by believers who seek to progress in God’s Kingdom. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
Secular music dishonours God
Secularised Christians have always come up with arguments for why they have the freedom to listen to worldly music, but in doing so they are resisting the Lord’s will for their lives. It is impossible for purity to come from polluted fountains. “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh” (James 3:11-12). Everything a believer does must be for the glory of God. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Is He ever glorified through the lyrics of the majority of songs created today? In fact there are relatively few that do not market immorality, vulgarity, and self-glorification. Be honest, can any of this draw you closer to the Lord who wants us to live sanctified lives? “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks” (Ephesians 5:3-4).
We will always have to pay the piper for his music, that is, there are consequences for everything we do, say and think. Yes, we have the freedom to choose what we listen to, but if it does not honour Christ, it will be to the detriment of our souls. God created music; therefore it is spiritual in nature and affects the spirit, soul and body of man. Satan knows that by corrupting this wonderful gift he can rob God of glory. We know that Lucifer was created with an inbuilt music system (Ezekiel 28:13), so he is well equipped to deceive the world with unholy sounds. It would be a very worldly believer indeed who would claim that the Holy Spirit inspires secular music. While on the surface this music comes from human thoughts, philosophy and emotions, its creator is the devil.
How can any sanctified believer listen to music that promotes ungodliness and is dedicated to the devil? If the source is not from Heaven then we have no business listening to it. If you and I are “new creature[s]” “in Christ Jesus”, then it follows that “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We must renounce and refuse to listen to secular music again. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11). God will give us the grace to overcome any desire to fill our minds with trash, for He desires that we walk in holiness before Him. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-24).
What about Christian music?
We would have to be extremely naïve not to acknowledge the secular influence in what goes for some Christian music today. It must be pointed out that if the sounds are so loud that the lyrics cannot be heard, then there must be an unholy reason for doing so. Music should accompany the words, not the other way round. Added to this is the problem of the words themselves. There are whole Christian albums that do not contain any reference to God or His word. The use of the word ‘love’ deceives believers into thinking the band is sanctified. Someone once asked, “Why should the devil have all the good music?” Analyse that statement and the ungodliness is automatically revealed. In fact the devil has no good music!
The instruments, rhythm, melody, harmony and lyrics in Christian music ought never mimic the world. We do not need the filth they produce if we have the music of the Lord in our hearts. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19) … “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” (Colossians 3:16). Music has always played an important part in worshipping God (Genesis 31:27), and often this was linked with dancing (Exodus 31:27). We cannot forget that David, the “sweet psalmist of Israel” organised a choir and orchestra for the Temple (2 Samuel 23:1, 1 Chronicles 15). Even the last book of the Bible offers us a number insights into how God is worshipped through music. This is really the bottom line with reference to Christian music, that is, does it honour and glorify the Lord? Does it draw you into a closer relationship with Him? There are many godly Christian artists who have dedicated their lives to serving the Saviour and have not adopted the putrid undertones of the world. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
Is listening to secular music a sin? If it does not glorify God, if it encourages faithlessness and ungodliness, if the lyrics are immoral, then yes, it is sinful. Why waste money and time on that which will pollute and destroy your soul? “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).