You’ve heard the statement “you are what you eat.” And, physically this is true—your body and health are merely products of what you digest. But rarely do we make the same connection to our spiritual lives. In other words, “you are what you listen to.”
Have you ever considered that your musical listening habits have a direct correlation to your spiritual condition and direction in life? Music is a powerful influence that helps to create a direction and then feeds that direction at the same time. It shapes emotions and attitudes that become desires and decisions, which ultimately become destiny.
In this article I’d like to briefly explore the principles that make music such a powerful force in our lives, and then challenge you to apply them to your own listening choices.
Does God Have His Way in Your Music?
It should be the life goal of every Christian to have a thoroughly biblical worldview—a truthful, God-centered perspective in every area of life. No area of life should be exempt from biblical principles and the glory of God.
And yet, so often we compartmentalize our relationship with God. We reserve for Him that which is convenient, but we rationalize personal allowances—for instance in our entertainment, our dress, our personal pleasures of living—and yes, in our music.
As sure as God wants you to have a biblical worldview in broader areas, so He desires that His principles permeate every area of life. With this in mind, consider this simple question: Does God have His way in my music? Is He truly God of what I listen to?
God tells us in Isaiah 46:9 “…I am God and there is none else….” For instance, with my children, I am Dad, and there is none else. And I’m always Dad, not just sometimes. I’m Dad in every area, not just a few. I’m Dad—period. My children don’t negotiate with my right to be Dad—when I’m Dad and when I’m not. For instance: “Dad, when it comes to paying bills and buying school clothes—you got it! You’re Dad. But when it comes to my grades—you’re not Dad.” No, I’m always Dad. There’s no compartmentalizing in this relationship.
The fact is, God is God! He’s not only God when I have a lot of prayer requests. He’s God when I put in my ear-buds. And He has a lot to say about my music, my song, my meditations, and even my ears! Here are just a few examples:
Psalm 78:1, “Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.” (incline means to spread out toward…)
Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”
Psalm 119:97, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.”
With this foundational understanding of God’s rightful preeminence, I would like to give you three compelling reasons to honor God through your music:
Music Influences Your Flesh (Your Body)
God’s Word has much to say about our flesh and how we are to manage it. Throughout Scripture we are commanded to reign in our flesh and to bring it into subjection to the Holy Spirit of God. Here are a few examples:
1 Corinthians 9:27, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
Romans 8:13, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
Romans 6:6, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
Romans 6:12, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.”
These verses are relevant to music because there is a physical component to music called rhythm which produces physical responses in our flesh. Rhythm was designed to give structure and direction to the music, but the world and the flesh always accentuate and distort rhythm. And there are most definitely rhythms that provoke and enlarge carnal, physical impulses.
Cutting right to the point—if you desire a Spirit-led life you should listen to music that is not dominated by rhythm. A Spirit-led life and rhythm-dominated music are in conflict with one another.
On the other hand, a Spirit-led life is greatly facilitated by Spirit-led music. The Lord makes this connection very clear in Ephesians 5:18-19 where he ties a Spirit-filled life to Spirit-led music, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”
The great struggle of the Christian life is the “flesh against the spirit.” Our flesh continues to rise up and desires control. Have you ever considered that your music will either be a facilitator of the Spirit or a facilitator of your flesh?
In part two of this article, we’ll explore two more principles—stay tuned. To read more on the subject of music, you might consider the book Music Matters from Striving Together Publications.