“... And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” — Ephesians 2:6
In our modern day efforts to make the Gospel palatable, inclusive and relevant, we have shortchanged ourselves of the holiness and majesty of God, particularly in the area of music. That which from old time went before the battle and ushered in the presence of the Lord (II Chronicles 5:13; 20:21) now has itself become the battle, even repelling the very presence of the Holy Spirit in the church.
Music is right at the top of subversive issues in today’s church. And rightly so. Since the aim of Satan is to sabotage true worship, today’s church music has evolved (and continues to do so) into something much more sinister, camouflaged so that sometimes it is scarcely detected or discerned that what is being presented is not holy worship.
Unfortunately, we have been duped into thinking that any song that has Christian words is automatically “Christian,” that is, birthed of the Spirit of God. The truth be known, it is not only the words of a song that makes it Christian, but the spirit of the song itself. Much of our music today has the spirit of the world, which James 4:4 says is “enmity with God.” We have succeeded in trading melody, harmony, and substance for rhythm and beat; rich Biblical truths for shallow and repetitive phrases; conviction leading to repentance and obedience for jivey, feel-good, subjective lyrics; life-giving, Spirit-filled worship for excitement, enthusiasm, and emotionalism. Our convoluted thinking is that God just loves everything we do. There is very little discernment of the possibility that our musical offerings may, in the eyes of a holy God, be “strange fire,” (Leviticus 10:1) or even “another gospel” (II Corinthians 11:4). Though many intentions are good, we have unknowingly opened the doors to unclean spirits that are ransacking our churches; even well-intentioned pastors are struggling against the spirit of the age in the music they are allowing, and often encouraging, so that their ministries are tainted and weakened.
We’re not talking about style. We’re talking about spirit. Rock music, for instance, is much more than a style; it is of a particular spirit, a spirit that has an agenda all its own, that does not truly submit to the righteousness and authority of Jesus Christ. In reality, there is no such entity as “Christian rock” music, because the rock beat, in any form, is inherently evil. Like the Ouija board and other forms of witchcraft, rock music finds its origin in the darkness of the underworld. It was designed at its inception to defile. And most contemporary music utilizes the rock beat in one way or another!
As the present-day church has declined — morally, culturally, most of all, spiritually — we have sought to replace the Holy Spirit with many things — programs, methods, athletics, impressive buildings, and yes, music that will appeal to the younger generation. That is the drawing card we offer to them. In so doing, we are watering down the Gospel to the extent that the church finds itself struggling, vacillating and compromising in many gray areas. Music is an exceptionally powerful mode of influence. It is the driving force in many of today’s churches. It is not a wonder that so often our churches resemble the world, instead of the throne room of Heaven!
The Bible tells us to “sing a new song unto the Lord” (Psalm 96:10 ) and Ephesians 5:19 instructs us to speak to ourselves “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody in our hearts to the Lord.” Traditional music must take on a fresh anointing if it is to serve its purpose in these unparalleled, perilous times. There is room for new music in the church, but by the Holy Spirit our desire should be to transcend the music of earth and take on a heavenly sound that is representative of the pure, redeeming work of Jesus, the Lamb of God, and the resplendent music that He is accustomed to in the portals of glory.
The Rev. Jon Van Vogt is pastor of the Flour Mill Fellowship and director of the Pataha Flour Mill near Pomeroy. He is also pastor of SonRise Church in Clarkston, Wash., Van Vogt is a recording artist, teacher and composer, and was a concert pianist and organist for Oral Roberts University during the 1970s. Email him at email@example.com or call him at 509-951-5351. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.