I apologize for not having my post for last week ready. It’s important to have well researched the topics that what I want to share, and I want to be careful in how I present them.
So, last week’s post was going to discuss worship leaders and why we, in general, need to be careful about our music that we choose to worship the Lord with. I am going to try to break down 2 biblical ways to critique Christian music for your own protection, the protection of others, and to help you rightly worship the Lord in spirit and truth. Worshiping the Lord with music is something not to take lightly in the same way communion is not to be taken lightly. Honoring the Lord in all that we do is a very big deal, and music is no exception.
Maybe some of these songs, like secular songs, you can enjoy, but perhaps some of these are not the best ones to worship the Lord with. So, what should we look for in a worship song and what should concern us regarding Christian music in general?
1. Are scriptures used in proper context?
It’s really important to hold every song verse in light of scripture. A major temptation for Christians be it blogging, speaking, or music is to use scripture out of context. I have been guilty of this. I’m sure most, if not all, who are reading have been guilty of this. We use a verse to make a point, but sadly, miss the full context of the verse.
An example of a misunderstood scripture many would be familiar with is, “Do not judge,” in Luke 6:37. Here is where the scripture gets misunderstood. In order for us to determine if someone is judging, we have to make a judgment that someone is judging. No one can live by the rule “do not judge” because our Lord is just and we are given a moral standard to live by. We make judgment calls every single day from what we eat to who we listen to. Righteous judgment is very much needed. The context of Luke 6:37 needs to be understood. This scripture is not about improper judging, but righteous judgment that is not hypocritical.
Now, if we only focused on Luke 6:37 we would not have a proper understanding on what it means to judge and why we need to be careful. Cross referencing is important in Bible study. We need to look at other scriptures discussing the topic and see how they connect. Regarding this scripture, we need to look at Matthew 7.
(NIV) Matthew 7:01-05, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
These verses show us the way we judge others is important. As Melissa Doughtery said in covering this topic (paraphrased), “If we would not like to be judged in the exact same manner we judge others, then we should not judge others in that manner.” (See her video recently covering this topic | Doesn’t Jesus Say Not To Judge?! ) The verses also show us that if we are not hypocritical of the same sin our brother is committing we can rightly judge and then properly help that brother or sister in Christ by pointing out the sin.
One way Christian music can take scripture out of context is making a verse sound like it is about us… when it’s not.
One song I used to sing had the line, “He shall give His angels charge over me,” and the song was all about God providing for us. Overall, most of the lines are okay, but this one line is problematic. Now, going back to referencing, if this scripture sounds a little familiar it should be because it is in the temptation of Jesus Christ in Matthew 4:06.
(NIV) Matthew 4:06, “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'”
This scripture is a reference to Psalm 91 verses 11 and 12 which are about the Savior, not us.
(NIV) Psalm 91:11-13, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.”
I have stubbed my toes too many times in life. I’m positive this scripture is not about me. Scripture does say regarding angels that:
(NIV) Hebrews 1:14, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”
As you can see this has nothing to do with angels having charge over us. The verses referring to that were about Jesus, not us. Sometimes we are tempted to stretch and water down scripture to make its meaning fit what we want it to be. Please be careful. This actually leads right into the next red flag to look out for.
2. Is this song about God or us?
It might seem like an odd question to ask, but it needs to be asked. There are many Christian songs that are well received by the secular world and this should be concerning because the truth of the Gospel is counted foolishness to those who reject it.
(NIV) 1 Corinthians 1:18-19, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
It might help to break down why these songs are attractive and itching to the ears, and what gets left out.
First, we must remember that we all fall short of the glory of God. No one is worthy.
- (NIV) Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
- (NIV) Isaiah 64:06, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
When Christian songs claim God finds us worthy (with no other context) this is simply not true. God showed His love for us when we were not worthy. He doesn’t want us to remain sinners, but to be able to die to sin because God hates sin and sinners (workers of iniquity) are separated from God. For this reason, God sent us the Savior. Can God both love a sinner and hate a sinner? Yes, that’s how awesome He is! Check out the full story here | Why Did A Loving God Kill His Son? (Does God Hate?)
- (NIV) Romans 5:08, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- (NIV) Romans 4:25, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
- (NIV) Psalm 5:04-06, “For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with You, evil people are not welcome. The arrogant cannot stand in Your presence. You hate all who do wrong; You destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful You, LORD, detest.”
This is grace my dear friends. It is undeserved. We are worthy only because of Jesus Christ and only because of what Jesus our Lord and Savior did and how He transforms us in the way of the Spirit. Now please consider, does the song talk about our Savior and the need to repent from sin? Please consider does the song say anything about our Savior and our sinful nature?
When Christian lyrics are vague about the nature of sin, why we need a Savior, and how we can have a relationship with God this is how the world can enjoy the song because the song isn’t clear about Him, His attributes, the lowliness of man, and it does not give Him the praise as our Lord and Savior.
It’s alarming when songs claim we are God’s beloved when Jesus isn’t mentioned. We cannot belong to the Lord unless we are adopted by Him and this is only through Jesus Christ, otherwise, we are sons and daughters of disobedience in sin. The belief of universalism is that all religions lead to God and many Christian songs sound universal to the world, whether intended or not.
- (NIV) Romans 8:13-16, “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
- (NIV) Ephesians 2:01-02, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”
Please consider is God even specified in the song? Is He called Jesus, Father, Son, or Holy Spirit? Or is He simply “God” or “You” as both of these terms can refer to a God who is not the Christian Lord or perhaps be interchanged for someone’s lover.
This is another way the world can enjoy Christian “worship” songs because the song isn’t about Jesus but it’s about us. We are worthy. We are strong. We are loved. I think we all could find some form of comfort in those words. Notice in the New Age, these would be considered affirmations. Let it be noted, dear friends, our strength is found in weakness.
By our own merit, we are not worthy and we are not strong. This is what our true value is as a sinner, dross (waste) to be burned up. This is why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is so beautiful and amazing!
(NIV) 2 Corinthians 12:09-10, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (Our strength is found only in Jesus.)
When comparing the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” to the song, “You Say” who gets the praise and glory? Who is the song most about? God or us? Songs that make us feel good about ourselves will always be attractive to the world, and songs making claims we are the Lord’s without proper context of our sinful nature and the true Gospel is dangerous territory. (I’m using these familiar songs as examples. Please consider the lyrics in light of scripture. What does God say about us in His word?)
What To Consider In Christian Songs? (if a song has these traits it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good or a bad song, rather, these are things to think critically on and hold up to scripture.)
- If scripture is used, is it used properly?
- Is our sinful nature discussed?
- Is the Trinity discussed? Or the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit?
- Are attributes of God the focus point?
- Are our works for the Lord the focus point? (we do this, we do that, we honor the Lord in this way etc.)
- Are we drawn to Jesus in the song or feel empowered about ourselves?
- Is redemption talked about?
- Are we praising the Father for Who He is or what He does for us? (Note: it’s fine to point out the blessings and kindness God shows us. This is just something to consider. Worshiping the Lord in song shouldn’t only be about what He does for us, but also Who He is and how mighty He is in general. 🙂 )
- Are we talked about in a humble way? Is the lowliness of man included?
- Could a non-Christian sing this song with no conviction? They wouldn’t hear the Gospel?
- Could a non-Christian enjoy this song and make it about their god or lover?
- Does the song sound universal?
- What is the song proclaiming? Is it about God?
- Could the lyrics be boasting to ego? Could the lyrics potentially be narcissistic?
- What did the singer/songwriter mean when they wrote the song? Why did they write it? Are they redefining scripture or Orthodox terms? Ex. proclaiming sinners are holy.
To worship means we worship in spirit and truth. Worshiping the Lord is a serious thing and not to be considered lightly. When we worship the Lord in song, let’s rightly divide the lyrics in scripture and be able to support every line we proclaim with our mouth in spirit and truth.
(NIV) John 4:24, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Hymn: Great is Thy faithfulness. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2020, from https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/19
You Say. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2020, from https://www.lyrics.com/track/35311580/Lauren Daigle/You Say
Monthly Scripture – (NKJ) Psalm 85:10, “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”