We continue to explore godly creative expression, focusing on how it must be done in the Spirit.
Purposes of music in scripture (continued from part 1)
Declaring God’s glory – Isaiah 12:5
Praise – Psalms, Exodus 15 (The Song of Moses). Prophecy and song are two of the most used forms of praise in Scripture. Often, people respond in Scripture with songs and prophecy. They witness a move of God, and respond with expression.
Conviction and judgment – Deuteronomy 31, God gives Moses a song that will be a witness to them about their impending disobedience. Chapter 32 is the song. God Himself ordained the use of song to bring about conviction
Testifying God’s works – 2 Samuel 22/Psalm 18
Ministry – 1 Samuel 16:23; David would play music that caused an evil spirit to depart from Saul. Could also be seen as spiritual warfare. However, do not confuse this with playing songs in a church setting. Shouting, or singing, or playing music loudly does not force a demon into submission. However, song can most definitely be used as a spiritual weapon, when used in the Spirit, with authority. But it is not a magical thing that causes demons to vanish.
When we focus simply on praise, we miss a whole lot of amazing things that God uses music and other creative expressions for. Godly creative expression flows out of an experience with God. The modern distortion tries to present a song, and then cause people to experience God. We shrink this amazing gift down to the idea that a worship leader on stage playing a song will cause someone to experience God. This is an unfair burden to lay upon a person.
Music and other creative expressions cause emotional connections. This is simply part of our design, because these expressions reveal parts of our selves and communicate something. This does not necessarily equate to godliness. These emotional connections can fortify strongholds of pain in our lives and lead us into corruption. Also, misusing creative expressions generally compounds the pain that motivated us in the first place. The contents of our hearts inform our expressions, but the content of creative expressions nourish parts of our hearts, whether for good or bad. Music and other arts hold our affections. They give validation and amplification to our experiences. This is why reformation of creative expression is so important. God has given spiritually fruitful uses for these things to grow the Kingdom, and satan will continuously try to pervert them to bring destruction.
Nebuchadnezzar used music to induce the worship of idols. The Israelites also used music in their worship of the golden calf.
Industry vs Ministry
The Christian music industry is just a music industry with limited subject matter. It is an economic machine of copyrights, salaries, marketing, trends, money, etc. If music is a ministry, why the drive to “make a living” doing ministry? Why can we not use our hands and utilize resources creatively, and minister as we live within our gifts? The way copyrights work, people sell over their expressions in the hopes of an industry to create profit off it. They no longer have control over their expressions. This puts money as a central motivation in the creation of creative expressions, which is a precarious position.
“Worship” in with church buildings is simply an extension of the music industry. Church buildings are public spaces and have to pay for worship songs they play. So now money becomes a factor in the playing of praise songs in a church gathering.
In the New Testament, we are all to bring something to the gathering, specifically including songs for the purposes of teaching and edification.
“Worship” is not singing some songs about God. It is something done in Spirit and in truth, and it involves being a living sacrifice. People try so hard to apply Romans 12:1 to songs on a Sunday morning service, and it doesn’t add up. Praise is wonderful, teaching and admonishing through song is wonderful, prophesying through song is wonderful. And they can be utilized in a lifestyle of worship. But singing songs alone is not worship. It cannot be separated from a life of obedience.
Reformation of the Arts
Reformation of the arts only happens when man’s spirit is renewed, and this only occurs through Jesus Christ. The true meaning of our words and expressions come from a spiritual place, and need to be filled with the Spirit. This has been lost in the modern day, that stresses secular wisdom and practices for preaching and forming “worship teams”, both of which often involve contracts.
The reformation of the arts will express the things of God. This doesn’t have to look like one specific form. God’s glory is manifold, and humans are complex and unique. It comes back to our heart and what comes out of it and what goes in to it.
What has been lost in all of this is the spontaneous impetus of the Holy Spirit to move on believers to create or express. Followers of God should be aiming to declare the glory of our Lord, and our creative expressions are deep and nuanced ways to express things about Him.
Enter the Worship Circle – All I Need www.entertheworshipcircle.com Used by permission.
This episode originally broadcast live on August 28, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO
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