Music: Good, Bad, or In Between?
Elvis is not in the Bible, but the Bible has plenty to say about modern music.

deanna asks: im 16 years what does the bible say about listening to wordly music i dont want be just limited to christian music i love it but i like other stuff too i just want to make the right choices in life
Question about Right and Wrong in the Bible: Music
Motivation - Curiosity: Sincere curiosity; Guidance: Making a decision
Bible view - The Word of God - [question 26, Saturday, 13-Aug-2011]

Think on These Things

In conclusion, my brothers, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.
- Philippians 4:8 [GNB]

God is good, Deanna. One of the good things God has given us is music. It is fun, relaxing, enjoyable, entertaining, and invigorating to listen to music. If you sing or play an instrument it can be even more fun. Music is great!

But, wait. Some music is awful. Sometimes music drags you down to the gutter. Sometimes music fills your head with evil words and your body with sex-charged rhythms. Listening to bad music can make you feel bad, it can cause you to do bad things, and bad music can even ruin your life forever.

Music comes in every flavor: from completely delicious to totally repulsive. Here is what the Bible says: Eat the good stuff, and spit out the bad.

The Bible verse in the box at the right gives God's guidelines for music. These same guidelines apply to things similar to music, that is, things that can be good, bad, or in between. It says to fill your mind only with things that are:

  • True
  • Noble
  • Right
  • Pure
  • Lovely
  • Honoable

It should be clear to you, Deanna, that some music meets biblical standards, and some does not.

You should also realize that you cannot fully trust the labels people put on music. Just because a piece of music is labelled 'Christian' does not mean it meets the standards listed above. Likewise, some music labelled 'Rock', 'Country', 'Jazz' or any other modern label can, and often does, meet the biblical standard. You have to decide for yourself on a song-by-song basis. But be careful, God holds you responsible to make good decisions.

We commend you, Deanna for asking this question. As you say, making the right life choices is extremely important. As a young person you will soon face major decisions. In the book Party of Two by Tim and Beverly LaHaye, the opening chapter asks this sobering question: 'Did you know that life's most crucial decisions will be made between the ages of 18 and 25?' Questions like what to do after High School, what career to pursue, where to live, what church to attend, and who to marry, these are BIG questions. The way you handle music now will help you with choices like these in the future. Proper handling of music is on the job training for more decisions coming your way.

Don't worry. You are on the right track. Seeking counsel from Bible-oriented people is very wise. This verse from Proverbs encourages seeking many counselors:

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
- Proverbs 11:14 [KJV]

The Power to Touch

Choosing good music is a critical decision. Music has the power to touch God, and music has the power to touch your emotions. You can see the very spiritual power of music in the passage from 2 Chronicles where Solomon dedicates the newly constructed Temple:

and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and kinsmen, clothed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps and lyres, standing east of the altar, and with them one hundred and twenty priests blowing trumpets in unison when the trumpeters and the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice accompanied by trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the LORD saying, 'He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting,' then the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.
- II Chronicles 5:12ff [KJV]

Dedication of Solomon's Temple
With its emphasis on praise, the Bible says music can touch spiritual things. Because there are good and evil spirits, you must handle music with care.

Solomon commissioned a great company of musicians to participate in the dedication ceremony, and the musicians played their instruments and sang songs of praise to God.

Notice what happens at the end of the passage. The house of the LORD filled with a cloud. This cloud, what Jewish scholars call the Shechinah, implies a spiritual manifestation of God's presence. Music was associated with God's presence back in Bible times, and so it is associated with God's presence today. Praising God with instruments and voices is a very biblical undertaking.

Anything that can touch your emotions and your spirit must be handled with extreme care. Deanna -- handle music with care!

Some music today is a product of disoriented, sinful people. Spiritually, this music is evil. It is full of despair, drugs, sex, Satan, and the occult. Shun this type of music. Run away from it. Resist it. Take no part in it. Don't even get close to it. Consider Jesus's teaching on adultery:

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
- Matthew 5:27ff [NASB]

Adultery (sex outside marriage) is forbidden by the Ten Commandments. Fornication (sex before marriage) is likewise forbidden. But Jesus takes it one step further. Jesus tells us to guard ourselves against even the potential of sinning. If music, or anything else, has the possibility of sinfulness, leave it alone!

This is hard to do. Many times it is difficult to cut yourself off from a godless crowd. After all, everyone wants to be popular. There were some people in the book of Malachi who looked at the 'popular' crowd and said:

It is useless to serve God ... As we see it, proud people are the ones who are happy. [Malachi 3:14ff, GNB]

But a few verses later God lets everyone know what happens:

Once again my people will see the difference between what happens to the righteous and to the wicked ... evil people will burn like straw ... (righteous people) will be free and happy as calves let out of a stall. [Malachi 4:1ff, GNB]

Hang in there. Be like Deanna. Do the right thing.

The War Within

Let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature. For what our human nature wants is opposed to what the Spirit wants, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to what our human nature wants. These two are enemies, and this means that you cannot do what your want to do
- Galatians 5:16ff [paraphrase]

Suppose you are listening to music and your emotions turn from simple enjoyment to sexual lust. It is time to turn the music off, or leave the place where the music is being played. The Bible has a lot of good things to say about sex, but always in the context of marriage. Sex before or outside marriage is a recipe for trouble, big trouble, and the Bible warns against it.

Part of being a Christian is having the Holy Spirit living within you. You should understand that it is very normal to have a war going on inside yourself. The apostle Paul explains this in the verse in the box. There is the Spirit (God) and there is the flesh (human nature), and these two don't get along at all. They fight with each other all the time.

If your chosen music feeds the Spirit, that's good. If it feeds the flesh, that's bad. Your own conscience will tell you who is winning the war. Don't give the flesh ammunition by listening to ungodly music.

You Are Not Alone

Children, it is your Christain duty to obey your parents, for this is the right thing to do. 'Respect your father and mother' is the first commandment that has a promise added: 'so that all may go well with you, and you may live a long time in the land.' Parents, do not treat your children in such a way as to make them angry. Instead, raise them with Christian discipline and instruction.
- Ephesians 6:1ff [paraphrase]

Deanna, as a young person you are in transition between childhood and adulthood. Until the time when you are out on your own, outside your parent's house, you are obliged by the Bible to do what your parents tell you to do (as long as it's legal). Likewise, your parents are obliged to provide a loving atmosphere without anger.

If your parents forbid certain music, respect them, and the Bible, by not listening to it.

Likewise, if you are a Mom or Dad, consider the list of qualities from Philippians 4 (first section above) to test the music in question.

These biblical mandates are not to make life difficult. In fact, they have been proven over the centuries to make life better: 'so that all may go well with you.'

If you are not a member of a church or synagogue, Deanna, join one. Here you will find like-minded people who will help you understand life's joys and sorrows. More importantly, being a member of a Bible-oriented group holds you responsible for your actions, just as God does.

Mon, 26-Jun-2017 03:44:34 GMT, unknown: 642321 ABPU1EVS2fKDs
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