How Holy do You Want to Be?
Music is very important to me. I know a lot of people will tell you that, and for me it is true. (Not to say that it is not true for others.) I’ve been playing piano since I could talk, so I jokingly consider it my second language. I have learned many instruments, and I love to sing. I sing almost all day long.
We need to be careful what we listen to.
I used to love pop music. Actually, my favorite artists are usually non-pop artists, but I liked what was on the radio. I like anything catchy, anything that gets me moving.
Papa has really been convicting me to be discerning in my music choices. As a writer, it is good to listen to upbeat music while writing. Ideas come more freely, and it keeps me in a good mood. I do not have a computer of my own, so I often use websites like YouTube, Pandora, and the like to listen to music. I get tired of picking out what I want to listen to, so I will find a random pop playlist.
But it just does not work.
Almost all of the lyrics are about sex, drugs, or alcohol. They are Babylonian lyrics, worshipping the Babylonian lifestyle. Let’s just have fun tonight. Let’s just pretend we’re in love. Let’s get drunk. Let’s just dance. Be who you want to be. Go with the flow. Follow your heart. Do what feels right. It’s all about love.
As emissaries of Messiah, we are supposed to be set-apart as He is set-apart. What does it look like when someone who is supposed to be modeled after the holiness of God is participating in a culture that does not honor His holiness?
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
Be not conformed to this world! We are supposed to be modeled after our Father, not man’s sin.
And you may tell me that you are confident in who you are, and that you just enjoy the music. Sure, that sounds nice. But that is not set-apart thinking.
YHWH commanded the Israelites to kill everyone when they came into the promise land. They were to tear down ALL idols, ALL temples. Anything that could even tempt them to idolatry was to be removed. No peace treaties, no compromise, no tolerance.
Yeshua goes so far as to say,
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. Mt. 5:29-30
Yeshua teaches that we should violently guard against sin. Do not even approach it. Do not even let yourself be tempted. Think not that you can just be like Odysseus, and have your friends tie you up to the mast to resist the Siren’s call. It does not work that way.
As a musician, I have tried to just let myself enjoy good music. But as I mentioned, I sing most of the day. If I have been listening to sinful music, it will slip out when I sing. What kind of impression does it make to my friends if the good Christian girl they know is singing about sex and alcohol?
Well, some people may think, “Oh, she’s not an upright prudish Christian? Cool. She’s just like anybody else.”
And according to some people, that’s a good thing. It’s important to be relatable, and understandable. Right? No. I would rather be the blessed of Psalm 1:
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
I want leaves that do not whither. I want to be planted by streams of living water. As Paul says, in the world but not of the world. We are called to be like Daniel, a Hebrew in the midst of Babylonians, and yet not abiding by their cultural rules.
But it is not even simply about how people view us; it is about fostering holiness.
What you say, and thus what you sing, affects how you think. As I have mentioned previously, using the word “blessed” instead of “lucky” has given me a bigger picture of God. Similarly, if you are singing about sex, booze, and partying, some part of you is going to think that is okay. Or maybe even a bigger part of you. It makes you a little sympathetic towards that kind of fun, because the song is catchy, and you enjoy it. It makes lawless behavior fun by way of catchy lyrics and a fun melody.
We can be missional without participating in a lawless and wicked culture. Calling it lawless and wicked sounds a little harsh, but it’s true. Paul says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” (Gal 5) People who regularly expose themselves to lawless culture do not think it is wicked, for they have been desensitized. They make excuses for it. “It’s art,” they say. It may be art, but it is still unholy.
Beloved, you must avoid unholy behavior and thoughts at all costs! It does not make you self-righteous or prudish, it makes you holy and set-apart. Our behavior is supposed to give honor to God. But how can listening music that worships what He finds abominable honor God? Papa will not smite you, but it will not bring you any closer to Him.
Odysseus’ ropes may have protected him from joining the Sirens, but they did not prevent him from desiring the Sirens. My brothers and sisters, dedicate yourselves to following Yeshua in holiness. Destroy the Asherim groves. Cut off your right hand. Pluck out your right eye. Take every thought captive to Messiah. Do not step with the wicked.
Are you listening to unholy music?