A City Set On a Hill
Surviving the Seventieth Week by Reforming Fundamentalism and Establishing Cities of Refuge
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Holy Spirit Filling Through Godly Music
Copyright 2010 by Raul E. Lopez, MD, MDiv

The other means or conditions for Spirit filling found in this passage are expressed as positive commands or admonitions. The first positive vehicle is music, an entity which affects our emotions. Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; (Ephesians 5:19). A detailed discussion of this topic can be found in other books. It is the object of this essay to stress the existence of good music and bad music. Music is not spiritually neutral. There are several example of the positive effect of music in the Old Testament. Elijah used music to prepare to receive a prophetic message "But Jehoshaphat said, 'Is there no prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of the Lord by him?' And one of the servants of the king of Israel answered and said' Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah'. . . . And Elisha said '. . . but now bring me a musician.' And it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him. And he said. . ." (II Kings 3:11,15-16).

Music not only can help fill a person with the Holy Spirit, it can also drive away unclean spirits. This is seen in the use of music by David to drive away an evil spirit which was tormenting Saul. "Let our master now command your servants, who are before you, to seek out a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall be that he will play it with his hand when the distressing spirit from God is upon you, and you shall be well. . . . And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him" (I Samuel 16:16,23). These two verses indicate that music can have a positive spiritual impact.

On the other hand, Satan is described as a skilled musician "The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers. . . " (Ezekiel 28:13-14). Even though some versions translate the words 'timbrel' and 'pipes' differently, the most common meaning of the two Hebrew words which appear here is, indeed, 'timbrel' and 'pipe.' Satan uses his musical skills to advance his agenda. When Israel disobeyed God and went after the golden calves their worship included music and dancing. This music was distinctive. Moses was able to recognize it from the mountain. "And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, 'There is a noise of war in the camp' But he said 'It is not the voice of those who shout in victory, nor is it the voice of those who cry out in defeat, but the voice of those who sing that I hear.' So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses' anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hand and broke them at the foot of the mountain" (Exodus 32:17-19). In this passage pagan music had a style and quality which distinguished it from other types of music. Moses was able to distinguish it from the other types of music which he mentioned.

The music of the world is characterized by sensuality and anger. A driving beat is associated with sensuality, and chaos is associated with anger. Even the sounds produced by the musical instruments of the world are chaotic, like, for example, the characteristic overdriven electric guitar sound. Some songs openly advocate illicit sex and murder. Our brain gravitates towards the principle of complexity. Something complex is something that integrates both order and variety. Complex structures have high levels of information and of order and are considered beautiful by our brain. However, from a mathematical point of view repetition and randomness have the least amount of information. Information can be roughly defined as the shortest amount of letters or symbols it takes to describe something. A long driving beat can be summarized by the short phrase as "play this particular note 1000 times." A long random sequence can be summarized as "play any different note you want 1000 times." However, most song melodies need a long string of notes to define them. Using this definition, much modern music is simplistic and ugly.

Praise is sometimes referred to as a sacrifice. "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name."(Hebrews 13:15). Since Christian music is a form of praise it is also a type of sacrifice. The Old Testament devoted many chapters to the proper objects and methods of sacrifice. God was greatly displeased when the wrong sacrifices were offered "And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, [is it] not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, [is it] not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts."(Malachi 1:8). God wanted the best and the cleanest animals to be the subjects of sacrifice. The same is true of music. We should not offer to the Lord the same style of music which is used to describe the murder of a policeman or of a parent or to exalt the use of drugs or used to promote degrading sex. Music is a powerful tool for association. When we listen to a melody for a second time it often brings back memories associated with the setting associated with the first time we listened to that song. Church should not be the place where people saved from a worldly lifestyle are again forced to confront the music associated with their past.

In contrast to this, the song of the believer is described as a "new song". In fact, 'new' is used with 'song' nine times in the Bible. One example is Psalm 40 where David says "He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord" (Psalm 40:2-3). Another translation of this passage is "He also brought me out of a noisy dungeon (or pit of chaos), out of the bubbling mud." The emphasis is that the old life was full of noise and instability. In contrast, the new life has a solid foundation ("set my feet upon a rock") and a new song. Since the old song is characterized by noise and chaos the new song, in order to be distinguishable must by contrast, must be characterized by order and harmony. Therefore, Christian music must have two characteristics, it must be distinct from that of the world in order to be identifiable as 'new' and it must differ in that it is less noisy or chaotic. The result of orderly and harmonious Christian music which praises God is that "many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord." Singing a new song is not optional, it is a command. David also said "Oh sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples" (Psalm 96:1-3). Songs of praise and evangelism must be 'new' songs. By following this principle we will help bring the unsaved to the Lord and help fill the saved with the Holy Spirit.

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