Music and the Spiritual Mind
Music has been called the only universal language. This is because it can go beyond the mind to touch the heart, the emotions, and therefore communicate in something other than language. Music is one of the most powerful medias on earth, and the devil has taken great advantage of it. However, music belongs to the Lord, not the devil, and it is one of our important mandates to retake music for the kingdom.
Another one of the devil’s greatest victories over Christians has been to promote doctrines that have them thinking that God does not want to move them through their emotions, but only through their will. It is true that He wants us to have a will that is strong and resolute to walk in righteousness and do His will, but there is much more to the Christian life than just obedience—there is worship, and worship is profoundly emotional.
How would you like it if your spouse came up to you and said, “Darling, I don’t feel anything for you, but I love you out of obedience to the Lord.” How does the Lord feel when we sing songs to Him with no emotion? To do so must be the ultimate demonstration of a soul that is gripped by the Laodicean lukewarmness at best.
Obedience comes from the will, but worship comes from the heart, the emotions. That is why the Lord said in John 4:24, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." If our worship is devoid of emotion then it is less than a waste of time—it is hypocrisy.
So how do we speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs? Does that mean when we meet each other on the street we should sing our conversations to each other? I don’t think that is what the apostle meant. This is a directive to put messages into song. In this way the message can touch the heart as well as the mind and therefore go much deeper. This is why the great hymns are those that proclaim the great truths of the faith. Some have a deep and powerful theology, others great teachings that edify those who sing them. The great Christian songs are the ones that have depth of content in their words as well.
We must also recognize that this verse does not just exhort us to sing to the Lord but to His people as well. One of the ways we worship, or serve the Lord is by serving His family, the church.
When the Lord first started giving our worship leaders at MorningStar a new direction for our music, we did not know what to call it. Most of our songs were exhortations to the church to stand for truth and righteousness and to resist the evil strongholds that were capturing so many of the Lord’s people. Some felt that all worship should stir an adoration for the Lord, promoting intimacy with Him, and they did not like our music, which we understood. However, we have spent many years laying our worship foundation and knowing that the Lord has directed us this way.
Just as King David was one of the greatest worshipers in Scripture, as well as one of the greatest warriors, we were told that for us it was now time for war. We finally started calling our music war-ship instead of worship. Most of the songs were not the kind that drew you into deep intimacy with the Lord, but rather instilled a resolution to stand for truth and righteousness, and against the great evils of our times. Since that time we have gone through different stages in our music, but there remains a militancy in both the beat and the words to our music. Even the songs that are intended to promote intimacy with the Lord tend to have an aggressiveness to them. These are born out of a fellowship of people who are aggressively pursuing the Lord and His kingdom. There are other churches and ministries that are speaking other things through their psalms and hymns, which is their message, and this is right for them because it reflects who they are.
When I travel to speak at a church or ministry, I often do not know what my message to them will be until I hear their worship service. I can often tell by the songs they sing what the Lord is doing in them at that time. This is not always the case, but it usually will be if there is harmony between the worship leader and what is going on in the church body. In this way I try to discern what the Lord is doing in the church so I will only plant seeds that I know will get watered or water seeds that have already been planted. My goal is never to just have a good message, but a relevant one that bears fruit.
In this same way we can tell much about where the world is headed by the music that is popular. By this we can also at times discern the schemes of the devil. We can also discern that sometimes the Lord speaks to the world through secular music, and by this we can tell what He is trying to do and say to those who do not know Him.
The bottom line is that songs are spiritual, and a powerful media for communicating. The church must learn to use this media skillfully.