Second – Now I want us to learn the characteristics of the sound of music, the lyrics of music, and the delivery of music. Then I want us to learn how to sift them through God’s Bible grid.

(1Th 5:21-22) “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” This verse gives us God’s mind about several things. First, God commands us to test ALL things. In doing so, we will find that ALL things are either good or evil. Then, we are to hold tightly ALL good things that pass the test. And stay away from ALL evil things that fail the test. I think all things include our music, don’t you?

In the last article we learned that music consists of melody, harmony, and rhythm. Now I want us to learn the characteristics of the sound of music, the lyrics of music, and the delivery of music. Then I want us to learn how to sift them through God’s Bible grid.

1. The Characteristics of the Sound of Music

a. The sound of music is a language

  1. Without words, the sound of music speaks to us. Music is not amoral or neutral.
    • One note is neutral, but a musical combination of notes sends a message. In the same sense paint is neutral, but a painting has a message, an alphabetic letter is neutral but a word contains a message.
    • Straight rhythm produces a different effect than does backbeat rhythm. The former is natural and wholesome; the latter is unnatural and sensual.
  2. The sound of music affects us emotionally
    • The sound may make us sad, cheerful, patriotic, peaceful, calm, scared, full of suspense, uplifting, hyped up, tense, romantic, lustful, high, or rebellious.
    • Movie makers use the sound of music to give reality and life to the script.
  3. The sound of music affects us physically
    • The sound may make us feel like marching, tap our toe, relaxing, dancing, moving sensually, or even fighting.
    • People often choose their music by their mood (according to Web blogs) confirming that the sound of music affects us emotionally and physically.

b. The effects of the sound of music are diverse

  1. he effects may be either good or bad, moral or immoral, decent or indecent, spiritual or fleshly.
  2. God is clearly against evil.
    • (Ps 34:14) “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”
    • (1Th 5:22) “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
    • (2Ti 2:22) “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
  3. Because the sound of music may affect us adversely, not every sound of music pleases the Lord.

2. The Characteristics of Music’s Lyrics

a. The lyrics are the words of a song.

  1. The words of a song may be godly, wholesome, edifying, vague, ungodly, filthy, or blasphemous.
  2. The words may praise God or curse him. They may promote virtue or vice. They may be patriotic or rebellious. The words of a song come from the heart of the author. Jesus said, (Lu 6:45) “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

b. Lyrics must match the sound or it is foolishness

  1. Gentle music does not fit with rebellious words. Neither does a lively march fit with mournful words.
  2. With the same reasoning we see that spiritual words are incompatible with fleshly backbeat music. They send conflicting messages.

3. The Characteristics of Music’s Delivery

a. Singing styles

  1. The singer may sing straight, breathy, sliding, scooping, below pitch, showy, etc.
  2. Styles other than straight (i.e., traditional or natural) attract attention and often make the song more sensual or appealing to the flesh.

b. The atmosphere

  1. The atmosphere may be calm, lit, dark, romantic, dazzling, flashing, eerie, nightclub-type, worldly, demonic.
  2. The atmosphere at a rock concert or a nightclub is designed to contribute to the sensual fleshly music. A reverent, respectful, God-centred atmosphere at church harmonizes with godly, straight, edifying music.

c.The musician’s appearance

  1. His dress and outward look may be neat, modest, immodest, sensuous, crude, effeminate, wild, or demonic-looking.
  2. His appearance is not accidental. It intentionally matches the sound and the lyrics, or sometimes just the sound. If the sound is calm and uplifting, the musician’s appearance will generally match it. If the sound is backbeat and sensual, the musician’s appearance will likely be wild or immodest.

4. We Must Sift Music’s Characteristics Through the Bible Grid

a. What is the Bible grid?

  1. The Bible grid is God’s standard by which we are to live. Here are a few of the many verses that make up that grid.
    • (Ro 12:2) “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
    • (Ro 13:14) “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”
    • (2Co 6:17) “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,”
    • (Eph 5:11) “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
    • (1Pe 1:14-16) “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
  2. Here is what God said we must do. (Read text 1Th 5:21-22)
    • Prove or test all things, including music. See if it meets God’s standards. It must not be worldly, fleshly, lustful, unclean, or a work of darkness, but holy.
    • Hold fast the good that meets God’s standards.
    • Abstain from (keep away from) every form of evil.

b. What characteristics of music pass the Bible grid?

  1. The sound must not be worldly, fleshly, lustful, unclean, a work of darkness, but holy. If the sound mimics the backbeat music of a nightclub, tavern, disco, or rock concert, where the works of darkness thrive, (even if the backbeat is soft), it will not sift through God’s grid. The backbeat is unnatural, rebellious, and appealing to the sensual flesh.
  2. The lyrics must not be worldly, fleshly, lustful, unclean, works of darkness, but holy. If they contain even one swearword or dirty word, they fail to pass through the Bible grid. If they are “Christian” but vague, they may also fail. 
    • The term “crossover artist” may refer to musical performers and groups that are Christian music artists, who many times originally are marketed through Christian record labels, radio stations, churches and other Christian media but who start selling in mainstream secular markets as well…. The first major artist crossover was by Amy Grant, with her 1985 album Unguarded and 1991 hit song “Baby Baby” from the highest selling Christian album Heart in See also, The Battle for Christian Music, by Tim Fisher, p. 188
  3. The delivery must not be worldly, fleshly, lustful, unclean, a work of darkness, but holy. Do the style, atmosphere, and appearance of the singer pass God’s standard? If it is fashioned after the former lusts of the ungodly, reject it.
  4. The lyrics of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) may pass the Bible grid, but if its sound and delivery fail the test, we must reject it – even if we happen to like it!

Conclusion: we have examined the characteristics of music. Music is more than just words. Music is sound, lyrics, and delivery. Each of these characteristics can be good or bad, decent or indecent. All three must be right for the music to be acceptable to God. Read our text again. Music is not a matter of preference or taste. It is a matter of right and wrong. Will you begin evaluating your music by God’s standard?