First – In this article we will look at several prerequisites that must be taken into consideration before a person can find the mind of God on the subject of Christian music.

A prerequisite is something that is required before a task is done. What are some of the prerequisites for choosing the right answers on an exam? They would include listening in class, doing the assignments, studying the material, and being rested.

Like taking an exam, choosing godly music is not a matter of guesswork. Certain prerequisites are needed before you can make the right choices.

In this article I want to suggest four prerequisites that you will need to choose godly music.

1. A Desire to Please God

(Ps 86:11) “Teach me thy way, oh LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.”

a. This desire is the most important prerequisite you can possess.

  1. The psalmist desired that his heart might fear God’s name. We need to fear, tremble at, and honour God’s name, but positively this means to please God.
  2. We naturally desire to please self. If you are determined to please self, you will never choose godly music.
  3. I think we would all agree that pleasing self often displeases God. The Scriptures verify this too.
    • (Jer 17:9) “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
    • (Ge 6:5) “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” That was Noah’s day, but it sounds like today!
  4. Pleasing or glorifying God must be our supreme desire.
    • David prayed, (Ps 19:14) “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, oh LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”
    • (1Co 10:31) “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

b. Here are a few reasons why this desire is so important.

  1. It will keep your focus on God.
  2. It will give you a biblical goal for your music.
  3. It will keep you from missing God’s best for your life.
  4. If we displease God, we will lose rewards in heaven.

2. An Eagerness to Learn What is Biblical

(Ps 86:11) “Teach me thy way, oh LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.”

a. Here is the prerequisite that will lead you to truth.

  1. God’s word is truth.
    • (Ps 119:160) “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.”
    • (Ps 119:128) “Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.”
  2. Take God’s Word as your supreme and ultimate authority.  I’ve had people say to me, “I don’t care what the Bible says.” That is a dangerous thing to say, because the Bible is God’s mind concerning everything he wants us to know.

b. Being eager to learn what is biblical will keep you motivated.

  1. Finding God’s mind concerning music is not as easy as falling off a log. If it was, the controversy over music would not exist. You will need to study the Bible carefully with a desire to learn truth so you can please God.
  2. Eagerness will keep you going. Eagerness is a keen desire. If you do not have the prerequisite of “eagerness to learn what is biblical,” the chances are great that you will never find the truth or will never accept it.

3. A Willingness to Conform to God’s Standard

(Ps 86:11) “Teach me thy way, oh LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.”

a. This is the prerequisite that leads to outward results.

  1. Notice the willingness to conform to God’s standard in the Psalmist’s words, “I will walk in thy truth.”
  2. When God reveals the truth from his Word about music, we must have a willingness to conform to his standard. It may not be easy. The world may think it odd. (Ps 18:30) “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.”

b. If you know the truth, but are unwilling to conform, it is sin.

  1. The apostle James made this clear, (Jas 4:17) “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
  2. Before we even begin our study of music, you need to settle it in your heart that you WILL conform to God’s standard.
    • If you are hesitant to settle this in your heart, are you resisting because you suspect that your music differs from the biblical truth that pleases God and forms his standard? Is that a good reason to hesitate?
    • Take time to ponder this. God loves you. He knows that is best for you.

4. A Basic Understanding of Music

a. All music consists of melody, harmony, rhythm

  1. Melody is the tune of music. Melody is the tune you sing.
  2. Harmony is one note (or more) that complements the melody. “The sounding of two or more musical notes at the same time in a way that is pleasant or desired.” – The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
  3. Rhythm is movement, timing, beat, and pulse. “Movement in musical time, with periodical recurrence of accent; the measured beat or pulse which marks the character and expression of the music.” – Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

b. Not all kinds of rhythm are pleasing to the Lord.

  1. Naturally, melody leads, harmony complements, and rhythm keeps the pace. When this order is changed, it causes confusion. If harmony dominates, the sound is frustrating. If rhythm dominates, the sound is agitating.
  2. Melody and harmony are fairly innocent, but rhythm can cause trouble. Here are the two main types of rhythm.
    • Straight rhythm. This emphasises the natural beats of a song. Marches are often 2|2 time emphasising the first beat (e.g., ONE, two, ONE, two). In 3|4 time, it emphasis the first beat (e.g., ONE, two, three, ONE, two, three). In 4|4 time, it emphasis the first and third beats (e.g., ONE, two, three, four, ONE, two, three, four).
    • Backbeat or off beat rhythm. This emphasises the unnatural beats of a song. In 4|4 time, backbeat emphasises the first and third beats (e.g., one, TWO, three, FOUR, one, TWO, three, FOUR). “This distinctive [backbeat] rhythmic style emerged in the late nineteen-forties in rhythm and blues recordings and is the backbone of rock and roll music, used today in virtually all pop music.” – John Blanchard and Dan Lucarini, Can we Rock the Gospel?, p. 55. (Read Micky Hart, p. 55)
    • Understanding the difference between straight and backbeat rhythm is a key to identifying godly music.
  3. Straight rhythm appeals to our spirit, while backbeat rhythm appeals to our flesh.
    • Straight rhythm may stir you to march, or tap your toe. There is nothing sensual or sinful about this.
    • On the other hand, backbeat rhythm will stir you to jig, twist, dance, or sway. These are sensual actions. Our flesh likes these sensual movements. Why? Because backbeat rebels against natural rhythm, and as sinners rebellion is part of our sin nature.
    • Read quotes from “Can we Rock the Gospel?” p. 115.
  4. Scooping (up to a note), sliding (down from a note), and breathy singing often accompanies backbeat music and increases its sensual appeal.

Conclusion: The four prerequisites we have identified this evening are very important in choosing godly music. Without them, you will likely follow your feelings instead of the Bible. Can you honestly from the heart pray as the Psalmist, Ps 86:11) “Teach me thy way, oh LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name”? If God identifies a piece of music you enjoy as fleshly, will you please God and conform to his standard? I urge you tonight to surrender your will in this area.