Quotes (729)

So much of the music invading the churches today seems little more than a carnal imitation of the world. There is very little difference between that which is presented on the church platform and that which is presented on the television or the worldly floor show—except of course, that “religious” words are uttered rather than “secular” ones. But the spirit is of the world; the appeal is to the flesh. This we abhor and reject as having no place in the worship of God. That which is sacred ought not to be prostituted and used as entertainment. If men want to be entertained let them be honest enough to go to some secular hall of amusement and be entertained; let them not pretend to be worshiping or in a service when entertainment is the order of the day. No! When we gather to worship, we want to keep the world out; we want to appeal not to the flesh but to the spirit; we want not the sophistication of the world but the simplicity of Christ.

– William Payne

1938 – 1997

20 thoughts on “Quotes (729)

  1. My wife had itout w ith a “worship leader” one time and she said something that struck me as inspired. This leader wanted to rid the church of the “moldy oldies”, and get some life back into the church. She said this, “Are we up here serenading Jesus or seducing Him?”

    You could have heard a pin drop. The temperature dropped about twenty degrees and we knew, from that moment onwards we weren’t welcome anymore…so be it.


  2. I went to a funeral last week. We sang hymns. I think the popular worship that is around now would have been out of place.

    Two of the hymns we sang were the 23rd Psalm and Abide with me.

    We were talking after, about how meaningful the words of the hymns were. And now, a week later, they are still resonating in my mind.

    To God be the glory.



  3. I’ve discussed this with the “senior pastor” and “worship leader” of my former church. The “senior pastor” agreed that some songs didn’t seem right for corporate worship, but did nothing. The “worship leader” was condescending about his position and supposed wisdom about such things. Of course, he was a Rick Warren disciple. sigh

    While, in my current church, we sing some new songs, no song with a rock beat nor any song without Christ exalting lyrics is sung. We mostly use old hymns and a Psalm now and then. The focus is on lifting the Lord and putting down the creature. The flesh is rebuked, the soul is encouraged.


  4. Revival, wow that’s a very interesting question your wife put to the worship leader. Many are seducing some boyfriend called Jesus, but certainly aren’t worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I found this post appropriate considering the newest fall in CCM–Jennifer Knapp who has been a lesbian for years now, but finally went public without shame:


    I found the questions (veiled comments/slights) of the interviewer to be revealing too. CT is promoting homosexuals now.


  5. That’s okay…it’s Friday. We come from a church which had the youth running everything. Heavy metal concerts to Rappin’ for Christ. Fiji dancers coming from their country to teach us their native dance moves so we can worship God in a unique manner. It’s scary what is being passed off as Christian. Whatever works, whatever attracts and whatever keeps…this is church.


  6. Excellent post! So many are caught up in this superficial form of ‘worship’, and they defend it staunchly. It is a whitewashed tomb, a cup that is clean on the outside but dirty on the inside.
    The reason this garbage is defending so strongly by so many is that it does indeed appeal to the flesh, the emotions. It causes one to have a case of the warm fuzzies, BUT, is it pleasing to the Lord? How many truly ponder that?
    We have forgotten that it’s not about us, it isn’t about an emotional rush. God is holy, holy, holy, we MUST be led by the Spirit as we worship this Holy Majestic Eternal God; if we truly are led by the Spirit, we will understand our own unworthiness; then and only then will we worship our God in spirit and in truth. It will not be worship that is fleshly and led by emotions, it will be worship that is driven by God’s Spirit and bring us to our knees in holy adoration of Him.


  7. it is a heart issue. That is the bottom line. He failed to distinguish what defines an “entertainment” service from christian music. We can fairly assume that he has a strong stance based on HIS OPINION of what is and isn’t acceptable music. One can make true statements and still handle the truth the wrong way. It is true that entertainment in some churches supercedes worship. But what makes music worldly? People enjoying it? That is way off. We are supposed to joyfully praise the Lord. I don’t need to apologize for enjoying music during worship. Who is this guy to define what I offer to the Lord as praise. What separates “religious” words from worshipful words. He didn’t say. There is no way to avoid the fact that some people in EVERY worship service will be worshiping while others won’t be. Even traditional services. To paint all modern music as “entertainment” is ignorant. The fact is, our church has loud rock music in our contemporary worship, and I have no problem worshiping God to it.


  8. Aaron:

    I believe what the author is getting at is that so much music in the church appeals to the flesh. Certainly we see in Scripture that the flesh and the Spirit are antagonistic to each other.

    Not sure what you mean by this: “It is true that entertainment in some churches supercedes worship”. Are you saying entertainment can be part of a worship service? If so, where do we find that concept in Scripture?


  9. Entertainment definition is something that brings enjoyment, correct? Why on earth would I not enjoy worshipping God? Of course I do, He has created me that way! 🙂
    Also, remember that all music was “contemporary” at one time. Who decided when it was time to stop writing music or “singing a new song” to the Lord (Psalm 96:1). Talk about legalistic. Show me a verse that states that we should not be making new music and songs for the Lord and I’ll show you a selection out of the Bible where David is thoroughly enjoying (DANCING EVEN) his worship of the Lord and his wife is punished for looking down on him for it. As for rock music, have you ever read Psalm 150, “Praise the Lord! With trumpet sound… … tambourine and DANCE… strings and pipe… CLANGING cymbals, CLASHING cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!”
    Careful that you are not too critical of worship styles in churches that don’t match your own… you will be tiptoeing across the line to self-righteous legalism.


  10. Jen:

    I spent decades in a legalistic church. So I’m well familiar with man-made rules. Music has been an issue for millenia. What may be innocuous to one is not to another. I am also familiar with David dancing in the street (very “undignified” for the king in those days, no doubt). However, that is no defense for rock music in worship. Similarly, Ps 150 is no defense of rock music either. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating dirge music. But we have become so accustomed to the modern “worship” service, that we have let that dictate what is right and wrong in God’s sight.

    What is the purpose of worship? For our benefit, or for God? It is to bring honor, praise and glory to Him, not to make us “feel blessed”, entertained, or for OUR enjoyment (though we certainly enjoy worshiping and praising God in our spirit). And how does God say we are to worship Him? In spirit and in truth. We cannot worship God with music that excites our flesh, no matter what words of “praise”, “honor”, etc. we try to sanctify and justify it with. The flesh and the Spirit are polar opposite, contrary to each other. God does not allow mixture. That principle is foundational to both Testaments. The Old Testament is crystal clear that the same God Christians worship today, is the God Who condemned “strange fire”, or worship that was not by His specified means. Worship is not a DIY, free for all, make it up as you go, do as you please exercise. We worship God His way, not my way, not your way, not man’s way.


  11. Nicely put, DaveW, so true. We have fallen into the trap of saying, “It all depends on the heart, or the spirit behind it.” Keith Green believed that music was neutral, so does countless others in the CCM culture. We cannot allow our heart or minds to determine what’s acceptable in the sight of God, only He determines this. We cannot allow what was written in the Scriptures to be a loophole in our service to Him either. There was a whole lot of what went on in the pages of the Bible that we wouldn’t even think of doing today. Those “Christians” who use examples like this out of the Bible, know down deep that they are wrong and are trying their best to justify their desires. This is rebellion which is the hand-maiden of idolatry.

    Does it bring focus to God and His glory?

    Does it take the emphasis off of man?

    Does it draw people unto salvation, repentance and a life of holiness?

    Do the words focus on the love, goodness, holiness, justice and sovereignty of God?

    In my experience with the music in most churches that I have attended, the focus is either on our struggles or on us period.

    It’s all about what we think of God.

    We sing about our experiences and our walk and our troubles…this is not what worship is for. Is this not self-explanatory? Worhsip’s sole purpose is to…WORSHIP! Worship who? God. End of Story. If your songs are not COMPLETELY focused on worshipping God, then you’re missing the point of worship.

    One last thing, when Jesus Christ busts down the Eastern Gate, cleans out His house and sets up His kingdom, what kind of music do you suppose will be played to Him as the coronation begins? Will we be seeing heavy metal “death” Christian music? Somehow I don’t think so…


  12. We cannot prescribe how God should be glorified. . . . How have men fooled themselves and dishonored God in the matter of worship! They invent and prescribe forms and modes, when they have no ground to believe that He will accept them. . . . We must not determine these things ourselves, as to how, when, where, whom we please, for this would dishonor rather than credit the cause of God, because this matter wholly depends upon His pleasure. Now anything of our will would . . . subtract from that divine symmetry and concord which encompasses the wisdom, holiness, power, and sovereign grace of God. And we might as well teach Him how He should govern the world, as how He should dispose of us. . . . God is not glorified but in His own way.

    – Dr. John Singleton


  13. I would like to pose this question openly to anyone who would like to answer: What music does not excite the flesh? Or rather, what style or genre of music does not elicit a biological response from its listener?


  14. I think that every sort of music does, that’s the purpose of music. But the main issue of “worship” music is who are we singing to and what is the focus of the words? The motives have to be right, the music has to be directed at our Father, or it is worthless and we will be held accountable for worthless thoughts, words and deeds. When we sing, do we sing only that which glorifies God, or do we sing that which we desire? I like Celtic music and I like classical music and I enjoy listening to folk music from the eastern fishing towns, but unless it glorifies God, then it is a waste of time. That’s the point.


  15. Revivalandreformation,

    I think you have a refreshingly clear and strong sense of what the focus of music for the purpose of corporate worship should be. In reading the comments of this thread, I think it would be safe to say that many who read this, as well as worshippers in many churches, long for a strong theological foundation in the lyrical content of the music we utilize to worship Jesus together with. A lyrical content that, due to an enormous amount of reasons and influences, may be found lacking that depth and focus you rightly espouse in many of the more recent pieces that can be found being used in worship services today.

    I think there are many different perspectives from which to examine a “worship song”, that of congregation member, of songwriter and poet, of musician and even that of pastor. I think the questions you listed in your previous comment are a good measuring stick by which to guage the theological focus of a song that will be used for corporate worship. I believe that focus, that lens of theological and doctrinal soundness, is of the highest importance. However, it strikes me in reading many if the comments here, that genre does not play as big a role in answering those questions in your checklist as lyrical content does. My question to you revivalandreformation, is this: How can your own question of, “Does it [the song] bring glory to God and his creation?” be answered through the vehicle of musical genre?

    As an aside, I know the above is only dealing with music that is to be used for the purposes of worship, but I respectfully challenge the notion that, outside the realm of worship, music is a “waste of time”. How much less beautiful and colourful would our world be were it not for the likes of Beethoven, Pallestrina, Schuubert, Mozart and Hayden “wasting our time” with their efforts. There is value of the highest order in even the lowest and meanest forms of human endeavour, be it for the purpose of Godly worship or for the sake of the aesthetic expression of the human experience.


  16. As an aside, I know the above is only dealing with music that is to be used for the purposes of worship, but I respectfully challenge the notion that, outside the realm of worship, music is a “waste of time”. How much less beautiful and colourful would our world be were it not for the likes of Beethoven, Pallestrina, Schuubert, Mozart and Hayden “wasting our time” with their efforts. There is value of the highest order in even the lowest and meanest forms of human endeavour, be it for the purpose of Godly worship or for the sake of the aesthetic expression of the human experience.

    I completely agree with you J, as I said I enjoy listening to all types of classical music, the point I was making was as the Bible says unless we do what we do for the glory of God, it’s a waste of time. Yes these musicians and composers gave the world beauty in its zenith, but imagine if they composed only for the glory of God? My wife is a concert pianist and has concertized for many years. She has talent like there’s no tomorrow, and she has one of the best attitudes I have ever seen in a classical musician. She will also say that even though the music composed by the Beethovens and Mozarts was beautiful, if the spirit behind the composition wasn’t of God, or God centered, when they composed their pieces, then their efforts were to no avail. Were these pieces beautiful? Yes. Was the technical standard beyond compare? Yes. But did it bring God glory? Did it proclaim the power and majesty of God? Did it exalt His holiness? Did it broadcast His sovereignty? These are the questions we must always have in the forefront of our minds as we do, say or think. Regardless of the genre, generation or purpose behind the medium/project, we must do our very best to bring glory to God in all we do. Perhaps “waste of time” is harsh, but when we gaze upon the glory and power of Jesus Christ one day, all of our missed opportunites will perhaps come flooding back to us…perhaps we might wish we did more for His glory, for that is why we were created in the first place.


  17. It should be remembered that lyrical content does not “sanctify” music we “like” to hear. If we take music that appeals to our flesh, and put “Christian” words, terms and concepts to it, that is quite different from music directed by the Holy Spirit. We can enjoy music in our spirit, or we can choose to enjoy music in our flesh. What many fail to understand or distinguish today is emotion that is controlled by our spirit (under the direction of the Holy Spirit), and emotion that emanates from and gratifies the flesh. That is the issue. If we are to daily put our flesh to death, why would the Christian listen to music that excites his flesh (despite all the “Christian” phraseology)? And certainly, why would God honor such music “to Him” in worship or praise? Such would run directly contrary to His word.

    At best, most “Christian” musicians today take the music of the world (remember the command “love not the world, neither the things of the world”), put “Christian” words or concepts to it (if indeed they do that much), and try to “reach” the world with the message of Christ (all the while appealing to their flesh with the melodies and beats). That is backward from what we see in the Scriptures. Psalms is packed with music lyrics. The lyrics were written FIRST, after that, the chief musician came up with suitable music to fit the words to glorify God.

    If we’ve learned anything from the entire Old Testament, it should be that God is not interested in us doing things “for Him”. What He requires is that we obediently do what He commands us.


  18. So my question remains then David, what specific musical element differentiates one specific genre from another in terms of what qualifies it as appealing to spirit or appealing to flesh. Can you quantify these characteristics universally and archetypally or are these musical elements, like all music itself, fluid and changeable when examined under the lens of culture. How does the musical appeal to the spirit manifest itself behaviourally? How does the musical appeal to the flesh manifest itself behaviourally?

    (And I think there might be a slight bit of gross oversimplification of the Israelite songwriting process when suggesting that all lyrics were written first and music written second. I would never suggest that this methodology was never employed but come now, I think it’s safe to say that there may have been multiple methods behind the madness here! If I were a musician, I’d feel pretty awkward having to pen the music for the ending of Psalm 137… Maybe that happened, maybe it didn’t, I’m just saying let’s give the ancient musical process a little bit more creative credit than that 😉 )


  19. J:

    Obviously some miscommunication here. My reference to Psalms starting with lyrics, then moving to music, was not intended to be an exclusive pattern for songwriting. And not all Psalms were songs. What I was merely attempting to do was draw a distinction between what we see in Scripture, and how that contrasts to how we see most of it done in “Christian” music today (it would seem obvious that today the worldly rhythms and beats come first as an attractant, then lyrics are put to them).

    As for your questions, let me take them one at a time:

    “What specific musical element differentiates one specific genre from another in terms of what qualifies it as appealing to spirit or appealing to flesh.”

    I don’t believe there are any such “musical elements” that would have such qualifications (“music” being a human collection and control of electromagnetic waves).

    Your second question gets closer to the heart of the issue:

    “Can you quantify these characteristics universally and archetypally or are these musical elements, like all music itself, fluid and changeable when examined under the lens of culture.”

    Music has cultural significance. And it is that which is influencial. As one generation, and one culture enjoys certain music, another generation or culture may not, or may be ambivalent toward it. For example, a past generation liked “Big Band” music, which was culturally linked to close dancing. To them, it was part of the social/dating/courting process. There was certainly nothing “spiritual” about it. It appealed strictly to the flesh. Similarly, we could look at other popular genres (Jazz, R&B, Soul, Country, Pop, Rock, Rap, etc.). Then certain musical styles do seem to “fit” a given situation better than others. You wouldn’t hear cartoon music at a wedding, or Disco music at a funeral, etc. Some music is written to evoke certain “moods” that are most common to a given culture. Worldly music is written by worldly people, who are unsaved, and therefore it appeals to them in their unsaved state (hence, it appeals to their flesh). It can range from the mellow to the “exciting” or vigorous, but it is still basically written by fleshly people for their pleasure.

    The power of influence is not in the music per se (though it can be an influencial factor in evoking moods), but how it is associated and appeals to the flesh of a given generational culture. For instance, my dad would call the hard rock I used to listen to “noise”, as it obviously did nothing to excite his flesh, but it appealed to mine.

    The Christian is a “called out one” (ekklesia: the church, the “called out ones”). The Christian was once of the world. He is called to leave the world, and the love of it, behind. The world knows nothing of the things of God, but only what is satisfying to the flesh. The reason worldly music sells is that it appeals to the flesh of a large enough segment of the unsaved culture to be profitable, whether it is Rock, Rap, Country, or some other genre. What once appealed to the Christian’s flesh in music (whatever genre, or mix of genres is irrelevant), must be left behind. What now appeals to the spirit must be grasped.

    And that brings us to your third question:

    “How does the musical appeal to the spirit manifest itself behaviourally? How does the musical appeal to the flesh manifest itself behaviourally?”

    Music that appeals to the individual’s flesh should be self evident and will manifest itself by thoughts and/or behavior that is not consistent with how our thoughts and behavior ought to be as separated/sanctified children of God as described in the Word of God. Similarly, music that appeals to the individual’s spirit will be harmonious to our yielding to the Holy Spirit, and to putting our flesh to death. And that is why putting “Christian” words to music that appeals to one’s flesh is a total farce, and counterproductive to walking in the Spirit.

    In a church gathering, music which excites or appeals to the flesh of any member of the body is a stumbling block to them. And we have to consider the generations that are present so we do not cause them to stumble. Likewise, it would not be a loving act to subject someone to music they find offensive (though we may not). Our liberty should not be used as a stumbling block to others.

    Hope that helped answer some of your questions.


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