So Called Worship MusicVolume 2, Number 15
Created Date: November 10, 2005
Posted Date: November 10, 2005
Vol 2 - No 15, November 10, 2005
(A parenthetic commentary on worship music / sanctification):
Music is powerful and can influence for good or evil. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato has been quoted as saying "I do not care what subjects you teach in your schools and universities. Let me teach and control music and I will control your society." Music is mentioned many times in the Bible. It is prominent in most churches today where the practice thereof runs from old hymns at one end of the spectrum to so-called Christian rock at the other. It is a form of worship and reflects how the Word of God is viewed and understood by worshipers and thus is can cause animosity and split churches when there are disagreements. Any church wishing to accurately reflect God's Word in worship must choose music based on that Word, not just on a catchy tune or lyrics.
This subject came to mind when two (2) modern "Christian songs" came to the author's attention while preparing the last few Faith Studies that examined sanctification (making holy) of the believer.
Purify my heart, let me be as gold, and precious silver
Purify my heart, let me be as gold, pure gold.
Purify my heart, Cleanse me from my sin,
And make me holy. Purify my heart,
Cleanse me from my sin, deep within.
Refiners fire, my heart's one desire
Is to be holy, set apart for You, Lord.
I choose to be, holy, set apart for You my master,
Ready to do your will.
Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary,
Pure and holy, tried and true.
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living,
Sanctuary for You.
What do worshipers singing these songs understand about sanctification in their lives? What ideas do these songs convey? Those offering these songs as their worship and prayer are asking for purification, cleansing, holiness (sanctification) in order to prepare themselves to be a dwelling place for the Lord (a sanctuary.) These are noble requests but unfortunately they ignore the means by which sanctification and indwelling is actually accomplished in the believer and instead imply that all this can be done by human will and imploring words.
First of all, Refiner's Fire and Sanctuary Song claim a desire on the part of the petitioner to be holy and fit for God's use: "I choose to be, holy, set apart for you my master," but the scriptures state it is not possible for the unregenerate man to seek after God and to be righteous. Isaiah teaches that the natural man cannot even hear God's Word: "Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous? yea, there is none that sheweth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there is none that heareth your words." -. The Apostle Paul quotes from this passage when he describes the total depravity and hopelessness of mankind: "What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." - Romans :9 - 12.
Second, these songs ignore the reality of how sanctification and holiness is imparted. In the last few studies we examined how Israel had to be refined and shed of their sin, which was a lack of faith in God's Word, before they could enter the Promised Land - I Corinthians 10:7 - 10. That refining process meant two things had to be accomplished: 1) the old sinful flesh had to die,and; 2) those still alive had to be circumcised, . Only after being thus prepared could Israel be cleansed from sin (sanctified) and a fit habitation for God's use. The Apostle Paul revealed that Israel and the process by which they were sanctified is an example for us today - I Corinthians 10:11.
The songs in question ignore the most important fact of the believer's sanctification during this day and age of Grace, and that is we are indeed set aside and made holy because of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. As was observed in our last study, His death is our death, His life is our life,, and we are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, . Thus it is futile to request what is already accomplished. On the contrary, the believer owes thanks to God for what has been done by and through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some may argue that even though the believer's standing is sanctified in Christ his/her walk or manner of life can nevertheless betray that standing. This is true and thus the exhortation by the Apostle Paul to live sanctified lives that are worthy of the standing in Christ. But this is not done by some osmosis brought on by prayerful singing, it is accomplished by living as described by the Apostle Paul in such passages as Ephesians 4:1 - 6:9 where he teaches how the believer is to walk worthy of his/her standing. In other words, those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ stand in Him as sanctified and holy, therefore they should live like it. The proof comes out every day in the believer's manner of life, actions, speech and interaction with others, not in songs sung on Sunday morning at church.
The question remains as to what happens when a believer does not walk (live) in accordance with their standing in Christ. The answer is that God takes care of those who go astray. This teaching can be found many places in scripture but is clearly stated in the Epistle to the Hebrews: "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." -.
Looking around at those singing Refiner's Fire and Sanctuary Song in church on Sunday morning makes one wonder if those who know the Lord in truth realize they are indeed sanctified sanctuaries and so are asking for something they already have. But, if they are not living as such, then by singing these songs as a prayer they are really asking God for chastisement (a good whipping) in order to bring them into God's will for their lives.
Next week we return to defeating the enemy by faith as the sanctified Nation of Israel, a habitation of God, enters the Promised Land and defeats the enemy at Jericho.