The Amazing Truth of Our New Life in Christ

newlife-1In Christ defines every saint’s eternal, permanent, spiritual location, the spiritual “address” and the “spiritual atmosphere” as it were in which we now live and breathe and have our being.

Theodore Epp adds that every believer’s…

new life is life “in Christ.” The word “in” does not in this connection speak of location, such as “in an automobile,” but carries the idea of union. On the resurrection side of this experience we have His life. He has come to live in us. It is this that marks the real difference between the old life prior to our salvation and the new life now that we are saved. It is necessary before the believer can enjoy victory in Christ for the power of the old life to be broken. This is accomplished through union with Christ in His crucifixion. This is not an experience that wemust struggle to enter into now. It was accomplished for us in the past. The King James Version is not clear on this point. The American Standard Version of 1901 will help us here. The expression “I am crucified with Christ” is translated in the ASV: “I have been crucified with Christ.” God got rid of the old self-life by crucifying it. We were separated from the old self-life when we died with Christ. (Back to the Bible)

In Christ describes every believer’s new position and new sphere of existence. Before we were born again into the Kingdom of God (Jn 3:3,5), our existence was in Adam (1Co 15:22, Ro 5:12note = spiritually dead and under the dominion [supreme authority, power, jurisdiction, sway, control, absolute ownership] of the Sin “virus” we inherited from Adam – see Adam in the NT), in the flesh (under the dominion of the flesh – note, believers can “act fleshly” but strictly speaking are no longer “in the flesh” – see Ro 8:9note, 2Co10:3note Gal 2:20note use “in the flesh” to refer to the human body not the “anti-God” influence), in (under the influence of) the world, and in the kingdom of the Devil (under his dominion – Acts 26:18, Col 1:13note). In the Upper Room Discourse just prior to His crucifixion Jesus alluded to the idea of in Christ when He declared…

In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (Jn 14:20).

Paul expounded on the idea of a believer’s new identity, using the phrase in Christ or its synonyms (over 160 times in some form – in Him, in the Beloved, in Christ, in Christ Jesus, in the Lord – study the references below). In Christ summarizes the profound truth that believers are now and forever in spiritual union with the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, considering the prevalence of in Christ and its synonyms in Paul’s writings, this mysterious spiritual truth is one of the most significant teachings in the New Testament.

Charles Ryrie in fact comments that…

Probably the most important doctrinal fact underpinning the spiritual life is the believer’s union with Christ. It is foundational to the truth of co-crucifixion of the Christian with Christ (Ro 6:6note, Gal 2:20note), which in turn is the basis for freedom from the power of sin (Ed: Read Ro 6:11note, Ro 6:14note, Ro 6:17, 18note, Ro 6:22note Lk 4:18, Jn 8:36 – Remember that freedom in Christ [note the sphere or “atmosphere” in which one is free indeed!] is not the rightto do as one pleases but the power to please God by doing what is right!). Unfortunately, this concept is little understood, unbalanced in its presentation, and unused in its application….What does this concept mean? My own definition is simply this:

To be in Christ is the redeemed man’s new environment in the sphere of resurrection life. (Ed: Note [esp in Ep 1:20] the source of the “surpassing greatness of His power” that allows us to live our new life in Christ – Read Ep 1:18, 19note, Ep 1:20, 21note)

The key word is environment, for being in Christ is not a barren state or an almost unreal positional truth (as it is often presented), but a vital, pulsating, functioning involvement. The chief characteristic of this environment is resurrection life, the life of Christ Himself. (cp Col 3:4note, Jn 14:6; 19, 20:31, Ro 6:4note, 2Co 4:10, 11; 1Jn 4:9, 5:11, 12)

Another writer speaking of this same position of the believer describes it this way:

“He has been transplanted into a new soil and a new climate, and both soil and climate are Christ.”

(Ryrie goes on to explain that) In relation to sanctification (Ed: See noun hagiasmos = sanctification and verb hagiazo = to sanctify)  or the Christian life…being in Christ frees us from the bondage of sin (Ed: Ro 6:11note, Ro 6:14note, Ro 6:17, 18note, Ro 6:22note Jn 8:36) and enables us to live righteously before God. (Ryrie, C. C.. Balancing the Christian Life. Chicago: Moody Publishers) (Bolding added)

When we believed in Christ Jesus as our Substitutionary and fully atoning Sacrifice, God transferred us from the kingdom of darkness “in Adam” (cp 1Co 15:22) into the kingdom of light, of His dear Son, so that now all believers are seen by the Father as in Christ. This transfer was the outworking of the New Covenant in His blood, which is an important truth to remember when trying to understand the concept (truth) of “in Christ”. Covenant is a solemn, binding agreement between two parties (see Covenant – Solemn and Binding) in which there is a co-mingling of lives and identities (See Covenant – The Oneness of Covenant). The two become one just as a husband and wife become one new person and just as the mystical church becomes one with Christ, the church as His body of which He is the Head (Ep 1:22, 23note, Ep 4:15note, Ep 5:23note, Col 1:18note). And so we see the vital nature of the inseparable union pictured in the phrase “in Christ“.  It is no longer the believer who lives but Christ Who lives in the believer (Gal 2:20note) and we live in such a way that His life not only enables us, but also shows through us (2Co 4:10). It is no longer our life, but it is Christ our life (Col 3:4note). We are no longer separate “branches” but attached to the Vine (Christ Jesus – John 15:4, 5 – “Abide in Me” is synonymous with the concept of “in Christ”) deriving our life and our purpose from Him, for now Christ is our all in all, the very source of and supply for our existence, now and forever. When others see us, they should see Him (cp2Co2:13,15, 16, 4:11) (Watch and listen to the Youtube video of the song – In Christ Alone;  In Christ Alone – another version)

James Montgomery Boice writes that…

The phrases in Christ, in Him…occur 164 times in all Paul’s writings. The phrases mean more than just believing on Christ or being saved by His atonement. They mean being joined to Christ in one spiritual body so that what is true of Him is also true for us…This is a difficult concept, and the Bible uses numerous images to teach it to us: the union of a man and woman in marriage (see notes Eph 5:22-33), the union of the vine and the branches (Jn 15:1-17), the wholeness of a spiritual temple in which Christ is the foundation and we the individual stones (Ep 2:20note; Ep 2:21, 22note), the union of the head and other members of the body in one organism (1Co 12:12-27). But whether we understand it or not, union with Christ is in one sense the very essence of salvation….Apart from Christ our condition is absolutely hopeless. In Him our condition is glorious to the extreme. (Boice, J. M.: Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary) (Bolding added)

Wuest comments on our position in Christ noting that…

Here again we have separation, for that which surrounds the believer, namely, Christ in Whom he is ensphered, separates him from all else. (Ibid)

MacArthur adds that 

A Buddhist does not speak of himself as in Buddha, nor does a Muslim speak of himself as in Mohammed. A Christian Scientist is not in Mary Baker Eddy or a Mormon in Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. They may faithfully follow the teaching and example of those religious leaders, but they are not in them. Only Christians can claim to be in their Lord, because they have been made spiritually one with Him (cf. Ro 6:1–11). (MacArthur, J. Philippians. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos)

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“I am this dark world’s light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise,
And all thy day be bright.”

I looked to Jesus, and I found
In Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I will walk,
Till trav’ling days are done.
—Horatius Bonar

In Christ expresses intimacy of a believer’s union with Christ. The preposition “in” is locative of sphere meaning that the believer’s sainthood was (is) in the sphere of Christ, not because someone named them “saints” and not in the sphere of some worshipper of a pagan deity as the term was commonly used in the so-called “mystery” religions of Paul’s day. Christ is the sphere in which the believer has his new life or as Paul phrases it in chapter 3, “Christ — our life” (Col 3:4note).

Study the following passages and make a list of what “In Christ”, “In Him”, etc – To check the context click link. Then after you’ve made your own observations and list click on the commentary notes of verses where notes are available.

In Christ (33x) – Ro 9:1note Ro 12:5note Ro 16:7note Ro 16:9note, 16:10-note, 1Co 3:14:10 4:17 15:18 15:19 15:2 2Co 1:21 2:14 2:17 3:14 5:17 5:19 12:2 12:19 Gal 1:22 2:17 1:101:12 1:20 4:32 Php 2:1note Php 3:9note Col 1:2note Col 1:28note Col 2:5note 1Th 4:16note Philemon 1:8 1:20

In the Lord (45x) – Ro 14:14note; Ro 16:2note, Ro 16:8note, Ro 16:11, 12, 13note, Ro 16:22note; 1Cor 1:31; 4:17; 7:22, 39; 9:1, 2; 11:11; 15:58; 16:19; 2Cor 2:12; 10:17; Gal 5:10;Ep 1:15note; Ep 2:21note; Ep 5:8note; Ep 6:1note, Ep 6:10note, Ep 6:21note; Phil 1:14note; Phil 2:19note, Phil 2:24note, Phil 2:29note; Phil 3:1note; Phil 4:1note, 2, Phil 4:4note,Phil 4:10note; Col 3:18note; Col 4:7note, Col 4:17note; 1Th 3:8note; 1Th 4:1note; 1Th 5:12note; 2Th 3:4, 12; Philemon 1:16, 20

In Christ Jesus (50x) – Ro 3:24note; Ro 6:11note, Ro 6:23note; Ro 8:1note, Ro 8:2note,Ro 8:39note; Ro 15:17note; Ro 16:3note; 1Cor 1:2, 4, 30; 4:15; 15:31; 16:24; Gal 2:4, 16;3:14, 26, 28; 5:6; Eph 1:1note; Eph 2:6note, Eph 2:7note, Eph 2:10note, Eph 2:13note; Eph 3:6note, Eph 3:11note, Eph 3:21note; Phil 1:1note, Phil 1:26note; Phil 2:5note; Phil 3:3note, Phil 3:14note; Phil 4:7note, Phil 4:19note, Phil 4:21note; Col 1:4note; 1Th 2:14note;1Th 5:18note; 1Ti 1:14; 3:13; 2Ti 1:1note, 2Ti 1:9note, 2Ti 1:13note; 2Ti 2:1note, 2Ti 2:10note; 2Ti 3:12note, 2Ti 3:15note; Philemon 1:23

In Him (31x) – Ro 4:5note, Ro 4:24note; Ro 9:33note; Ro 10:11note, Ro 10:14note; Ro 15:12note; 1Cor 1:5; 2:11; 2Cor 1:19, 20; 5:21; 13:4; Eph 1:4note, Eph 1:7note, Eph 1:9note, Eph 1:10note, Eph 1:13note; Eph 3:12note; Eph 4:21note; Phil 1:29note; Phil 3:9note; Col 1:17note, Col 1:19note; Col 2:6note, Col 2:7note, Col 2:9note, Col 2:10note, Col 2:11note; 2Th 1:12; 1Ti 1:16

Contrast “in the flesh” (Ro 7:5note Ro 8:8note Ro 8:9note Phil 3:3, 4note) As noted above, there are other Pauline uses of this phrase but they all refer to the physical flesh, not the evil disposition inherited from Adam and manifest as continual anti-God attitudes and actions. Flesh is a confusing word because it can have so many meanings in Scripture. If you are confused take some time to study the flesh. And remember that the definition of the common NT word flesh(147x in 126v in the NT) is always determined by checking the context.

David Garland comments that…

in Christ can mean several things that are not mutually exclusive: that one belongs to Christ, that one lives in the sphere of Christ’s power, that one is united with Christ, or that one is part of the body of Christ, the believing community. Paul’s assumption is that being in Christ should bring about a radical change in a person’s life. (New American Commentary – Volume 29: 2 Corinthians. B & H Publishers)

Philip Hughes explains that…

The expression in Christ sums up as briefly and as profoundly as possible the inexhaustible significance of man’s redemption. It speaks of security in Him who has Himself borne in his own body the judgment of God against our sin; it speaks of acceptance in Him with whom alone God is well pleased; it speaks of assurance for the future in Him who is the Resurrection and the Life; it speaks of the inheritance of glory in Him who, as the only-begotten Son, is the sole heir of God; it speaks of participation in the divine nature in Him who is the everlasting Word; it speaks of knowing the truth, and being free in that truth, in Him who Himself is the Truth. All this, and very much more than can ever be expressed in human language, is meant by being in Christ. (Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians: The English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes) – Named as one of the 850 Books for Biblical Expositors by the Master’s Seminary. Cyril Barber writes this “May well be regarded as the finest conservative exposition of this epistle“)

William MacDonald observes that

In Christ speaks of their spiritual position. When they were saved, God placed them in Christ, “accepted in the beloved.” (Ep 1:6note) Henceforth, they had His life and nature (2Pe 1:4note). Henceforth, they would no longer be seen God as children of Adam (1Co 15:22) or as unregenerate men, but He would now see them in all the acceptability of His own Son. The expression in Christ conveys more of intimacy, acceptance, and security than any human mind can understand. (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer’s Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or Logos)

William Barclay adds

that when Paul spoke of the Christian being in Christ, he meant that the Christian lives inChrist as a bird in the air, a fish in the water, the roots of a tree in the soil. What makes the Christian different is that he is always and everywhere conscious of the encircling presence of Jesus Christ.  (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

Barclay goes on to explain that

A Christian always moves in two spheres. He is in a certain place in this world; but he is also in Christ. He lives in two dimensions. He lives in this world whose duties he does not treat lightly; but above and beyond that he lives in Christ. In this world he may move from place to place; but wherever he is, he is in Christ. That is why outward circumstances make little difference to the Christian; his peace and his joy are not dependent on them. That is why he will do any job with all his heart. It may be menial, unpleasant, painful, it may be far less distinguished than he might expect to have; its rewards may be small and its praise non-existent; nevertheless the Christian will do it diligently, uncomplainingly and cheerfully, for he is in Christ and does all things as to the Lord. We are all in our own Colosse, but we are all in Christ, and it is Christ who sets the tone of our living.” Barclay describes an ideal state writing that “There is the life that is dominated by the Spirit of God. As a man lives in the air, he lives in Christ, never separated from him. As he breathes in the air and the air fills him, so Christ fills him. He has no mind of his own; Christ is his mind. He has no desires of his own; the will of Christ is his only law. He is Spirit-controlled, Christ-controlled, God-focused. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

Ray Stedman commenting on Paul’s repeated use of this phrase in Christ in the letter to the Ephesians writes that every spiritual blessing in the believer’s life (Eph 1:3)…

is in Christ. All this comes to us in Christ, in the Person and the work of the Lord Jesus Himself. This fact is going to be stressed again and again in this letter (Ephesians). No two words appear in it more frequently than “in Christ,” or “in him.” Over and over it is emphasized that everything comes to us through Him.  We must learn not to listen to those who claim to have God’s blessing in their lives, and yet to whose thinking Christ is not central. They are deceived, and they are deceiving us if we accept what they say. The only spiritual blessing that can ever come to you from God must always come in Christ. There is no other way that it can come. So if you are involved with some group which sets aside the Lord Jesus Christ and tries to go “directly to God,” and thus claim some of the great spiritual promises of the New Testament, you are involved in a group which is leading you into fakery and fraud. It is completely spurious! For God accomplishes spiritual blessing only in Christ. Physical blessings are available “to the just and the unjust alike,” but the inner spirit of man can be healed and cured only in Christ, and there is no other way. (Read full message Ephesians 1:1-14: God At Work)  (Copyright 1972 Discovery Publishing, a ministry of Peninsula Bible Church.) (Bolding added)

Spurgeon comments that…

One of the first doctrines of our holy faith is that of the union of all believing souls with Christ. We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ. Apart from Christ we are nothing (cpJn 15:5); in Christ we have “all spiritual blessings” We are rich as Christ is rich, when we are united to him by the living bond of faith.

Simon J. Kistemaker notes that…

To be in Christ connotes being part of Christ’s body (I Cor. 12:27), and Christ brings about a radical transformation in the believer’s life. Instead of serving the ego, the Christian follows Christ and responds to the law of love for God and the neighbor. (Baker New Testament Commentary – Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians)

John Piper reminds us that…

And the work of Christ in Whom we have our righteousness is a complete and perfect work. It does not get better with time. And we are united to Christ at once, through our first faith, not progressively. No one is half in and half out. And if we are in Christ, all that He is He is for us – from the very first instant of faith. This is wonderful news for sinners who face a long haul in becoming in life what we are in Christ. (The Purpose and Perseverance of Faith) (Bolding Added)

Zodhiates says that…

When you are in Christ, you are not merely professors of His name, learners of His doctrine, followers of His example, or sharers of His gifts. You are not merely men and women ransomed by His death or destined for His glory. These external connections exemplify how your individual life relates to Christ’s in the same way that one man’s life may relate to another’s by the effect of what he teaches, gives, or does. Paul says to the Corinthians and to all born-again believers, In your case, your life is not merely external, that is, “just like” His life, parallel to His. You are actually in Christ, and He is in you. This is something unique that Christ does for those who accept Him. (Zodhiates Corinthians Commentary Series)

James Denney

This is the first passage in 2 Corinthians in which this Pauline formula for a Christian — a man in Christ — is used. It denotes the most intimate possible union, a union in which the believer’s faith identifies him with Jesus in His death and resurrection, so that he can say, “I live no longer, but Christ lives in me.” (Expositor’s Bible – 2Corinthians  5:16, 17 The New World)

Albert Barnes

The phrase, to “be in Christ,” evidently means to be united to Christ by faith; or to be in Him as the branch is in the Vine–that is, so united to the Vine, or so in it, as to derive all its nourishment and support from it, and to be sustained entirely by it. John 15:2, “Every branch in me;” John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” See also John 15:5, 6, 7. To be “in Christ” denotes a more tender and close union; and implies that all our support is from Him. All our strength is derived from Him; and denotes further that we shall partake of His fulness, and share in His felicity and glory, as the branch partakes of the strength and rigor of the parent vine.

Guy King in his exposition of Philippians comments on the phrase in Christ writing that…

Herein lay

(a) Their (referring to the saints at Philippi but applicable to saints of all places and ages!)protection from evil life. The moral condition of a heathen city would be a constant peril to any new converts, especially as they themselves had but just recently come out of that very heathenism. Philippi may not have been so utterly debased as Corinth, or Rome, but its atmosphere must have been a subversive influence threatening any who would live pure and true. Yet, they could be kept safe. Christians must, of course, remain in such hostile surroundings, for CHRIST must have there, as Mt 5:13, 14 (note v13; v14) teaches, the salt, the light, and the testimony.

So He Himself prays “not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil”, John 17:15.

That keeping, that protection, is ministered to us in the fact of our being, not only “in the world”, but more closely, in Christ.

A shipwrecked man writes a message, and throws it into the sea, in the hope that it may reach some shore. But will not the water damage and destroy it? No; for, while it is cast into the sea, it is first sealed in a bottle – and so it arrives. Yes; in Philippi, with all its destructive influences, but in Christ – so they are secure, and so, in spite of all antagonistic forces, they arrive at “the haven where they would be.” Herein lay also

(b) Their possibility of holy life. We are called not only to a negative but to a positive life – “eschew (abstain from) evil, and do good”, as 1Pe 3:11 (note) says. But how can a holy life be lived in such unholy surroundings?

Mark that little water-spider going down to the bottom of that pond. It doesn’t really belong there, even as we believers are: “in the world” …but not of it, John 17:11, 16. The little creature has the queer, and amazing, ability of weaving a bubble of air around itself, and hidden in that it is able to pursue its way even amid such inimical conditions – in the water, but in the bubble!

So we come back to our glorious truth – in Philippi, but in Christ; then even in the midst of the most uncongenial surroundings, the Christ-life can be lived.  (King, Guy: Joy Way: An Exposition of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, 1952, Christian Literature Crusade – Pdf) (Bolding added)

Guy King in his commentary on Colossians comments on their earthly and supernatural positions explaining…

Oh yes, I know they were at Colossae – breathing the fetid atmosphere of this typically pagan city. How could the fair flowers of fidelity and holiness flourish in such a place? Only because they enjoyed the nearer, purer air of being in Christ.

The clever little water beetle is able to live in the muddy bed of the pond because it has the gift of weaving around itself a bubble of air. Thus it takes its own atmosphere down with it. I often invert a “let’s pretend” story of a man shipwrecked on a desert island, who, happening to have his fountain pen still in his pocket, decides to write a message on a large island leaf to send to his people. Having thrown it into the sea, he could then only wait, and hope for the best. But, silly man, the leaf will soon be pulped and the message obliterated by the ocean. Oh, I forgot to mention that on his island he happened to find a bottle with a sealing top. So his SOS reached home, and led to his rescue, because though it was in the sea, it was in the bottle. Yes, although these Christians were in that Colossian sea of iniquity, they were kept safe and saintly because they were “in Christ”.

It is one of Paul’s chief inspired conceptions, so often reiterated through all his correspondence, that we are “in Him”, “in the Lord”, “in Christ”. What amazing privilege and prediction is here! “Christ in you, the hope of glory”, he says in Colossians 1:27 (note); and now it is the other side of the blessed truth: you in CHRIST, the hope of safety. (Colossians 1:1-2 His Tactful Approach – Pdf)

Excerpts from Wayne Barber’s notes on Ephesians (Ephesians 1:1-3 Sermon Notes) as he discusses the concept of “in Christ”

(“In” is the Greek preposition “en” which) means we remain (abide, dwell, live) “in“…Christ Jesus…Any ability we have in the Christian life to be faithful before God (Ep 1:1note“saints…faithful in Christ Jesus”)…is not of us. It’s because we are in Christ Jesus. And as a result of us being in Him, He in turn is in us. That is the only way any man can be faithful or dependable. It’s only as he is willing to submit and cooperate with that which is in the person that is in him. Look at John 14:18, 19, 20…We see evidence of Christ doing what He said He would do in His faithfulness by how the Ephesian believers were able…

If you ever see anything good in me, you know…It didn’t come from me. It came from He Who is in me and Whose I am (and Who I am in). It came from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. It’s the same with you…When you see something in me that is good, remember it is not me, it must be Christ in me…The ability to be faithful as well as any other ability concerning our responsibilities to Christ is an ability that comes from our being in Him and Him being in us.

(Wayne gives a practical illustration of in Christ asking) What does it mean to be faithful inChrist Jesus? (Ep 1:1note)  Well, watch those little things in your life. Sometimes faithfulness is not seen before the failure. Sometimes faithfulness is more clearly seen after the failure, when you have messed up. What do you do when you have messed up? Do you go around talking about other believers? Do you criticize them as if you were the standard? Do you repeat things when you don’t even have the information yourself? Do you second guess others? Are you busy with this kind of lifestyle? How can you call yourself faithful in Christ Jesus? You are not. You may be a saint. But you’re not a “saintly saint”! You are not living as God wants you to live. In Ephesians 4-6 Paul has to instruct, exhort and encourage the Ephesian believers. Why did he have to encourage them if they were already perfect? Faithfulness does not mean perfection. It is a measure of a person’s character. It is a love for the love of the Lord Jesus Christ (cp His constraining love – 2Co 5:14note). So it points to the character of one who is a believer who is faithful in Christ Jesus.

(Speaking of all “spiritual blessings” in Ep 1:3 Wayne reminds us that) Everything you have isin a Person, and His name is Jesus. And if you’ll come to Him and bow down to Him, you will begin experience inwardly what you’ve been looking for all along. The key is a repentant heart. When you are ready to bow, at that very moment, you attain access to the things that are yoursin Christ Jesus because they’re all available in Christ. The problem with most of us is, we look for these things (“spiritual blessings”) in everywhere except where they are found…And if we don’t have our needs met spiritually in Christ, they’ll never be met anywhere else. That’s the key. (Ephesians 1:1-3; see also Wayne’s notes on Ep 1:4 Chosen in Christ )

F B Meyer in his “Devotional Commentary of Ephesians” explains “in Him” writing that…

THE sponge, as it expands in its native seas, is in the clear warm water; and the water is in it. Thus there is a double In-ness between the Lord and the soul that loves Him. He is in the believer, as the sap is in the vine, and the spirit of energetic life in the body. But, in a very deep and blessed sense, the believer is in Christ. Of each of these sides of this marvellous truth there are many illustrations in this Epistle, so specially devoted to the study of the preposition in. We are dealing now with those passages only that assure us, as believers, of being in the Beloved.

WE ARE IN CHRIST, IN THE FATHER’S THOUGHT (Ep 1:3, 4, 9, 11-see notes Ep 1:3; Ep 1:4, Ep 1:9, Ep 1:11) The disclosures made to the apostle Paul of God’s hidden things, hidden from ages and generations, are perfectly overwhelming. He tells us that our connection with Christ, in the thought of God, is not a matter of yesterday, nor of the day before, but of eternity.

The foundations of the earth were not laid in a day. But, ere the aeons of creation began to revolve in their vast cycles, before the earth or the world was formed, God chose us in Christ. He chose Christ, and all those who, down the far vista of time, should answer to the attraction of his Spirit and become one with Him in a living faith.

How startling it would be if, according to a suggestion made by another, the geologist, mining deeply into the earth, should suddenly find, amid the footprints of animals long extinct, the initials of his own name cut in the primeval rock! How came those initials there? They must have been graven by the finger of the Creator! Ah, what a rush of awe would fill the breast! But a greater marvel than this awaits us here. For we learn that our names were engraven on the breastplate of the great High Priest before the amethyst or jacinth was wrought in the laboratory of Nature, among her oldest and rarest treasures.

Is there a doubt that we shall be ultimately holy and without blemish, when the stream that is to bear us thither started in eternal ages from the Father’s heart? Let us at least get comfort from the thought that He who foreordained works all things after the counsel of his will…

IN CHRIST THE BLESSINGS OF REDEMPTION ARE STORED. (Ep 1:3, 6, 7, 14-see notesEp 1:3, 1:6, 1:7, 1:13) All conceivable spiritual blessings needed by us for living a holy and useful life are stored in Jesus. We must therefore be in Him by a living faith to partake of them; as a child must be in the home, to participate in the provisions of the father’s care. It is only they who know the meaning of the life hidden with Christ in God, and who abide in Christ, to whom God gives the key of his granary, and says, “Go in, and take what you will.”

How can mortal man exhaust the wonderful gifts of our Father’s grace? But they are all freely bestowed in the Beloved, in whom we also stand accepted. Who can estimate the meaning of redemption, which begins with the forgiveness of our trespasses, and ends in the rapture of the sapphire throne? But it is to be found only in Him and through his blood. What do we not owe to the sealing of the Spirit, by which our softened hearts get the impress of the Saviour’s beloved face, and are kept safe until He comes to claim us? But the sealing is only possible to those who are in Him. All things are ours, but only when we are in Christ.

WE ARE IN CHRIST AS THE SPHERE OF DAILY LIFE AND EXPERIENCE (Ep 1:1, 3:17-seenotes Ep 1:1, 3:17) It is the intention of God that we who believe should ever live in Christ Jesus, as the very element and atmosphere of our life; never travelling beyond the golden limits established by his Love, or Life, or Light: in Him as the root in the soil, or as the foundation in the rock. Always in his love, because never permitting in speech or act what is inconsistent with it. Always in his life, because ordering our activities by the laws of his being. Always in his light, because saturated by his bright purity, and illumined by his gentle wisdom. Oh to be always one of the faithful in Christ Jesus, and to be able to say with the Psalmist, “I have no good beyond Thee”! (Psalm 16:2)…

IN CHRIST AS THE CENTRE OF UNITY (Ep 1:10note) It is the evident purpose of God to finish as He began. He began by choosing us in Christ. He will end by summing up all things in Him, both the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth. All the landscape focuses in the eye; all creation finds its apex in man; and all the story of the ages shall be consummated in our Lord, the Divine Man. (For Meyer’s full discussion of “In Him” click Chapter 3 – “In Him”)

Courtesy of Precept Austin at http://www.preceptaustin.org/2corinthians_517_commentary.htm#in

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Idolatry: The Principle Crime of the Human Race, Part 2,

no-other-gods

An Idol is Not El or Elohim

It is interesting that the word eliyl is close to the name for God “El” or “Elohim.” Some Hebrew scholars believe eliyl is a contemptuous diminutive word, and combined with al “not” literally mean “Not EL,” or “Not ELOHIM.” It is a heavenly designed contrast showing that the idol is worthless as a person’s El and Elohim.

God is given a number of sacred names in the Bible that beautifully describe His nature and heart in action. The Hebrew word El is a name for God meaning the strong one and expresses the strength and power of God. It is often combined with another Hebrew word in the Bible giving us 37 deeper names for God with each title distinguishing Him in a unique and special way from false gods. Each one of these beautiful titles has a distinctive characteristic of God that illustrates what He is and what the idol is not. Put a “NOT!” in front of each of these glorious titles, and we will have a good description of the worthless value of an idol epitomized by the word eliyl.

For example, God is El Hanne’eman, the Faithful God, who keeps His promises and steadfast love to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9). An idol is the unfaithful god that never delivers what it promises.

God is El Echad, the One God, who is the first and only true God, like no other (Malachi 2:10). An idol is the false one that deceives people into thinking they have found the one thing they need to give their lives value.

God is El-Shaddai, the ever-present, all-sufficient, bountiful God who supplies every need of His children and pours out His provision, protection and blessings on them. (Genesis 17:1). An idol is the shadow god who disappears when you need it, and the empty god who can never provide, protect or bless those who worship it.

God is El Olam, the everlasting, unchangeable God, eternal, without beginning or end, the God of all ages and time (Genesis 21:33). An idol is the vapor god that vanishes quickly, here today and gone tomorrow, with no lasting purpose, and doomed for destruction.

God is El Roi, the God who sees, who looks upon our distresses, our tears, and our sufferings and is always there to tenderly care for us (Genesis 16:13). El Roi sees us in our place of quiet desperation, and pursues us with unfailing love, reaching out to help us, drying every tear and mending every wound of our tattered souls. An idol is the blind god that cannot see our sorrows, difficulties, and problems and is blind to the true needs of the heart. It can never find us in our hour of need for it cannot see.

God is El Emet, the God of truth, who revives, frees, instructs and guides the heart. (Psalm 31:5). An idol is the god of lies, the token of propaganda that deceives the heart to believe and worship a lie.

God is El Gibbor, the mighty and heroic God, who powerfully bears His arm for His people, performing miraculous deeds of deliverance; the supreme champion of the heavens and earth for whom nothing is impossible (Jeremiah 32:17-18). An idol is the weak and cowardly god, powerless to accomplish one good thing in our lives, and is like the spineless soldier who runs away from the fight, and deserts us in time of battle.

God is El Rachum, the God of compassion and tender mercies, who will never fail, forsake, or forget you, and has compassion for you like a mother with her newborn child. An idol is the cruel and indifferent god, hard-hearted, brutal and ruthless with the destruction it brings to your life, imprisoning the heart with a heavy load of oppressions and burdens. An idol always fails, forsakes, and leaves you naked and alone, forgetting you in the day of suffering (Deuteronomy 4:31).

God is El Yeshuati, the God of our salvation, our Deliverer, Redeemer, Liberator, and Savior, who rescued us from the power of darkness and gives us citizenship as sons or daughters of God in His kingdom. He blessed us with every conceivable spiritual blessing in Him and washes us clean from our sin with the blood of His Son, who has broken every yoke at Calvary and set us free to worship and love Him for all eternity (Psalm 68:19-20). An idol is the god of corruption and slavery, that brings death to all those who devote their lives to it, burying you in sin, and suffocating you in the stale air of this world. An idol cannot deliver, save, liberate, rescue and redeem. An idol’s promised salvation is of no value to the soul.

God is El Hannora, the awesome, magnificent and awe-inspiring God, the God of wonders, breathtaking in His glorious works. Nothing in the heavens and earth compares to Him (Nehemiah 9:32). An idol is the god of disappointment, dissatisfaction, disillusionment and discontent; there is nothing of value, nothing magnificent, and nothing awe-inspiring that ever comes from idols.

God is El Chaiyim, the living God of our lives, who has breathed into us the breath of life and is intimately involved in every detail of our lives. God is alive and in Him is abundant, flowing life that awakens, transforms, changes, and blossoms, giving life to every living thing upon the earth. An idol is the dead god, who cannot speak, hear, see or bring life to anything. An idol is the carrier of death as it slaughters our relationship with God, murders the plans God has for our lives, and slays our spiritual growth in Christ. An idol is a deadly virus that destroys the life and health of the heart.

God is also Elohim, God the Creator, who created the heavens and earth, who created us for His glory, who created every star and galaxy in the universe, and every living organism and animal, every mountain, river and ocean, and who holds together every atom in the universe by His powerful word. An idol is the god of chaos that cannot create one grain of sand or one solitary thing in the entire heavens and earth, but simply brings chaotic disorder, confusion and disarray to those who reach out to give it their heart.

Can we see the picture of the Hebrew word eliyl describing an idol as completely worthless and having no value as anyone’s El or Elohim? It brings to life the truth spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him? “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. (Isaiah 40:18, 25, NIV)

Is there truly any comparison between God and an idol? What idol could ever be God’s equal? What idol could ever be likened to El or Elohim? God wanted to make it absolutely clear to His rebellious people that no idol can ever come close to taking the place of El or Elohim in their lives.

We need to open our eyes and examine our hearts to see if we have an eliyl, an imposter El or Elohim that is stealing our devotion, time and allegiance. We must ask ourselves in all humility—who is our El and Elohim? Has a foolish and dangerous substitution taken place in our hearts? When God opens the eyes of our understanding, and we see the magnificent nature of our God revealed in His names El with all its compounds and Elohim, we will gladly face all the idols (eliyl) in our hearts and boldly declare “You are not my El! You are not my Elohim!” We will allow God His rightful place as the only El and Elohim of our hearts.

Tragically this did not happen for these elders in Ezekiel’s day, as they refused to listen to the prophet and made these idols the El and Elohim of their hearts. Ezekiel says these elders put these idols, which he calls “wicked stumbling blocks,” right before their faces. An idol is always a stumbling block in our lives, and causes us to fall into sin and rebellion against God. These were stumbling blocks of iniquity that brought ruin, destruction, and devastation to their relationship with God. Yet the elders literally put these idols in front of their faces to be their spiritual advisors. They never wanted to forget them, so they placed them right in front of their faces so they could always see and adore their counterfeit gods. They did not want to miss a moment with their idols.

They rejected God’s authority over their lives and arrogantly declared that they would live life THEIR way with the gods of THEIR choice. These elders had a complete indifference toward God, an unwillingness to obey Him, and did not think God was important when it came to matters of the heart. How they had strayed from the heritage of King David who was a man after God’s own heart! Even with their hearts sold out to idolatry, they tried to give God token honor by inquiring of His prophet. But God had searched their hearts and found no love for Him there. Their hearts were dead toward God as they tried to wind God up for a few minutes of attention like He was some fortuneteller. Their hearts had no room for God for they were full of idols.

The Old Testament word “put” in the phrase “put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces” is used in the Bible to describe planting, constructing a nest or habitation, setting up a king or prince with authority, and begetting children. The word is also used in Deuteronomy 12:5 where God says He would put His name in the temple and make it His dwelling place. By putting idols in front of their faces, the elders were planting them in the soil of their hearts to grow and flourish. They were constructing a nest or habitation for them in their hearts. They were setting up these idols as the rulers of their hearts with full authority to control their thoughts and actions. They were engraving the names of these idols in the chambers of their hearts, and the idols made it their sacred temple and dwelling place. God’s name was thrust from their hearts and this abominable substitution took place. These idols were comfortably at home in their hearts, and set their roots deep. These idols exercised such control over them that their hearts bore their names and begat their children in word, deed and action. These elders became replicas in character of the idols they worshiped. Oh what a stumbling block they had become!

Idolatry Begins with the Gaze of the Eye

To set up an idol in your heart, you must first turn your eyes away from the Lord and face the object of your adoration. Your eyes guide your heart as all idolatry begins with the gaze of the eye. Our eyes reveal what we are facing, and in the Hebrew to be face-to-face implied intimacy, friendship, affection and closeness.

God commanded the elders in Ezekiel, “Get rid of the vile images and idols you have set your eyes upon!” Where you lift up your eyes to look reflects the heart’s affections and disposition. There is anticipation, hope, and expectation toward the object that has captured our gaze. We desire what we fix our eyes upon. We want intimacy with the object we lift our eyes toward. The gaze of the eye determines where we go in life both physically and spiritually. Whether our heart is full of darkness or light is determined by what we are looking at.

Wisdom demands our eyes do not depart from the words of God, or our way will be like the wicked which is full of darkness. Wasn’t it the eyes that first got Eve in trouble as she gazed in admiration at the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil instead of the Lord God? Wasn’t one of the Devil’s first lies that her eyes would be opened and she would be like god? The Devil deceived Eve into lifting up her eyes to something other than God and His Word and she fell into idolatry.

There are serious consequences associated with the gaze of the eye. We will never be able to keep idolatry from creeping into our hearts if we do not control our eyes. We live in a visually overstimulated age where everything is vying for the gaze of the eye. But the eyes of our hearts need to look upward and heed the cry of God to “look unto me and be saved, whole, and set free!” Our confession needs to be like Psalm 123:1-2: “To Thee I lift up my eyes, O Thou enthroned in the heavens … our eyes look to the Lord our God.” This was not the cry of the elders in Ezekiel. Their eyes looked elsewhere. Look at what these elders turned their faces toward in the very inner court of the house of the Lord.

And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord. And behold, at the entrance of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward the east. (Ezekiel 8:16, ESV)

Can you imagine this act of supreme desecration was in the Temple of the Lord, the dwelling place of God, where He was to meet His people, and that was built for the name of the Lord. Solomon declared in 2 Chronicles 2:4-5: “Now I am about to build a temple for the Name of the Lord my God and to dedicate it to him … the temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods.” In God’s very home and in the midst of His presence, these twenty-five men turned their back to God’s holy sanctuary and turned their eyes to the east to worship the sun. These men set their faces like flint to gaze in adoration to their sun god in the inner court of the Temple, right beside the large Altar of Burnt-Offering and within feet of the Holy of Holies. This expressed gross contempt for God in His own house, and publicly displayed that they had disowned the God of Abraham, Jacob and Moses. They desecrated the Temple of God, thumbed their noses at God, and blatantly disobeyed His commandment, “And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them” Deuteronomy 4:19a. They had forgotten that God created the sun not as an idol, but as a blessing to give light and life to the entire earth.

Blowing Kisses to Their Idols

The Hebrew word for “worship” means to bow down and prostrate oneself. In the Septuagint it literally means to throw a kiss as a token of respect and love, and to fall upon the knees, touching the ground with the forehead, as an expression of profound reverence and adoration. The verb is in the present tense expressing continual action, as this was the elders’ habitual practice in the Temple. These men were blowing kisses to the sun god and bowing down in adoration to their idol in the inner court of God’s temple. This demonstrates the power of idolatry in turning the heart against God. These men openly committed their idolatry in the holiest place in Jerusalem, and fell on their knees and kissed their god right under God’s nose.

When the heart is wholly given to idols, love for the true God waxes cold, and He does not matter anymore. Idolatry is a defiant declaration that God is not enough, and is not who He says He is, and cannot do what He says He can do. Idolatry expresses a supreme dissatisfaction with God and causes the eyes to wander and the heart to stray as it falls in love with another.

The idolatrous heart refuses to fix its eyes upon the Lord only and obey Him. These elders wanted the best of both worlds by worshiping both Yahweh and their idols. Jesus warned that we cannot love and serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Often the master would signal the servant with a quick body movement of the head, hands or eyes, and if the servant did not have his eyes focused on the master, he could not see it. You cannot keep your eyes fixed on two gods. You cannot have your face turned to God and an idol at the same time. Where the gaze of our eyes is fixed, determines what we worship. The eyes are the windows of our hearts, and indicate what we love and desire because they bring us face to face with our god.

Let me ask a serious question for all Christians, What is going on in the inner court of your heart? In the temple of your heart, are you blowing kisses and bowing down to another god? Have we allowed our affections to burn like the rising sun for one of the thousands gods that our culture throws at us daily? Has our heart become impure, and our inner temple desecrated because the eyes of our heart have wandered away from Jesus, to lovingly gaze upon the parade of idols that the world embraces? Don’t we know as Christians that our precious heart is the temple of the Lord and the new Holy of Holies and no idol is worthy to enter into its inner chambers? Our heart is to be overflowing with the presence and glory of God, where His love, grace, mercy and peace abound. From our heart should sound out to the world a wonderful song of praise, worship and devotion to the Almighty God who holds our precious life in His hands. The spirit of the Holy God has been born within our heart, and it was never meant to have an idol as a roommate. No idol has any legal or moral right to occupy one square inch of our hearts.

We cannot mess around with idols if we ever expect to spiritually grow up as Christians. We cannot love God and love our idols at the same time. We cannot play it both ways. Our heart was never meant to be a chaotic yo-yo bouncing back and forth between Jesus and our beloved idols. Whom is our heart running to for comfort and satisfaction? Has our heart strayed away from God to follow a worthless idol? God is calling us to return to Him, and to come back from the cliff of idolatry to His loving embrace. No idol can love you like He does. No idol can provide for you like He does. No idol can deliver you from your fears like He does. No idol will treasure you like He does. No idol will wipe away all the tears from your eyes like He does. Oh why won’t your heart return to Him and forsake your idols?

This is an excerpt from The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life. Purchase at http://www.lulu.com/shop/tim-rowe/the-heart-the-key-to-everything-in-the-christian-life/paperback/product-22601300.html

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Idolatry: The Principle Crime of the Human Race, Part 1

idolatry-part-2There is no more important topic in the study of the heart than idolatry. Idols have more influence on the condition of the heart than any other thing in the world. The Bible is full of examples of people who set up idols in their hearts and the devastating consequences that followed, leading to the destruction of individuals, families, cities, and nations. The turning of the heart to an idol is the most tragic decision a person can ever make. Ever since the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis and the introduction of sin into the human race, the heart has become an idol factory producing countless idols to love, worship and obey.

At the root of all sin is an idol that has consumed the heart and captured its affections. Idols enable sin to exercise control over our lives and enslave us in chains of bondage. There is no greater spiritual disease of the human heart than idolatry, and its death toll is infinitely larger than any cancer, black plague, or epidemic. Isaiah 24:5 states that the entire earth has been polluted by idolatry and a curse has devoured the world.

Every problem that has ever plagued the human race can be traced back to the sin of idolatry. Tertullian called idolatry “the principal crime of the human race.”[i] Idolatry devours people, cities, governments, and nations. Idolatry has infiltrated every generation, hanging over them like a dark cloud, wreaking havoc like a deadly plague. The virus of idolatry has infected the heart and seized control of its operating system in every age. Idolatry is the great destroyer of civilization.

Kyle Idleman in Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart says:

Idolatry is the number one issue in the Bible … Idolatry comes into every book … What if I told you that every sin you are struggling with, every discouragement you are dealing with, even the lack of purpose you’re living with are because of idolatry? … Idolatry isn’t just one of many sins; rather it’s the one great sin that all others come from. So if you start scratching at whatever struggle you’re dealing with, eventually you’ll find that underneath it is a false god. Until that god is dethroned, and the Lord God takes His rightful place, you will not have victory. Idolatry isn’t an issue; it is the issue. All roads lead to the dusty, overlooked concept of false gods. Deal with life on the glossy outer layers and you might never see it; scratch a little beneath the surface, and you will begin to see that it is always there, under some coat of paint. There are a hundred million different symptoms, but the issue is always idolatry.[ii]

The Bible is the life manual and instruction book on the ways of God, and its urgent warnings against idolatry should not be ignored. Idolatry is not some relic concept of ancient times, but is real and alive in every age. Idolatry dominates every culture on earth, and we find its endless gods everywhere. The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed: “Look now, people of Judah; you have as many gods as you have towns. You have as many altars of shame”—(Jeremiah 11:13, NLT).

The sad truth is that in America, our list of gods far exceeds the number of gods in Judah. Our altars of shame are countless, and of so many shapes, forms and categories, that it boggles the mind. We have pursued other gods with a fanatical obsession and have become a nation wholly given to idolatry. Surely God weeps over a world that has sold their souls to an endless list of worthless idols that have corrupted their relationship with Him.

Above all other things, idolatry breaks the heart of Almighty God for He created men and women in His own image and greatly desires fellowship, love, adoration, praise and worship from His precious creation. But idolatry ruined everything and caused a wall of separation between God and the human race as they gave their love to another. Idolatry is the human choice of substituting their Creator for a thing, image, person, or ideal. Idolatry is an act of treason against the God who gave us life. The sin of idolatry declares God is not good enough, not great enough, not glorious enough, not complete enough, and not all that He claims to be. It says that something else is more worthy to be loved and served.

The price to pay for idolatry is extremely high as it demands everything, and ultimately will destroy our lives. It chokes the life of God from our hearts and isolates them in spiritual darkness. This condition of the idolater’s heart is described in Isaiah 59:11: “we grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night: we are in desolate places as dead men.” The idolater has lost his eyes to see the magnificence of the God, lost his ears to hear the loving voice of the faithful God, lost his way to see the path of the righteous God, and lost his life to the service of a dead god that mocks his reason for existence. Idolatry causes the heart to wander away from God and always brings a man or woman to a place of desolation. All of life comes down to the choice between God and idolatry.

A.W. Tozer said in The Knowledge of the Holy that “the essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”[iii] Idolatry begins when we lose the sense of awe and wonder of God and relegate Him to a simple concept that gets lost in the thousands of other things that bombard our minds daily. God becomes mundane, unneeded, unimportant and bothersome in the schemes of our lives, and other things become more exciting and valuable to us. This is fertile ground for idolatry.

Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty. (Jeremiah 2:19, NIV)

The birth of idolatry in the heart begins when we start to lose our reverence and love of Almighty God. We become blind to who He is. The true knowledge of His glorious nature shrinks from our hearts. We become vulnerable to the evil of idolatry because if we really knew God, we would see it as an act of complete foolishness and utter insanity to forsake Him for a worthless idol. Who in their right mind would give up God for an idol that cannot speak, hear, answer prayers, love and protect you? What idol can be compared to God? What idol is God’s equal? What idol has the power to save? What idol created the heavens and earth? What idol can purify my heart and deliver me from the clutches of sin, death and bondage? What idol can form my body from the dust of earth and breathe life into me? What idol can give me eternal life?

Then why are we bowing to idols? Why are we giving our hearts to idols? Why are we serving idols? Why are we cleaving to our idols instead of cleaving to God? Listen to what God has to say about the foolishness of idolatry.

“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal? Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it! They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble. “Do not forget this! Keep it in mind! Remember this, you guilty ones. Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. (Isaiah 46:3-9, NLT)

God has no rivals. He alone is God, and nothing from the tiniest blade of grass on earth to the remotest star at the far reaches of the universe, can be compared to Him. He is the first and the last; He is the beginning and the end; He was, is and always will be. He is unchangeable in the beauty of His character, and the holiness of his nature. He is everything we could ever dream Him to be in all His perfection, and a billion times more! God’s wisdom is infinite, His understanding limitless, His love fathomless, His righteousness untouchable and His mercy boundless. He alone has the right to be worshipped, praised and loved above all else.

Frederick Faber said, “Only to sit and think of God, oh what a joy it is! To think the thought, to breathe the Name, Earth has no higher bliss!”[iv] Who would even dare to label themselves a god in His presence? Who would even dare to usurp His throne? Who would even dare to think that they are equal to God? Who would be crazy enough to compare an idol to God? God is infinitely greater and more powerful, and no idol is even worthy to bear the name “god.”

Idolatry: The Deception of the Heart

Then, why are our hearts constantly fashioning idols and worshipping them? Why has the idol factory of the heart not been closed down permanently and put out of business? Why do idols continue to capture the hearts of so many people around the world? How can we turn away from this glorious God and sell our soul to an idol? The Bible gives us the answer to this perplexing question.

Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; (Deuteronomy 11:16, KJV)

The reason why there are idols in the hearts of every race, people and nation on earth is because our great enemy, the Devil, has led the whole world astray (Revelation 12:8). All humanity has been seduced into the snare of idolatry. Idolatry is based upon deception. The heart must first be deceived before it will turn and worship another god. The Devil is the grand master of deception. He presents his colossal buffet of idols to the human race enticing their hearts to partake from his banquet table. They feed off this false bread and contaminated food instead of God’s bread of life. They begin to get their nourishment, their fuel for living, and their reason for existence from the idol they are consuming. They do not realize that the food is poisoned and designed to bring corruption into their hearts. The more the heart feeds at this banquet of idols, the more it cleaves to its idols as its source of life and motivation for living. Nothing else matters. Nothing else is more important. Nothing else is essential. The heart is now in a state of complete deception and has been blinded to the wonderful truths about God and His Word. The toxic poison of unbelief has seized the heart. God does not matter anymore. The truth does not matter anymore. The eyes of the heart are only focused on the idol and how it can be served.

The Hebrew word for “deceived” means to be wide open for enticement, spacious, and to make roomy. Derivatives of the Hebrew word mean a doorway, opening, and gate. Another derivative verb means to carve or engrave. To be deceived literally means to open wide the doorway of the heart and make it spacious and roomy for the idols to march in. This generation thinks there is some virtue in being open to all ideals and alternatives. “Accept everything and make room for it in our hearts” is the social cry of this age. Yet this is an invitation to let the Trojan Horse of idols into the inner sanctuary of the heart. Once inside these idols carve their name as special guests, they take ownership of the heart.

No one has the right to engrave their name in our hearts but God. God wants to write His commandments, His love poems, His words of encouragement and His cherished words in every part of our hearts. We must be diligent to keep the doorway of our heart closed to idols, whose deceptive words are designed to get us to doubt the greatness of our God. We must close and lock the gate of our heart and be attentive watchmen, so that when the idols come knocking we will not be duped into opening the gate and giving them the key. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned us “Wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many enter therein” (Matthew 7:13).

Deception begins by confusing the heart about the Most High God, defaming His name, and turning Him into something He is not, and then forgetting about Him altogether. Deception is built upon a lack of knowledge of God. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” We do not trust God because we do not know Him. We have allowed religion to destroy the true image of God and corrupt our knowledge of Him. Our Heavenly Father becomes a distant relative we do not know, becoming strangers to His true nature. Our heart falls away from Him for we think something loves us more than God.

Awakening to the Knowledge of God

We stumble into the trap of deception because we have not allowed the Word of God to speak to our hearts about who God is and what God is like. We have failed to hear and believe the promises of God and His faithfulness. God never lies about who He is and what He will do. There is so little knowledge of God that lives in most churches today that the idols of this age are ravaging hearts with hardly any resistance. Our hearts need an awakening to who God is if we are ever to win this battle against idols usurping control of our hearts. We need a spiritual revival of the knowledge of God coming from every pulpit in our land, opening our eyes to God’s holy attributes.

Tozer said in The Knowledge of the Holy:

It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God in the twentieth century is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God … The God of contemporary Christianity is only slightly superior to the gods of Greece and Rome … That our idea of God corresponds as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us … Low views of God destroy the gospel for all who hold them. Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any is more hateful to God than idolatry, for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes God is other than He is-in itself a monstrous sin-and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness. Always this God will conform to the image of the one who created it … A god begotten in the shadows of a fallen heart will quite naturally be no true likeness of the true God … Wrong ideas about God are not only the fountain from which polluted waters of idolatry flow; they themselves are idolatrous. The idolatry simply imagines things about God and acts if they were true. Perverted notions about God soon rot the religion in which they appear … The low view of God entertained almost universally among us is the cause of a hundred lesser evils among us … It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous and inadequate … Enlighten our minds that we may know thee as thou art, so that we may perfectly love and worthily praise thee.[v]

The image of God that has risen from the shadows of our hearts falls far below the true representation of God in all His greatness and majesty. We make God too small and try to fit Him into the box of our religious beliefs. Then God becomes too little, too indifferent and too weak to motivate us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Intimacy vanishes. We become dissatisfied with our religion and blame God for our emptiness. Out of a lack of knowledge of God’s true character, flows doubt, distrust and unbelief, as we search for a substitute that will excite our souls and fill our hearts. We want to find our golden calf and proclaim it as our newfound savior that brings happiness and meaning back into our lives. Our vision of the true God grows dim as our hearts are bombarded with thousands of ideas, images and words that defy the living God. Idolatry always is built on a defamation of God’s character

Art Katz in And They Crucified Him, Some Thoughts on the Cross says:

We all carry images of God that are not God as He is truly is. God will never force upon us that which is true as long as we are content with the imitation, the lesser thing. He waits for a cry of desperation from us–that he might answer with the True Light that only He can give by His Spirit.[vi]

God be Exalted!

We should never settle for an imitation of God in our hearts. We should never allow a counterfeit god to rule our hearts. We should never allow an artificial image of God to dominate our thinking. Every moment we draw breath upon this earth, the cry of our heart should be “God be exalted!” God’s covenant with His people demands a reverence His name and everything it represents (Malachi 2:5). God is crying out to the church, as He did in Malachi 1:6: “A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” When we fail to honor God and respect His Word, we open the door for idolatry to enter. When we have more respect and awe for something other than God, then our heart has fallen into idolatry.

A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God says:

The moment we make up our minds that we are going on with this determination to exalt God over all we step out of the world’s parade … Our break with the world will be the direct outcome of our changed relation with God. For the world of fallen men does not honor God. Millions call themselves by His Name, it is true and pay some token respect to Him, but a simple test will show how little He is really honored among them. Let the average man be put to the proof on the question who is above, and his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choices he makes day after day throughout his life: “Be thou exalted” is the language of the victorious spiritual experience. It is the key to unlock great treasures of grace. It is central to the life of God in the soul … His honor will be proved by restoring again the stolen throne … Made as we were in the image of God we scarcely find it strange to take again God as our All. God was our original habitat and our hearts cannot but feel at home when they enter again that ancient and beautiful abode … The Place is His by every right in earth or heaven … While we take to ourselves the place that is His the whole course of our lives is out of joint. Nothing will or can restore order till our hearts make the great decision: God shall be exalted above.[vii]

For our hearts to be healthy, pure, and free from idols, its cry must always be: “Be Thou exalted O God above everything else!” We are no longer marching in the world’s parade of idols for we have chosen God as our first love. No idol will steal the throne of our heart! Perfect order, peace and joy are restored when the Almighty is exalted, praised and worshipped. Let your heart’s anthem be Psalm 97:9 “For you Lord are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods!”

The Heart: The Battleground for Idolatry

The heart, by its nature, is always exalting something. A thousand idols are always clamoring for the affections of the heart so they can be crowned as king. Who is the king of your heart? What is being exalted above all else in your heart? Has an idol seized the throne and the position of exaltation? We must examine our hearts with prayerful consideration and humility and ask God to open our eyes to see what is exercising the kingship of our hearts. Who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords of your heart?

The Bible teaches that the heart is the battleground of idolatry. All idolatry originates in the heart. The heart in its deepest nature was wired by God to be a place of worship. The heart was designed to be the dwelling place of God with His holy presence filling every chamber. The heart craves to worship, adore and love. The heart was designed to cleave unto God and hold fast to Him in love. The heart was designed for fellowship and intimacy with God. The heart was to be the beautiful home of God decorated with His grace, mercy, love and peace. The heart was meant to be the holy of holies, the inner sanctum, and the blessed sanctuary where the glory of God would rest.

The heart was never meant to be a place for idols. It is the highest act of desecration to the temple of the heart to thrust God out of its inner sanctum and put an idol in His place. Then we direct all the heart’s natural cravings to worship, love and adore toward the idol instead of God. The devil plays with these natural tendencies of craving something to worship and turns them to objects of his making, thereby defiling the heart with the pollution of idolatry. Idolatry turns the dwelling place of God into a pagan temple.

Hosea 4:11 says that idolatry “takes away the heart.” It turns the heart away from God, who is love, and gives it to another lover. Idolatry is spiritual adultery for a Christian. He commits the ultimate act of betrayal against His covenant God and Heavenly Father by giving his love and devotion to another god. Idolatry is handing the key of our hearts to a false god. It is building an altar in our hearts and sacrificing our time, commitment and energy to this false god. The monumental question for every human being is what is being worshipped at the altar of our hearts? Who is receiving the songs of praise that sound out from the shrine of your heart?

The heart becomes what it worships. It always reflects the image of its god, like a person beholding his reflection in a mirror. The heart becomes a true likeness of the idol that it trusts and has fashioned to sit upon its throne: “Those who make them (idols) will be like them, and so will all who trust in them” (Psalm 105:8).

The Bible sets forth the urgent plea of God Almighty to tear down the altars of idolatry in our hearts, so we will worship, love and cleave to the Lord. God declares in Psalm 81:9 “There shall be no strange God in thee” (emphasis added). Idols are always internal before they are external. An idol must first capture the heart before it is worshipped outwardly. External practices of idolatry are simply evidence that the heart has sold out to its new god.

Ezekiel sets forth the truth that idolatry begins in the heart.

Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumblingblocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the Lord will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry. I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’ “Therefore say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices! (Ezekiel 14:1-6, NIV)

The elders of Israel were older statesmen who should be full of godly wisdom for their nation. They were supposed to obey God and follow His commandments, setting an example for their people. Instead they rebelled against God and set up idols in their hearts. These men were in a position of authority, and made spiritual, social and community decisions that affected the entire nation. God showed Ezekiel by revelation the condition of their hearts. He told Ezekiel they had set up idols in their hearts. The Hebrew word for “set up” is alah and means to cause to ascend or climb, to exalt, and to go from a lower place to a higher place. This word implies that these idols had gained supreme ascendency over them, and had been exalted to the position of king of their hearts. These idols were assuming the position of the Most High God in the rulership of their hearts.

Alah is also used in Genesis 8:20 when Noah offered (alah) burnt offerings on the altar after the flood and in Genesis 22:2 when God commanded Abraham to offer (alah) Isaac as a burnt offering. It was used by Lucifer when he said, “I will ascend (alah) into heaven and I will ascend (alah) above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14).

This is high treason against the God of Israel! He only deserved to be exalted as the true captain of their hearts! Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord by his faithful obedience to God’s Word. Abraham, the father of all us who believe, put God first in His life, trusting God’s promises above all else. But the elders in Ezekiel’s followed the way of Lucifer, the first idolater, and rebelled against God Almighty. As a result, they brought devastating consequences on themselves and their nation.

What is an Idol?

So what exactly is an idol? An idol is anything that is more valued, loved, sought after, desired and honored than God. An idol is worshipped in place of God and becomes the obsession, passion and craving of the heart above all else. Timothy Keller in, Counterfeit Gods, says:

What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God. It is anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought. It can be family and children, or career and making money, or achievement and critical acclaim, or saving “face” and social standing. It can be romantic relationship; peer approval, competence and skill, secure and comfortable circumstances, your beauty or your brain, a great political or social cause, your morality or virtue, or even success in the Christian ministry … An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure” … If anything becomes more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity, then it is an idol.[viii]

Do you have an idol that has captured your heart? What are you most devoted to? What occupies almost all your time? What commands your attention? What do you think about constantly? What makes you happy above all other things? What gives your life value and meaning? What absorbs you on a daily basis and controls your life? What consumes you? What can you not live without? What drives you on a daily basis? These questions are a litmus test to determine what idols you may have in your heart. These are mountaintop questions meant to reveal what has climbed to the peak of your heart. Martin Luther said, “Whatever your heart clings to and relies upon is your God; trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and idol.”

At the root of all idolatry is a misplaced trust in a person, object, idea or image above God. We trust the idol to make us whole and give us value. We have faith in the idol to fulfill its promises. We believe the idol more than we believe God. We lean on our idol in times of trouble. The idol has captured the gaze of our eyes. The idol becomes the voice we listen to. The idol energizes us to action.

The heart cleaves to what it trusts. The heart follows and obeys the object of its faith. A heart that has sunk into idolatry has great trust and faith in its idols. The heart grabs its idols and holds them close not wanting to let go for they bring a false sense of security and comfort. The heart trusts that its idols will bring love, happiness, satisfaction and value to life, but tragically it never does. Fleeting moments of satisfaction soon replaced with misery, confusion, disillusionment and hopelessness. Idols are full of empty promises. Idols are full of shallow dreams. Idols hide the destruction that lurks behind them and the spiritual danger of giving them the heart’s allegiance. Idols shatter dreams and break hearts. Idols steal. Idols kill. Idols destroy. Idolatry always ends in disappointment. Idols mask the real consequences of bowing the knee to them and giving our faith to something other than God. We must examine our hearts constantly to see what we are really trusting in regarding all the issues of this life. Idolatry is the mark, badge and evidence that we have failed to follow God’s calling and love something more than God.

The Hebrew word translated “idols” in Ezekiel 14 is very interesting and sheds light on God’s opinion of idols. It is gilluwl and is used thirty-six times in the book of Ezekiel. It is a derisive term meaning logs, blocks, trunks, or clods which are shapeless things that were rolled out to worship. It is derived from the Hebrew word for dung, manure and human excrement, and literally means “dung pellets” The Word Biblical Commentary Ezekiel, Vol. 1 fitly describes this word:

The adoption of the word as a designation for “idol” may have been prompted by the natural pellet shape of sheep feces, or less likely, the cylindrical shape of human excrement. The name has nothing to do with the shape of the idols, but it expresses Ezekiel’s/Yhwh’s disposition toward them. Modern sensitivities prevent translators from rendering this expression as Ezekiel intended it to be heard, but had he been preaching today he probably would have identified these idols with a four letter word for excrement. A more caustic comment on idolatry can scarcely be imagined.[i]

Do you see a clear picture of God’s opinion of idolatry? Is there anything more offensive, worthless, disgusting, and repulsive than dung? God did not just compare idolatry with dung. He inspired Ezekiel by revelation to use this vile word to name it. All idols in God’s sight are mere dung and this visceral term was meant to be revolting and nauseating to the Hebrew people. Would we worship dung? Pray to dung? Love dung? Sacrifice to dung? Praise dung and devote our lives to dung? God’s message is clear that this is exactly what we are doing when we set up an idol in our hearts. God never wants us to forget the vile nature of idolatry and He has given us a vivid word picture to remember.

When you see the true picture idolatry, would you rather worship the Creator of the heavens and earth or dung? This does not seem like a hard choice. But the Devil is the master of deception, and he masquerades dung to look so wonderful and alluring. But when we take off our spiritual blinders and open our eyes, we will see an idol’s true composition. When we peel away all the glitter and subterfuge, all we are left with is dung. No matter how great the idol may seem, it is worthless excrement in God’s eyes. No better word could be used to describe the thousands of idols that have captured the hearts of so many.

Another Hebrew word for “idol” paints an even broader picture of God’s thoughts about idols. In the Old Testament the word is ‘eliyl’ which means worthless, of no value, and good for nothing. The equivalent Greek word used in the Septuagint means a foul odor, a stench, something loathsome, detestable and abominable. An idol has absolutely no value to our lives. It is worthless to accomplish one good thing. Idols cannot save, deliver, or bring peace, strength or lasting joy. Idols are like a foul stench arising from a pile of garbage.

How tragic that so many have given their hearts and dedicated their lives to something that is completely worthless! It is only when these poor souls face the gateway of eternity, and stand before God’s judgment seat, that their eyes will be opened to the utter worthlessness of their idols. They will see in anguish that these idols robbed them of eternal life and brought them the sentence of destruction. Oh that we might see like God sees when it comes to these detestable idols and understand that nothing of any worth ever arises from idolatry.

[i] Leslie C. Allen, Word Biblical Commentary: Ezekiel 1-19 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1994).

[i] Tertullian, On Idolatry (Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2004), 3.

[ii] Kyle Idleman, Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 2013), 22.

[iii] A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1961), 3.

[iv] Frederick Faber, Hymn: My God How Wonderful Thou Art, 1849.

[v] A.W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1961), 1-3.

[vi] Art Katz, And They Crucified Him, Some Thoughts on the Cross (Asheville: Burning Bush Press, 2011), Kindle Edition, 163, 164.

[vii] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (New York: Start Publishing LLC, 2012, originally published in 1948), 67.

[viii] Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2010), 5.

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The Power of Music to Alter the Heart, Part 3: God’s Beautiful Design for Music

psalm-138-5Music originated from God, and it has a beautiful purpose: to minister healing, peace, and inspiration to His children. The human heart needs music to function in its optimal healthy condition. We are designed to crave music that inspires us to praise and worship God with an attitude of thankfulness. We were created to have a song in our hearts for God. Psalm 144:9 says, “I will sing a new song unto thee, O God.” Spurgeon said, “When the heart is in its right state, it must praise God, it cannot be restrained; its utterances leap forth as waters forcing their way from a living spring.”[i]

This is where music was born: in a heart that is overflowing with praise, joy, and awe of our magnificent God. Music is meant to stir the heart into action for God. Music is the refreshing drink of water that rejuvenates our passion for God to fight the good fight of faith and finish the course that God has set for our lives. Music plays a vital role in preparing the heart to worship God in spirit and in truth. Music fills the courts of heaven with praises of the Lord God Almighty. Music was created to be an expression of celebration and reverence of the wondrous works and nature of our God.

David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, timbrels, cymbals and trumpets. (1 Chronicles 13:8, NIV)

Hear this you kings! Listen you rulers! I will sing to the Lord, I will sing; I will make music to the Lord, God of Israel. (Judges 5:3, NIV)

Praise the Lord with the harp. Make music to him on the lyre that has ten strings. Sing a new song to him. Play with skill, and shout with joy.What the Lord says is right and true. He is faithful in everything he does.The Lord loves what is right and fair. The earth is full of his faithful love. The heavens were made when the Lord commanded it to happen. All of the stars were created by the breath of his mouth.He gathers the waters of the sea together. He puts the oceans in their places. Let the whole earth have respect for the Lord. Let all of the people in the world honor him. (Psalm 33:2-8, NIRV)

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. (Psalm 95:1–3, NIV)

God is so awesome and magnificent that the heart yearns for a way to express and proclaim His glory. Music is meant to be an outward expression of the awe-inspiring magnificence of our God. Music that blesses, inspires, and heals comes from hearts bubbling over with joy, love, and passion for their Creator. Music was intended to draw people closer to God and to place their hearts on the same pitch as God. True music is the song of a heart in love with God. Music is meant to ignite the heart with the presence of God and infuse it with the joys of His kingdom.

Revelation 4:11 says that God created all things for His pleasure, and this includes music. The beauty and splendor of music were birthed from the heart of God. God also made the human voice to praise Him. He created the musical scale, with its potential for amazing harmonies and melodies, to express the wonders of His artistic heart.

Dennis McCorkle, in The David Cipher: Unlocking the Hidden Music of the Psalms, says:

From the early chapters of Genesis through the pages of the entire Bible, music has played an integral role in the history of the Hebrew people. Not only defining and solidifying their own culture, religious beliefs, and practices; the music of the Hebrew people and the Bible have shaped the music of our day in the works that have been passed on from generation to generation since the time they were written.[ii]

The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary says:

Expression of the full range of human emotions vocally or instrumentally through music was as much a part of the lives of biblical people as it is in modern times … Indeed all of life could be touched by song. The celebrations of a community, ritual practices of worship, even the act of warfare gave rise to song.[iii]

Some of the great men of the Bible were musicians and composers.

Moses the Songwriter

Moses was a wonderful songwriter in the Bible and we see his first song in Exodus 15 after the miraculous deliverance of the children of Israel from the Egyptian army. In Deuteronomy 32 we see another song of Moses written shortly before his death. In Revelation 15, the song of Moses is sung in heaven.

Dennis McCorkle, in The David Cipher: Unlocking the Hidden Music of the Psalms, writes:

Moses and the people eventually arrive at the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea) in advance of the pursuing army and are miraculously provided an escape route through the waters. Safely reaching the far side, they witness the destruction of Pharaoh and his troops in the water. It is now we get our first glimpse of Moses, the songwriter. Now most people do not generally associate Moses with the field of music, but he was evidently well-versed in this art. We know from the biblical texts that Moses, raised apart from the general population of Israel in the house of Pharaoh during his youth, had learned to not only read and write, but as demonstrated in his later years, to read and write music.[iv]

Yahweh is My Melody

McCorkle says that this first song of Moses has a fundamental statement of truth in its first lines that becomes the foundation of the music compositions of Israel and is echoed in the musical system of the Levites, the psalms, and the prophet Isaiah. This beautiful lyric is, “Yah [abbreviation for Yahweh-God] is my melody!” What an awesome truth that God is our melody, and that God is our song! This is the true heart of music. When music has “God is my melody” at its center, it will have a profound spiritual impact upon the heart.

God fills our hearts with melody and makes them overflow with joy. This is the love song of all love songs, as Psalms 89:1 declares, “I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever.” When our love for God is the motive for the song of our hearts, music will be an incredible healing balm to our souls because it is birthed in love and praise.

Colossians 3:16 says that our hearts should be “singing with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts for God.” Our hearts should not be singing the latest “top 40” songs on the charts, but rather a love song of thankfulness to our God. When the word of Christ dwells richly in our hearts, we cannot help but sing this song of love, for God is our melody.

Make Music in Your Heart for the Ears of God

Ephesians, one of the greatest revelations to the church, states that music and song is an important part of fellowship with God, with one another, and in the church of Jesus Christ.

Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19, NASB)

Express your joy in singing among yourselves psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making music in your hearts for the ears of God. (Ephesians 5:19, PHILLIPS)

Christians who walk by the Spirit of God will express their joy in song and melody to the Lord. We are to make music in our hearts for the ears of God. This music comes from a Spirit-filled heart that overflows in love, adoration, and devotion to God.

We are also to sing along with others in the church, in concert with our joy and love for God. A symphony of praise with our brothers and sisters in Christ should be present wherever Christians fellowship together.

The Greek word translated psalm means a sacred song sung to the accompaniment of instrumental music. The Greek word translated hymn means a sacred poetical composition whose main purpose was to praise. A spiritual song is the natural outburst of a joyous heart prompted by the indwelling Spirit of God.

God loves it when a heart is full of music for Him and sings His praises. This type of music brings us back to the light of God’s presence and focuses our attention on the wonders of God. Exuberant joy and thankfulness overflow from music dedicated to God.

All Music Originates in the Heart

All music originates in the heart, and the content of the heart determines the content of the music. The musician’s music is a reflection of his or her heart. What is in the heart will come out in the music. When the heart is devoted to God and full of love and praise for Him, the music composed will be a melody pleasing to God and a song that glorifies Him. When the heart is not devoted to God, but full of selfishness, lust, greed, and other forms of darkness, the music composed will be a song that pulls the heart away from God to idolatry.

In Exodus 15 we see the heart of Moses, the musician, in his song for God. As you read this passage, imagine Moses and all of Israel lifting up their voices and singing this magnificent song of victory. It has been estimated that as many as three million Israelites came out of Egypt in this Exodus. How awe-inspiring it must have sounded to hear the melody of God sung by millions of people!

David the Musician and Songwriter

David was a wonderfully skilled musician and songwriter. He was also an inventor of musical instruments (1 Chronicles 23:5, 2 Chronicles 7:6, Amos 6:5). He helped to reestablish the functions of the Levites in regards to music in the tabernacle and also selected singers and musicians from the non-priest Levites to participate in worship services of song and music to God. At the heart of their music was the wonderful book of Psalms.

Psalms is the hymn book of the Bible. These compositions were played and sung by the Levites in conjunction with the formal rituals of the tabernacle and later the temple. The Psalms are a compilation of 150 songs written by composers who were moved by the Holy Spirit over a period of about five hundred years. The Hebrew word translated psalm means “praises,” and it comes from the root word meaning “to make a jubilant sound.” This word included all that is worthy of praise and celebration, especially the works and ways of Yahweh. Most of the psalms were composed for public worship in Israel and praised the ways and works of God. These were songs of God, breathed into the heart of a musician to give the listener inspiration, comfort, and guidance. The book of Psalms contains some of the most beautiful passages in the Bible. The lyrics express joy, grief, wonder, faith, love, and suffering in poetic song to our amazing God.

David is believed to have written as many as forty-seven of the psalms, and they set forth the heart of this man who loved God passionately. They describe the trials and joys of walking in intimacy with his Creator. The Bible calls David a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), so his music must have been especially important to God.

Here is one of the magnificent psalms written by David:

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered. (Psalm 108:1–6, NIV)

David’s heart was established and steadfast in God, and from this firm foundation he sang, composed music, and played instruments with every ounce of his soul. He played musical instruments, praising God for His love and faithfulness. His music exalted God.

David’s music taught people to trust God for help and deliverance. It elevated the listener’s heart to worship God. His sacred songs filled hearts with the glory and majesty of God Almighty. David had a heart full of music that filled the earth and the heavens with awesome lyrics. As with Moses, God was David’s melody and his song.

Music Igniting the Flame of God in the Heart

This is the beauty of music at its highest level and for its most noble purpose. The Spirit of God moved mightily in David’s music to lift, inspire, and ignite the flame of God in the hearts of His people. This is truly music as it was supposed to be—a divine healing balm, a divine joyous celebration, a divine song of thankfulness that rockets the heart into the presence of God and establishes it in His love. The energy, power, and glory of God flows like a rushing river into the hearts of those whose ears are tuned to the music of the musician who walks with God and is moved by the Spirit of God.

Playing the Name of God with Music

In the psalms, musicians not only sang about the name of God, some actually played the name of God.

I will be glad and rejoice in you: I will play your Name, Most High. (Psalm 9:2, KJV)

I will give thanks to Yahweh according to his righteousness, And will sing praise to the name of Yahweh Most High. (Psalm 7:17, WEB)

I will play your Name forever, that I may fulfill my vows day after day. (Psalm 61:8, KJV)

Sing to God, play His Name. Raise Him up who rides upon the desert plains by YAH, his name, and be joyful before Him. (Psalm 68:4, KJV)

Dennis McCorkle, in The Davidic Cipher: Unlocking the Hidden Music of The Psalms, explains what it means to play the name of God:

To a non-musician, the above interpretation of these verses might seem strange and you are probably asking yourself, “How can you play someone’s name?” If you are trained classically in music, you may however be familiar with the Italian phrase soggettocavato … In a musical sense, the phrase soggettocavato refers to a type of compositional device in which the letters of a word or name are mapped to specific tones of a musical alphabet or scale … For example, during the Renaissance it was common for composers to honor their patrons and rules with compositions using names as the source for the themes and melodies … King David, who was directly associated with four of the five instances in which this technique is alluded to in the Scriptures, was apparently familiar with this type of compositional device … This compositional device literally enabled the Levite musicians and singers to not only sing the Name of God, but also to play the Name of God as the Scriptures state … The Names YAH and YHWH were directly integrated in the music that was written and the instruments that were played.[v]

David loved God so much, and was so in wonder of His magnificent works and covenant with His people, that he designed his music to contain the name of God in both musical lyrics and notes. This music was like a sweet song in the ears of God, as every note and every word glorified Him. It was a musical masterpiece, an exquisite symphony of song that brought the listener’s heart to the throne of God Almighty, where it would ascend to joyous celebration.

The Levites as Musicians

David taught the Levites the essence of this music of worship. 1 Chronicles 23:4 declares that four thousand Levites were designated to praise the Lord with instruments that David gave them for giving praise. In 1 Chronicles 15, when the ark of the covenant was brought to Jerusalem to be placed in the tabernacle, David assembled a ceremonial marching band of Levites playing harps, cymbals, lyres, trumpets, and horns. Skilled singers raised sounds of joy and praise to God. King David was leaping, dancing, and celebrating as he led this band of musicians into Jerusalem. What a breathtaking musical demonstration of love, joy, and celebration this must have been.

Once the ark had been set in Jerusalem, David appointed some of the Levites to minister in music and praise before the ark of the Lord.

He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to extol, thank, and praise the Lord, the God of Israel: Asaph was the chief, and next to him in rank were Zechariah, then Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Mattithiah, Eliab, Benaiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel. They were to play the lyres and harps, Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow the trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God.

That day David first appointed Asaph and his associates to give praise to the Lord in this manner:

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.

He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth.

He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations.

Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.

For all the gods of the nations are idols; but the Lord made the heavens.

Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are his dwelling place.

Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations the Lord reigns.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.” (1 Chronicles 16:4–15, 23–29, 31, 34, 36, NIV)

What beautiful lyrics! We can worship God in the splendor of His holiness and ascribe to Him the glory, majesty, and greatness due His name. This inspiring music gave thanks to God in song for His goodness and unfailing love. Does the music you listen to glorify God with this type of awesome heart?

King David used his musical abilities to proclaim God’s name, to make Him known, and to tell all who would listen of the might, strength, and glory of the God of Israel. His music led people to seek the face of the Lord. What does the music you listen to lead people to do?

Music always leads the heart to seek something, and we must be vigilant to not allow the songs we listen to lead our hearts down a path that God has not ordained. Our music should encourage us to seek the Lord.

Biblical Kings and Music

The Bible is full of other examples of men of God who understood the importance of music in the worship of God and even in bringing great victory against the enemies of God. When King Solomon had the Ark of the Covenant brought to the temple at its dedication, he had the Levites play cymbals, harps, lyres and trumpets. Singers raised their voices to praise God with this magnificent musical accompaniment. The glory of the Lord filled the temple with a cloud after this musical display. (See 2 Chronicles 5:12–14.)

When a vast army of Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites came against Jerusalem, King Jehoshaphat and all of Judah stood before the Lord and prayed. They received a word from the Lord to go out and face their enemies in battle, for the Lord was with them. Early in the morning, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and praise Him for the splendor of His holiness as they went out ahead of the army. As these men sang and praised the Lord, God set ambushes that caused this mighty army of the enemies of Judah to be utterly destroyed. When the Israelites returned to Jerusalem in victory, they went to the temple of the Lord with harps, lutes, and trumpets, praising God in music and song. (See 2 Chronicles 20:21–22, 28.)

In 2 Chronicles 29:25–28, we read that when King Hezekiah opened the doors of the temple and cleansed it from idolatry, one of the first things he did was reestablish music and song there. He furnished the Levites with cymbals, harps, lyres, trumpets, and all the instruments of David. As they began to sacrifice a burnt offering on the altar, they sang to the Lord, accompanied by music from all these wonderful instruments. The entire assembly bowed in worship while the singers sang and the trumpeters played.

King Hezekiah ordered the Levites to praise the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph, another psalmist. They sang these praises with gladness and bowed their heads and worshipped. After this worship service of song and music, King Hezekiah declared that the people had dedicated themselves to the Lord and that they should bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the Lord. Music can often be the catalyst to a rededication of the heart to the Lord and a commitment to follow Him with thanksgiving and love.

After rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah immediately established the singers in the temple. At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites joyfully celebrated with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps, and lyres. At the dedication, Nehemiah formed two large choirs to give thanks to God. They positioned themselves on top of the wall on opposite sides and were joined with the music of trumpets and all the instruments David had prescribed for the worship of God. Their joyous music and song could be heard from far away, as all Jerusalem rejoiced on this wonderful occasion in the history of Israel. (See Nehemiah 12:27–43)

The book of Nehemiah indicates in the time of David there were directors of music for the singers and songs of praise and thanks. All Israel contributed to the daily portions for the singers. (See Nehemiah 12:44–48) Nehemiah realized how important music was in the service of God in the temple and for the worship of God among the people.

Jesus Singing with His Disciples

After Jesus instituted communion as a memorial of His death, Matthew 26:30 says, “When they had sung a hymn, they went to the Mount of Olives.” Mark 14:26 states that Jesus sang this hymn along with His disciples right before He prayed in Gethsemane shortly before He was crucified. This was probably not the first time they had sung together, but this is the only time recorded in Scripture that our Lord sang. Jesus sang right before He gave His life on the cross and endured the most horrible torture and beating ever known to mankind.

This hymn is believed to be from the psalms called the “Great Hallel” or the “praise Psalms,” which were Psalms 113–118 and 136. I can only imagine how Jesus’ heart poured out to His heavenly Father in song before the most trying time of His life, realizing that He would bear the sins, sicknesses, sorrows, and punishment of the whole world. Knowing this road of rejection, persecution, and death was hours away, Jesus sang. How important this song was to the heart of our Savior! How the lyrics must have comforted and strengthened Him.

If music was so important to Jesus that He sang with His disciples on the evening He was taken to be crucified, how important should music be to us! A song can lift us into the presence of God and comfort our hearts even in life’s darkest hours. It can encourage us to follow God’s will and stand for Him even in the midst of the fiery darts that Satan is throwing at us. Our hearts should always be singing to God, because nothing in heaven or earth compares to Him.

Paul and Silas Singing in Prison

Paul and Silas were severely beaten for preaching the gospel and thrown into prison with their feet in stocks, but they sang praises to God in the midst of this seemingly hopeless situation. God moved with a great earthquake that shook the entire foundation of the prison and they were set free. The world longs for a song in the night when all seems lost, and only God can deliver this song to the depths of the heart.

Music in Church History

Throughout time, great men in church history have understood the profound effect of music on the heart and the importance of godly music in the life of a Christian.

Martin Luther: The Composer

Martin Luther, who is credited with igniting the flame of the Protestant Reformation, was a wonderful composer. He must have understood the importance of music to the Lord in the midst of relentless persecution.

Luther began singing at a young age as a soprano in the choir. He later studied music theory and composition, and learned to play flute and lute quite skillfully. He wrote thirty-seven songs. One of his greatest contributions was the return of music to the church.

For about a thousand years, congregations had not sung as music and melody to the Lord had died in the church. Some hymns were written during this period, but they were use only on special occasions outside of the church. Luther brought music back to the church and made the congregation an active participant in song.

One of his greatest hymns, which was one of my favorites growing up, is “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” The words and music are majestic and heavenly, and they never failed to motivate my heart to stand for God, no matter what the world might throw at me.

Don Cusic, in A Sound of Light: The History of Gospel Music, expounds on Luther’s heart for music:

Martin Luther had a legendary love for music. He was an accomplished lutenist and could improvise accompaniments for singing. He often played after dinner with his family and guests and composed songs for his children. Through his life, he carried his lute with him on his travels and entertained friends and guests after dinner with singing and playing. Music was not just a recreational tool for Luther—it was an integral part of his life and he found a source of strength and comfort in music.

He stated that we “should praise God with both word and music, namely by proclaiming (the Word of God) through music” and another time said “He who believes (the gospel) earnestly cannot be quiet about it. But he must gladly and willingly sing and speak about it so that others may come and hear it … Luther’s prophetic statement “I intend to make … spiritual songs so that the Word of God, even by means of song, may live among the people” became a guiding principal in his life …

Luther was well aware of the power of music and insisted that its proper use was “to the glorification of God and the edification of man.” He said, “We want the beautiful art of music to be properly used to serve her dear Creator and his Christians. He is thereby praised and honored and we are made better and stronger in faith when His holy Word is impressed on our hearts by sweet music.” Luther said of music, “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise.”[vi]

The power of Luther’s music, which came from a heart fully devoted to God, helped to fuel the Protestant Reformation and renew the beautiful worship of God and the lyrics of His mighty Word in the body of Christ.

Charles Wesley: The Inspired Man of Thousands of Hymns

Another revival in history was inspired by a man who was also a composer of music and song. During the Wesleyan Revival in the 18th Century, Charles Wesley wrote more than six thousand hymns, including some that became classics of the Christian church, like “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” and “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.”

A. W. Tozer: The Love of the Hymnal

Christian writer and preacher A. W. Tozer loved hymns and acquired an extensive collection of old hymnals. The Fellowship of the Burning Hearts states this about Tozer:

He longed for a “God-conscious soul”—a heart that is aflame for God. … He often used these hymnals as means for meditation and devotional reading. Often, he would counsel people to get a hymnbook—“but don’t get one less than a hundred years old.” In one the articles for the Alliance Weekly he wrote, “After the Bible, the next most valuable book for the Christian is a good hymnal.”[vii]

Music: Times of Refreshing from the Lord

Listening to music is not meant to replace a Christian’s time in studying and meditating on the Bible, or prayer and intimate fellowship with the heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus. This is always our first priority. However, to keep the heart spiritually tuned to the heartbeat of God, and continually renewed and refreshed, music can be of critical significance.

The soundtrack of the heart is a measuring stick to its overall health. We must never be careless about this vital truth, that music can be either a healing balm or a toxic poison to the life of the heart. Music can help us stay on the path that God has ordained for our lives, or quickly turn the heart to a path that leads to destruction. Music either pulls you into the heart of God or pulls you into the heart of the world. God is crying out to the church and to every Christian believer, “Do not be ignorant or fooled by music and think your listening choices are harmless to your walk and relationship with Me!”

Since the fall of Lucifer, music has been a major weapon in the battle for the heart. When we examine the condition of our hearts, we must ask ourselves this vital question: “Who is the great musician of my heart? Who is feeding my heart its song and melody?”

These great men in church history also illustrate that we must have a vibrant and joyful song in our heart for God. Whenever we remember God’s faithfulness, mercy, and love, a great song will come forth, praising Him for His goodness.

Music in Times of Trouble

Often our greatest songs of praise are borne in trials and temptations. Martin Luther was relentlessly persecuted and hunted for his faith in God and his belief in the Scriptures. David was hunted and hounded by King Saul and his army, who were trying to kill him at every turn. Hezekiah was attacked by hostile kingdoms at the outskirts of Jerusalem. Charles Wesley faced unbelievable persecution as he was threatened, mocked, hit, and violently opposed. Moses had to deal with a rebellious and idolatrous nation of murmurers and complainers who challenged his every move. Jesus faced the callous hearts of the religious elite, the betrayal of a disciple and a friend, the vicious beating of His body to the point where He could not even be recognized as a man, and the horrible death by crucifixion. Yet each of these men had songs in their hearts.

Many Christians today have lost the song in their hearts for God. They cry like the psalmist, “Oh, how could we ever sing God’s song in this wasteland?” (Psalm 137:4). When the heart is bitter and unforgiving, when the heart forgets God, when the heart becomes entangled with the things of this world, it loses its song. An unforeseen problem, a tragic circumstance, or a bewildering turn of events can cause Christians to question God and lose the song in their hearts for God.

In Exodus 15, the children of Israel sang the right song when they were delivered from the army of Egypt, but they sang it on the wrong side. They should have been singing this song even when they were in bondage in Egypt, not simply after a great miracle and deliverance from God. The song they sang was not really in their hearts, because just a few days later they were complaining against God and cursing Him for bringing them out of Egypt. The challenges of the wilderness took the song for God out of their hearts.

Our God will never fail us. He will deliver us from any foe. He is always faithful to His Word, and we are His children. Our God will never leave us or forsake us, and His strength is perfect in our weaknesses.

A Song in Our Hearts for God

What a song our hearts should have for God! We should always be singing and making melody to the Lord. Our hearts cannot remain silent. The song of our salvation and our love story with God should be filling our hearts with music every moment of every day.

Yes, indeed—God is my salvation. I trust, I won’t be afraid. God—yes God!—is my strength and song, best of all, my salvation! Sing praise-songs to God. He’s done it all! Let the whole earth know what he’s done! Raise the roof! Sing your hearts out … The Greatest lives among you. (Isaiah 12:2, 5–6, MSG)

Our song is never a song of anxiety, fear, or worry. The song of our hearts boldly declares that “God is.” He is everything we will ever need in this life, and He will come into any circumstance for us when we call on His name. God is our salvation. He is our strength, our defender, our provider, and our deliverer. The almighty God is our song. He is the greatest in heaven and earth, and He lives within us! We should be raising the roof with our praise-song to God.

When we begin to get a glimpse of how magnificent and glorious God is and that He cares about every detail of our lives, the song of God will rise in our hearts. We cannot keep silent about the wonder of our God and His amazing works. God is grieved when we rob Him of this song of love and praise. We lose our song when we do not completely surrender to Him, when we allow something else to be our first love, when we do not trust Him with our very lives. God cries when the song of our hearts goes silent.

Carter Conlan, in The 180 Degree Christian; Serving Jesus in a Culture of Excess, says:

What I believe grieves God most is we have robbed Him of our hearts. It is as if He would say to us, “You have robbed Me of the full heart of surrender that I was looking for that would have allowed Me to fill you from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet. If only you would have turned to Me! I would have caused you to live such a profound life that you would have stood out as a light shining in a darkened world.”[viii]

Don’t lose your love song for God by turning away from Him when things get tough. If you sing praises to God in all circumstances, your heart will rest firmly in His presence and you will experience the faithfulness of our God.

God Sings Over You: You are His Love Song

Did you know God sings? Did you know that the song of His heart is about you? The Creator of the heavens and the earth has blazed in His heart a joyful song that He loves to sing just for you. The song that is constantly in His heart is a love ballad dedicated to you. He is singing this song to you right now, even as you are reading this book. He will sing this song to you in all your tomorrows, and He will sing it to you throughout eternity.

The Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT)

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (ESV)

Yahweh your God is there with you, the warrior-Savior. He will rejoice over you with happy song, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shout of joy for you. (NJB)

Can you imagine how beautiful it must be when God sings? It has to be simply breathtaking to hear God’s voice in song. The even more astounding truth is that is He is singing to you. The song bursting forth from His heart is about you. The Creator of every living thing, and the maker of every mountain on earth and every star in the universe, has a song that is constantly on His mind and it concerns you. You are His song! You are His melody! You are His music! God is rejoicing over you with a song that deeply expresses the joy and love He has for you. God calms our hearts with a lullaby of His love, like a mother singing sweetly to her child as she gently rocks him to sleep. God even dances over us with shouts of joy!

This song of God is a hymn of deliverance, victory, and salvation. Psalm 32:7 says that God “surrounds us with songs of deliverance.” He wants His songs of victory to fill our hearts with rejoicing and thankfulness for His mighty salvation. God sings because He knows that He has made you in Christ and that He has given you a name and a divine destiny.

The world will rarely sing over you in triumphant song. But God says, “No matter what anyone says, you are My beloved, My treasure, My pearl of great price, My heart’s desire. I have made you beautiful, precious, and more valuable than all the treasures of the earth. Let our hearts rejoice in song together, for you are My song and I passionately desire to be your song. Let our hearts make music together, for My song never fails, fades, or disappoints. My heart is always singing for you. Never forget My love song and My songs of deliverance for you.”

The music that is born of above, with its sweet melody, sounds out from every corner of our hearts. God sings to us. We sing to God. We are God’s melody and He is our melody. This is the music that can fill our hearts and transform us into the image of our glorious God and Redeemer.

[i] Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David: Volume 4, Study of the Psalms, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1976), Psalm 144, Kindle Edition, 87898.

[ii] Dennis McCorkle, The David Cipher: Unlocking the Hidden Music of the Psalms (Denver: Outskirts Press, 2010), Kindle Edition, 294.

[iii] Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1159.

[iv] Dennis McCorkle, The David Cipher: Unlocking the Hidden Music of the Psalms (Denver: Outskirts Press, 2010), Kindle Edition, 329, 330.

[v]Ibid., Kindle Edition 662.

[vi] Don Cusic, A Sound of Light: The History of Gospel Music (Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2002), 15, 16, 18, 19.

[vii] A.W. Tozer, Fellowship of the Burning Heart: A Collection of Sermons by A.W. Tozer (Alachua: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 2006), 10.

[viii] Carter Conlan, The 180 Degree Christian; Serving Jesus in a Culture of Excess (Ventura: Regal Books, 2012), 68.

This is an excerpt from my new book “The heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life” You can order from my books on this website or from Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble.

 

 

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Listen More, Talk Less and Calm Down

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We live in a time of information explosion. I read recently that over 100 billion emails are sent each day. That’s more than ten times the population of the whole world. Each day 5000 new books are published. This year the number of text messages will exceed 6 trillion.

If we take the year Christ was born as our starting point, it took 1500 years for all the knowledge in the world to double. The next doubling took only 250 years. It doubled again in 150 years. By the end of World War II, knowledge doubled every 25 years. Today knowledge is doubling every 12 months. No wonder we can’t keep up.

According to Stephen Davey, “If you happen to read the New York Times newspaper for one week, you will be exposed to more information than the average person, living in the 1800‘s, came across in their entire lifetime.” (From the message “Tutored by Truth.”)

We are being swamped by a tidal wave of information that pours in 24/7/365. The whole world is now “live” and in “real-time.” Stories change every few minutes, and the screen you’re watching may have an anchor reading a story with an image to the right, a sidebar to the left, with a screen crawl at the top and another at the bottom so that you’re following five different information sources at the same time on the same screen.

We are easily distracted

No wonder we are easily distracted. We look without seeing, we listen without hearing, and we speak without understanding. We are a wired up, tuned in, hyper-caffeinated generation. Some years ago Bob Moorehouse wrote an essay called The Paradox of Our Time. Here’s a brief excerpt:

-We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life.

-We’ve added years to life not life to years.

-We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor.

-We conquered outer space but not inner space.

-We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

Every part of that seems very true, but I was especially drawn to this sentence: “We’ve conquered outer space but not inner space.” Everything we build is bigger, stronger, faster, and larger. We’ve come a long way in a short time. The engine of human progress hums right along. We send men to the moon, satellites into orbit, and radio waves to the stars. But inner space is another matter. We’re not even close to conquering that. The human heart seems as unruly as ever.

My Greatest Challenge

If we are honest with ourselves, we all know that the real battles of life are inside, not outside. My greatest challenge is the man in the mirror. When I say that the human heart is unruly, I’m not talking about yours. I’m talking about mine.

What we are on the inside matters more than what happens on the outside. That’s where the little book of James becomes incredibly relevant. This epistle, written 2000 years ago to beleaguered, scattered, oppressed Jewish believers who were just barely hanging on to their faith, speaks with amazing clarity to life in the 21st-century. James wants us to discover the freedom that comes when we respond the right way to the pressures of life.

We look without seeing, we listen without hearing, and we speak without understanding

James 1:19-20 specifically answers the question, How do you respond properly when the heat is on, the pressure is building, and you are about to lose it? Pay close attention to his answer:

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

These verses appear simple, but putting them into practice is a daily challenge. Let’s focus on the three basic commands James gives us.

  1. Listen More

“Be quick to hear” (James 1:19a).

Wisdom begins when we listen more and talk less. In context, this sort of listening starts by paying attention to what God has said in his Word. In the first century, believers didn’t have all the advantages we have. They didn’t have printed copies of the New Testament. For that matter, if James was indeed the first book of the New Testament, they couldn’t read Romans because it hadn’t been written yet. Likewise for all four gospels, the book of Acts, the rest of the epistles, and the book of Revelation. They didn’t have the Bible on a smartphone app so they could read it wherever they went. For the most part, hearing the Word meant meeting with other believers and listening to the Word being taught. It meant hearing, memorizing and then meditating on what you had heard.

Wisdom begins when we listen more and talk less

I sometimes think our modern technology has made it so easy to hear the Word that we hardly hear it at all. When I look at my iPhone, I see tons of apps, all of them brimming with information that flows in 24 hours a day. I have news apps, email apps, message apps, music apps, and video apps. We have enough online stimulation to keep us occupied round the clock. In the old days (maybe 10 years ago), when you got on an airplane, you might actually chat with the person sitting next to you. That rarely happens nowadays. At the gate and on the plane, you see people with their heads down, looking at their smartphones, or apparently talking to themselves (though they are actually on the phone).

A heinous crime paid an impossible debt

I wonder who is better off, the first-century believers who had almost no copies of the Word or 21st-century believers who have the Bible at our fingertips. No one would trade our technology for life 2000 years ago, but I will say this. Technology is useless (and even dangerous) if we are so busy and so distracted that we are not “quick to hear” what God is saying to us.

This principle applies in every area of life. Some people talk so much that they never hear what anyone else says. A few days ago Marlene and I read Proverbs 8 together. In that chapter wisdom is personified as a woman speaking to the reader:

Wisdom calls (v. 1).

She speaks noble things (v. 6).

Wisdom is better than gold or silver (vv. 10-11).

By wisdom kings reign (v. 15).

God blesses those who walk in wisdom (v. 32).

Wisdom gains favor from the Lord (v. 35).

But no one gains wisdom by chance. Wisdom says, “If you seek me, you will find me.” Are we too busy, too worried, too preoccupied, too distracted (a very modern problem) to seek the wisdom God offers in his Word?

No one gains wisdom by chance

The word translated “quick” was used in a slightly different form in John 20:4 to describe Peter outrunning John to the empty tomb. That’s a helpful picture. We ought to be “outrunning” ourselves to find out what God has to say to us. I have a friend who says that he and his wife have a simple morning rule: “No Bible, no breakfast.” I used to hear that said 40 years ago. Not so much nowadays. I like it as a personal habit to adopt.

We would all be better off if instead of checking Facebook first thing in the morning, we went running to the Word of God. I can’t make rules for you or for anyone else, but here’s a challenge to think about. Being “quick to hear” doesn’t happen by accident.

We have to plan to hear the Word.

We’re quick to do many things that don’t matter.

Are we quick to listen to the Word of God?

  1. Talk Less

“Be slow to speak” (James 1:19b).

Ecclesiastes 5:2 says it this way: “God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.” It’s hard to argue with that.

You’re not as smart as you think you are, and neither am I.

You’re not as clever as you think you are, and neither am I.

You’re not as wise as you think you are, and neither am I.

We’re not as smart as we think we are

There is a time to speak and a time to be silent. Most of us are better at the former and not so good at the latter. Proverbs 29:20 has a helpful word about this. “Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Ogden Nash put this principle into a neat little rhyme: “To keep your marriage brimming, with love in the loving cup, whenever you’re wrong, admit it. Whenever you’re right, shut up.” It’s so easy to kill a marriage or a friendship with unkind words. How many times have we said something in anger only to regret it a thousand times later?

Let me pause to make an application that I would not have made (or even thought about) 25 years ago. Social media encourages quick feedback. Someone says something we don’t like so without thinking it through, we post a snappy reply, a snarky comment, a clever comeback or a mean-spirited innuendo. Sometimes we are so eager to post our comments that we hit Send and then start chuckling over our cleverness. Here’s a simple piece of advice when you are tempted to do that:

It’s easy to kill a marriage with unkind words

Slow down.

Wait.

Think about it.

You can delete a foolish comment, but you can’t erase it from the Internet. Once you post it, the record floats in cyberspace forever.

You can’t erase a foolish comment completely

When James says “Be slow to speak,” he is thinking about our tendency to speak when we are angry and frustrated. I’m sure you’ve heard it said: Speak when you are angry and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret. How true it is. When I was a child, people used to say “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That’s a nice, brave saying, and it works pretty well if you have no feelings. Words hurt far more than sticks and stones, and the wounds they leave take far longer to heal. Unkind words don’t break bones; they break hearts.

III. Calm Down

“Be slow to anger” (James 1:19c).

The translators handle this last command in a variety of ways:

“Slow to anger” (ESV).

“Slow to wrath” (ASV).

“Don’t get worked up into a rage so easily” (Voice).

“Slow to lose his temper” (Phillips).

James is not saying don’t get angry. That’s unrealistic. We’re all going to get angry from time to time. The word translated “anger” actually refers to a deep-seated rage. It doesn’t refer to a passing moment of displeasure which is soon gone and forgotten. No, James is speaking of that deep emotion which, when released, is like a volcano erupting. It spews red-hot lava all over the living room.

Anger is under our control

Anger is under our control. Sometimes we talk of “blowing up” as if it happened against our will. But that’s a cop-out. Anger is an emotion we control. Here’s the proof. Have you ever had an argument with your spouse and the phone rang right in the middle of the argument? You were raising your voice and getting red in the face and then, “Hello, how are you? I’m so glad you called. Goodbye.” You hang the phone up and go at it again. That’s because anger is an emotion you can control.

But notice the progression. If we are quick to hear, we will be slow to speak. But if we are slow to hear, we will doubtless be quick to speak. Quick speaking leads to quick anger. The angrier we get, the faster we speak, and the less we hear.

Quick speaking leads to quick anger

Not long ago I spoke to a group of men who serve the Lord in various leadership positions around the world. I talked to them about the character qualities of a godly man in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. When you study the 25 character qualities and put them in groups, you discover the single largest group involves a man and his anger. As I studied the two lists Paul made, I found 5 of the 25 character qualities unquestionably related to a man and his anger:

Not overbearing – Titus 1:7

Not quarrelsome – 1 Timothy 3:3

Not quick-tempered – Titus 1:7

Not violent – 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7

Gentle – 1 Timothy 3:3

I reminded the men of Solomon’s wise counsel in Proverbs 16:32, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” But of course we don’t really believe it. Which would you rather be called, a patient man or a warrior? The world rewards the warriors while the patient men change diapers and take out the garbage. It’s not much of a contest.

Jesus didn’t come to make us nicer people. He came to make us new people

Solomon says it is better to control your temper than to “take a city.” We use that military imagery all the time in Christian circles. We talk about taking our cities for Christ and winning America back to God. That sort of talk can lead to some disastrous results:

“I took my city for Christ, but my wife left me.”

“I took my city for God, but my children no longer follow Jesus.”

Would you rather be called a warrior or a patient man?

I think James knew we would have an issue with this third command so he added a reason in verse 20: “For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” The CEV offers this practical warning: “If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things that God wants done.” Did you ever know a person who was angry all the time? They get up angry, they shower angry, they eat breakfast angry, they go to work angry, they come home angry, they watch TV angry, and they go to bed angry. When they are happy, that makes them angry. Nothing pleases a person like that. Anger leads to jealousy, harsh words, and it can even lead to murder.

That sort of anger can never produce a life pleasing to God.

That sort of anger only destroys; it never builds up.

That sort of anger brings the smell of death with it.

Sorrow and Love Flow Mingled Down

In order to move away from bitterness, anger, and hurtful words, we need to take Ephesians 4:32 to heart:

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

We are to extend grace to others as God has extended grace to us. We who have been showered with God’s grace in Christ are to give to other undeserving sinners the same outpouring of grace. From God to us to others. Grace to us, grace to others. This is God’s plan. We do for others what God has done for us. We have been forgiven; we know what it is like. Now do the same for others. We are not left to wonder what it means to forgive those who have hurt us.

Grace to us, grace to others. This is God’s plan.

You cannot understand God’s love unless you go to the cross.

You cannot understand the cross unless you see in it God’s love.

Man’s murder became God’s sacrifice. A heinous crime paid an impossible debt. Through the death of an innocent man, we the guilty go free. If we had been there, the stench of death would have overwhelmed us, but the cross smelled good to the Father. The work of salvation was finally done:

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down!

Did e’er such love or sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

We need the Lord Jesus living in us

Jesus didn’t come to make us nicer people. He came to make us new people. If you read this sermon and think, “I should try harder to listen more, speak less, and calm down,” that’s a good sentiment, but it misses the point. We need the Lord Jesus living in us. In one of his books, British Bible teacher F. B. Meyer talked about how Christ living in us makes all the difference in the moment of temptation. Meyer said that when he felt himself getting angry or irritable, he asked the Lord for the quality most needed at that moment:

Your patience, Lord Jesus.

Your kindness, Lord Jesus.

Your love, Lord Jesus.

Your courage, Lord Jesus.

Your wisdom, Lord Jesus.

Your joy, Lord Jesus.

Your compassion, Lord Jesus.

If we believe that in Jesus Christ dwells all the fullness of God (and we do), and if we believe Christ dwells in our hearts by faith (and we do), then we may believe that in our lives this week the fullness of Christ, the beauty of Christ, the grace of Christ, the mercy of Christ, the holiness of Christ, and the kindness of Christ may fill us and drive out the evil—the lust, greed, impatience, unbelief, critical spirit, and the angry intolerance that holds us back.

When we are living in Christ and Christ is living in us, then by God’s grace we will be . . .

Swift to hear,

Slow to speak, and

Slow to anger.

Come, Lord Jesus, transform us by the power of your Word so that your beauty may be seen in us. Do it, O Lord! Amen.

Courtesy of http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/listen-more-talk-less-calm-down/

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The Power of Music to Alter the Heart, Part 2: Lucifer, the Divine Musician

angel_of_light

Music is a vital part of heaven and the throne of God. It has been part of the worship and praise of God since the beginning. Lucifer was created as a beautiful and wise archangel, an anointed cherub, and music was an integral part of his being.

Thou [Lucifer] hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: Thou wast on the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. (Ezekiel 28:13–14, KJV)

Cherubim are the highest-ranking angels in God’s kingdom and are the most powerful, beautiful, and wise spirit beings God has ever created. Cherubim only do what God beckons, and they are to never turn away from it (Ezekiel 1:9,12; Ezekiel 10:11). The voice of the Almighty is always right above their heads, and they move swiftly, like lightening, to obey His commands (Ezekiel 1:14, 24-26). The fire of God burns brightly in the center of their beings, like coals of fire, and the glory of God rests upon them (Ezekiel 1:4, 13, 27-28; Ezekiel 11:22-23).

These spirit beings were the guardians and ministers of God’s throne, as Psalm 99:1 declares that God is “enthroned above the cherubim.” Revelation 4:6 also says these cherubim have special access to God’s heavenly throne. Revelation 7:11 says the cherubim fall down in humility on their faces before the throne of God and worship Him daily, saying, “Blessing and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power be unto our God for ever and ever.” Cherubim praised and worshipped God constantly, giving great honor to the holiness and majesty of God Almighty.

The cherubim are fiercely devoted to God, and their entire purpose is to serve God with undivided loyalty. C. H. Spurgeon called them “the flaming ones who gaze upon His glory.[i]” The dazzling light of the Lord’s presence rose from within the cherubim as they lived and ministered in the very glory and presence of God. These living spirit beings never ceased to cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8). Words fail miserably in describing the magnificence of these cherubim that ministered daily before the throne of God.

The tabernacle and the temple were full of images of cherubim, the most significant being on the mercy seat that was the covering for the Ark of the Covenant, where the presence and glory of God was revealed. The cherubim images had their wings spread over the Ark, symbolically guarding its holy contents and the glory of God that surrounded it.

Lucifer: The Divine Musician

Lucifer, the highest ranking of the cherubim, was the guardian of the throne of God and His glory and holiness. In Ezekiel 28:14, God called him the “anointed cherub that covers,” illustrating the supreme responsibility Lucifer held in the kingdom of God. This is the only time the word translated anointed is used in the entire Bible, and in the Hebrew it carries the meaning of expansion. It could be translated as “the expanded anointing or the anointing of expansion.” This super-anointing on Lucifer enabled him to carry out his holy duties and assignments before God.

Patrick Fairbairn, in his exposition on Ezekiel, translates the name Lucifer as “the cherub consecrated to the Lord by the anointing oil.[ii]” How special he must have been to the heart of God to give him such an extraordinary anointing. Lucifer was the mightiest supernatural being that He had ever created, and music was an essential part of this super-anointing of God.

The Hebrew word translated covers in Ezekiel 28:14 means to cover so as to secure and protect, to defend, to weave together, and to build a hedge. Lucifer was the great protector, and guardian of the throne of God. His music, praise, and worship were to surround the heavenly throne like a hedge. He was so close to the throne and to God’s presence as to be considered intertwined as one in purpose with God’s authority, power, and glory.

God created Lucifer with supernatural abilities and talents in music, to be used daily for the glory of God. Ezekiel 28:14 says that God set him in this position, which means he consecrated, ordained, and entrusted Lucifer as the super-anointed minister of music, praise, and worship.

We must examine some of the Hebrew words in this verse from Ezekiel to get a real sense of the Devil’s relationship with music. The Hebrew word translated workmanship means occupation, business, service, and ministry. It means the service or ministry that one is employed or sent to do in life. It describes the work of the artisan, the architect, the public servant, and the ordinary laborer. It is even used in Genesis to describe God’s work of divine creation (Genesis 2:2–3).

The Hebrew word translated prepared means to be firmly established, to be ordained, and to be fitted. The primary action of this verb is to cause to stand in an upright position. The word is used in Proverbs 3:19 of God “establishing” the heavens.

God created Lucifer with an occupation, a ministry, and a service in the kingdom of God, and it involved the skillful use of tabrets and pipes to make music that glorified God in the worship of Him at His throne. God firmly established Lucifer as a chief musician and ordained Him in this ministry of music. Music was the focal part of his occupation.

Tabrets and pipes are musical instruments that were created in the very being of Lucifer. Ezekiel says the tabrets and pipes were prepared, established, and ordained in him from the very day Lucifer was created. These percussion and wind instruments were a part of him just as our arms, legs, or fingers are a part of us. He was a living musical instrument. Lucifer was fitted and framed by God to have music as an essential part of who he was and what he was appointed by God to do. Music was his domain, and this was to be his ministry forever before the throne of the Almighty.

Ezekiel says Lucifer was perfect in all his ways before he sinned. The word translated as “perfect” means whole, complete, healthful, wholesome, sound, perfect, free from blemish and undefiled. It means to be perfectly in harmony and accord with the truth, and it could be summed up in the words “to speak and sound out the truth.” Lucifer’s music was absolutely perfect and complete, without any spot or blemish of imperfection. It was a literal sounding out of the truth of God’s awesome characteristics and glory, and it promoted wholeness and peace and righteousness. His music was like a healing balm throughout the halls of heaven. His music was the living Word put to sound that was glorious perfection in every note, arrangement, pitch, and beat. He was the heavenly composer, whose music elevated the heart toward God and filled it with praise, joy, and thankfulness in a great crescendo of exuberance and awe before the throne of God. All the perfection of musical composition and performance was created in Lucifer. He was the maestro of music in the entire heavenly realm.

Tabrets

In the biblical culture, a tabret was a thin wooden rim in the shape of a circle, covered with a membrane, usually with brass bells or rattles attached. It was basically a tambourine, and it was used in dance. The Hebrew word for “tabret” emphasizes beating or striking to produce a sound. The seventeen usages of this word in the Bible show that it was meant to be an instrument of joy and celebration.

The tabret was used in the praise and worship of God. It was also used to celebrate the joy of victory in battle against Israel’s enemies. The prophets and prophetesses also played the tabret, such as Miriam did after the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea (Exodus 15:21-22).

The following verses in Psalms show the tabret being used in the praise of God.

Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of the saints. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their king. Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel [same Hebrew word for tabret] and harp. (Psalm 149:1–3, KJV)

Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. (Psalm 150:1–6, KJV)

The tabret accompanied songs of rejoicing, praising God for His mighty acts and breathtaking greatness. God’s intention for a musical instrument like a tabret is that it would be an extension of the heart, and its music was to reflect a heart that totally belonged to God and was overflowing with praise, adoration, and love for Him. The music and song that flowed from the musical instrument was an outward expression of the inward reality of a heart completely devoted to God. Music was to be an expression of the spiritual temperature of the heart that is on fire for God. Music was to convey the beautiful joy of knowing Him and the gratitude of being the object of His affection. Our hearts were made to sing His song.

Pipes/Flutes

The Hebrew word translated pipes refers to the grooves or holes of the instruments. It comes from a root word meaning to bore through. This Hebrew word for pipes in Ezekiel 28:13 only appears once in the Bible, which emphasizes the uniqueness of this wind instrument that was created in the very being of Lucifer. His musical abilities were in such perfection that they were far above human comprehension.

Like the tabrets, pipes were used to express great joy and celebration. In the Bible, pipes were played in celebration of the crowning of a new king. They were also played by the prophets before they prophesied and celebrated a word from the Lord. They accompanied a celebration by dance. They were played at marriage feasts and in mourning at funerals, as we see in Matthew 9. Pipes were used in the worship and praise of God as people rejoiced with songs of gladness about the Lord and His salvation.

Flutes were played in the temple on twelve special festivities, including Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. The pipe, as with all other musical instruments, was intended to be used as an expression of a heart full of love and gratitude for its Creator.

Psalm 5 has the title “For the director of music: For flutes. A Psalm of David.” This psalm was meant to be a song of praise with a flute accompaniment. According to E. W. Bullinger in The Chief Musician, or Studies in the Psalms and their Titles, this subscription belongs at the end of Psalm 4 rather than at the beginning of Psalm 5.[iii] Psalm 4 speaks strongly against turning God’s glory into shame and following false gods. It instructs us to not sin out of anger, but to search our hearts and be silent and offer right sacrifices to God, trusting only in Him.

Lucifer turned God’s glory into shame when he rebelled against God in heaven. In intense anger and hatred toward God, he sinned and failed to offer right sacrifices to Him. Lucifer did not search his heart to find the pride that turned his trust toward himself rather than God.

God used a wind instrument—which, like the tabret, was created in Lucifer—to accompany a psalm about the futility of worshipping any god other than the Lord. He used the flute to touch this psalm with music that encourages His children not to make the same mistake Lucifer made, which led to his tragic downfall.

Read this beautiful psalm and imagine a flute accompaniment that brings these words to life.

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.

How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Selah[iv]

In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Selah

Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him. Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.

Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.

You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:1–8, NIV)

This psalm is an ode of joy from David to the Lord for being his righteous, merciful, and loving God. It beautifully declares that true joy, peace, and goodness come only from the Lord. The flute helps to drive these words home to the heart.

Stringed Instruments

Isaiah links one other musical instrument to Lucifer:

Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, and the sound of your stringed instruments; the maggot is spread under you, and worms cover you. How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! (Isaiah 14:11–12, NKJV)

Isaiah says “the sound of your string instruments” when referring to Lucifer. This phrase illustrates an extraordinary mastery of stringed instruments by Lucifer and the use of them to accomplish his wicked purposes. They must have been quite valuable to Lucifer for him to declare them as his own.

The Word of God does not say whether these stringed instruments were created in Lucifer, but it does say that he used them with “pomp.” The Hebrew word translated pomp means pride, arrogance, splendor, majesty and ornament. Music is the Devil’s original domain, and he uses music as an ornament for all to admire in order to bring glory to himself.

The Hebrew words for “stringed instruments” are translated as psaltery, lyre, and harp in various places in the Bible. The phrase refers to musical instruments in the harp family.

A portable harp was a popular instrument in the Hebrew culture. It had wonderful capacities in pitch and tone, and was believed to have ten to twelve strings. The strings were drawn over a sounding board, so this harp was like a primitive guitar. The strings were stretched over a skin soundboard, giving the lyre or harp an exotic timbre and considerable volume.

As this musical instrument advanced, its strings were stretched in high tension over woods like fir and algum. It was capable of producing loud music, as indicated in 1 Chronicles 15:26, where it was heard even among the rams’ horns, trumpets, and cymbals. It was also capable of producing musical solos.

Psalm 119:54 says, “Thy statutes have been my zemirot [songs accompanied by plucked stringed instruments],” illustrating that all Hebrew Scripture could be accompanied by this wonderful instrument. It was designed to beautifully set the Word of God to sound.

In Revelation 5:8, we read that every cherubim and every one of the twenty-four elders had a harp that they used in singing a song about the great redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ.

Corruption of Music

The Devil did not lose any of his musical abilities and talents when he rebelled against God. They just became corrupted. And now he uses his musical abilities for his own wicked purposes.

Satan fully understands musical composition, as he was originally a living musical instrument, and he still carries music as an integral part of his spiritual being. He knows how to compose and inspire music that will seduce the human heart away from God. He inspires the writing of music and lyrics that disturb, agitate, or drive the heart with passions, emotions, and thoughts that lead it into his captive snare. The Devil uses a variety of instruments to construct a sound that can fundamentally change the direction and content of the heart. The Enemy understands music better than any human who ever lived on the earth, and he hates God. That is a dangerous combination.

In Isaiah 14, the Word of God declares that Lucifer weakened the nations, caused the earth to tremble, made the world a wilderness, shook kingdoms, and turned the world into a prison house. Although the Devil has many wicked schemes and methods in accomplishing these things, music is one of the ways he has weakened nations and made the world a prison house of captivity. Music is a supernatural weapon of mass destruction in the hands of Satan.

The Hebrew word translated weaken in Isaiah 14:12 means to waste away, to overthrow, to decay, or to disable. The Devil has used music to bring nations to their knees, causing their moral and spiritual foundations to decay and waste away. Music can change the moral and cultural climate of a nation, overthrowing its stability in the hearts and minds of its people, and weakening its strength as a nation. Music can crumble the pillars of a civilization and arouse in its citizens the worst passions of its fleshly sin nature.

The Hebrew word translated tremble in Isaiah 14:16 means to quiver with violent emotion, especially anger or fear. The Devil uses music to disquiet, agitate, and enrage the heart, causing it to quiver with violent emotions, like anger and fear. Music moves the heart like no other sound on earth, and Lucifer knows exactly how to use it to move the heart away from God. It is amazing how one song can move the heart to depression, discord, and agitation. Music can truly make the inhabitants of the earth tremble in great disturbance of heart.

The Hebrew word translated shake in Isaiah 14:16 describes a confused noise, a rattling, an uproar, or a crashing. One form of this word means “noisemaker.” The Devil uses the vibration of music, turning it into a confused noise that shakes the very core of the heart. Music can cause an uproar, shaking the hearts of a nation’s people with confusion and disorientation, causing them to disconnect from God and wander away from Him. The Devil distorts the beauty of music, which God intended to fill the heart with joy, into something that rattles it with disorder.

The Devil would “not let his captives go home,” according to Isaiah 14:17. Satan does everything he can to stop a person from going home to God, where He awaits with open arms.

Christians can experience wonderful deliverance at the cross of Christ, and then allow a careless choice of music to draw them back into their old ways and lifestyles, becoming enslaved again. Music can cause the heart to become a prisoner of war in Satan’s kingdom.

Lyrics: Conveying the Message

Lyrics are a powerful medium to convey a message. Yet many people don’t pay much attention to them. The message in a song is rarely checked at the entrance to the heart. Instead, we allow the words and sounds to flow in freely. Many song lyrics promote the works of the flesh and encourage self-mutilation, suicide, lust, greed, sexual perversion, and rebellion.

Some musicians are blatant about the source of their inspiration and the purpose of their songs. They consider music to be a form of advertising, a clarion call to entice the heart and mind into ways of thinking, speaking, and acting that are not from God Almighty.

Take a moment to reflect on the lyrics in the music you listen to. Does it promote the fruit of the Spirit of God or the fruit of the flesh? A spirit of holiness or of corruption? Does it encourage obedience to God and His Word or rebellion? When you listen to it, do you feel peace or anxiety, agitation, and fear? Does your favorite music build the love of God in your heart, or the love of the world?

Music as Idolatry

Music can establish a law, creed, or lifestyle in your heart that you follow with passion, not even realizing that the prince of the power of the air is the composer of the song that is molding your heart. Music can build a nest in your mind that allows Satan to take up residence there as he gradually deadens your conscience to righteousness and holiness.

Music can be a powerful idol builder. It can drive the heart to worship love, sex, money, self, and power while leaving God out of the picture. The Devil was the first idolater, and he uses music to get people to worship anything but the one true God.

The book of Revelation states that music is an important part of the world system of evil referred to as “Babylon the great.” In the coming judgments, God will stop this music.

Then I saw another angel descending from heaven, possessing great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his radiance and splendor. And he shouted with a mighty voice, She is fallen! Mighty Babylon is fallen! She has become a resort and dwelling place for demons, a dungeon haunted by every loathsome spirit, an abode for every filthy and detestable bird.

For all nations have drunk the wine of her passionate unchastity, and the rulers and leaders of the earth have joined with her in committing fornication [idolatry], and the businessmen of the earth have become rich with the wealth of her excessive luxury and wantonness.

I then heard another voice from heaven saying, Come out from her, my people, so that you may not share in her sins, neither participate in her plagues.

Then a single powerful angel took up a boulder like a great millstone and flung it into the sea, crying, With such violence shall Babylon the great city be hurled down to destruction and shall never again be found. And the sound of harpists and minstrels and flute players and trumpeters shall never again be heard in you, and no skilled artisan of any craft shall ever again be found in you, for your businessmen were the great and prominent men of the earth, and by your magic spells and poisonous charm all nations were led astray [seduced and deluded]. (Revelation 18:1–4, 21–23, AMP)

This great world system is infested with every type of demon spirit and loathsome angel of darkness that fed on all strata of society, including music. People from all nations had drunk of its wine, driving them into idolatry and rebellion against God. Many businesspeople, companies, and musicians have become rich off this music system fueled by the spirit of Babylon. These powerful icons have led the hearts of countless people astray with the poisonous and addictive charms of their music, which is pumped into every radio station and music store around the world.

One day God will say, “I have had enough,” and silence the music borne in the heart of the great rebel. This music will never be heard or played again for all eternity. The judgment of God will come to pass, as described in the book of Revelation 18:21-23, even on the music that has been an essential part of the world system of evil that God calls Babylon.

David Wilkerson, a wonderful preacher and man of God, pulled no punches on the dangers of becoming addicted to the music of this world. In a fiery sermon from the pulpit of the Times Square Church in New York City, he said:

I have been among young people so addicted to their rock and roll, so addicted to their heavy metal, and their punk music. I tell you as I stand here that an angel from God’s heaven could come down, in fact, Jesus Christ himself could come in the flesh and they would know he was Jesus and he could preach to them and they still would not let go of their music. I have had them stand up against me and say “I don’t care what you say, God told me it was alright.”[v]

David Wilkerson also described a disturbing vision that God gave him at a Christian rock concert:

At first, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on stage. I said out loud, “This can’t be happening at a Christian festival-they can’t do this to my Jesus! These people can’t be this blind-the leaders of this youth ministry can be so undiscerning! Oh God-what has happened to your church that its leaders, its people, can’t see the evil …? I sat up and took another look at the stage. I was horrified by what I saw in the Spirit. I saw demonic images rising from the stage! I heard Satan laughing! Laughing at all the blind parents-the blind shepherds-the blind youth-the backslidden church! It was an overt manifestation of Satan-worse than anything I’ve ever seen on the streets of New York.[vi]

Don’t be ignorant of this tool of the Devil in spiritual warfare, as music, inspired from the heart of Satan, can start a revolution in your heart against God.

What is the Soundtrack of Your Life?

If Jesus Christ came down from heaven and told you that your music was harming your heart and turning it away from Him, would you change your choices? Would the soundtrack of your life be any different under Jesus’ guidance?

Music is hugely addicting and through the wonders of technology, music is more readily available now than at any time in human history. In seconds, many musical choices can be downloaded and instantly start pulsating into the heart. The church must awaken to what is pouring into their hearts through habitual listening to the music of the god of this age.

Don’t be deceived into thinking this is just a harmless song on the radio or your iPod. Music is powerful, and it can influence the spiritual temperature of your heart for God. It can either promote or destroy the awesome plans that God has envisioned for your life.

Many Christians idolize the music of this world, and their hearts have become so addicted to it that they need to have it pulsating in their ears, like a heroin junkie who needs his fix. The Bible takes a backseat to their iPod tunes, and the Devil gets to proclaim his message into their hearts through the music ringing in their ears.

Music will change the composition of your heart if you are not careful. Once we become Christians, our listening habits should not be the same as they were before we were born again. Walk by the Spirit of God when it comes to the music you listen to and practice some spiritual discernment.

Ask God if the music you are listening to is bringing your heart closer to Him or driving it further away from Him. When you bring up a tune on your iPod, ask yourself, Will this song brings the joy, love, and celebration of God into my heart, or the fleshly desires of this world? We must guard our hearts when it comes to music, just as we would guard it from anything that contaminates and pollutes.

[i] Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David: Volume 4, Study of the Psalms, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1976), Psalm 99, Kindle Edition, 51882.

[ii] Patrick Fairbairn, Exposition of Ezekiel (Mount Joliet: Sovereign Grace Publishers, Inc., 2001), 312.

[iii] E. W. Bullinger, The Chief Musician, or Studies in the Psalms and their Titles (New York: Cosimo, Inc., 2007), 7.

[iv] Selah means to pause and carefully consider these words, and lift our hearts to God as we reflect on His magnificent truth.

[v] David Wilkerson, Sermon: “Counterfeit Christianity,” May 22, 2010.

[vi] David Wilkerson, World Challenge Pulpit Series, “Driven to Darkness,” August 3, 1987.

This is an excerpt from my new book; “The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life” Purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IBook and Lulu. Here is the lin for Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Key-Everything-Christian-Life/dp/1483447928?ie=UTF8&qid=1460632838&ref_=tmm_pap_swatch_0&sr=8-1

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The Power of Music to Alter the Heart: What is the Soundtrack of Your Life? Part I

musico-2Music is an amazingly powerful medium to capture and transform the heart, and to push it toward good or evil. It can move the heart more quickly than any other form of art or communication on earth. Music can instantly create an emotion, a memory, a mood, or a passion. It can change the heart’s direction, focus, and purpose. It can alter behavior. It can heal or destroy the human heart. Music has the power to change an entire culture or even a nation.

In its purest form, music is a precious blessing from God, designed to uplift the thoughts to noble and godly themes, inspiring and elevating the heart. Music is also one of the major tools the Devil uses in spiritual warfare. It can turn us away from God, move us to sin, and emotionally sabotage us.

Cary Schmidt, in Music Matters: Understanding and Applying the Amazing Power of Music, writes:

Music is not only an idol in today’s culture, it is an addiction, and is the primary tool that Satan uses to indoctrinate, control and manipulate the hearts and minds of the masses … No tool in his arsenal is so powerful, so seductive and so subtle as music … I submit to you that music is the most prominent, powerful and pervasive form of communication that satanic spirits are using to control and shape our mass culture. Everywhere you turn, the world is hearing. Everywhere you listen, the voices are speaking. And everywhere you look, music is shaping the emotions, the spirit, and the hearts of people.[i]

Music is Never Morally Neutral

As Christians, we cannot be ignorant of the effects of music on the heart. We must be aware of the music we are allowing to saturate our hearts. Music is never morally neutral. It always carries a message to the heart that is either good or evil.

What is the soundtrack of your life? What music is being played on the chords of your heart? What music is at the top of the charts when it comes to your heart? There is a direct connection between the music we listen to and the spiritual health of our hearts. Music always produces and influences a lifestyle. Life, thought, mood, emotion and desire flow out of the music we listen to.

Listen to what philosophers, scientists, doctors, professors, and musicians have said about the moral and spiritual power of music.

Plato: “In order to take the spiritual temperature of an individual or a society, one must mark the music … Musical innovation is full of danger to the State for when modes of music change, the laws of the State change with them. Music is a moral law … Let me control the music for one generation and I will control Rome … Show me who writes a nation’s songs and I care not who writes its laws … Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.”

Aristotle: “Music has a power of forming the character, and should therefore be introduced into the education of the young … From what has been said it is evident what an influence music has over the disposition of the mind and how variously it can fascinate it.”

Albert Einstein: “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music … I get most joy in life out of music.”

Pietro Mascagni, Italian composer:Modern music is as dangerous as narcotics.”

An inscription at the Alte Opera Haus in Frankfurt, Germany:Bach gave us God’s Word. Mozart gave us God’s laughter. Beethoven gave us God’s fire. God gave us music that we might pray without words.”

Dr. Howard Hanson: “Music is a curiously subtle art with innumerable, varying emotional connotations. It is made up of many ingredients and according to the proportions of those components, it be soothing or invigorating, ennobling or vulgarizing, philosophical or orgiastic. It has the powers for evil as well as good.”[ii]

Alan P. Merriam: “There is probably no other human cultural activity which is so all-pervasive and reaches into, and shapes—and often controls—so much of human behavior.”[iii]

Dr. Adam Knieste:Music is a two-edged sword. It’s really a powerful drug. Music can poison you, lift your spirits, or make you sick without knowing why.”[iv]

Jay Grout: “Music directly affects the passions or states of the soul—gentleness, anger, courage, temperance, and their opposites … When one listens to music that imitates a certain passion, he becomes imbued with the same passion. If over a long time he habitually listens to the kind of music that arouses ignoble passions, his whole character will be shaped to that ignoble form. In short, if one listens to the wrong kind of music—he will become the wrong kind of person.”[v]

Songwriter E. Y. Harburg: “Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.”

Frank Zappa: “The loud sounds and bright lights are tremendous indoctrination tools; it is possible to modify the human chemical structure with the right combination of frequencies. If the right kind of beat makes you tap your foot, what kind of beat makes you curl your fist and strike?”

The Beatles: “Our music is capable of causing emotional instability, disorganized behavior, rebellion and even revolution.”

Drs. Daniel and Bernadette Skubik: “A driving drum rhythm in excess of three to four beats per second will put the brain into a state of stress, regardless if the listener likes or dislikes the music. And when the brain is in this stressful state, it will release opioids—a group of natural hormones that function like morphine—to help return itself to normal equilibrium and sense of well-being. These natural opioids, if experienced often enough, can be addicting, creating in the listener the continual desire for that ‘high’ somewhat like the high runners experience.”[vi]

The Power of Music to Alter Physical and Emotional States

Music is powerful enough to produce mental and physical effects in our bodies and our brains. Music can modify brain waves, slowing them down and creating a more relaxed, content, and peaceful feeling, or speeding them up, causing more agitation, anxiety, and nervousness. Norman M. Weinberger, professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the University of California, Irvine: “Music can rapidly and powerfully set moods and do so in a way not as easily attained by other means.”[vii] Music not only creates positive or negative emotions, moods, or behaviors, but also can change them in an instant. Music can even affect the rhythm of respiration causing calmness and control of emotions or superficial and scattered thinking, emotional disturbance, and impulsive behavior.

Richard Wagner’s music was thought to be instrumental in the establishment of the Third Reich in Germany. Nietzsche once said, “My objections to Wagner’s music are physiological. I breathe with difficulty as soon as Wagner’s music begins to act upon me.[viii]” Wagner’s music had a strong psychological effect not only on Nietzsche, but also on Adolf Hitler. The power of music had a part in molding one of the most brutal, ruthless, and destructive dictators of all time. Never underestimate the power of music to influence, indoctrinate, and control the human heart.

Don Campbell, in The Mozart Effect, says:

The heart rate responds to musical variables such as frequency, tempo and volume and tends to speed up or slow down to match the rhythm of a sound. The faster the music, the faster the heart will beat; the slower the music, the slower the heart beats … As with breathing rates, a lower heartbeat creates less physical stress, calms the mind and helps the body to heal itself. Music is a natural pacemaker … Music can also change blood pressure … Excessive noise may raise blood pressure … Such noise may trigger the body’s fight or flight mechanism which causes adrenaline and norepinephrine, two strong hormones, to be released, speeding up the heart and straining the blood vessels.[ix]

Music also can change the body temperature, influence blood circulation, increase endorphin levels, and affect the body’s release of hormones. Music has a pulse, a life, and a flow of energy through its beat, tempo, tone, and rhythm that dramatically affects our spiritual hearts. Music is a spiritual medium where philosophies, emotions, ideas, and agendas are conveyed directly to the heart. All music has a message in both its words and its pitch, tone, and beat, and we must be wise as to who the messenger is in the music we are listening to.

The Involuntary Response to Music: Emotion by Design

One of the most amazing things about music is its ability to affect us subliminally. Rather than intruding on our conscious thought, it enters directly into our hearts. The human response to music is involuntary. One of the greatest examples involves the company Muzak, which began in the 1940s, and provides background music for all types of businesses. Cary Schmidt, in Music Matters: Understanding and Applying the Amazing Power of Music, writes:

No group on the planet has studied the power of music more than the researchers at Muzak. An article from The New Yorker magazine in April 2006 quotes, “Today, [Muzak] estimates that its daily audience is roughly a hundred million people, in more than a dozen countries, and that it supplies 60% of the commercial background music in the United States.” Muzak offers a service known as “audio architecture” to more than 350 corporations around the globe. Audio architecture is essentially the power of public influence and control—through music … Chances are, if you have been anywhere in public in recent days, you’ve been subject to Muzak’s influence without even knowing it. This is a company that owes its success to the manipulative power of music in mass culture. Muzak simply could not exist if music did not affect the attitudes and behavior of people. The New Yorker article says in this story, “In the forties, Muzak introduced a trademarked concept, called Stimulus Progression, which held that most workers would be more productive if they were exposed to music gradually increasing intensity, in fifteen minute cycles. The process was said to be subliminal: Music affected you the way hypnosis did, whether you wanted it to or not. Only sanitized instrumental arrangements were used, because the absence of lyrics made the music less likely to intrude upon conscious thought … Audio architecture is a compelling concept because the human response to musical accompaniment is powerful and involuntary. “Our biggest competitor,” a member of Muzak’s marketing department told me, “is silence.” Did you catch that? “The human response to musical accompaniment is powerful and involuntary.” Are you getting the message? Are you understanding how powerful and dominant music is in our culture? Look at Muzak’s own promotional words, “Audio Architecture is emotion by design … It is the integration of music, voice and sound to create experiences that link customers with companies.” Its power lies in its subtlety. It bypasses the resistance of the mind and targets the receptiveness of the heart … These soundtracks bypass our intellectual resistance and create involuntary, heart-level emotions and responses.[x]

That is powerful! Consider this. If Muzak can do this with music, what can Satan do with music? More important, what is Satan doing with music, and what is the music of the culture doing to our hearts? If music is important for mass marketing, how much more powerful is it in the spiritual realm and in our relationship with Christ?

Can you imagine something so powerful that it can generate an emotional and behavioral response in your heart that you have no control over? Depression, anger, lust, and hatred can ride into your heart by the music you listen to as well as joy, peace, love, and inspiration. For the Devil to establish a stronghold in your mind and heart, it takes time to build ways of thinking and acting according to his subtle influences. But music can give him a free ride into your mind and your heart within a matter of seconds. Music is that powerful, and it can quickly change the composition, direction, and boundaries of the heart.

Music is emotion, music is passion, music is behavior by design, and it can subtly change our hearts without us even knowing it. It can be like a toxic vaccine that is injected into the bloodstream. We don’t see its dangerous effect on the heart until it begins to circulate throughout the entire body. Music can be a dangerous weapon to our hearts, and wisdom mandates that we are wise as to its powerful effects to influence our emotions, behavior, and lifestyle.

Music in the Spiritual Battle for the Heart

Music is intimately related to the spiritual battle that rages for the heart, because the music you listen to, the soundtrack of your life, can change you and dictate your emotions, your behavior, and your heart’s responses to circumstances in life. Music can create an emotion. Music can create an attitude. Music can create a desire. The music you listen to will affect your heart and your basic personal and spiritual mind-set, either drawing you closer to God or driving you further away. Every song is a sermon for either good or evil.

Cary Schmidt, in Music Matters: Understanding and Applying the Amazing Power of Music, writes:

The choices you make when you turn on a CD or an iPod are intricately related to your inner life. You will either be led by the flesh or by the Spirit of God. Your music is changing you. It is dictating emotions and heart responses that are either godly or ungodly … Ultimately your spiritual and emotional condition, as influenced by your music, will come out in your lifestyle. Your words, your deeds, your decisions, and your actions—the issues of your life—will be a product of your heart and what you’ve placed into it. Your music directly affects your heart. Both God and Muzak agree on this … The soundtrack of your life is closely related to the spiritual condition of your heart. You cannot separate the two. God’s Word is clear. Basic reasoning is clear. Medical and social statistics are clear. Our music always affects us personally and spiritually. God desires to grow you through music and Satan desires to destroy you through it.[xi]

[i] Cary Schmidt, Music Matters: Understanding and Applying the Amazing Power of Music (Lancaster: Striving Together Publications, 2007), Kindle Edition, 24.

[ii] Dr. Howard Hanson, “A Musician’s Point of View Toward Emotional Expression,” The American Journal of Psychiatry, Volume 99, (1942), 317.

[iii] Alan P. Merriam, The Anthropology of Music, (1964): 218. .

[iv] Dr. Adam Knieste, quoted by David Chagall, in Family Weekly, January 30, 1983, 14.

[v] Jay Grout, A History of Western Music (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2009).

[vi] Daniel and Bernadette Skubik, The Neurophysiology of Rock, published separately as an appendix in John Blanchard, Pop Goes the Gospel: Rock in the Church (Durham, England 1991), 191.

[vii] Norman M. Weinberger, The Nonmusical Outcomes of Music Education (University of California Board of Regents, 1995).

[viii] Freidrich Nietzsche, The Joyful Wisdom (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1924), 343.

[ix] Don Campbell, The Mozart Effect (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2001), 67.

[x] Cary Schmidt, Music Matters: Understanding and Applying the Amazing Power of Music (Lancaster: Striving Together Publications, 2007), Kindle Edition, 24, 25.

[xi] Cary Schmidt, Music Matters: Understanding and Applying the Amazing Power of Music (Lancaster: Striving Together Publications, 2007), Kindle Edition, 41, 42.

This is an excerpt from Tim Rowe’s new book “The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life.” Order at http://www.lulu.com/shop/tim-rowe/the-heart-the-key-to-everything-in-the-christian-life/paperback/product-22601300.html

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