Is It a Sin to Use Musical Instruments in Worship Service?

Why shouldn’t we follow the commands of David to worship God with musical instruments, especially since David was a “man after God’s own heart”?

All Scripture must be interpreted and applied according to its dispensational context. In Psalm 144:1, David says, “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.” It is true that God blessed David in all his wars and fighting, and helped him to kill and destroy his enemies but that is foreign to the Gospel dispensation. God now requires us to cease from wars and fighting, to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us and despitefully use us, and to “resist not evil” (Matt. 5:38-45). God also allowed David to have multiple wives and blessed him and the offspring he brought forth by those wives. God condemns such a practice in the present dispensation and will never bless any man who should follow David’s example. Therefore, all Scripture must be interpreted and applied according to its dispensational context. This holds true relative to Psalm 150:3-8 and other Psalms that command the use of musical instruments or dancing in worship to God. No Old Testament text can annul any New Testament doctrine or principle. The New Testament is the “better testament,” and is the one God requires us to live by today.

Yes, David, in his dispensation, was “a man after God’s own heart.” But he who would be a man after God’s own heart in this dispensation must rise to a much higher plane than David ever knew or had the privilege of knowing.

—Harlan Sorrell

Is it a sin to use musical instruments in worship service?

The use of musical instruments is not wrong in and of itself; but according to the Scripture and church history, the use of musical instruments in worship service is not the proper or acceptable way to worship God. We must be careful about a blanket condemnation of everyone that does use instruments because people may have varying amounts of light and discernment on this subject. There are some issues that are not always black and white sin, but the goal of all honest souls should be to follow the Lord as closely and carefully as possible. James 4:17 states, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” If someone knows and understands this truth by the Spirit, and refuses to change because of the “love of the instruments,” that then becomes sin due to the rebellion of heart. Worshiping in the Spirit without the use of mechanical instruments is the more perfect way. Those not observing this precept are living substandard to New Testament example and are missing out on the greater blessings of true spiritual worship.


In Romans 15:9 and James 5:13 the word sing is translated from the Greek word psallō. Do these Scriptures support the use of musical instruments in the New Testament?

No, these Scriptures do not advocate or instruct the use of musical instruments. The use of the word psallō has caused some controversy because of the evolution of the word’s meaning through the centuries. One definition, shown in many Greek language lexicons, is to “twang or pluck” as in playing a stringed instrument. However, the lexicons of learned, reputable Biblical scholars demonstrate that when the word is used in the New Testament, it means to “sing.”
Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament notes that psallō in the New Testament signifies “to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words similarly gives the classical definition of psallō and then says “in the N.T., to sing a hymn, sing praise.”