Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. —Psalm 29:2
This quarter we once again build upon the foundation of Issue 18 concerning the two covenants that God established. No longer do God’s people serve Him after the flesh but after the spirit. The use of musical instruments was absent from formal worship in the New Testament church. The sound from spiritless instruments brings no more glory to God in worship than does the lighting of candles in worship service. God is praised with that which comes out of the mouth from a holy and pure heart. Many people say that this issue is unimportant and optional. Should we then also burn incense and follow the other examples of worship in the Old Testament? New Testament teaching neither condoned nor commended these practices because they were superseded by spiritual worship. At best, the use of musical instruments in worship is inadvisable.
I have been in many services in the USA and abroad where people used musical instruments as part of their worship. While at times it did entertain the flesh, I have yet to find where it added spiritual value to worship. On the contrary, among people who seemed to have a real heart for God, I have found musical instruments to be a hindrance to the free flow of the Spirit of God in their midst. From a musical standpoint, some very small congregations may feel the need to use a piano or other instrument to support the singing effort. It is still better to worship with the offering of our lips as instructed in the Word without instruments.
Many people defend the use of instruments in worship declaring that it is a cultural practice. While the use of drums or pianos may be a cultural practice that people love, it does not take long to see that the enjoyment is usually after the flesh.
Some say that souls will be drawn to the services and won to the Lord if musical instruments are used. This is indicative of a lack of spiritual understanding. John 6:43-44 says that “No man can come unto me except the Father draw him.” What we draw people with is what we draw them to. If we use fleshly means to draw and move the crowd, we will have to continue to use fleshly things to keep them entertained lest they go away. The Holy Spirit wants to set the tone and it is the Spirit that can bring forth godly repentance and touch the heart of man.
Music is of the Lord and was a wonderful gift to mankind. God’s people are instructed to sing to glorify God and to edify one another. Instruments are cheap substitutes for the true anointing and moving of the Spirit of God. If the Spirit of God is not anointing a worship service, the service is dull and dead. Without the Spirit, it is no wonder that people would desire musical instruments to fill in the gap—how much better to sing in the spirit as taught by the Word and practiced by the early morning church. A cappella singing is the “more perfect way” and should be the practice of God’s people.
Michael W. Smith