As professing Christians, the music we choose to listen to can have an adverse effect in terms of our walk with, and witness for, Jesus Christ. Regardless of genre, music can be a tool the enemy uses to draw believers into a state of dullness and apathy about the things of God which, consequently, can impede our spiritual growth (Col. 1:10; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18). As the seventeenth-century Puritan, William Spurstowe (1605-1666), warns in his book The Wiles of Satan,
“Satan is wholly bent to evil, and makes it his only study to dive and search into men so that he may better fasten his temptations upon them. . . . He does not go forward a step without noting every man’s estate, temper, age, calling, and company so that he may with greater advantage tempt to evil, and thereby bring men into the same misery and condition as himself.”
Music, as well as other forms of media, is not merely a static proposition. What I mean is that the music we choose to listen to never only enters our ears and that is as far as it goes. It is also through our ears that music—and the messages it conveys—enters our minds and, subsequently, our hearts.
There is a dimensional relationship between the music we listen to, our mind, and our heart (1 Sam. 16:23; Ps. 71:23; Prov. 25:20; 1 Cor. 14:15). That is why biblical discernment is so important (Phil. 1:9-10). As Dr. Burk Parsons, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Florida, writes in the July 2017 issue of Tabletalk magazine,
“Entertainment affects our minds, our homes, our culture, and our churches. Consequently, we must be vigilant as we use discernment in how we enjoy entertainment—looking to the light of God’s Word to guide us and inform our consciences. Entertainment isn’t evil in itself, and we can enjoy it as we remember that in whatever we do, our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever as we live coram Deo, before the face of our omniscient and gracious God.”
In Phil. 4:8 (NASB), the apostle Paul exhorts believers to dwell only on those things that are “excellent and worthy of praise.” The Greek verb “dwell” (λογίζομαι) implies a deliberate and purposeful focusing of the mind on those things that are (or aren’t) deemed “worthy” in God’s estimation. I repeat—in God’s estimation—which is to say, in God’s judgment, which, ultimately, is all that should matter to any professing believer in Christ (Rom. 12:2; Gal. 6:14).
So the question we must ask ourselves is: Is the music I’m choosing to allow into my ears, mind, and heart considered “worthy” in light of the character of the God in whom I profess to believe and obey (Lk. 6:46)? Consider that question against the backdrop of what songwriter Bob Kauflin says in the book Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World,
“What does music have to do with worldliness? To answer that question, we have to ask a few more. What motivates us to like the music we do? Is music entirely neutral? Why does music affect us so deeply? Does the music I listen to affect my thoughts or behavior in any way? Does it say anything about my relationship with God? Most important, are my music choices consistent with the gospel that has saved me? If these questions don’t seem important, think again. Music can be more dangerous than most of us realize. It has the potential to harden our hearts and weaken our faith. In fact, a wise Christian understands that listening to music without discernment and godly intent reveals a heart willing to flirt with the world.”
Scripture teaches that all good gifts come from God (Eccl. 2:24-25; 1 Tim. 6:17b), and music is one of God’s good gifts. Sadly, however, many professing Christians today view music as an idol, a “golden calf” that they serve and worship and that they do not want to part with (Ex. 32:4). But as those who have been spiritually reborn in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 2:20), we must not carry on as if music, or any other medium of entertainment in which we engage, is somehow a separate area of our lives to which God’s Word does not apply.
God’s people are to have a biblical worldview about everything and the music we listen to is no exception. Music is a gift of God’s grace and kindness that we, His people, are to enjoy for His glory (Ps. 105:2). That is the case regardless of whether the music we listen to is secular, ecclesiastical, cultural, or liturgical.
“. . . so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” – 1 Cor. 2:11(NASB)
In Christ’s service to you,
 pp. 70-71, hardcover, Crossway (2008).
4. pp. 23-24, hardcover, Soli Deo Gloria Publications (2004)