BIG IDEA: In all of human history, nothing has quite captivated us life music. Ancient philosophers have commented on its power, and it profoundly changes our human experience. So what is it about music? Is our obsession with it designed (and for what?) or is it simply a byproduct of time and evolution?
Scripture: Ephesians 5:15-21
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
The book of Ephesians relates God’s plan for creating a new society by his grace and for his glory. It is “…doctrine set to music. Just as [Paul] proclaimed God’s order to the post-Augustine Roman era which was marked by a process of social disintegration, so Ephesians is today the most contemporary book in the Bible, since it promises community in a world of disunity, reconciliation in the place of alienation and peace instead of war” (John Mackay, President Princeton Theological Seminary, 1948).
- “Walk” in v. 15: Paul uses the word “walk” to talk about how you live your life. This is the sixth time that Paul uses this word in Ephesians. He’s asking us to look closely at the way that we walk. Is it in step with the Gospel?
- There are two paths: the ways of God (wise) the ways not of God (unwise).
- We want to make the best use of the time that we have because the days are evil: our days are not going to naturally give themselves to living wisely, therefore we must be intentionally living in the ways of God. It’s something we have to work at and pay attention to.
- Maximization principle: God is always advocating for the best. He doesn’t command us to live an okay life. He commands that we live the best possible life.
- We are fallen: because we and the world we live in are fallen, things will thwart the perfect plan of God. Meaning that we are not truly capable of living a perfect life because we are fallen, but regardless of that, we must strive to live the best life.
- Problem: We don’t know how much time we have, so we cannot afford to postpone living the best life.
- “Do not get drunk with wine, but be filled with the spirit”: Any mind-altering stimulant can fall under the word “wine” here.
- Drunkenness leads to mental numbness and distraction, but when you’re filled with the Spirit of God, you seek understanding and focus.
- When you’re drunk, you’re insensitive to your situation and to the people around you. The Spirit makes you sensitive to the people around you.
- The Spirit helps us know what to say in the moment, whereas drunkenness leads us to say whatever we feel like saying.
- Drunkenness is a state of ultimate lack of self-control, but being filled with the Spirit is a state of self-control guided by God.
- If you want to live well as a Christian, you must be filled with the Spirit.
- “Debauchery”: “to be wasteful.” To be filled with the Spirit is to redeem and make the most of your time. To be drunk is a waste of time.
- The juxtaposition of drunkenness and being filled with the Spirit is all throughout scriptures. There’s something similar between the two, but there’s a key difference: one is wasteful and one is redeeming.
- How am I filled with the Spirit? Sing! Paul says we are filled “by addressing one another in song…” etc. The book of Acts is full of examples of how singing and praising the Lord leads to being filled with the Spirit and living the best life possible. Singing together is a powerful thing.
- When we gather together, our primary audience is God. But we are our secondary audience. We sing to God and we sing to one another.
- What kind of singing are we talking about? Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, according to Paul. There’s not necessarily a huge difference between these types of music, but they do indicate a variety of genres.
- Psalms: Jewish spiritual songs.
- Hymns: Greek spiritual songs.
- Spiritual songs: any other songs that are inspired by the Spirit of God. That is to say, it doesn’t have to be specifically Christian music, or music marketed as such. It just has to be music inspired by the Spirit of God.
- Why and how does music accomplish a spiritual experience for both the secular and the Christian? Because God has designed our brains to be moved by music. It’s a scientific fact that music affects our biology. Music is processed across both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It engages nearly every area of the brain. This makes music unique and different from nearly every other thing we experience.
- Singing is everywhere in the Bible: the angels who announce Christs’ birth sing, Heaven is full of singing, etc.
- What are you allowing to be the soundtrack of your life? We’ve proven music will open up your mind and your soul, so what are you letting in once that’s done? This isn’t to say you can’t ever listen to anything other than Christian music, but you do have to be careful what you let inside of you. Don’t shy away from music that is clearly written for praise and worship, inspired by the Spirit of God.
- Remove whatever barrier there is between you and Christ-inspired music: it really does need to be part of your Christian walk. “But it’s bad. It’s not well-produced.” Not all of it! Find the good stuff and put aside some of your pride to listen and let God’s Spirit move you.
- Are you struggling? Listen and let psalms and hymns and spiritual songs wash over you and open yourself up to the Spirit. Be filled.
- If you stay away from church and from worship, you won’t move forward.
- “…the devil does not stay where music is.” – Martin Luther
- If you refuse to use music in your struggles, you will be fighting with one hand behind your back.
- Do you want to live a life of purpose? Do you want to redeem the time given you? You must be filled with the Spirit of God, surrounding yourself with the music of the saints.
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