WHAT IS WRONG WITH “PRAISE AND WORSHIP?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
“Would you please explain why it is wrong to have ‘praise and worship service’ in the church? I am referring to something you wrote in one of your articles. I thought that is why we were born to do in the first place.”
Friend, you misunderstood me. There is nothing wrong with singing in the church building. We sing hymns to music in our local assembly. The problem is that church members are often more concerned with fleshly entertainment than Bible education. They usually have no desire for learning actual Bible doctrine. In my article to which you are referring, I mentioned that people would often rather sing and dance in church than engage in proper Bible study. Bible study will help them in the long-run because that is how Father God will work in and through them (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Studying is how they allow God to renew their minds, so they think like Him (1 Corinthians 2:9-16). Mere singing and dancing is profitless for them because that is the flesh and there is often no underlying sound Bible doctrine causing them to behave as such.
For example, if you have not noticed, so-called “contemporary Christian music” tends to make people focus on the flesh (emotions) rather than on the words of the Spirit of God. What is frequently passed off as “praise and worship” is often not based on actual Bible teaching or studying. It is about what tune can be played to pacify/entertain Christians, and what beat can please the world so unbelievers are enticed to enter the church building. There should be no such compromise, friend. A local church should not sound like the world in any fashion—and that especially applies to music!
Christian people commonly believe that they “contacted” God because they danced or sang songs for an hour on Sunday or Wednesday. They get all emotional and the flesh causes them to lose control. They get to swaying, raising hands, spinning, constantly shouting, rolling around on the floor, jumping over pews, tapping their toes, clapping their hands, and so on. Usually, the “praise and worship” music of today’s “Christianity” is just loud, empty noise designed to make people move round and round. The lyrics are shallow, with little to no sound doctrinal (Biblical) content. Rather than drawing attention to and exalting God’s doctrine in song, people start watching each other as they move around in the church building. Let it be said again: “praise and worship” today is often nothing more than a distraction from what really matters. We need to be more focused on the teachings of the Holy Bible rightly divided. Since the professing Church has neglected that priority, it is void of any power to combat the tremendous errors in Satan’s evil world.
Think about this, my friend. If we say only a part of our time in church is “praise and worship,” what about the rest of the day? What about the rest of the week? Should we not be “worshipping” God and “praising” Him throughout the day? Throughout the week? Yes, we should. That is why it is misleading to limit “praise and worship” to an hour on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, or Wednesday evening. Every action and every word spoken of every day of our lives should be an act of worship of God: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). Contrary to modern-day “Christianity’s” claim, worshipping Father God goes far beyond singing and dancing. (You can visit nightclubs where there is plenty of “singing and dancing!” Is God being worshipped there?) Worshipping God is all about believing the doctrines of His grace, and applying those verses to life by faith. When those verses go to work in our lives, then we naturally burst into song.
In this the Dispensation of Grace, the Apostle Paul talked about Christians singing. Notice Ephesians 5:19: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;….” Read its companion passage, Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” In Acts 16:25, we read: “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” These saints were so filled with the Holy Spirit that they sang praises to God… while imprisoned!
Please pay special attention to Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom….” Having the Word of God rightly divided—sound Bible doctrine—enables us to identify or compose truthful hymns that communicate good doctrine. Often, modern-day “Christian” songs are filled with philosophy (human wisdom), church tradition, and so on. That is not the “word of Christ.” That is the word of men. Colossians 2:8 says: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” And, the Lord Jesus’ classic rebuke of Israel’s formalistic, legalistic, but empty, religious system: “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do” (Mark 7:7-8).
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth,” the Lord Jesus Christ declared in John 4:24. The word “spirit” here in “spirit and truth” is our mind—“be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Eph. 4:23). The “renewed mind” is discussed in Romans 12:1-2: “ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
With all the doctrine Paul laid out in the first 11 chapters of Romans, we take the truths and then let the Christian life work itself out in our lives. That would be Romans chapters 12-16. As we already saw, part of Christian (grace) living is singing. When we learn what Father God has done for us, and what He will do with us in the future, we can be grateful and sing praises to Him. We can be thankful for His goodness, wisdom, faithfulness (go back to Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16). But, here is the important point to grasp. Singing is designed to move us on the inside (reinforce God’s Word in our heart) rather than the outside (outward movements of the physical body).
Ephesians 5:19 said, in part: “…making melody in your heart to the Lord;….” Colossians 3:16 said, in part: “…singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Above all, Father God is looking for hearts of faith when we assemble with other Christians. He looks beyond what people are doing with their physical bodies—dancing, jumping, shouting, rolling around, spinning, clapping, and so on. He wants to see who is singing in the heart, using a mind renewed by His Word rightly divided. He wants to see a heart that has believed those divine words and implemented that doctrine in life. As with the case of prayer, Father God is listening for people in the heart repeating His Word to Him, rather than individuals mindlessly parroting words people wrote with denominational biases, philosophy, non-dispensational approach to Scripture, and so on.
We should find songs that agree with the Word of God rightly divided, or compose our own songs based on those verses, and sing them. This is a way of reinforcing Bible material. Words set to music are often a great way of learning in any discipline or field of study. By the way, Moses taught the nation Israel some doctrine by teaching them a song—the “Song of Moses” of Exodus 15:1-21—as soon as they escaped Egyptian bondage. The judge and prophetess Deborah and her general Barak sang a song after JEHOVAH God gave Israel victory over their enemies the Midianites (Judges 5:1-31). A whole Bible Book—Psalms—contains 150 songs to and about the one true God and His dealings with mankind!
SOME FINAL WORDS OF WARNING
Whenever we drift into the realm of music in religion, it would do us well to heed some warnings in Scripture. Satan, prior to his fall, was the song leader in Heaven. Lucifer’s body actually had musical instruments built into it! The Bible says in Ezekiel 28:13-15: “ Thou 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 that thou wast created.  Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.  Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.”
Notice the references to “tabrets” (percussion instruments—tambourines and the like) and “pipes” (wind instruments—flutes, horns, trumpets, et cetera). The Lord Jesus Christ created Lucifer with an intelligent mind, one that would devise various methods to sing praises to the Lord. Verse 12 says: “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” Lucifer was not only brilliant, he was very beautiful.
Even today, Satan is a very crafty individual. Now, he uses his wisdom to devise evil rather than good. In accordance with his background, the Devil uses music to his advantage. This may startle you, friend, but it is true. You may have never heard it before, but I will be glad to tell you now. Someone must warn you in love. When you get into the realm of music without having sound Bible doctrine, without a foundation in dispensational Bible study, you are very vulnerable to Satan’s influence. Look at what happened with Israel when they came out of Egypt.
Exodus 32:16-19 says: “ And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.  And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.  And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.  And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.” There was singing and dancing in the camp of Israel: they learned music back in Egypt, but took it with them with they left Egypt. But, there was something else. See verse 25: “And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies: )….” The Jews were dancing NAKED!
When King Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan king of Babylon, commissioned the building of a giant image (idol), music was involved. Consider Daniel 3:1-18. Notice how the musical performances captivated these people. They could not help but fall down and worship that golden image (pay close attention to verses 5, 7, 10-11, 15). They were under some kind of a spell or trance—it was Satan’s spell to be exact!
“ Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.  Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.  Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
“ Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages,  That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:  And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.  Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
“ Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews.  They spake and said to the king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live for ever.  Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:  And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.  There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
“ Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king.  Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?  Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?
“ Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
Friend, there was most definitely something wrong with the music playing while Nebuchadnezzar’s image was being worshipped. We need to be very careful when it comes to playing music and singing in the church building!