The Influence of Music: Does the Lyrics Even Matter?

This is a very controversial topic in the Christian community. Many people argue that Christians can or cannot listen to secular music. It’s not really a matter if Christians “can” listen to secular music, it is more so important to discuss the influence of music/lyrics. Christians “can” do whatever they please. But just because we can do anything doesn’t mean we should. God has given us all free will, but as followers of Christ, we must be set apart. If what we’re listening to is not beneficial in our lives, then we must question if it’s even worth listening to. 

Things that are beneficial in our lives should bring us peace, joy, and draw us closer to God. It should never drive us away from Him. We all know that music plays a major role in life. Even in the bible music was used for worship. Psalms is not only the longest book in the bible, but it is full of songs! Revelations 5, 7, and 15 has song lyrics in them. There are so many other scriptures where music is used to glorify God. Ephesians 5:19 NLT states, “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father…” 

There was even a situation in the bible when music soothed Saul’s soul. 1 Samuel 16:23 NLT talks about a tormenting spirit. It states how when David played the harp, “Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away.”

In Acts 16:25-26 NLT, it documents a breakthrough miracle that was caused from the singing of songs. It says, “Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundation. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off.” Key words: singing hymns to God. Now, do you believe the doors would have flown open if Paul and Silas sung worldly hymns to the prison guards? I can assure you that it wouldn’t have turned out the same way for them. Clearly the lyrics mattered because it was “to God”. If it was “to God”, it surely uplifted His name. 

Although there is no direct instruction on whether secular music is off limit and if Christians should not listen to it, I pose a few questions for you. These are the same questions I asked myself at one point in my life. Does the music I listen to draw me closer to God or away from Him? What is the content of the lyrics?

I bring up the lyrics because words (in general) are very powerful. And not only in Acts 16:25-26, but in other verses as well. The bible says in Proverbs 18:21 KJV, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Therefore, if words are that powerful, wouldn’t the lyrics that we allow in our minds matter too? I believe so. 

We must be careful what we allow in our minds. Philippians 4:8 NIV tells us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This is clear indication that God wants us to think good thoughts. Every song that has a fire beat or nice flow doesn’t contain lyrics that help us think good thoughts.

Think about if you’ve just gone through a breakup and you search for relationship or heartbroken songs. Chances are, you’re probably going to put those songs on repeat. You may even cry yourself to sleep. I am guilty of doing that in the past. Or, what if you’re going through dark times and you research secular songs about sadness, depression, or feeling worthless. Chances are, you’re going to find a gazillion songs made by people who probably struggle with their own mental health. Some may even be suicidal and vocalize it through their music. This could lead to your mind becoming full of dark thoughts that makes you sink further into depression. Why? Because not all musical artists create songs from a healthy place in their lives. Some of the most popular music contains the darkest lyrics out there. Even in interviews, some artists will admit to not being in a good place when they wrote a particular song or album. Therefore, if those lyrics are entering a person’s heads, they’ve just opened a portal to allow those negative thoughts to consume their mind.

Another example could be if you’re angry with someone and you feel betrayed by them. What if you listen to music by some artists who vocalize seeking revenge or getting their “lick back”? Being that you’re already hostile and enraged with someone in your own life, those lyrics may drive you to another level of anger. You may even ponder on how you can repay that person back who upset you. There is no way for that type of music to glorify God. Even songs that are about love may not necessary be in the appropriate manner. Love songs that gratify lust and sexual immorality could cause you to think lustful thoughts. God does not want us to fall into temptation in any way (that even includes the influence of music). So does the lyrics even matter in a song? Absolutely. Without a doubt, yes.

The next time your favorite song comes on, pull up the lyrics from the internet. Read the lyrics and ask yourself, “How does God get the glory in this song? Is it simply the beat that draws me to the song or something else? What do the lyrics suggest about this song? Is it beneficial in my life?” These questions are not to shame you, but to challenge your thinking on another level. I had to ask myself these same questions before. None of us are perfect. Not even myself. There are moments I hear a beat drop and want to turn up to it until the Holy Spirit is like, “Nahh. Turn that down.” Then, I research the lyrics and understand exactly why. 

The first time it was brought to my attention how powerful music was, the Holy Spirit convicted me. I noticed how certain music/lyrics affected my thoughts and behavior. I noticed how I missed the “old days” of turning up and doing worldly things when I listened to music that glorified sin of all sorts. When the Lord spoke to me, the scales were finally off my eyes. I realized how the influence of music (in general) and lyrics mattered. Worship music became my favorite. It put me in a place of peace, comfort, and joy. This not only drew me closer to God but bettered my mental health as well. I can only hope that you will be led by the Holy Spirit to listen to the right type of music.

Let us pray:

Dear Lord, we come before you asking that you open our eyes and ears like never before. Help us to guard our hearts as your Word instructs us in Proverbs 4:23. We know that what we allow in our minds can transfer to our hearts. We don’t want to give the enemy a foothold as you command us not to do in Ephesians 4:27. Therefore, give us a discerning spirit to know what music to turn up and what music to turn down. Teach us to see music primarily as a form of worship and not just to please ourselves. Help us to think good thoughts and uplift Your name. Draw us closer to you in every way. In Jesus’s name, Amen. 

Thank you so much for reading my blog, friend. I appreciate all the supporters sticking around almost a year now (yayy!). I love documenting the words the Holy Spirit gives me to share. I pray that this blog blessed you. I challenge you to listen to positive, uplifting worship music this week. Then, reflect on the difference between that music versus music that may be the opposite of that. Are you up for the challenge? I hope so! See you next month. Don’t forget to share this blog with someone you love. 

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