Greetings in Christ!
This email below contains the first of two installments which will include the complete chapter "The Battle Cry of Praise" from my book Disarming the Powers of Darkness co-authored by David Benoit. But first I want to make a few introductory comments about music and about Spiritual Warfare.
Many of you know that in the 1980's I wrote three books on the perils and pitfalls of the secular rock music industry. Having been a rock musician, record producer and recording engineer for the balance of my life before coming to Christ, it was a natural progression to concentrate on what I understood and warn others about its dangers. Then in the late 1980's, after having extensively studied the Scriptures concerning music and having presented hundreds of seminars nationwide on the subject, God began opening my eyes more and more concerning the enormous biblical prominence of music. It was about this time that God first revealed to me the somewhat veiled but tremendously important purpose of music as a weapon of Spiritual Warfare.
As I began to teach on the different aspects of waging effective Spiritual Warfare I was also just beginning to personally experience the awesome tool that music - in particular, worship and praise - affords to Believers as we battle the powers of darkness. Along the way I have also become acutely aware of how widespread the opposition is to even just the use of the term "Spiritual Warfare". Curiously, there is a great deal of pressure coming from liberals and evangelicals alike to discredit anyone who contends as I do that we are indeed either knowingly or unknowingly participants in a spiritual war. Some are content to employ the psychiatrist and visit the pharmacy in an attempt to relieve the afflicted from what is actually demonic intrusion. Others simply relegate then idea of an actual being named Satan and his army of demons to the hysteria and ignorance of a bygone age. However, nothing has convinced me in the least that the nay-sayers have any biblical or experiential grounds to stand on. While professing "Christians" argue against God's clear cut warnings about Spiritual Warfare in Scripture, Lucifer is running rough shod in our cities, our homes and even our churches. Who among us is willing to pick up the weapons of our warfare and follow the Lord into battle? Lord, make us willing!
While I do not hold to the idea that every sickness or problem mankind encounters is from the direct result of demonic activity and while I believe that 90% of Spiritual Warfare is actually about daily personal victory, I do believe there is indeed a very real enemy at work in our midst. It is a sad facts that so many who claim the name "Christian" have abdicated their responsibility to engage the powers of darkness in the spirit realm on behalf of the Kingdom of Heaven. Still, their obstinate attitude on this issue doesn't change the fact that there is indeed a war going on in the spirit; it's a war for the souls of people; that music is a battleground and if we understand and submit to God's will in it, there is a great victory which is ours for the taking. Whether it’s in a corporate Church worship service or personally in their daily walk through this world, the overcoming power of God is magnified as His saints worship and praise His holy name!
But it's more than just the simple act of worship that weakens the Enemy's power. As we outline in the book - it's a faith-filled attitude of victory that rises up and propels the Believer to wage effective warfare as he or she lifts praise to the King of Kings. Once we understand the very reason and intention for which God invented and created music and once we settle in our hearts to follow His will and not that of the world or the flesh concerning the issue, the next step becomes revolutionary. Grasping how worship pierces the ranks of hell with pin-point accuracy, a Christian - desiring all of what Christ's victory at the Cross provided - will never view with passivity both music itself and the very experience of worship again. I know this because I know what I experienced when God sovereignly revealed these truths to me from His word. I also know what is happening to people who really grasp what I preach concerning this in my live seminar series on Warfare. Those who get this down in their hearts will never participate in worship again without the awareness that they are warriors on orders to engage and inflict damage upon the principalities of darkness through their own expression of Godly praise!
It is my prayer that as you begin reading part one you'll immediately be struck by just how relevant this issue is in God's sight and how much the Enemy would love to keep we Christians blinded to it.
As I close my comments here I want to express how much Melanie and I appreciate the opportunity to share these emails with you and more so, we appreciate your continued support and intercession for our ministry and family as we prepare for the busy season of travel and ministry just ahead of us.
Let me also say that we're here for you as well so please let us know how we may pray for your needs and serve the Lord as we serve you.
God bless you - Psalm 37:23
Part one of...
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand.
It is no revelation to a seasoned Christian that mankind was created expressly to have fellowship with God. Part of that fellowship is predicated upon our worship of Him. Though certainly worship is more than just musical, it is also no secret just how important music is to the Lord. When we study the Scriptures, we notice many verses instructing us on the subject of music. One of the best known is this one from Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
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. 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.
This passage gives us a microcosmic overview of God’s desire for the operation of our lives, as Paul lays out God’s will concerning music. Whatever we do, we are to do it for God’s glory. Is it any wonder then that the Adversary would so manipulate music to derail praise from God and instead deceive man into directing it toward himself?
Though the Bible is replete with passages dealing with music, praise, worship, songs, psalmists, musical instruments and the like, it is probably amazing to most saints that there are nearly 900 Scripture passages that deal directly with music! It is interesting to note that in all of those verses, God neither advocates nor forbids any particular instrument, sound or type of music. It would have been so much simpler if God had declared a favorite style, but He didn’t! This fact adds to the discussion of this often divisive topic within Christian circles, but nonetheless it adds to the absolute imperative reason that we should study this issue with great care. We wish that God would just issue a weekly "Top Ten", but since He doesn’t, we’ll each just have to dig in and search the Scriptures on this one!
It can probably be said that there are three uses for music: first, music that is devoid of serving God. Next, music that is neutral of serving God. And finally, there is music that is aimed squarely at serving Him. As we’ve mentioned, this is an area of very limited agreement across the Christian world, but we can probably find agreement that some lyrics and lifestyles being promulgated in music today are anti-biblical. Some lyrics sung could perhaps be classified as passive or neutral, neither glorifying God nor breaking any particular Biblical standards. And lastly, there are thankfully many lyrics and lifestyles that are glorifying to the Lord and blessed by Him. Please note again that we recognize this is perhaps one of the most hotly contested topics of discussion among Christians today and is certainly up for a much more in depth debate than we’ll allow for here. You can probably tell that we’ve been round and round from every angle on this issue; and without ample space, we know we’re leaving this spiritual lightning rod dangling in the wind. Regardless of all the controversies, if we stick with the Bible, we can be absolutely certain whether or not the lyrics and lifestyle being presented are valid and are worthy to be called "Christian".
Most importantly, we can be assured that God has a perfect will concerning music: that is that He be worshiped and glorified through it! That’s the kind of music that becomes an effective weapon in the arsenal of an informed believer.
A clear example of how completely God honors music which is played and sung for His complete glory can be seen in the overwhelming outpouring of His Spirit during the consecration of Solomon’s temple in II Chronicles 5. As the musicians and singers worshiped the Lord, the temple was filled with the glory cloud of God and God literally overtook the participants. Since the New Testament tells us that we (His church) are now the temple of God, it would make sense that all believers who want God’s anointing will fill His temple with music that brings Him honor and praise. Why would we ever want to settle for anything less? ‘Nough said!
Secular Music - Satan’s Battle Cry?
While we don’t want to get sidetracked too far here, it’s very hard to resist a few comments concerning the toll that ungodly secular music is exacting in our day.
Both David and Eric have concentrated many years of ministry and thousands of hours of research and effort on exposing the darkness within today’s music industry. Coming from a past caught in the grips of the music business as a performer, record producer and recording engineer, Eric in particular has personally experienced the worldly attraction brought on by the lure of rock music. Both these authors have written, spoken and ministered about this issue in great depth, and one thing we have concluded is that what the world is offering up for young people and adults to listen to today is laced with spiritual poison. Of as much or more concern is the accompanying lifestyle the musicians present, as music plays such a pivotal part in so many lives now. From Rap to Rock and from Pop to Country, the music industry is generally at odds with the overwhelming Scriptural evidence as to why music exists at all. This brings us back to the reason we’ve included this chapter.
Music as a Weapon of War
There is more to “praise and worship” than just singing hymns and choruses on Sunday morning. Lifting our voices to God is not only an obedient expression of our love and awe for God, it is a powerful tool of Spiritual Warfare.
To define the differences, praise is usually sung about God to men. Praise edifies, teaches, exhorts and encourages. Worship, on the other hand, is usually sung directly to God. Worship praises God, thanks Him, adores Him and petitions Him. To those who understand what the Scripture reveals about praise, and who know what is happening in the spirit realm as we carry on worship, the term “praise and worship” truly becomes a battle cry!
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Scripture says that God inhabits or is enthroned in the very praises of His people. What an awesome thought! The King of all creation is magnified and literally lives in our praises! Dare we hold back giving Him glory whenever and wherever we can?
In Psalm 22:3, the English word “inhabitest” is translated from the Greek word Yashab. It literally means “to sit”, “to remain”, “to have one’s abode.” This is extraordinarily powerful when we come to realize just what this really means to us as we do battle with the Devil.
To give praise to God is truly a spiritual experience. God–a spirit–dwells in our worship. Do you suppose He knows immediately when our worship is phony, contrived, and not truly from the heart? No one should believe that God ever honors a lackadaisical, halfhearted worshiper. We see a key to this in John 4 when Jesus states:
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Notice Jesus doesn’t say, “those that worship Him should worship Him in Spirit and in truth.” He said “MUST.” Otherwise our unclean offering is void of the presence, comfort and power of God. Without the Holy Spirit’s anointing as we stand in His truthful righteousness, our words are empty and our actions meaningless, for God longs for and only inhabits the true praise of His people.
Is it any wonder that Satan tries to so intimidate men in their praise and worship to Almighty God? He knows that not only is it a point of obedience for Christians to unabashedly worship God, but if he can keep them from doing so, they’ll be much less a threat to his evil work. Now we caution you that in saying these things we are not promoting demonstrative displays that bring attention to humans in the name of worship. But if Satan can bring the fear of what men think upon your mind, and keep you from entering into God’s courts through praise, then how much more will he be able to accomplish as he whips up on you in Spiritual Warfare? It is for good reason that the Devil does this, for without the weapon of praise and a complete understanding of what it accomplishes in the spirit realm, you are greatly hampered in your effectiveness to battle.
We don’t pretend to know all the dynamics that take place spiritually when a Christian worships the Lord, but we do know that something powerful, something extremely potent takes place. We’re not referring to a feeling we might receive while worshiping. Though emotions might come into play during worship, understand that it is not the amount of tears we may shed that is the benchmark for how effective our worship may have been. It is the binding and even outright confusion our praise brings against the forces of evil that signifies the real cogency of our worship.
Excerpted from Disarming the Powers of Darkness, Copyright, 2002 Eric Barger & David Benoit
Take A Stand! Ministries - POB 1485 - Rowlett, TX 75030