|Volume 19 Number 11 November 2017||
Sin is always with us. Since the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve violated God’s commandment, sin has been dominant on the earth. It will always be dominant because Satan tempts people with sin in such a way that makes it much more attractive to people than righteousness. He tempts with the attitude of “feel good” actions. When people sin and it causes them to feel good, they want more and more of it. Remember, Satan doesn’t tempt people softly and gently. He comes “as a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He presents temptations with enough vim, vigor and vitality that he makes sin hard to resist. So much of our attraction to sin comes from being “in a rut,” and Satan is aware of that. He knows just how to get to those who are looking for something more to make them feel good. Everyone wants to “feel good.”
However, the physical “feel good” is what separated man from God in the Garden. When Satan tempted Eve in Eden, she succumbed because she “saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree to be desired to make one wise” (Genesis 3:6). Eve was sure that it would make her life much better. How wrong our desire to sin can be! Remember that Satan is “more subtle” (Genesis 3:1) than any other being. He knows how to get to you, and he’s crafty about doing it.
However, God has given men an “out” for sin; “He gives more grace” (James 4:6). God’s way is always better than Satan’s way. God expects us to “Submit yourselves to God; resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:6). To overcome the power of Satan, one must be submissive to God and His will. Then, the devil will see that he has no power. Being submissive is more than lip service. It means that you submit your mind, soul and body to God. James continued with this thought in verse 8 as he wrote, “Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.” God is faithful and will take care of His people. He will provide strength to overcome temptations and hardships.
Mankind’s problem in dealing with sin is in not being able to separate physical and spiritual differences. Man wants to accept the two things as part of his being and feels that both are equal. That won’t ever work because “If any man loves the world [physical], the love of the Father [spiritual] is not in him.” John went on to say that “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16). These are the three avenues through which Satan tempts mankind and brings about his fall.
Perhaps David felt as strongly as anyone ever has about the subject of man’s sin problem. Just listen to his wisdom in Psalm 37. “Trust in the Lord and do good; delight thyself in the Lord; commit thy way to the Lord and trust in Him; rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; cease from anger and forsake wrath; wait on the Lord and keep His way.” From the beginning, David had it all! He was a handsome young man who was given the care of his father’s sheep; he became the armor-bearer and musician to King Saul, and he was a valiant warrior. He married the king’s daughter, and he, himself, became a king. Worship of God was organized under his reign. Yet, with all of this favor bestowed upon him, David proved to be “human” after all as he committed adultery with Bathsheba. David repented deeply as he “fasted and lay all night upon the earth; neither did he eat bread” (2 Samuel 12). David fell prey to all three avenues of sin as he took Bathsheba. “Lust brings forth sin and when sin is finished, it brings forth death” (James 1:15). Keep Satan at bay and keep God in the forefront by exercising your faith in God—and feel good about it!
Sing unto the Lord
T. Pierce Brown
Although there seems to be an increasing need for teaching on the subject of the kind of music God authorizes and with which He is pleased, this article is not primarily for the purpose of emphasizing why we should not use mechanical instruments in worship of God. It is to emphasize how, what and why we should sing unto the Lord. It was suggested by the reading of Psalm 95:1-3, “Oh come, let us sing unto Jehovah; Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; Let us make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For Jehovah is a great God, And a great king above all gods.” This does not suggest that David is our authority for singing, or for how, what and why we sing. However, the principles he stated are still valid for us.
Let us notice how we should sing unto the Lord. First, it should be joyful. This does not mean it should have a handclapping or foot stamping accompaniment. We may need an extended study of the words “joy” and “rejoice” to see how far they are from the general concept that most of us seem to have. Without dwelling on it, let us just mention Hebrews 12:2, where it reads, “Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” We need to make a clear distinction between rejoicing in the Lord and merely having fun.
When he says, “Make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation,” he does not mean, “Make a loud noise like a rock and roll band.” Those who have not learned the difference in rhythmic hiccupping and admonishing one another in spiritual songs need to do so before going on a tour. When Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4), he was also giving the principle of how our singing should be done.
Both how and why are suggested in verse 2, “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving.” When we sing, we should remember what He has done for us, such as giving us remission of sins and the fact that He will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able to bear and that He will work all things together for our good. We need to give thanks for what He has done in us, such as making us a partaker of the divine nature. We need to be thankful for what He has done with us in giving us the honor of being fellow laborers with Him in the greatest and most glorious task ever conceived on earth or in Heaven—the redemption of mankind. We should sing thankfully many songs that suggest what He has promised to us, such as the fact that we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. We will receive the adoption as sons, including a new body, and all that is involved in having Heaven for an eternal home.
Note what the Psalmist said we should sing unto the Lord. “Let us make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.” Of course, we are not limited to psalms, for Paul said in Ephesians 5:19, “Speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” A psalm does not have to be one of the psalms of David, but we do need to realize that a song can be a psalm, hymn and spiritual song at the same time. A spiritual song is not necessarily a psalm or a hymn, for it is a song that is in harmony with the Spirit of God, whether of praise or any other subject. My personal opinion is worth little, but I doubt that “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” fits in either category as a song to be sung in worship. A hymn is simply a song of praise addressed to God. One should be able to see that all hymns should be spiritual songs, but not all spiritual songs are hymns.
There are at least six reasons given in Psalm 95 telling why we should sing unto the Lord. First, he is the rock of our salvation. The word “rock” suggests permanence, strength, shelter and other things that exalt our Savior. Second, he is great. “The Lord is a great God, and a great king” (v. 3). He is great in power, love, wisdom, majesty, holiness, mercy and any other attribute we may properly ascribe to Him. Third, He is strong. “The strength of the hills is his.” Fourth, He is holy. Verse six says, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before Jehovah our Maker.” One of the strangest doctrines we have ever heard a Gospel preacher teach is that everything we do is worship. I presume that those who teach that think that since all we do is supposed to be to the glory of God, and since we glorify God when we worship, then all we do is worship. That is illogical and unscriptural. When the Bible says, “Husbands love your wives” and we adore her, honor her, praise her and offer her gifts, we are glorifying God, for we are being obedient to Him. Yet, our offering and praise is not directed to God, and therefore, it is not worship to Him.
A fifth reason for singing is suggested in verse 7, “We are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.” That is, He is our gracious shepherd. When we sing, “Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us” or “The Lord My Shepherd Is,” we are emphasizing this point. A sixth reason for singing, which would be reason enough by itself, is that He commanded it. Verses 7-8 contain a thought of which we need constantly to be aware, “Today, oh that ye would hear his voice! Harden not your heart.” One of the most amazing things of which we are aware is that millions claim to worship God, but they do it for their own pleasure or in terms of their own will, not in obedience to His Word. If we had Jesus for a guest, and should say to Him, “Lord, what do you want?” and He replied, “I want to take a dip in the pool,” surely no one would reply, “You can take a shower, or forget it!” If He should say, “I would like for Mary to sing, ‘Jesus Loves Me,’” surely no one would say, “Since He did not say for John not to play, ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee,’ we will listen to John playing rather than to Mary singing.” Though we can scarcely conceive of anyone doing something like that, millions do it! When the Psalmist said “sing,” he used the Hebrew word “ranan.” When he said, “play,” he used the word “nagan.” We may cry again with David, “Oh that ye would hear his voice!”
The understanding of the simple truths that we cannot do something in the name of Jesus that He did not authorize, and that we cannot teach and admonish each other by playing on a mechanical instrument, would help a great deal. Also, in the Lord’s church, we need to be aware that we do not teach and admonish one another as God authorizes by singing the kinds of songs or making the kinds of noises that neither praise God nor have any spiritual value. It makes no difference how melodious the noise may be or whether the whistling or humming sounds better to us than singing; we have no right to do that which is not authorized. If every person who worships would try to make sure that his worship is what pleases God instead of what pleases him, it would come nearer being in spirit and in truth.