July 18, 2018

Instrumental Music in the Home

By Don Willis

A problem that presents itself to preachers of the truth in discussion with those involved in denominational error is the use of the mechanical instrument while singing spiritual songs. Showing one the teaching of the scriptures concerning the authorized music for the church, the inquirer will ask about the use of the instrument in the home. And thus, our problem in this article, "Is it right to use the instrument in the home while singing psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs?"

People of God are permitted to practice anything authorized or approved by God. One dare not invade the position of God in transgressing the laws set forth by Him. All that God authorizes, one may do; that which is not authorized, one cannot do. In the New Testament there is not one passage relating to music that would intimate that God desires or permits his people to do anything more than simply "sing". Therefore one limits his practice to what he is authorized to do. The majority of the passages used to show that the Lord has authorized singing (Matt. 26: 30; Acts 16:25; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12; James 5:13) are concerning the individual's action.

Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs

Whatever is taught concerning singing is bound both upon the congregation and the individual when the types of songs are classified as "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs". The limitation placed upon the congregation would have to be placed upon the individual, for identical language is used.

If the instrument is unauthorized for use in the assembly, but what hypothesis does one conclude that it is permissible in the home while singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs? If the instrument is permitted in worship in the home, how could the instrument possibly be wrong in the assembly?

Brethren, for years, have assumed that it was permissible to use the instrument in worship in the home, and have responded that some things were permitted in the home that would not be permitted in the assembly. This is a true principle, yet the passages that sanction singing, (and the ones used by brethren to prove what is authorized in the church) are often written to individuals. Whatever is taught by these passages must apply to the individual when singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs regardless of the location.

Not Worshipping

A person replies that he is not worshipping when singing in the home with the instrument. This presents a real problem! Does God sanction this ambiguous, meaningless use of His authorized worship? The personality of God demands that adoration be used in conjunction with His name every time a person speaks or meditates upon it. In Leviticus 18: 21, "And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord." To profane is "to violate or treat with irreverence, obloquy, or contempt (something regarded as sacred); to desecrate." (Webster New Collegiate Dictionary, pg. 673) To use the name of God without the attendance of worship is to profane the name of God, and is condemned.

Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are wholly religious in their nature. To prostitute this spiritual service for personal pleasure is sacrilegious ("the crime of stealing or desecrating that that is sacred." Webster, pg. 744)! God has never approved this "non-worshipping" attitude.Matthew 15:18

"This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me." These people pretended to worship God but did not put their heart into their action, therefore the Lord condemned them. One who mimics (one who imitates . . . esp. to make sport. Webster, pg. 534) worship for personal pleasure would be under the same condemnation, for the spiritual words and worship, separated from the heart, are used purely for the pleasure of the one engaging in it.

Col. 3:16, "... singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Eph. 5:19, "singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord (My Emphasis, DW). The singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs is to be directed to the Lord. Singing in the proper spirit, a child of God is edified, but singing religious songs simply for entertainment is nowhere intimated as approved in the sight of the Lord.

Truth Magazine, VIII: 1, pp. 22, 24
October 1963