Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:17-21)
Singing Is The Will Of The Lord
Authority is necessary for everything that is to be done in the church of God. Jesus was given all authority by the Father, who had the power to give such authority. The New Testament church established a pattern of authority through the writings of the disciples who were moved by the Holy Spirit directed by the will of the Father. Authority is necessary for the government as a structure of an organization to establish law. Without authority, anarchy would rule, and the people would suffer. Within the government of the church of Christ, authority is necessary to comply with the will of God, or spiritual lawlessness will reign. One such area of rule that is called the will of the Lord is the type of music authorized.
Paul wanted the saints in Ephesus to understand what the will of the Lord was concerning their worship. He reminds them God is a spirit and is seeking those who will worship the Lord in spirit and truth: this is the will of the Lord. True worship does not come from the satisfaction of the carnal nature like imbibing in wine but the spiritual experience of worship from the heart. When Paul discounts wine as a means of appeasing the Lord, he directly points to the desire of the carnal heart to find ways to appeal to the flesh. It was not uncommon in the pagan worship to make merry with loud music and drunken feasts. Entertainment was the highlight of the worship men would engage as they fulfilled their carnal lusts. Religion today has become cousins of the pagan worship of old as they seek to entertain, impress, and create an atmosphere of fun-filled worship to draw people to their numbers. Paul indirectly condemns the use of instrumental music in worship as the pagans would use in their worship.
The Jews were proficient in the use of instrumental music in worship. David had a choir of Levites who were singers and musicians to sing joyful songs to the accompaniment of harps, lyres, and cymbals when he brought the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant to Jerusalem. God commanded instruments to be used in worship under the Law of Moses but never commanded the use of instrumental music in the New Testament church. The will of the Lord changed regarding music as much as the will of the Lord changed regarding salvation. Using an instrument of music is like requiring circumcision. Paul wanted the Ephesians Christians to understand what the law of God required in their worship. Ephesus was home to the Temple of Diana, and the citizens were familiar with the pagan rites and worship, including the loud music. The church in Ephesus did not use instruments of music in their worship because they were doing the will of the Lord.
Understanding what God required was submitting to each other in the fear of the Lord. Authority for the type of music defined whether worship was acceptable before God. Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs was the only authority of the New Testament church. Singing and making melody in the heart was the pattern of the early saints that desired to obey the will of the Lord. Hearts filled with thanksgiving sang the psalms of old as the first-century Christians followed the divine pattern of singing. Paul never suggested or hinted that instrumental music was a part of the early church. None of the other writers encouraged their readers to use instrumental music to worship the Lord. Historically speaking, it would be hundreds of years after the first century before the first hint of instrumental music was given and nearly fifteen hundred years before instrumental music was officially accepted in the apostate church.
Singing is the will of the Lord. The form of worship is opening the mouth and singing praises to the Lord. He is not interested in whether a person can carry a tune in a bucket but whether there is music in the heart. Refusing to sing is defying the will of the Lord. Music is at the heart of worship as an expression of the joy to serve the Lord God. Jesus said that salvation comes from doing the will of the Father. Singing is the will of the Lord. Praise God with the voice. Lift up the heart to sing praises to God until that eternal day when all God’s saints sing before His face the eternal glories of His majesty and beauty. And above all things, sing.