You Are What You Listen To!

Cary Schmidt

You’ve heard the statement “you are what you eat.” And, physically this is true—your body and health are merely products of what you digest. But rarely do we make the same connection to our spiritual lives. In other words, “you are what you listen to.”

Have you ever considered that your musical listening habits have a direct correlation to your spiritual condition and direction in life? Music is a powerful influence that helps to create a direction and then feeds that direction at the same time. It shapes emotions and attitudes that become desires and decisions, which ultimately determine destiny.

In this article I would like to briefly explore the principles that make music such a powerful force in our lives and then challenge you to apply them to your own listening choices.

DOES GOD HAVE HIS WAY IN YOUR MUSIC?
It should be the life goal of every Christian to have a thoroughly biblical worldview—a truthful, God-centered perspective in every area of life. No area of life should be exempt from biblical principles and the glory of God.

And yet, so often we compartmentalize our relationship with God. We reserve for Him that which is convenient, but we rationalize personal allowances—for instance in our entertainment, our dress, our personal pleasures of living—and yes, in our music.

As sure as God wants you to have a biblical worldview in broader areas, so He desires that His principles permeate every area of life. With this in mind, consider this simple question: Does God have His way in my music? Is He truly God of what I listen to?

God tells us in Isaiah 46:9, “…I am God and there is none else….” For instance, with my children, I am dad, and there is none else. And I’m always dad, not just sometimes. I’m dad in every area, not just a few. I’m dad—period. My children don’t negotiate with my right to be dad—when I’m dad and when I’m not. For instance: “Dad, when it comes to paying bills and buying school clothes—you got it! You’re dad. But when it comes to my grades—you’re not dad.” No, I’m always dad. There’s no compartmentalizing in this relationship.

The fact is, God is God! He’s not only God when I have a lot of prayer requests. He’s God when I put in my ear-buds. And He has a lot to say about my music, my song, my meditations, and even my ears! Here are just a few examples:

“Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth” (Psalm 78:1). Incline means “to spread out toward.”

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).

With this foundational understanding of God’s rightful preeminence, I would like to give you three compelling reasons to honor God through your music:

MUSIC INFLUENCES YOUR FLESH
(YOUR BODY)
God’s Word has much to say about our flesh and how we are to manage it. Throughout Scripture we are commanded to reign in our flesh and to bring it into subjection to the Holy Spirit of God. Here are a few examples:

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13).

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Romans 6:6, 12).

These verses are relevant to music because there is a physical component to music called rhythm which produces physical responses in our flesh. Rhythm was designed to give structure and direction to the music, but the world and the flesh always accentuate and distort rhythm. And there are most definitely rhythms that provoke and enlarge carnal, physical impulses.

Cutting right to the point—if you desire a Spirit-led life you should listen to music that is not dominated by rhythm. A spirit-led life and a rhythm-dominated music are in conflict with one another.
On the other hand, a Spirit-led life is greatly facilitated by Spirit-led music. The Lord makes this connection very clear in Ephesians 5:18-19 where he ties a Spirit-filled life to a Spirit-led music, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

The great struggle of the Christian life is the “flesh against the spirit.” Our flesh continues to rise up and desires control. Have you ever considered that your music will either be a facilitator of the Spirit or a facilitator of your flesh?

MUSIC INFLUENCES YOUR HEART
(YOUR MIND, WILL, AND EMOTIONS)
Music, primarily harmonies, always communicates emotion. In many ways, music is emotion. This means it powerfully impacts your thoughts and decisions. You could say your music is the soundtrack of your life—it paints emotions, thoughts, meditations, moods, and ultimately helps determine the choices you make and the logic behind them.

Music is perhaps the most powerful external influence of who you are—how you think, how you feel, and who you become! In fact, the very word music comes from the root word muse which means “to be absorbed in thought.” That’s what music does, it absorbs our conscious and subconscious minds and directs those thoughts either in spiritual or unspiritual directions! Here are a few examples of God’s Word tying music to our heart, thoughts, and meditations:

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

“I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works” (Psalm 9:1).
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him” (Psalm 28:7).

“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (Psalm 57:7).
If you find that you often struggle with emotions, thought patterns and choices that are unspiritual or unbiblical, have you considered the influence your music is having upon this process?

The Bible commands in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” The word keep means to protect in a good sense, to guard something very valuable! The word issues means the outgoings, the things that proceed forth—your emotions, your words, your decisions, and their consequences.

No matter what decision you make—from choosing lunch at a fast food restaurant to how to treat your family—you always consult your heart—your mind, will, and emotions. And what you listen to powerfully influences that heart. Do you see the direct connection that music has to the rest of your life? The fact that music is so powerful over our hearts should compel us to make careful choices to listen to godly music.

MUSIC INFLUENCES YOUR SPIRIT
(YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD)
Music, at its core, influences our spiritual lives and our relationships with God—either drawing us closer to the Lord, or quenching the Holy Spirit. God always desires our lives to be filled with and controlled by the power of His Holy Spirit:

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18–19).

“Quench not the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

The biblical fact is this: the right kind of Spirit-led music can be an immensely powerful force that can aid in our lives to bring our body and soul into submission to the leadership and control of the Holy Spirit of God. That is to say, it can feed and fan the flames of the work of the Holy Spirit within.
In summary, music provokes physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual responses that result in choices. Therefore, spiritual music will contribute to spiritual responses, spiritual choices, and spiritual outcomes. To the contrary, fleshly music—that which accentuates rhythm or soul-ish lifestyles (emotion led)—will diminish my ability to “walk in the spirit.” Spiritual music will contribute to my walk with God and the Spirit-filled life.

MUSIC IMPACTS THE TOTALITY OF OUR BEING
We’ve seen three compelling reasons to choose godly music. When you listen to music, you are giving a form of media a powerful influence over every part of your being—body, soul, and spirit. Scripturally, we are commanded to give that type of influence only to the Lord. Nothing else should control or have mastery over us in that way.

Simply put, God desires to have my music because God desires to have all of me! Romans 6:16 teaches, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”

The Christian life should be a quest for purity. It should be a Spirit-filled journey. But being Spirit-filled leaves no room for carnal choices or carnal influences. Your musical listening habits always have a direct correlation to your spiritual condition and direction in life.

May we listen to music that helps us lead Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, God-centered, God-glorifying lives. You really are what you listen to.