Queries and Explications

Are Musical Instruments Sanctioned by God?


Editor's Note: This article is the final article brother Larry Hafley will write under the heading "Queries and Explications." Question and Answer columns are common in magazines, and Q&A formats are common on the internet as well. However, we have found that utilizing the column format on the internet in this way to be rather unworkable. Too often the questions sent in were not conducive to answering in this format. Some thought that the feature was a research tool, and used it to request information we could not supply. One visitor who obviously had not read any of our articles asked for a list of denominations with predominately black memberships in the Philadelphia area! Others were simply asking for advice from Larry. Many expected that every query would receive a response, something that is obviously not possible due to Larry's time constraints. The intention was to supply a list of questions that could be answered from month to month in this forum.

So, though this noble experiment is coming to an end, we are by no means saying goodbye to Larry. He will continue to write a monthly column which will come out under another name beginning with the March issue. Too, we will depend on his prodigious pen to complement our magazine with other materials from time to time. This will free Larry from the constraints of a Q&A column, and allow him to write on those issues he feels are greatest in importance.


"The advocators of musical instruments (in the Philippines) are using Old Testament verses. They say, "Musical instruments are sanctioned by God because they are found in the Old Testament." How do you answer them?


Tell them that Sabbath keeping, circumcision, burning incense, and animal sacrifices are also sanctioned and authorized in the Old Testament (Genesis 17:12; Exodus 20:8; Numbers 16:17, 18; Psalms 20:3; 51:19; 66:13, 15) . Ask them if we should practice physical circumcision as they did and offer animal sacrifices (Galatians 5:1-4; Colossians 2:11-16).

Too, you might ask them if physically killing our religious enemies and demolishing their church buildings is sanctioned today. Such things were authorized and "sanctioned" in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 7:2-5; 13:6-18). Show your friends who are making these arguments those passages. Then, ask them what they would think if you burned down their places of worship and sought to kill them, claiming that you were authorized to do so by the Old Testament.

Because such things were done in the Old Testament, in a physical, military kingdom, does not mean that we may do them today. No, the weapons of our warfare "are not carnal" or worldly weapons (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-17). Just so, we cannot use the Old Testament to sanction our worship today.

David had seven wives and the Old Testament says he "took more" (2 Samuel 3:4; 5:13). Ask your friends if it would be pleasing to God for a man today to have seven or eight wives. Since David did, can we do likewise? If the Old Testament justifies their mechanical instruments, does it also justify multiple marriages (Romans 7:2, 3; 1 Corinthians 7:2; Hebrews 13:4)?

When folks appeal to the Old Testament for authority for their musical instruments, they admit two things: (1) They need to find authority for them. (2) They cannot find authority for them in the New Testament. Therefore, show them that we are not under the Old Testament law. Instruct them that we are "under the law to Christ" (1 Corinthians 9:21).

Study carefully, Romans 7:1-7. Paul shows we are "dead to the (Old Testament) law" (v. 4). That law said, "Thou shalt not covet" (v. 7). Now, which law was it that said, "Thou shalt not covet" (Exodus 20:17)? It was the Old Testament law. Paul says we are "dead" and "delivered from the law," the Old Testament law.

Is it wrong to covet? Yes, but it is wrong, not because the Old Testament says so, but because the New Testament says so (Ephesians 5:3-5). Likewise, with the instruments of music. Yes, they are authorized in the Old Testament, but we are "dead to" and "delivered from" that law. If those instruments are still authorized, one will have to find authority for them in the New Testament. This he cannot do. It is not there.

Again, remember, if there were authority for instruments in the New Testament, they would not be going back to the Old Testament.

Study carefully, Galatians 5:1-4. What is the condition of a man who seeks to justify circumcision by appealing to the authority of the Old Testament? He is "fallen from grace" (v. 4). Now, instead of circumcision, put mechanical instruments in those verses. If one uses the Old Testament to justify the instruments, he is a "debtor to do the whole law" (v. 3). That is, if he binds the instruments, he must also bind the burning of incense, Sabbath keeping, circumcision, the priesthood of Aaron, and all the rest of the Old Testament.

God once spoke unto men by the Old Testament prophets, but now he speaks unto us "by his Son" (Hebrews 1:1, 2). We no longer appeal to quaking, shaking Sinai, but unto the heavenly Mt. Zion (Hebrews 12:18-28). We no longer hear Moses who spake on earth but our Lord who speaketh from heaven. The voice from the earth, the Old Testament, spoke of both incense and the instrument. The one who speaketh from heaven speaks of neither.

Simply tell those who make the arguments to speak as the oracles of God; that is, speak as those who are divinely appointed speak (1 Peter 4:11). Keep the verses before them that show that we are to "sing"and make melody in our hearts to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Continue to impress those verses upon their minds.

e-mail brother Hafley at 102616.1603@compuserve.com

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