“Christian” Music Can Also Kill Your Soul (And You Don’t Even Have To Play It Backwards)

This is not a rant against the Christian music industry. I’m a big fan of plenty of the artists who thrive in that very industry: Gungor, John Mark, Josh Garrels, etc. Many artists in the CCM scene are biblically minded and extremely talented.

This is a bit of a rant against some of the bad theology in the Christian music industry. But I place the most of the blame of this rant on the pulpits of evangelical America. Metrosexual dudes with a guitar, gelled up hair, and tight(ish) pants don’t set the theological bar in cultural Christianity. Pastors and church leaders do. The Bieber wannabes on Christian radio often just regurgitate what they hear from their spiritual leaders on a consistent basis.

The lyric I’m about to share is a microcosm of many such messages you may hear on the Contemporary Christian Music scene. There’s more to this song than I’m about to share, but for brevity I’m only highlighting where it gets dumpster fire bad:

Yeah, I wanna believe, Jesus, help me believe / That I am someone worth dying for 

In those two short stanzas, the grace of God and the precious blood of Jesus has been utterly denied, rejected and made of no consequence. It may seem like a shocking conclusion but hear me out.

To be someone “of worth” means by definition to be “someone who deserves to be valued.”

Who is man? and What does he deserve from God? The abject inherent evil of man is a consistent thread in the Bible from the Old Testament:

There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:3)

To the New:

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. (Romans 7:18)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
(Romans 3:23-24)

What do such abhorrent sinful people deserve from a Holy God? Dr. Phil lessons on self esteem? A Stuart Smalley pep talk every morning in the mirror? No. Man deserves wrath:

 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rom. 1:18)

“God is angry with the. wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11)

No one jot. Not One tittle. Not One iota of Scripture will lead anyone to believe in the pop psycho babble craze of “self worth/esteem/actualization.” On the contrary, Scripture makes it patently clear, that no man has any inherent worth that could recommend himself to God. If anything, a basic tenet of the sinfulness of man is that he is manifestly unworthy in regards to deserving love or grace. At its fundamental level, grace is undeserved favor, or to put it another way: favor given to people of unworth.

I’m saying this in love: This is entry level Christianity, folks.

And this type of false doctrine is being pumped into our souls and sang by our children because of a nice clean Christian veneer. Telling someone to love them-self more will create a self lover, but not a self denying disciple (Luke 9:23).

CCM gospel aside, what the Bible teaches is the incomprehensible good news! Man is sinful and has scorned God and His commands. Even when this sinful subject tries hard to be very religious all God sees are “filthy rags” (Is 64:6) But God finds a way to shower eternal wells of free grace to unworthy ones through the perfect person and work of Jesus in the gospel.

“But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, unless any man should boast.” Eph 2:8-9

Jesus will not help us believe we are worth dying for, any more than he would glibly trample over His own precious blood. Much more, He wants to convince us of our unworthiness so we can see with more clarity the supreme worth of His work on our behalf.

The Christian walk is not about our self esteem. If we were to do anything with “self” the Bible sternly recommends this: Kill it. Murder it. Crucify the you that screams for any worth apart from the free grace of God in Jesus Christ (Gal 2:20).

How liberating it is to be set free from the cruel bondage of being and feeling “worthy.”

You aren’t. And you will never be.

This is what we were created for: Not to discover our worth, but to discover His. And the resulting overflow of praise will resound forever from the lips of the unworthy ones:

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” Revelation 5:12

Bryan Daniels

Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

14 thoughts on ““Christian” Music Can Also Kill Your Soul (And You Don’t Even Have To Play It Backwards)”

  1. Well said, friend! Even in the Christian culture many have bought in to the concept that God deserves us because we are so valuable. What a tragic, arrogant thought to believe that the creator of the universe deserves me for what I can offer Him.

  2. Great Blog Bryan. Very well written. What song are you quoting from? I am getting a diffrent meaning to those words, but it might help me to understand more if I could read all the lyrics.

    1. Thanks Chip! It is “Someone worth dying for”-Mike’s Chair. Again, the main gripe isn’t against a band, but against the teaching I hear that espouses a man centered gospel like: “Believe in Yourself” or “Forgive Yourself” or “You gotta love yourself before you love someone else.” All these type of ideas are anti biblical because we are called over and over again to “Believe on Jesus” “Seek Forgiveness from Him alone” and then “Love God and people regardless of our feelings about self.” I believe the greatest idol for mankind is self. And we have to be diligent to not let that idol creep in to the pure gospel message of Jesus.

      1. Thanks for making me think Bryan. I have been in a rut and this has really helped me open up my mind. I just think this song does not represent the teachings you are talking about. This song is to remind us that our life has worth.To deny that is to deny Jesus’s sacrifice. You also only gave one definition of worth. The song also says that I am not going to trust in myself to believe that I am worthy, I am going to trust Jesus. Now why is it important to understand his worth? Because when we understand the value of our lives we then understand God’s love for us… John 3:16. (i read a article by the author of this song and that is how i am so sure of what he meant by it)

        I do not think I can forgive myself for my sins, but I know God can. I repent and then I “let it go” because I know that the bible tells me that he has forgiven me. Forgiven: 1.Stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake….which to me means “let it go”. So by me letting it go doesn’t that me I forgive myself? We are all self centered. Are we not a christian because it benefits us? If there was no benefit then why be a christian? Thanks for the food for thought Bryan…look foward to more.

        1. Thanks for the provoking comments Chip!

          Every verse in Scripture about forgiveness posits us as needing forgiveness from God, not us needing to forgive ourselves. The greatest grace God could give us would be self-forgetfulness, not self-esteem. As CS Lewis once said, “everyone already loves self, Jesus assumes this when he tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves.” It’s apart of our fallen nature to be self lovers. I’m glad you read the bands article, and context is good, but I think some of the reason for his clarification is because the song itself is very unclear. Listen to it, and you see the whole crescendo/climax/point of the song is the portion I quoted. I’m not doubting these guys are sincere Christians, I am saying this modern obsession with self worth/esteem is entirely unbiblical.

          Now, I agree with you we have a certain value, the imago Dei, in us because we are made in God’s image. And maybe I should have stressed that too. But that image is tarnished by sin so we are not “worth dying for” simply based on that. The way we get to realize our value is the upside down paradox Christian music sometimes never touches. It’s not by contemplating our inherent worth/value, but dying/forgetting/repenting of it and casting ourselves whole heartedly on the precious mercy and worth of Christ. So there is a satisfaction or “benefit” as you say, but it is the complete opposite way we would have come to it on our own. It is through the way of the cross, the way of suffering, the way of dying to sin/self. Self worth is found in self forgetfulness.

          I don’t know what John 3:16 proves. It says nothing about the worth of man in that text and everything about the unbelievable love of God lavished on worthless men through Christ.

          Thanks for the follow up thoughts, welcome aboard!

  3. Oh ya, I mean where would God be without me right! I mean hey, think yeah and I really mean think. Ok now we are thinking and i mean really thinking, think about this yeah, are you ready What if yeah, what if God dies, what will we do?

  4. Bryan…you just boosted the sales of this song. This group should pay you royalties! LOL!!! Great stuff! Count me as one of the Guilty. I get snared by Christian Radio by thinking that everything they play is “Wholesome”. What may be wholesome to our “itching ears” may not be beneficial to our souls. Appreciate the wisdom.

  5. In my experience Christian radio can be so middle wicket it makes you spiritually complacent actually physically sick. It is so often is borderline human philosophy rather than true beef! It will also promote world leaders who are blatantly anti Christ like Gandhi and so on. Christian chokers! Just one of my thoughts is that Christ told us not to throw our pearls of wisdom before pigs who just dont care what they digest. They do not even consider what is in the troff, they never weigh the options even as some creatures evidently do when considering the cost of a meal and risking themselves in aquiring a meal. Esau was a pig. He rushed into things without thinking caring only for instant gratification and its not as if he regretted it and even testified of God in his lament.

  6. Your right, thankyou for your communication. Christian music lacks genuine testimony of perfection through suffering. Alot of it comes from the young who are, in truth, barely walking and have only been grazed in respect of any real wounds for Christ. So you get alot of wishey washey and rushed praise and usually from middle class familys. I am open to correction on this, but this is my personal experiences here in the UK. Still, it is never far from my prayers and would hope for a deepening in the musicians for Christ through suffering. Not to the point of death otherwise we would have a very quite band on our hands, just some scars.

  7. Some of my points are in advocacy for a greater light. For eg maybe it is good for such wisdom if there is any to be given over the airwaves. She may just catch the ears of just one repentant out of a thousand reprobates and heaven rejoices as the soul is saved. But I do believe that any christian musician must be aware that his words will be divinely scrutinized and weighed and therefore if they desire the public arena should be aware that rebuke will or maybe just as public. Experience should be threshed out before God and weighed with his word lest pride should take centre stage and that my friend will hurt when your face hits the floor. every word should be analysed before releasing it to your brothers ears and Gods otherwise I believe that you may regret it. God will not accept false worship on any grounds even if the church do. Graham Kendrick is a brit worship leader who to be frank is nothing but a sentimentle dreamer who evidently cannot seem to accept the fact that Britain is a wicked little hell hole of a nation and continues to cry out to God for His glory to fill the land in Shine Jesus shine. What a pathetic waste of breath in my view the man clearly is so far off target that you may as well be on another planet entirely. His request is in utter denial of the biblical prophecy’s of these days and utterly bereft of any knowledge of the season in which we live. Jesus will never fill this land with his Glory in fact the only thing He will fill it with is Fire when he destroys it for the unbearable amount of national and international wickedness that ensues with in its borders, do you see what I mean?

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