Updated: Feb 1
Scripture exhaustively and scrupulously furnishes and profits unto every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17). For scripture to do this, it must be applied. To most evangelicals, Scripture doesn’t have much of value practically. Really. Every man appears to do that which seems right in his own eyes, while professing all along to be Christian. When the Bible speaks of the world, it could mean anything to them, since the Bible doesn’t specifically tell us. The typical argument against worldly, fleshly music is that the Bible doesn't tell us what that music is. ‘Hey, just relax, it’s not that bad.’ Or 'The Bible doesn't say anywhere specifically that its sinful.' When the Bible speaks of worldliness, we can understand what that means and we do know what it means. The Bible doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not smoke marijuana.” The Bible does make that point, but it must be applied to do so. The same argument can be made for dress standards. The Bible doesn't tell us what corrupt communication is. It doesn't tell us what is profane. It doesn't tell us what the attire of a harlot, the clothing of a prostitute is.
Scripture applies to cultural issues. God wants His Word applied to cultural issues. To obey God’s Word, the Bible must be applied to cultural issues. When one disobeys God on cultural issues, he is sinning against God. When one continues to disobey God, thus sinning against Him, in a characteristic manner, he inadvertently exposes his unregenerate estate (1 Jn 2:3-5).
Scripture expects us to know the application of Scripture to all cultural issues and otherwise, because those who have the indwelling Spirit of God do know (Pr 8:8-9; 22:20-21; 1 Jn 2:20-21). What God says, people can know, IF they want to know. It assumes we know, because we do know. Not knowing is either blindness or feigning ignorance. Blindness or feigned ignorance won't work in the end with God. He knows we know. People can understand and apply the main scripture passages on lust. The problem is people don't want to give up their lust. I'm asserting a deliberate, convenient ineptitude of professing Christians at applying the lust passages of scripture (Jam 1:14-15; 4:2; 2 Pet 1:4; 1 Jn 2:16-17; etc) and others similar to it, especially those on loving or befriending the world and the things of the world which most definitely includes ungodly rock music (e.g. 1 Jn 2:15; Jam 4:4). I say "professing" because that is only what most of these so-called Christians are. Professing but not possessing Christ (read Ti 1:16). A truly saved person is actually able to apply Scripture and judge righteously because he understands Scripture.
The problem here is a will problem. People want their lascivious, sensual, worldly desires and the music that feeds their flesh without judgment. They do what they please and then frequently cry out “judge not,” corrupting scripture to mold their perversion. Their best argument is typically ridicule, scoffers walking after their own lust (2 Pet 3:3). Their justification is idolatrous. They want a god shaped like their own desires, and him only will they serve.
The Bible doesn't tell us what lust is. Worldly music, CCM music, and gender-indistinctive dress are areas where the lusts of the flesh are fulfilled, and churches that entertain these things and openly accept them, reveal themselves to be of a "carnal mind" which is an unsaved mind (Rom 8:6-9).
The chief characteristic or attribute of the things of the world from the things of God is lust, like John writes in 1 Jn 2:16-17,
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
Worldliness corresponds to or smacks of the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, which passes away. The "passing away" is described in Rev 18:14,
“And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.”
In 1 John 2, same context, v. 15 tells us the nature of those who live after the lusts of the world:
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
They are unsaved. They do not have the love of God in them, which means they are unregenerate:
"But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you." (Jn 5:42).
The context is very clear that these are unsaved people that Christ is talking to. E.g.
"I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." (Jn 5:43).
Further down in the same chapter of Revelation 18, John writes:
“And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee.” (v. 22).
Some of what souls lusted after, that are departed from them in the end, are the voice of harpers, musicians, pipers, and trumpeters. This is not the end of all music, just the world's music. It will end because God rejects it, had already rejected it, despite its acceptance by people who call themselves Christians. Godly music will continue.
Since worldliness is lust, worldliness is wrong and worldliness must be rejected, then lust can be understood, characterized, and identified. This is the application of the lust passages of scripture. It's not just a matter of articulation, but also enforcement. Churches and their leaders won't enforce what scripture teaches on lust. They've treated the subject like it is too uncertain, so that they would be wrong to do anything about it. Even worst, Churches and church leaders have used lust to entice for the purpose of promoting and sustaining membership. Both are equally damnable and reflective of compromised heretics.
In Rom 13:14, Paul writes:
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”
This verse can be applied and is especially applied in music and entertainment. Listening to or watching much of the world's music and entertainment is in fact making provision for the flesh and fulfilling the lust thereof. Why? Peter commands in 1 Pet 2:11 to "abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." Earlier in the same epistle, he writes: "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance." The Apostle Paul further teaches in Gal 5:24, “And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” And then in Ti 2:11-12, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”
Christians of the past were discerning of this. They made application to crucifying the flesh with the affections and lusts, and denying ungodliness and worldly lusts. But todays so-called Christians capitulate to this apostasy. Young people are encouraged to feel the very same sensational nervous impact of loud rhythmic music on the body that they would experience in a large, worldly pop concert, complete with replicated lighting and atmosphere. At the same time they reflect on predestination and election. Worldly culture provides the bodily, emotional feelings, into which Christian thoughts are infused and floated. Biblical sentiments are harnessed to carnal entertainment. . . . When you look at their ‘favourite films’, and ‘favourite music’ you find them unashamedly naming the leading groups, tracks and entertainment of debased culture, and it is clear that the world is still in their hearts. Years ago, such brethren would not have been baptized until they were clear of the world, but now you can go to seminary, no questions asked, and take up a pastorate, with unfought and unsurrendered idols in the throne room of your life. What hope is there for churches that have under-shepherds whose loyalties are so divided and distorted?
People don't want to give up their lusts, which have become even their addictions. I don't think or believe that it is difficult to apply lust passages. We can know what is fleshly lust or worldly lust to make not provision for it or abstain from it.
People make a choice. They either choose the Lord Jesus Christ or they choose lust. To say that those do not contradict is now fashionable in a majority of professing Christianity. They can both have Jesus and their lusts. It isn't true though.
Not applying God’s Word to cultural issues has resulted in bigger evangelical churches, including the so-called conservative ones. They didn’t apply the Word of God to different cultural issues and these bleed over into many other doctrinal and practical issues of God’s Word. You can see this in scripture too.
In 1 Cor 6:18 and then 1 Cor 10:14, the Apostle Paul made two related commands: “Flee fornication” and “flee from idolatry.” In other places in scripture, God commands, “abstain from fornication” (1 Th 4:13) and “ye shall make you no idols” (Lev 26:1). The first two commands go beyond the second two. How does someone obey the first two commands, which are more than merely not fornicating and not making idols? Is “flee” to sprint away in the other direction? Does that obey the command? Does a believer obey the command to flee by running really fast and hard a different direction? It might seem like I’m insulting your intelligence, but these commands must be applied in order to be obeyed. In 2 Tim 2:22, Paul wrote to Timothy, “Flee youthful lusts.” Same thing. In 1 Tim 6:11, Paul commands, “Flee these things,” things referring to “many foolish and hurtful lusts,” which are related to money. These “flee” commands are some of many similar type commands that require application to obey.
One is not adding to scripture or going “above that which is written” when applying these commands. It isn’t adding to scripture like a Pharisee. These types of evangelical attacks are red herrings. They make way for not applying scripture, especially on cultural issues, which makes way for disobedience and sin.
In the meeting of the Antioch and Jerusalem churches in Acts 15, James instructed the Gentile believers in the churches to “abstain from pollutions of idols.” What is the obedience to that instruction? How do idols pollute? How does one insure he is not being polluted by an idol? This is the first thing James said directed toward the Gentiles in his speech. The meaning of “pollutions” could be “contaminations.” This goes further than just abstaining from idol worship, but relates to association, something Paul addresses in 1 Cor 10.
Evangelicals and "conservative" evangelicals, including John MacArthur and Phil Johnson, have called fundamentalists and separatist believers, “legalists,” because of their application of the above types of commands in scripture that relate to social or cultural issues. These issues do not reside in a vacuum. They affect gospel oriented issues, even as they did in the Gentile cities, where Paul ministered. I’m pointing out these two men, because they and others are attacking those who take a stand against evangelical compromise on cultural issues and over many years now they have been reaping the consequences of not separating but accommodating the worldliness and heresy that now haunts all of evangelicalism. Yet they still don’t separate over it.
I see pollutions or contaminations of all sorts of kinds in "conservative" evangelicalism too. They have not broken with worldly “worship,” dress, and entertainment or amusement. They see these as liberty issues. One cannot flee from youthful lust and worldly lust and “make not provision for the flesh” (Rom 13:14) and accept these activities. Peter refused to eat with Gentiles in Antioch in the presence of Jerusalem Judaizers and Paul withstood him to his face for that. No scripture prohibited not eating with Gentiles — that was another application of scripture by Paul.
Is the kingdom of Jesus Christ going to have the worldly and sensual worship and dress and entertainment of "conservative" evangelicalism? Will there be transgenderism, women dressing like men as we note today in all of "conservative" evangelicalism? Will the women and the men dress in androgynous fashion in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, or will there be a return to the distinct male and female garment? Will the inhabitants of the kingdom of the Lord listen to "Christian" rock music and hip hop and country?
What occurs when lust and Jesus are syncretized is the shaping of a different Jesus in the imagination. Churches today are responsible for doing this through their worship, which is false worship. This syncretization is akin to what the Israelites did at the bottom of Mt. Sinai and what Jeroboam did in the newly formed Northern Kingdom of Israel. People have the name of God and of Jesus, but they have shaped a different God and Jesus through syncretizing lust with the name of God and of Jesus. People then worship a different Jesus and in a short time have a different Jesus, a different one than who can and will save them. This is how false worship changes the gospel. But it comes from a false position, one that is unsaved but pretending to belong to Christ.
This is a deliberate, convenient ineptitude among professing Christians. It's deliberate. It's also convenient, because staying inept allows for the perpetuation of the lust. This is an addiction. They shape a Jesus that accepts the addiction. He doesn't exist, but they still worship "him." This is in fact worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator. The Creator Himself contradicts the lust.
Though people know this they are deceived. The more they feed their lust, the more that their conscience is seared or salved and stops warning of this lust. At one time they might have rejected the fleshly and worldly lust. They have continued past the warning of the conscience until they don't hear it anymore. That is how they are deceived. That doesn't mean they are saved and deceived. Majority of these are unsaved.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that the root identity of the believer, the citizen of His kingdom, is light and salt (Matt 5:13-16). Being those two means not abrogating the Word of God (Matt 5:17-20). These are presented as salvation issues. Someone leaves darkness to light. He leaves the world system to the kingdom of God.
Furthermore, the feelings of the lust are confused with the workings of the Holy Spirit. A feeling proceeding from lust is considered to be an interaction with the Holy Spirit. Churches offer lust through the music and what people feel, they think is God. This is akin to what occurred in the Babylonian mysticism of the false worship in Ephesus and Corinth. Ecstasy, tied into lust even to the extent of temple prostitute activities, is seen as an encounter with God. This is common today in churches. They think they have an intimacy with God, but it's actually just their lust.
Many of the so-called "conservative" evangelicals, especially those in the Reformed-Calvinists camp, have said that strict application of scripture lead to the progressive evangelicalism we see today. The people allegedly swung on the pendulum swing in the opposite direction, away from the legalism caused by fundamentalists. No. The lack of application of scripture leads to further capitulation, and there is a reason why they will not apply Scripture. Evangelicals continued to associate, and there is a reason for that as well; the same reason. They didn’t flee. They kept making provision and moving God's goal posts. Even without actual idolatry, it leads to pollution, contamination. The contamination results in the gospel distortion now rampant in evangelicalism, and thus false professions everywhere, a vicious cycle.
These people will not separate and once again there is a reason for that. They won’t start applying scripture like they should have before, like actual true believers have through the history of Christianity. They will bewail the fall of evangelicalism loudly, as if they had nothing to do with it. Their compromise is the cause of it, but deeper, the reality of most of these being false professing "believers" is the foundational issue.
The condition on the ground among professing Christians in their lack of applying the lust passages is far worse than what I'm describing in this post. They listen to and watch almost everything and do whatever the world around them is doing, and then treat it like it is neutral. They are not applying scripture and, therefore, they are disobeying scripture. At the same time, they profess to be a Christian. Many, if not most of them, are not Christians. The two can't coexist. Teaching, assuming, or accepting that they do coexist confuses people in the most fundamental way, fooling them into thinking they are followers of Jesus, when they are not. No man can serve two masters (Matt 6:24). But they are fooled into thinking they can serve two masters.
These are the thorny soiled souls, who have a profession of faith but are unsaved charlatans:
" And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection." (Lk 8:14)