“Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.” Philippians 3:16
(First published in 2016)
We have now come to a “Y” in the road where we have to decide, which way shall we take? The old path or the new? Which path shall we follow? The same old dusty track or the shiny progressive direction? Have you seen what is going on in the world around us lately? It seems obvious the globe is getting darker than ever in our lifetime or the generations before us. Despite all efforts, society is certainly is not getting any better. Liberalism and humanism, secularism and occultism have made stealthy inroads hypnotizing the minds of society as a whole. The result is an ungodly society that is under the impression that religion is the cause of all the world’s problems and so, the old and well trodden path of God’s Word is being paved over with a superhighway of modernism: wide is the gate. In fact, we see that at no time in history has western civilization ever been so opposed to Christianity than we see it today. For instance, consider a pivotal moment in American history in 1962. America’s Supreme Court ruled in Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962) for prayer to be removed from the beginning of each day as was practiced in schools for so many generations. This act is part and parcel of the quiet revolution by the socialists and a major victory to their radical cause. Their intent is to meld the world into a one-minded utopia, replacing the worship of Almighty God for the anemic idol of self. Signs such as these should come as no surprise. The Holy Bible has prophesied there will come a one world church and a one world government governed by one man. This will come in a time when everyone will be of one mind, evidenced by a mark of one man’s number. Do we have eyes to see where the world is positioned in the context of God’s prophetic timeline? To understand where we are we must know where we began. We must take inventory to see what we allow versus what we stand against in our homes, churches and society in general. I can still remember my parents driving us to church on Sundays and there not being even one car in the parking lots of any store or business, because they were not open due to Sunday shopping laws. Yes, there were actually laws against it. But, eventually, in time, Christians lapsed, focusing more on themselves. The new age of humanist reason was in as Bible truth and common sense was shown the door. Bible believing Christian parents were worn down by this love of the world not willing to suffer the lightest persecution. The result? They stopped caring about where they drew the line as much and then compromised. And, their children took it a step farther. I have heard it said that what the parents allow, the children will do in excess. History bears this out. One generation would not consider shopping on Sunday. The next generation made allowances to grab what they needed from the store on Sunday, and the up and coming generation will miss being in God’s house altogether in order to work at these establishments …on Sunday. Meanwhile, the left leaning liberals lobbied to repeal those dusty laws citing many “good” reasons. Quite simply put, the Christians stopped fighting for that which is good. They stopped fighting to keep the impurities of the world outside and started fighting each other about what to allow inside. Christians have stopped holding fast to that which is good and divided into, “more conservative” and “more liberal”. Do you see what is happening? Is this our legacy? We have come to the point where the godly have now been disallowed to take any stand against that which was wrong even a generation ago.
“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” Jer. 6:16
With your permission, I would like to take a few minutes to offer up some examples of old path positions that were long held, but are now being paved over with new philosophies. Long held standards such as standing against worldly music, worldly entertainment, standards against worldly philosophies and standards against worldly lusts. These must be reviewed on a regular basis to know where we are in God’s timeline. Where are we standing on the way of life? Are we even standing at all anymore?
The Old Path of Music
To the left or the right? Which way shall I go? According to the historical account in Exodus chapter 32, there was a group of people who were greatly blessed by God, a great multitude. These were God’s people called, the Israelites. After God had led them out of Egypt, they rejoiced greatly, but after a time, they forgot their blessing and began to focus on their present circumstances. They began to take things for granted and committed the sin of unthankfulness. They began to complain about many things, including the blessing of being led out of Egypt. At one point, they found themselves waiting for their leader, Moses, who had gone into the mountain called Sinai to meet with God. After some time of Moses being absent they began to murmur at Aaron, Moses’ second man. Aaron, having his own doubts, then made himself the de facto leader and demanded gold from the people to make a golden calf. After forming the calf, he made a proclamation that the following day would be a feast day unto this idol. Then, we read this in verse 6 of that same chapter:
“And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” Exodus 32:6
After eating and drinking, they rose up to play. Play? To understand what this means in context we need to look at the description of the playing. Verses 17 and 18 gives us more information as to the sounds that were heard:
“And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.” Ex. 32:17-18
So, they heard shouting and singing, but called it noise and saw they were no longer dressed appropriately; they were naked. Now, let’s stop here for a second and take some inventory. What are we hearing in our own camps? Have we become restless and bored with the good? Are we compromising, because we have become malcontent and unthankful in our hearts to the good old path music we have? Is our unthankfulness leading us to turn our heads to the world, saying, “we can handle that”? In similar style to the Israelites, at one time not so many decades ago, we were thankful for God’s blessings and provisions of the good old hymns. We were happy with it – man, woman, and child, alike. Some may say, well, we still sing hymns, but have blended worship services. Will God sit with the world beside Him on His seat? God forbid, when He commands to hate even the garment spotted with the flesh! (Jude 1:23). No doubt, the old time hymns are being sacrificed for new songs with an uncertain sound (I Cor.14:8) and for those who are still holding onto the old time hymns, the excuses need to be more subtle than ever to get them to relinquish their white knuckled hold. The most subtle always presents itself as a minor issue, but it will effectively pick away to expose a gaping hole, dangerous enough to breach the hull of home and church.
Scoops and Slides
One of those most minor and subtle issues is a music form of technique found in contemporary music known as ‘scoops’ and ‘slides’. What is that, you ask? Even 10 years ago our churches and colleges were against keeping this worldly technique in the music and removed them, especially in the special music. Before even that, the church outright rejected any music written by anyone they did not know and trust or found outside of an accepted hymnbook. So, what are scoops and slides? Here is a synopsis from my research to help explain:
Jazz – Trombone: Scoops and Falls – Scoops and Falls are a form of technique where you approach or move away from the intended pitch, usually marked with a curved line in the music heading up to going from the note head, depending on which one it is. A scoop is done by very quickly moving from an outside slide position to a close inner slide position (ex. Position 2 to Position 1), while a fall is the exact opposite motion. (inner position to outer position, ex. Position 1 to Position 2). Very common in Dixieland and in Swing Era Jazz. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz_trombone)
Rock and Blues: Slide guitar – Because slides can move around “in between” the frets, they’re great for imitating the voice, which naturally scoops and slides between the notes. The slide rests gently on top of the string, and like a harmonic, doesn’t push down, but floats along the length of the string.
Country Music: To begin a vocal note slightly below the target pitch and then to slide up to the target pitch, especially in country music. (wiktionary.org)
Scoop: Beginning a note beneath its pitch, then sliding up to the correct pitch. Scooping was the prominent feature of “crooners” in the 1920s-50s; Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Perry Como were among the singers famous for this style. Today, scooping should be used infrequently and only to achieve a specific quality or emotion. (http://voicestudio.kristinaseleshanko.com/SingingTerms.htm)
Why is Scooping Bad? Scooping is unattractive for several reasons. First, it draws attention to itself and all the pitches being hit on the way up to the second note. Second, the scooping below or above is often stylistically incorrect. Third, the act of scooping often makes people rhythmically inaccurate, because the second note is not placed on the beat. (http://singing.about.com/od/choirsinging/fl/Is-Scooping-Bad.htm)
This information, as found in my research, originates from the worldly, secular side so not to appear unfair to anyone. These are the people who know, because it originates with their own music! Being honest, you can see that not only are we borrowing sensuality from the world by using this technique; from jazz, rock, and country, in particular, but it is actually rejected by real musicians as a crutch for those who lack the skill and ability to hit notes directly. I think we can offer God better than that! Worse than that, certain contemporary Christian musicians in the 1970’s purposely wrote the scoops and slides into the music so that it was part of the music and not just, ad lib. To me, that represents shades of the Garden of Eden where Eve was deceived, but Adam ate of the fruit knowingly! We will reap just as they did if we do not heed God’s warning to reject the world; love not the world! (I John 2:15)
The Old Path of Fashion
Looking back, for the moment, at the Israelites dance party, what did the music and the festivities affect? What did the partiers look like? What were they wearing? We read the following in verse 25, after Moses had returned and Aaron was trying to explain what had happened:
“And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)” Exodus 32:25
Certainly, the direct effect was the lack of clothing, to their own shame! How did it make the godly men, Moses and Joshua, react? Moses was furious! The following verse says it best:
“And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.” Exodus 32:19
In our own generation, dress has become lax. In our churches, we are following the world. Why are we doing that? A generation ago, no man would come to church without a suit and tie on and ladies all wore modest dresses. Even in society people always dressed sharp, even to go to the grocery market. Today, we have dropped a long way from that standard. We have made excuses such as, “well, I am comfortable.” I have heard it said, God does not care how we dress. I will let God’s own Word answer for itself to that. In these verses, Adam and Eve were caught in sin and they knew it and tried to dress themselves to cover it all up:
“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Gen. 3:7
“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Gen 3:21
Apparently, God did not like their choice of fashion and clothed them Himself. According to God, we do not get to dress how we want. What makes you think that if we are called to suffer, as our Saviour suffered, and we are to emulate Him in suffering, that you can be comfortable? Is suffering comfortable? I think not. How we dress is directly proportionate with the spiritual health of our heart. How much do you care about what God thinks of you? The answer to that is written on the outside.
The Old Path of Entertainment
Taking another look at the big picture that God, Moses, and Joshua, all had observed from the mountain called, Sinai. Clearly, they saw what we could say amounted to a rock concert. No, this is not taking the image too far. Picture a raucous rock concert, including the lights and smoke, all the elements were in, “play”. There was a great multitude; the Israelites, eating, drinking, dancing naked and revelling together. There was heard very loud singing and shouting that sounded like war; and there was an idol up there to which the day was dedicated to. What does this look like? I picture a full blown rock concert as we would see it today. Remember that the so-called Christian concerts that are increasing in popularity are formatted exactly the same way and some sober scrutiny would reveal the same elements. What are we doing? What do the scriptures command us?
“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:” I Peter 4:1-4
This verse illustrates the old path position that is being paved over with the contemporary solution. Today, many Christians have abandoned this portion of scripture forgetting that we are called to suffering with Christ in trade for the self satisfaction of humanism or the entertainment of self. This scripture commands that the one who has given their life to Christ no longer lives to serve self, but to live as Christ in suffering. How? By no longer living the rest of our life in the flesh. So, strictly speaking: you either live for yourself in sin or you suffer for God in holiness. There is no other way. No other position. It is one or the other. Sin or suffering: it is your choice to abandon self for the eternal glory given if you have accepted God’s gift of salvation. You are bought with a price, you are no longer your own to do with as you wish.
The Old Path of Convictions
What did the music and their unthankfulness result in? In Verse 9 of Exodus 32 God called the people, “stiffnecked”. Many times I have heard CCM musicians and fans say, their music is glorifying to God; I could feel it in my heart! But, was God pleased with the Israelites? Was He indifferent to their acts? Verse 10 says,
“Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” Exodus 32:10
In verse 22, when Moses meets together with Aaron, Aaron was terribly fearful of Moses and said they were all, “set on mischief”. And finally, judgment fell, first from Moses, who forced the Israelites to drink the gold-dusted water, and then from God, Himself, when about 3000 men perished. It would appear that neither God, nor His prophet, tolerated such debauchery. The Bible clearly commands us not to walk like the other Gentiles anymore and this ought to be our personal conviction.
“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ;” Eph. 4:17-20
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” Eph. 4:22-23
Have we looked at the old way of doing things and compared that to where we are at today? Many things we allow in our homes, church, and society at large today were forbidden and unacceptable at some time in the past; what we listen to. What we wear. What we watch on TV. Where we go. What we drink. Who we have close associations with. These all used to be serious matters requiring much prayer and discernment and they still are today. Are we still under conviction or have we quenched the Holy Spirit of Truth? Why were certain things forbidden and unacceptable at one time, but not anymore? Were the ones who stood against them in time past known to be godly people or were they crazy? Are there others that we know of today who are vocal, appearing to stand alone in their convictions against worldliness and the sin of self-entertainment? What do they stand to gain from taking such a position? Suffering and persecution, just like Jesus! It would be wise to find out what their stand is and why they stand there, rather than just shunning them as kooks. This is the time where there may be a few still holding up a standard that was held by many more in the past. We may want to find out what drives them.
Would you take an honest inventory of your life? Would you pray right now and ask God to show what needs to go? There may be things in your life that are a long way off from what the old path position is. Can we be honest and see if there are things that were totally unacceptable by godly people at one time, even a few generations ago, and that those same things are totally unacceptable today, even if your friends will protest against you today as the Bible says will happen? The Bible clearly says not to love the world. What did that mean a century ago? A generation ago? A decade ago? Clearly, even the church has weakened in its stance. Take this deeply personal matter and be honest to present it before God. Take a true inventory and lay it at Jesus’ feet. He never changes. ~R.
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only have rest and be perfectly blessed,
as you yield him your body and soul.
– Elisha A. Hoffman
© 2016 Remi Fernhout