Well, my dear friend, thank you for this very excellent question. And yes, most definitely there can be a negative influence impacting the spiritual well-being and spiritual growth of a Christian by the ungodly influences of this world which do appeal to our flesh; and music can be a very powerful influence. Here, when I use the term the “world,” I am not referring to our planet, nor to the natural creation of God which is good. To help define what I am trying to get at, let’s read in 1 John 2:15, 16: “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. 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.” So, just what does the “world” refer to in this portion? The MacDonald Commentary on these verses defines the “world” as follows: “…it is the system which man has built up in an effort to make himself happy without Christ.“ From the verse I just cited, you might notice that pride and lust are characteristics of the “world” in the sense I am using the term, and these things are opposed to godliness. Now, I personally believe that music is a very special gift from God, given for our enjoyment, and it can truly bless and enrich our lives. However, we must remember that Satan will try to use the things we enjoy in an effort to tempt us to misuse the good things that God has given us, such as song, in ways that are harmful to our souls, such as promoting lust, pride, and rebellion within our hearts.

I do want to emphasize here that listening to ungodly songs does not negate our salvation-once we are saved, that is for all time, and nothing can change this. But as to our spiritual state, embracing ungodliness in any form opens us to wanting to satisfy our fleshly appetites, and this is playing with fire for the Christian. Such would certainly tend to draw us into temptation and carnality, and thus grieve the Holy Spirit, and this we would always want to avoid (Ephesians 4:30). In 2 Corinthians 5:15 we are told: “…He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.” We owe the Lord Jesus so much for our salvation, and it is only right that we would want to live for Him, and please Him in our daily walk (Romans 12:1 really brings out for me how and why we should present our bodies a “living sacrifice”). Being children of God, we should want to act in accordance with our Father’s will, and not displease Him (1 John 3:1-3).

But, how does this all address your question as to the effects of “ungodly music”? I believe that the Holy Spirit helps us to discern what is pleasing to God and what is not. As we mature in Christ, our desire becomes more and more to please the Lord, and to be like Him. I know that Christians will not always agree on what type of music is edifying for their souls and honoring to the Lord, so I would say that spiritual maturity and a right dividing of the Word depends on daily communion with the Lord and obedience to His Word. I do believe that ungodly music in particular can impact our senses and our passions in many ways (the touching or haunting words, the sweet or harsh character of the tune, or the beat, all work together to play on our emotions, and in some cases can profoundly influence our behavior). Ungodly passions can be stirred within us that can draw Christians into worldliness and even frank sin. There is an old cliché that says “you are what you eat,” and I might modify this to say something like “you become like what you associate with.” I would assert that ungodly music (like all worldliness) can act to promote carnality in our lives, making us to be more like “babes in Christ”, rather than mature Christians; and frankly, such influences can not only derail our spiritual growth and our testimony before the world, but can lead us to overt sin.

In summary, I believe that music is a gift from God, that when used appropriately can bless and enrich our lives. Creativity is one of God’s attributes, and music, like other art forms stems from the creativity that humans have being made in the image of God. However, ungodliness in any form is not to be trifled with by the Christian. Thus, the question of godly and ungodly music is very critical to our testimony and Christian growth, and thus becomes a matter of mature Christian discernment. In order for us to grow to a mature Christian in Christ Jesus, we must allow the Holy Spirit to work on our hearts as we faithfully read God’s Word (1 Peter 2:2), and He will give us the discernment we need to see what is good for our spiritual growth, and what edifies; then we can identify and avoid that which is stunting to our growth and dishonorable to the Lord. Obedience to God’s Word is paramount once we have discerned! We must be willing to live for Christ Jesus, and not just for the pleasures and passions of the flesh, and we must apply some discipline In our lives in order to deny those influences that might lead to worldliness and a poor testimony (Hebrews 12:1).  (SF)  (551.3)