Is it a Sin to Worship God with Instruments?


July 28, 2012 by brianlhughes

I just recently found out that some Christians believe that God is against us worshiping Him with instruments and that only priests may do so, according to the Old Testament. I do not agree with this and did some research. Here is what I found in the Bible which I believe is our ultimate authority over man. I also give my opinon which is not an authority.

I found two references that the Apostle Paul makes about worshiping that would be relevant to this topic. The first one is found in Ephesians 5:19. Here Paul tells us the following, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord”. As you can see, Paul makes reference to the Psalms, where King David and many of the authors speak about worshiping the LORD with instruments. The second one is found in Colossians 3:16, which states, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Again we see Paul mentioning the Psalms.

So let us see what the Psalms say about musical instruments and worship.

“For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of Asaph.

1 Sing for joy to God our strength; Shout joyfully to the God of Jacob. 2 Raise a song, strike the timbrel, The sweet sounding lyre with the harp.” Psalm 81:1-2

“4 Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. 5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, With the lyre and the sound of melody. 6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn; Shout joyfully before the King, the Lord.” Psalm 98:4-6

“1 Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. 2 Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. 3 Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. 4 Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. 5 Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. 6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:1-6

So based on the scriptures in Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16, which Paul references to the Psalms while speaking about how we should worship, and the Psalms obviously institute musical instruments as part of worship; this would lead me to believe that Paul was not against Christians worshiping the LORD with instruments.

So the next question would be, “what authority did the Apostle Paul have? Peter affirms in this letter (2 Peter 3:14-18) that Paul’s writings are Scripture and in fact from God. He warns Christians to not be deceived by those that don’t understand the Scriptures and distort them, that it would lead to their destruction.

“14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:14-18

That should clear up the question of the Apostle Paul’s authority in Scripture.

Here are my thoughts on the topic of, only Priests being allowed to use musical instruments to worship God. My first point is; if the New Testament states that we are no longer bound by the law than that would mean the Old Testament laws regarding instrumental worship would not apply to New Testament Christians. My second point is; that Peter references Christians as a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) and that would mean we qualify to worship with instruments, according to the law. Here in 2 Chronicles 29:25-28 we read how King David instituted worship with musical instruments.

“25 And he stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from the Lord through his prophets. 26 The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. 27 Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song to the Lord began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel. 28 The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished.” 2 Chronicles 29:25-28

Here we definitely know that the LORD allowed the Levites and Priests to worship with musical instruments. I would believe that since Peter referenced Christians as a Royal Priesthood, than Christians qualify to worship God with musical instruments.

Here is where I stand in the area of this type of theology, which I shall regard as non-essential. This statement of faith is taken from my Church and I agree with it 100%.


In essential beliefs, we have unity.

“There is one Body and one Spirit…there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of us all…” Eph. 4:4-6

In non-essential beliefs, we have liberty.

“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters…Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls… So then each of us will give an account of himself to God…So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.” Romans 14:1,4,12,22

In all our beliefs, we show charity.

“…If I hold in my mind not only all human knowledge but also the very secrets of God, and if I have the faith that can move mountains, but have no love, I amount to nothing at all.” 1Cor. 13:2

I hope this helps to bring some light to this subject, that I’m sure many people have gotten hurt over.


13 thoughts on “Is it a Sin to Worship God with Instruments?

  1. James says:

    I grew up in the Church of Christ who protest worshipping with instruments. I am no longer Church of Christ. I am an independent Christian who attends a baptist church but not a member of the baptist church.

  2. brianlhughes says:

    Hello James, thank you for sharing this. I grew up Catholic and the only instruments we had were organs. I am aware of the Church of Christ and their stance towards worshiping with musical instruments. When I found out that they believe it is a sin, it encouraged me to do some research and it resulted in me writing this blog post. I started going to Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale about 4 years ago and that was my first experience with live contemporary worship. I now go to Lighthouse Community Church a smaller Southern Baptist/nondenominational Church and became a member about 2.5 years ago. We also have contemporary worship. We have a Christian band/ministry called Sweet Jesus that plays at other Churches and events. As a matter of fact, contemporary Christian music, especially Hillsong United played a big role that led me to becoming born again.

  3. treegestalt says:

    I think your view of ‘authority’ could use a little airing out.

    For what it’s worth, here’s another lens to see through:

    • brianlhughes says:

      Thank you for calling me wet behind the ears. Let me guess, you think it is sinful to worship God with musical instruments?
      The Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures do not contradict each other. One bares witness to the other, so that we may know what is true and from God. I like these verses, “14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17

      • treegestalt says:

        Actually, I might have been suggesting that a little more water back there would be okay(?) Specifically, what I meant to convey is that using the Bible to call for (or to forbid) the use of music for worship — is a misapplication of the kind of authority the Book does have:

        as a pointer to God, and to the way God interacts with human beings, as illustrated by a long series of occasional inspirations and frequent misunderstandings reached by our Biblical predecessors.

        I think that it’s proper to address acts of worship to God, and that anything which facilitates that — while still letting God get a word in edgewise as needed — is to the good.

        But I prefer to an older meaning of the word ‘worship’, related to ‘worthiness’ and ‘respect’ — To worship God is to respect and therefore seek to follow God closely.

        Seeking to know God better likewise follows from that.

        Human interpretations of the Christian scriptures, and the Holy Spirit, are frequently at odds. This becomes likely any time that people try to apply those scriptures as they would use a technical manual. The Spirit is poetic in its means of expression, poetic in its intended meaning, not intended for use as t-square, handcuffs, or blindfold.

        The true burden of the Bible is that people have known God, quite directly, and that we can do so as well. But need to take care in that process, that what we think He’s saying is likely to be a child-version of what He has to convey.

        My mother says that when I asked her if I could have some coffee, she told me yes, but “only when you’re bigger.” So I hauled myself up on tiptoe, and asked, “Am I big enough yet?” Human understandings of scriptures are likewise limited — and depend on changes in the reader, to fully develop!

      • brianlhughes says:

        Okay, so let me get what you are saying straight. You are against the theology of worshiping God with musical instruments being sinful, is that correct?

    • brianlhughes says:

      Here’s some more great Bible verses on the subject of the authority of Scripture; “19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1:19-21

    • brianlhughes says:

      So who and what is your authority?

  4. Awesome. Yes As we give our whole body as a living sacrifice to the Lord, we also need to worship the Lord with every part of us, even flags, instruments, dancing, clapping, jumping up and down, hugging, art of a Holy sort, clothing and much, much more.

  5. Kenneth says:

    Yet is still a no no in Churches of Christ and I am taken by Eph 5:19

  6. brian2 says:

    I think you are incorrect in stating that the Lord allowed the priests to use instruments. Rather, the Lord commanded them to do so. I do not think it was an option for them. Hence, if they were commanded to use instruments in their worship, if we are priests like them, we too must use the instruments in our worship to God. It is not a choice of either using them or not, we are commanded to use them. If we do not use them, it would be going against the command of God and hence be a sin.

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