Music — the right kind of music — can have a positive effect on your mind and spirit, but the wrong kind of music can be dangerous! Music is a highly spiritual medium; it has a psychological and spiritual effect on the listener.

It works almost like a touch-tone telephone: A combination of musical notes are like tone signals that work their way along the circuits and relays of your nervous system, into your mind and spirit. Certain notes played in the right sequence will prompt a certain response.

When I was a boy, I listened to classical music for hours at a time. My mother would come into the room and be amazed to find me weeping because the music got through to me so. I couldn’t control the emotion or restrain the tears. I was lifted into another world, the realm of the spirit.

Music links the heart of the listener with the heart of the composer. Music transports the listener into the world of the spirit, where the composer is guide. Their spirits are united, in a sense, and both experience the same things. The spiritual world is far more real than the physical, and music is a vehicle to take us there.

Some composers were divinely inspired when they wrote their best music. They were as human as any of us, but when they tuned in to the Lord in the spirit, they were able to hear His music and capture it for us.

What kind of music composers write depends on whose channel they’re tuned to, as well as their own mood — whether they’re in a positive, believing mood and tuned to the Lord, or they’re in a doubting, despondent mood and tuned to the Devil and his signals. When composers are inspired, when they really tune in to their source, whether it be the Lord or the Devil, they get the music with its underlying spiritual message. And if the listeners are tuned in, they get the spiritual message too, even subconsciously.

Thousands and thousands of musical notes make up a symphony. When they’re all put together, they paint a picture that can be gorgeous or horrific or anything in between, depending on the source. They can convey a heavenly message or a hellish one, and therefore have that effect on the audience, be it individuals or whole nations — like the effect Wagner’s music had on Hitler’s Germany.

So how do you decide what kind of music you should listen to? You can tell about music the same way you can tell about anything else — by the effect it has on your spirit.

Wagner’s music was inspired, but I’m afraid that most of the time it seems to have been inspired by the Devil. Hitler was practically hypnotized by Wagner’s music, and he got the message. Hitler added the words and bombs and bullets to Wagner’s tunes, and brought hell on earth! But other composers who were inspired by the Lord give us God’s music and God’s message, like Handel did when he wrote his oratorio Messiah.

If it’s effective music, whether good or bad, it will inspire you to action; it will move you. It will create emotions that put you in motion to do something. God’s music makes you want to love Him and His and do the kinds of things that are pleasing to Him. The Devil’s music makes you attracted to him and his kind, and fascinated by their evil works.

So how do you decide what kind of music you should listen to? You can tell about music the same way you can tell about anything else — by the effect it has on your spirit. Is it inspiring or oppressive? Is it beautiful or ugly?

A boy once helped me clean up a garden, and he asked, “How do I tell the difference between the flowers and the weeds?” “I’m not a horticulturist,” I answered, “but I can tell the difference between what is ugly and what is beautiful. If it’s pretty, leave it. If it’s ugly, pull it.”

The Lord through the Holy Spirit gives us enough sense to know the difference between what’s good and what’s bad, between flowers and weeds, but then He leaves the choice to us — in this case the choice of what kind of music we’re going to subject our spirits to.

Jesus said, “Every tree is known by its own fruit” (Luke 6:44). So if you want to know the difference between good music or bad music, spiritual food or spiritual poison, you can tell by whether its effects on your spirit are good or bad.

Does the music draw you closer to the Lord and inspire you to be good and do good things, to be loving and helpful and constructive? Or does it oppress you and make you feel rebellious, hateful, angry, and destructive? Does it lift your spirit, or drag you down? Is it so sad and depressing that it makes you want to quit, or is it so happy and inspiring that it makes you want to make others happy too?

Whether it’s a simple lullaby, a love song, a sad sweet song that touches your heart and helps you feel another’s heartbreak and sympathize, or the most intricately beautiful symphony, God-inspired music makes you want to be good and do good; it inspires you to higher things.

What kind of music are you listening to? Whose voice are you hearing? What does it do for you? What does it do to you?

Musical Key, Copyright © 1998-2012, The Family International