Beware Musical Manipulation
Who’s writing the soundtrack for your life?

Imagine the plot to a movie: The extremely wealthy main character goes in search of the most talented musician in the world to write the soundtrack for his life. He finds the perfect musician who is able capture every mood, emotion and feeling of the main character. The musician agrees to do the job, so the wealthy man asks: How much it will cost? The musician says he wants to do the job first, and they can discuss the price later.

The musician does the job extremely well. He captures every moment of excitement, joy, surprise and thrill with the perfect score. But as it goes on, the movie grows more and more negative. Life isn’t going well, but the songwriter is still there to accompany every situation. The movie is almost over, and the main character lays old and dying. The songwriter plays a piece that looks back on the wealthy man’s many years of life.

After decades of waiting, the wealthy man asks again about the price of the songwriter’s services, and he replies: “You’re paying the price. It will cost your life.”

The songwriter was not just capturing the mood; he was creating it—leading the wealthy man through life—and to his death. That was the price he paid.

This is a true story. It has happened billions of times. It may be happening to you right now. Satan is the songwriter. Are you letting Satan write the soundtrack of your life?

Master Broadcaster

Music is very powerful and affects everybody. If used negatively, it can be very destructive. What we allow into our minds does affect us. The choice is up to us as individuals.

Ephesians 2:2 reads, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Satan is the master broadcaster—broadcasting in moods, attitudes and impulses. Music is a major vehicle he uses to accomplish that. There’s a reason people say music “sets the mood.”

When I was younger, I worked for a radio station. I eventually had to quit the music and broadcasting industry because I came to see how it was designed to capture people and lead them in negative ways. But at this point, I still worked at a Top-40 music station. The music on this station was aimed to capture women aged 18-39, since this demographic largely determined how money was spent. Every radio station has a program director who decides what gets played and when. It was my job to play the music, and I noticed a definite undercurrent in the music that had been chosen. Music in the late-afternoon-to-early-evening-to-nighttime was energetic, upbeat party music. But by 2:30 a.m., the tone had shifted to more depressing, love-lost music. Most who listened to that station for so many hours would have had their mood influenced by the music chosen for them.

Satan is manipulative. Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages: “In Ephesians 2:2, humans have been walking ‘according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [Satan], the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.’ People simply do not realize that there is an invisible spirit power injecting into their minds these hostile attitudes.”

Ezekiel 28 reveals the extent of Lucifer’s ingrained musical ability. “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; … the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created” (verses 11-13).

In How God Values Music, Ryan Malone writes: “The great cherub Lucifer was, in a sense, a living musical instrument! He was endowed with musical talents beyond human capability.”

Hooked—or Trapped?

Every catchy pop song has a “hook,” something meant to capture your attention and draw you in. You hear it once, and it is stuck in your head. Satan is a master at pulling us in with catchy melodies or memorable lines. But beware what you allow yourself to be caught up in.

Mr. Armstrong wrote in The Missing Dimension in Sex: “God equipped humans with the sense of hearing. How much inspiring, uplifting, pleasurable enjoyment we receive from beautiful music! But of course, this sense, too, may be used for good, or for evil. Glorious music was actually created in the archangel Lucifer. But when, in pride and greed, his whole character changed, and he fell from his estate of perfection to become Satan, he became corrupted and perverted in all his ways (Ezekiel 28:13, 17). Satan is the author of perverted, discordant, degenerated modern music—of a wail, a dirge, a moan, a squawk or a rhythmic erotic fast beat.”

We have to make a choice about what kind of music we listen to. What is its influence? Will it uplift you and make you feel good over the long term? Don’t go along just because it sounds good. It wouldn’t be popular if people didn’t like the sound of it. Bad music is like junk food—it has immediate appeal, but it hurts you—and in the long run, it will kill you!

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). Satan is a liar and a murderer. He wants to entrap you in a life of sin. He will lie to you in his music, and his ultimate goal is to spiritually murder you.

When I was 14, I was in a Worldwide Church of God congregation with about 30 kids in my teen group. They all got along pretty well, but some were further removed from the group. Two guys in particular come to mind. They were a few years older than me. They were both nice and friendly, but they tended to do their own thing together. One Sabbath, I happened to be there earlier than the rest of the group and started chatting with those two boys. They asked me if I had heard a newly released song—a rap song, which had been featured on the news for how violent it was. These two boys were very enthusiastic about that song. A couple of months later, I heard that one of those boys had shot himself in the head. That song specifically may not have driven him to commit suicide, but it certainly didn’t help him in overcoming those kinds of demonic impulses.

Satan’s goal is to trap you in a life of sin, whether it ends now or years down the road. This is how serious what we listen to is. We can’t play around with music that isn’t appropriate. It will destroy us if we don’t get rid of it.

When I was growing up, the biggest wave in music was the grunge movement. What happened to all of the popular musicians of my teen years? Kurt Cobain, the lead singer and guitarist for the band Nirvana, killed himself at age 27. Layne Staley of Alice in Chains died of a heroin overdose at 34. Singer-songwriter Shannon Hoon overdosed on cocaine at 28. Rock singer Scott Weiland also died of an overdose at 48. Singer and guitarist Chris Cornell hung himself at age 52. Rapper Tupac Shakur was murdered when he was 25.Rapper Christopher Wallace was a victim of a drive-by shooting at 24. Most of the hitmakers from the 90s are dead.

How to Choose the Right Music

Mr. Armstrong wrote, “God intended men to be happy!” (Missing Dimension in Sex). Nothing about those dead, 90s hitmakers is happy. There was a momentary excitement only. He continued, “It is God’s will that we enjoy life—that it be pleasurable, satisfying, wholesome, rewarding! But God gave us minds—and made His Word available—to distinguish the true values from the false! Not to decide, in our own minds, what selfish or lustful desire would like to make right—but to distinguish what God reveals He has made right.

“The right use of the five senses brings enjoyable, pleasurable sensations that are uplifting, constructive, beneficial—not only to the self, but to others. The wrong and sinful use of the senses also may produce pleasurable sensations, but these wrong uses are psychologically, spiritually and physically destructive and harmful—not only to the self, but often also to others.

“It is a matter of right or wrong direction.

“It is a matter of attitude!

“How may we humans know which use is right, and which is wrong?

“By the law of God!”

Make Your Choice​

The choice has to be made. It isn’t up to us to decide what is right, but we do decide what we will listen to. Certain topics those stars sang about and promoted were the same ones that eventually killed them—drug overdose, murder, suicide, etc. It’s what was in their minds and hearts, and it came out in their music.

As young people, you have to be on guard against getting sucked into the popular music of your day. You are more susceptible right now to the wrong music than you will be when you are older. Evaluate how you feel as you listen to something and afterward. If you walk away feeling worse, why would you put yourself through that?

God loves music. Wilbur and Ryan Malone’s article “Music—God’s vs. Satan’s” gives broad guidelines for choosing good music: Is it enjoyable (long-term)? Does it have a favorable emotional impact? Is it high quality? Are the lyrics suitable? Is there a healthy beat? Will it elevate your thoughts to be more like God’s? Is it performed well? (Royal Vision, July-August 1998). “Are You Listening to the Right Music” has other practical considerations.

You also have to consider the context. Satan will come as an angel of light. The music may sound and feel good, even by the above metrics, but consider the musician’s lifestyle: What are they promoting? How do they live? That will affect the subjects of their songs. There are a lot of talented people living corrupt lifestyles. What are you supporting by listening to their music? Consider their dress standards, the graphics on their albums, etc.

In Deuteronomy 30:19, God says: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” We all have to choose between life and death.

You have access to the right principles. You know there is right and wrong music. Now you have a choice. Every time you choose to listen to something, let this verse echo in your head. Don’t just get rid of bad music—put good music in. You will be blessed for it—not just today, but for eternity.