You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. - John 4:22-23 (ESV)
The bible warns us to not be ignorant of the schemes of the enemy. One such scheme is to constantly bombard us with polluted doctrine, like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if something will stick. We are used to examining doctrine from the gaggle of false teachers infiltrating the apostate church today but there is a more insidious way into our hearts and that is through the act of worship. What we say in worship often becomes our doctrine. Modern worship reinforces what they call the hook in each song. This is that one part that is repeated over and over again. Just the way humans are hard-wired results in deeper belief formation based upon what we repeat so often. The same concept is applied to studying as we are encouraged to repeat out loud the points we wish to remember more.
Let me provide a familiar example. My readers know I believe the song "How He Loves Us" is one of the worst worship songs ever written. Now it has all sorts of songwriting problems including the "sloppy wet kiss" line that most churches have tried to sanitize but the replacement lyric of heaven meeting earth with an unforeseen kiss is equally icky and unbiblical. You have the whole "You are a hurricane and I am a tree" nonsense but the real insidious part is the misperception that telling God how much He loves us, is worshipping God. It is not. It is worshipping ourselves. It is the age-old sin of Lucifer where we superimpose ourselves over God. For comparison, forty years ago we all sang how great THOU art and now we sing how great WE art by declaring how much God loves us. Another example of a horrifically bad worship song is the Blessing of Abraham. This catchy praise song was a regular at my old church a decade ago but it was cringeworthy then and remains so now. It is a song sung like a petulant child demanding God give him his inheritance, much like the prodigal son before he went off.
Let me also speak to the often-wielded accusation that complaints such as these are just because we do not like contemporary worship. That is correct but the reason is we need to look at where the majority of it comes from. If you want to know why there are so many problems with contemporary worship music look no further than the sources, most of which are Hillsong, Bethel, and Elevation. For Elevation music we need to look no further than Steven Furtick. Hillsong, we need to look no further than the absolutely disgraced Brian Houston. Jesus Culture/Bethel music we need to look no further than Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton and Shawn Bolz. The false theology of these teachers naturally makes it way into the music of those who have grown up under their teaching! Which brings me to the often asked - what's the harm of listening to Hillsong (and place any other heretical outfit in this question)?
The first issue comes down to financial support. The bible says to have no partnership with darkness. The reason why Hillsong grew to the heights it has is largely due to the money brought in by their music business. Buying CD's or going to concerts is a means of direct support not only for their music but for their ministry. The unspoken support is at the church level where the reprinting of lyrics, for projection during service, requires royalty fees that go directly to the source church. So, singing Hillsong in church means the church has paid this royalty to the Hillsong church, which again is a direct support of their ministry. That means supporting the disgraced Brian Houston who is currently fighting charges in Australia for covering up his father's sexual indiscretions with children. He also recently admitted to inappropriate relationships with women and has blamed everything from prescription medicine and alcohol addiction to literally blacking out. Moving outward, Hillsong NYC saw the Carl Lentz scandals as he was caught seducing the babysitter of his children to have sex in the bed he shared with his wife over a period of years. That was not even the affair that cost him his position. Hillsong has routinely discarded doctrine even within worship, with Hillsong London once sang the club hit "I like to Move It, Move It" and Australia butchered Silent Night into an erotic sleaze-fest. NYC also had their youth pastor "dress up" as the naked cowboy during a Women's Conference. The abuses do not even tell the story found in the recent documentary about individual lives that were crushed at Hillsong. The same can be said for Bethel, Elevation, IHOP, or any other heretical outfit.
The second reason is the "gateway drug" factor. Music always seems more harmless than preaching but it takes up far more of our time. Music is the gateway into the bad theology. People see us post on Facebook or tweet a song that may even be fine lyrically, but it leads people to the heretical church. Our endorsement is tacit when we give a pass to the music. The "wrongness" of the music is just as proportional as it would be for the preaching. False teachers are not wrong all of the time. The leaven gets into the yeast and ruins the entire batch. Wolves do not walk into church with a wolf sign around their necks. Discernment is more a battle of distinguishing between what is right and what is almost right, rather than what is right or wrong. I have people all the time send me quotes or sermon snippets from wolves that are technically correct but it takes reviewing the entire context sometimes to realize the dangers. Likewise, it is easy to find a good Hillsong song, meaning the lyrics are biblical. Most worship songs do not have a lot of detailed lyrics. Many are loosely based on scripture. For every "good" song however there are bad ones too and much like a false teacher, we need to throw the entire batch out.
The third reason is that some of the heresies are subtle or may not make up the majority of the song. We end up raising our hands and singing it and as discussed, incorporating it into our beliefs often unchallenged. Shouldn't we be a little more careful what we are singing to God? Take for example the Hillsong song entitled, "What a Beautiful Name It Is." This seems to be a fairly popular song these days in church. The song is about Christ and the refrains are pretty spot on. What a beautiful, wonderful and powerful name is the name of Jesus - no argument there! The problem is the opening of verse Two: