Living the METAL Lifestyle -
Balance In Conformity - By Tom Denlinger


Many of you know me as the lead vocalist for the metal band SARDONYX.   For those of you who don’t know me, please let me tell you that I personally like to be challenged by God’s Word on a daily basis.  I love to be challenged to strive for depth in my walk with Jesus and I was asked to share something challenging from God’s Word with you.  Please read this article after you have asked the Holy Spirit to speak to you and draw you closer to the Father.

If you are into metal and you are also a Christian you have an interesting balance to find when it comes to verses in the Bible urging us not to be conformed to the world.  Romans 12: 1-2 says, “Therefore I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.  For years I have heard people use the argument that people in suits and ties are just as conforming to the world as those in black leather.  While that may be true, we should look deeper into the issue to make sure that the choices we are making in life are pleasing to God making sure His process of making us more like Jesus is not being harmed in any way.

            I have a question for you.  Do you love the world?  I’m not asking you if you love life.  I love life.  I am asking you to ask some tough questions about yourself.  I ask myself these questions all the time.  Where do you find your identity?  Some people find their identity in the country they live in.  Many people who live in America see themselves as Americans before they see themselves as followers of Jesus.  This was personally disturbing to me after the World Trade Center was destroyed in 2001.  Some Americans said they wanted to drop a nuclear bomb on Afghanistan and make it a “sheet of glass”.  In fact some Christians said the same thing.  I wonder if Jesus would agree with that?  I don’t think He would.  Justice?  Yes.  Total annihilation?  No. Yet many Christians fell in line with the mindset of American revenge rather than simple justice. 

            Here’s the point.  When Christians prefer the identity of an un-Biblical point of view over one that is Biblical, they fall prey to Satan who is trying to get us to love his world and think like him.  1 John 2: 15-16 says this: “Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world – the cravings of the sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.”  The Bible says that people who don’t know the Father are blinded by the god of this age (Satan) so that “… they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…” (2 Corinthians 4:4). 

            So where do you find your identity?  I know a 72 year old man who lives near me who finds his identity as a lifelong biker.  He has been riding Harley Davidson motorcycles all his life and wears the internal and external “scars” of the hardcore biker lifestyle.  To some, he may be admirable but to others he is a picture of a man en-slaved to sin.  What’s confusing is, he claims to know Jesus.  Whenever I go over to see him and his wife, he asks me to read the Bible to them.  Many times he comes to tears as I pray. But then he tells me how he arrogantly told somebody where to go with his fist in position to pummel their face the day before.  For years I have tried to show him Jesus in my response to his rude and despicable attitude.  The struggle for him is deciding whether to live the mindset of an outlaw biker or to live the mindset of a follower of Jesus.  He’s been intimidating people his whole life.  It’s really hard for him to change his point of view.  But honestly, his struggle is not unlike many of ours. 

            We need to consider how we are holding on to attitudes that come from our love for metal music.  As Christian metal people we have to live a balanced life as a member of the Body of Christ.  We are part of the universal living Church made up of many different kinds of people.  Some of them do not understand us and question our motives for dress, what we listen to and for some of us, what we play on stage.  Sometimes their criticisms are based on personal taste but other times it is appropriate for them to question our choices.  It is imperative that we consider the need to be accountable to the Body of Christ instead of developing an attitude that we only answer to God for what we do.  If we don’t consider what other Christians say, it is gives them reason to believe that we are in fact rebellious.  Honestly, our attitudes are very close to rebellion whether we want to admit it or not.  The fruit of the Spirit needs to be evident in us at all times.

Some people refer to the metal scene as a culture.  I personally disagree with that.  I think it is better called a counter-culture simply because it has to do with personal choices in music taste and lifestyle that define only a small number of people within various ethnic cultures worldwide.  In other words, we were not born into a “metal” culture.  It is our choice or preference in music style.  For many, the lifestyle that comes with the genre can be immoral and filled with attitudes and behaviors that are not Christ like.  For some, it quickly becomes their identity.  When that happens they are dangerously close to the edge of developing attitudes that work against the process of the Father, which is conforming them into the nature of Christ.  In other words, the counter culture lifestyle becomes their identity and like my older outlaw biker friend, they are rendered useless in God’s Hand.

I saw this happen when our band took a break from doing live shows for a number of years.  I recently had a former fan tell me that he literally fell back into sin and plunged into the dark genres of metal when he didn’t have the fellowship he once experienced following SARDONYX in person.  I know of another prominent Christian thrash band that when they broke up, one of their roadies tried to commit suicide.   Let me tell you … that really bothers me.  These type of stories prompt me to write this article. What bothers me the most is that sometimes our fans are following us more than they are following Jesus.  How do I know that to be true?  Because of what happened to these people when God removed us from their lives.

Let me challenge you to think how this applies to you.  Maybe it doesn’t.  That’s fine.  But be aware that others are going through it.  Help your brothers and sisters in Christ focus on finding their identity in Jesus rather than in the metal scene.  Strive to find God’s Will for your life no matter what.  Ask God to continue to transform you by the renewing of your mind.  Remember what Romans 12: 2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  For some of you, He may have to do radical surgery on your heart.  He did that to me.  But don’t be afraid of His Hand of purging in your life.  Ask Him for it.  James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”  Do it.  Strive for intimacy with your Father.  Realize that you are a joint heir with Jesus Christ.  Galatians 4:7 says, “So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”  Don’t forget that many people in the metal world are slaves to sin and will die in their sins.  Be careful not identify yourself with them.  You are not one of them. 

In 2 Timothy 2: 4, Paul told Timothy, “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs – he wants to please his commanding officer.”  Are you training yourself to think like a soldier in God’s army?  Are you so determined to fulfill your mission for God that your life is marked by focus and discipline?  If not, maybe you should consider a different view of your relationship with God.  My goal in this article is to push you on to that end.  We have a lot of work to do before our Lord returns.  We must encourage one another within the Body of Christ to stay focused.  I will end with these two verses from Hebrews 12: 1,2:  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Tom Denlinger
Sardonyx and Lightshine Ministry


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