Art has power beyond most other subjects or disciplines. In varying degrees, it has existed in every society throughout history. Art is comparable to the tip of the spear—one often stained in blood.
There is coming a day when a magnificent artist will rule the world. Legend has it that this person will govern by the power of their craft, in a way and to an extent never before expressed. They will become the greatest artist this world has ever seen since the dawn of creation.
Art is the discipline of creative expression of an individual. Per an online dictionary, Art is:
“the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”
Art emphasizes attractive personal ideas that have the power to move others.
Back in the day when I was taking art in school, I quickly learned the trick of the twist. Art is not primarily about skill at expression, nor about the ability to replicate reality, as much as about moving others through the unexpected. Celebrated artists push the limits of the status quo. They inject twists that cause viewers to tilt their heads permanently, as a result of exposure to whatever medium of expression that artist uses to convey their thoughts. Art pushes society to the new, which by design is anything other than what is established.
Art can be both wonderful and dangerous.
It can inspire and it can destroy. It can wake people up to question unhelpful traditions. It can also ridicule healthy patterns, simply because they are commonly accepted. It has the power to construct or to destruct, but by its nature of pushing the boundaries of what already is accepted and expected, it inherently leans toward destruction-through-beauty. Art strives to change what is, by overwhelming with attraction. Art prefers the role of the harlot, and therein lies the serpent.
Tending a garden, or painting a building, or dressing a bride-to-be, combines structure with creativity for the purpose of enhancement. It adds a creative twist that injects a uniqueness, and draws greater attention, but it does so to build. However, art can also sling paint, carve twists, and intoxicate with pleasure for a very different end-game; one that intends to undermine what is deemed acceptable purely for the sake of change. It is not looking to build, but to alter.
Art that twists, while respecting both standards as well as the welfare of the observer, is commendable; but, expressions that twist for the intent of undermining all standards, and thereby harms the well-being of the observer, is called lawless and is condemned by the original Artist called the Creator. There can only be one Grand Master of art, but that is not to say that another won’t attempt to dethrone for the prize of their own majesty. The Legendary Artist is testing the canvas, and soon will be released to operate in complete defiance of all standards.
“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day [that day when the Lord will come with majesty to be glorified by his people] will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now hold it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 The 2:3-12)
The display of counterfeit wonders will expressly defy all acceptable standards. It will be lawless art hung in God’s holy gallery for the design of defiance, deception, and destruction of all those who celebrate its absolute freedom of expression. Those who find delight in artistic defiance, rather than upholding lawful standards of biblical truth, are deluded into thinking they are free, when they are actually headed for death.
Roman history records, like so many other grand empires, what happens when pleasure takes the lead in governing over the standard of common law. As their wealth and intoxicating entertainments expanded uncontested, they lost their will to rule, and ended up crushed by random tribes of barbarians. It was not the magnificent buildings, or ornate marble statues, or volume of creative artistic expressions that caused that grand society to crumble, but rather their disdain toward sustaining standards of honorable behavior, reliable leadership, legal justice, and social structures like the family unit.
Unrestrained art can be breathtakingly beautiful, but it will always eat you alive.
The vast liberal and selfish wave sweeping over our world is neither random, nor without consequence. The social reasons fueling dysfunctional behaviors, aberrant sexual expressions, horrific violence against the defenseless, insatiable appetites for wealth, pleasure, and power, and acceptance of any boundary-defiant activity, can be seen especially in art, because by definition it is the power of self expression through whatever is deemed especially attractive.
What is often identified as “modern art” takes advantage of the natural human desire to seek answers, to understand, or find meaning. When a horrific crime occurs–a canvas of reality that only the perpetrator considers attractive–victims, media, society, everyone struggles to find a reasonable explanation for why this happened. An observer stares intently at such art, in a vain search for structure or purpose, only to be confronted with the raw reality that often there is nothing there, no design, only an expression of creative emptiness, a canvas that points toward nothing. It appears to be the ultimate statement of lawlessness, but there is yet another depth of depravity, that of delusion of belief in nothing as if it were something. Such mind-blowing attractive art can only be produced by supernatural power.
And so the question: What attracts you? Do you celebrate creative expression within godly boundaries, or do you indulge in defiant individuality? Do you fix your gaze upon the creative wonders of the Lord God, or do you find sick pleasure in pushing his boundaries, indulging in sinful pleasures, or philosophically distorting the truth that otherwise could set people free? Do you paint a pretty picture, but use toxic and subversive ingredients?
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts…Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death”. (Rom 1:18-32)
Preferred images of foolish art. There is no man-made art, no matter how amazing or magical, that lasts. It all gets old. It all wrinkles. It all decays. It all returns to the dust from which it was made. There is not a single element on the Periodic Table that can escape this rate of decay. Everything in this universe is subject to a constant half-life.
True, endless beauty remains partially hidden within the canvas, skillfully and mysteriously expressed for the constant exploration and discovery of wonder and joy by the observer, but it always exists within standards, not outside of them. As for me and my household, there is only one Sovereign Creator of lasting beauty.
“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” (Psa 27:4)