The Christian Life

by Mike Ratliff

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:17-24 ESV)

Much that claims to be Christian these days is not if the standard used to determine this is the Bible. Perhaps this is why Emergents and Liberals refuse to acknowledge the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. What this proves is that they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

Below is a short story from MSNBC. Pay close attention to the very last paragraph. It is a quote from an unwed, yet engaged man named Tim. What is so very sad here is that to the world, this represents “Christianity.” Here is the link to the article.

For the love of God, get it on!
Pastor tells married couples to make time for hanky-panky every day

Feb. 19: A Florida church challenges its married members to have sex each day for 30 days. WFLA’s Katie Coronado reports.

YBOR CITY, Fla. – A southwest Florida church issued a challenge for its married members this past Sunday: Hanky-panky every day. Relevant Church head pastor Paul Wirth says the 50 percent divorce rate was the catalyst for The 30-Day Sex Challenge.

“And that’s no different for people who attend church,” Wirth said. “Sometimes life gets in the way. Our jobs get in the way.”

Oh, and the flip side of the challenge? No rolling in the sheets for the unwed.

Church member Tim Jones and his fiancée agreed to take on the challenge, though he acknowledges it’ll be a tough month. But he added: “I think it’s worth trying to find out other things about each other.”

Yes, I understand that the stated goal of this is to try to save marriages. That is a worthy goal, but is the answer to having a healthy marriage simply to have sex everyday? I challenge anyone to show me from scripture where that is. This challenge has a very large caveat. The text cannot be ripped out of context and cannot be eisgetically derived. No, the only “proof” acceptable in this challenge is from the Bible and it must be exegetically derived.

The Bible has very different standards than much of the professing Church in our time. Let’s take a closer look.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 ESV)

What is the Apostle Paul telling us here? He is speaking to Christians. He states that the spiritual condition of all genuine Christians is that they have been raised with Christ. They are new creatures in Christ. At their salvation they were regenerated. This means that by God’s grace their faith was brought to life. They were saved by Grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9) What this did for them spiritually outside of God’s work of Justifying them is that they were resurrected from spiritual death unto life. Before this they had no faith so that all they did was sin because without faith all acts are sin. After regeneration believers now have the ability to not sin. Why? They have faith. This faith is that wonderful gift of God that will be the conduit of their obedience to God from this time forward.

Paul states that if this is true then those raised with Christ should seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. What does this mean? This is speaking of having a godly focus rather than having an ungodly one. Paul then clarifies this for us by saying, “Set your minds on thing that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Why? For all genuine believers have died, and their lives are hidden with Christ in God. Our salvation is both a death of our old nature and a resurrection unto our new life in Christ. Christ is the genuine believer’s life. Many may be enslaved to their flesh and are temporally focused, but that is not what God desires for us. All genuine believers will be glorified when Christ appears. (Romans 8:30)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practicesand have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:5-11 ESV)

I like the Geneva Bible’s rendering of v5. It says, “Mortify therefore your members which are on the earth, fornication, uncleanness, the inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness which is idolatry. (I modernized the spelling some.) The word concupiscence means “desire.” What are we told to do with these fleshly desires? We are to mortify them. That means to put the desires to death. Notice that the focus is on killing the desire not simply stopping the sin. Doesn’t that put a different focus on it? Here is a parallel passage from Ephesians 5.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:3-4 ESV)

The goal is holiness and the action that will accomplish this is to mortify our desires which are of the flesh, but what are the means to do this? We must extinguish all the strength of the corrupt nature which resists against the Spirit that we may live in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Great, but how do we do it?

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12-13 ESV)

We must mature spiritually so that we live by the Spirit instead of according to the flesh.

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 4:6 ESV)

To live by the Spirit we must have God’s Spirit in us.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18 ESV)

Not only must we have the Spirit (all genuine believers have the Spirit), but we must be filled with the Spirit. Notice that this is a command.

I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1John 2:14 ESV)

We must know sound doctrine. Those who are strong against sin and error are those who have God’s Word in them. Satan’s efforts to make Christians sin and then doubt are in falsehood and deception. Those who live in the Spirit are those who are Spirit-filled because their lives are saturated by the Word of God. Their faith is strong. They have assurance and are content. They employ a conscious effort to mortify the remaining sin in their flesh.

Paul gave us a wonderful gift in Romans 12 that shows how all of this ties together.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

The Spirit-filled believer is actively seeking to mortify the sin in him or her. To do this requires them to be living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God. They present their bodies to Him. They give up their rights to them. They submit to His lordship over them. It starts here. It is maintained by not being conformed to the this world, but by going through a continual process of transformation through mind renewal. This is how we mature. This is how we mortify our sins. This is how God develops His holiness in us. Our breastplate of righteousness is forged here. (Ephesians 6:14). Those who are maturing this way will hold Christ near and dear to their hearts because He is their all in all.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

This describes what those who live the genuine Christian life will be like. Their breastplate of righteousness is strong and in place. They are Christlike. They are not focused on the things of this world nor are they conformed to this world, but their hearts have a godly focus upon the things above. They have peace and joy. They forgive in humility and meekness. This does not mean that they do not stand firm in the battle never giving way to those Satan uses to attack the Church and them. No, they will not tolerate lies and evil being presented as good while that which is of God being called evil. Therefore, the wicked my see them as hypocrites, but they are doing exactly what God has called them to do.

SDG

21 thoughts on “The Christian Life

  1. I am confused… your whole article was about being pure, free from debauchery and presenting your body as a sacrifice.

    Is this pastor not advocating abstinence from sexual sin and faithfulness to your spouse?

    I am not seeing how these two things do not jive.

  2. rickie,

    Yes, I can see how you could be confused. My use of that article was mainly focused on the last paragraph of it. Also, on how ludicrous it is for a CHURCH to be focused on sex like its a panacea and for asking unmarried to abstain for 30 days when they should abstain until they are married. I hope you can see the difference.

  3. I heard this story today also. In the past I would have been shocked to hear of a “church” doing this. I am no longer surprised. Not only will there be no outrage over this by those who call themselves christian, but other “churches” will condone and pick up on the idea. It is breathtaking how this has happened in such a short time. It is heartbreaking on one hand and so incredibly prophetic on the other that I can only look up because our redemption is drawing near. There is such great joy in seeing His word fulfilled and it is only tempered by the fact the judgement is coming quickly. Many will be confused because they do not understand spiritual things and have never been taught anything but carnality in “church”. May His sheep hear His voice and come out from among the wolves.

  4. Mike,

    The sad part about many of the individuals who follow the emergent theology is that many of them are quick to scold you for trying to correct them. Their minds are darkened because of their hardened hearts. Many followers of the ecumenical or emergent church lack discernment because they are offended by the truth. I have learned through painful experiences with plenty of opposition that they seek unity at all costs, and you had better sit down shut up and pay your tithes without ever holding them to the scriptures. It is actually encouraging to watch the amount of opposition coming from the emergent crowd. It only reaffirms that the gospel is doing what it does best– it moves, shakes, exposes, corrects, and chastises.

    Opposition used to discourage me until I began to grow spiritually. In WW2, the bomber pilots used to say that they always knew when they were right over their intended target. They started to receive “flak” as soon as they were in the target area. (Did I spell that right?)

    Josh

    Josh

  5. The problem with Christian marriages is not sex, that may be a symptom. The main issue is a commited devotional life by each partner individually and collectively. Some of these churches have succombed to the sexual focus of the western world in general. How about a challenge to the congregation to read the New Testament through in thirty days? How about fasting television and praying in its place for thirty days?
    How about praying together every day for thirty days? How about sharing the gospel with one stranger every day for thirty days?

    Sex consumes the church. The implications of the challenge is that more sex equals stronger marriages and many times people assume others are having more initimacy than they are and with that they can become unsatisfied and discontent because they are comparing themselves with others. These are not spiritual pastors, they are club presidents who use psycological methods to change and not the Word of God.

    The entire sordid mess is repulsive and indicates a widening departure from Biblical Christianity. And when professing believers accept it as innovative and productive it again reveals the blindness of the western church. It resembles the Greek goddesses of sex and invites ungarded communication and probably ungodly mental pictures within the congregation which do not need any encouragement.

    God help us.

  6. Josh,

    Yes, you are right. That is my experience as well. They have no depth though. They have no root in the truth so they cannot stand against the sword of the spirit. They may still persecute though.

    “flak” is a German word for anti-aircraft fire I think. :-)

  7. Yea. The whole “putting a time on the work of God” is a bit limiting. The process of sanctification is a process based on God’s timing. I personally don’t agree with man created programs which place time limits on God completing his work on his children. Long-suffering is a fruit of the Spirit which is often misunderstood and neglected by popular preachers. Placing a time limit on God to complete one of his works is like a vessel telling the refiner to complete the task based on what the vessel thinks.

    Isaiah 10:15 is a good example of why the vessel should never set deadlines for God. Every vessel is different. Not everybody will endure the same kind of trials. Some couples may have financial troubles or communications issues, which they need to work through. I don’t think that more sex would confront the real problem in this case. In fact, focusing more on sex would only cover up the real problem. Prescribing more sex for communications issues may even make the problem worse. This is a “fleshly” approach to a spiritual problem. This pastor is encouraging these couples to walk according to the desires of the flesh instead of the Spirit.

  8. Hi Mike,

    Please may I add this scripture passage that came to mind while reading the above.

    Gal 5:16-26 KJV
    16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

    17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

    18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

    19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

    20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

    21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

    22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

    23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

    24And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

    25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

    26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

    Gal 5:16-26 ESV
    Walk by the Spirit
    16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
    25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

    In Christ
    David

  9. Hi guys. After reading through you’re comments I’m not going to spend too much time on mine. As a member of Relevant Church since it’s start I’m going to inform you that while you continue to copy/paste out of Bible Gateway we at Relevant are going to continue on our mission of drawing in the people you won’t speak to on the street. I came home from my Growth Group study tonight to do a little googling the the recent press we’ve been getting only to see those we should be laboring in love with (i.e. you guys) cross referencing to find reasons why we’ve just found a way to tell more people about the love of Christ in one week than you have all year.

    So you can continue to spend time trying to deny that sex is the single greatest physical bond we have here on earth, or you can accept it and tell people how it (when properly handled) can cement their families together!

  10. Marriage has been polluted by man for a long time. Pagan rituals and worldly ways have so infected and infiltrated into the church that God’s simplistic, original plan has been lost – starting with the “Holy Matrimony” ceremony, (aka;wedding) the honeymoon, and of course what we find today – sex equals love. It is a mess.

    Rick stated,
    “The entire sordid mess is repulsive and indicates a widening departure from Biblical Christianity. And when professing believers accept it as innovative and productive it again reveals the blindness of the western church. It resembles the Greek goddesses of sex and invites unguarded communication and probably ungodly mental pictures within the congregation which do not need any encouragement.”

    AMEN!

  11. Taylor,

    Those who are bonded to sex as if it is all there is are enslaved to their flesh. The whole point of this article was to show Christians that they should become Spirit-filled and focused on God for fulfillment rather then their flesh. I use a real Bible which I read every day and study for these posts. Do you ever study yours Taylor? Have you submitted your life to the Lordship of Christ and become a living sacrifice?

    And yes I do deny that sex is a cure-all or a panacea. My suggestion is that you grow up and get right with God.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  12. Let us ponder what the intimate life was like in the early church. Little hygiene, many times entire family sleeping quarters, nonprovocative nightwear, no titillating television or billboards, no instructional books, no sex conferences, and an agricultural lifestyle that was exhaustive in nature. Is it not obvious that the church has succommed to the sensual culture of the western world and then amazingly attemps to “Christianize” the entire issue.

    The Biblical verses about sex are almost exclusively centered on the divine moral standard concerning sex and when it has God’s approval and when it is sin. And to overlook the wonderful metaphorical essence of the Song of Solomon (i.e. God’s love for Israel, Christ’s love for His church, etc.) and suggest that God was giving practical pointers about the bedroom including frequency is self serving and spiritually bankrupt.

    And as we can see by Taylor’s comments this view has permeated the visible church today. The church in China, in Korea, in Brazil, and most non-western countries have no focus or even much mention of sex. And no one can claim China has no clue as to its practice.

  13. I too saw this article the other day. One would think that a godly pastor, instead of encouraging physical “intimacy”, would rather be encouraging spiritual intimacy and couples spending time together in the Word and in prayer. I still like the KJV of the verses you quoted in Colossians 1: set your “affections” on things above …

    Rick hit the nail on the head about our society. I’m sure we agree that lack of sex isn’t what causes marriages to break down; that is merely a symptom, not the problem. I think the problem is rooted in one or the other (or both) parties being entirely too focused on selfish “needs” (i.e. lusts) instead of loving the other as Christ loved the church. If more supposedly-“Christian” couples would put Matthew 6:33 into practice, they would find that they would have no trouble with the first of the fruits of the Spirit – love. But then, that’s a struggle in which many of us find ourselves daily. Churches making sex the focus for “marriage strengthening” certainly isn’t helping matters any.

    P.S. As an aside, from the article … since when are engaged couples considered to be “married” in our society?

  14. Mike,
    Although I appreciate the mention… the short article from MSNBC, was not the script from my television story.
    That story was written by another reporter- not me.
    Just wanted to make that clear. The story I wrote is in the VIDEO you may still have access to online.. where i interview a MARRIED couple and a single man who is waiting until marriage… clearly a different angle.
    Katie Coronado

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