Idolatry of the Heart


The more we discuss our sanctification, the more the topic of idols and idolatry keeps coming up. Idols are anyone or anything that keeps us from genuine worship of the Living God in spirit and in truth. The consequences of being enslaved to Idolatry of the Heart is what we are witnessing right now in the plague of false forms of Christianity that we see all around us. I wrote the following piece back in 2004 as part of my first book. Enjoy and be blessed. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

Dead to Sin Alive to God and Slaves to Righteousness


by Mike Ratliff

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” (1Timothy 1:11-13 KJV)

The older I become as I journey down this narrow way the more what passes for Christianity seems more and more absurd. Why? I suppose it is that I have become very convicted that we are very guilty of taking God for granted. Instead of worshiping Him for who He is, we seem to be totally focused on His works. While we should worship Him for His works with a grateful heart, we are leaving out direct worship of our Wonderful, Awesome, and Majestic God for who He is.

Our salvation is an incredible gift by His grace. That is why it troubles me so when Christian leaders cheapen it with their man-focused, easy-believism. Easy-believism produces professing Christians who believe their salvation came as a result of something they did. I know this because I was one of them for nearly 20 years. If this is our mindset about our salvation, we believe that our walk as Christians is also totally dependent upon our will power. It is as if what the Bible teaches about regeneration is unheard of or at least completely misunderstood. Also, Jesus’ own words about the exclusivity of who are His disciples and who aren’t seems to be in code because few seem to grasp what He is saying. Continue reading

The Blessedness of the Regenerate


by Mike Ratliff

“Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:1-7 KJV)

“Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (Proverbs 16:18-19 KJV)

When I encounter a professing Christian who is joyless and focused entirely on trying to be fulfilled by worldly things, I want to take them aside and tell them that what they are seeking will not be found where they are looking. I want to show them that only genuine Christians who are humble as their Lord is humble find true blessedness.

All truly regenerate believers have what they need to become humble and Spirit-filled, but most of us struggle for many years in the furnace of sanctification before God gives us that first taste of joy that is beyond measure. Why do we struggle so? God knows what is best for us. Each of us is unique and God will use us according to His will in His timing. Some require much more refining than others based on what God has for them to do. However, everyone who is regenerate can experience the blessedness our Lord shared at the beginning of His Sermon on the Mount. Let’s take a close look at what some call The Beatitudes. Continue reading

The Hidden Life


by Mike Ratliff

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3 KJV)

Our salvation is the start of our new life in Christ. We will never be more saved than we were at that moment. When God justifies one of His people by faith, that declaration is complete and eternal. (Romans 8:30) Also, each saved person receives the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13) That is all of the Holy Spirit each of them will ever have. However, God’s will for each of His children is their sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3) This is a process through which God conforms them unto the image of the Son. Continue reading

How Great Thou Art


O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

words & music by Carl G. Boberg and R.J. Hughes

I Exalt Thee


For Thou O Lord art high above all the earth
Thou art exalted far above all gods
For Thou O Lord art high above all the earth
Thou art exalted far above all gods

I exalt Thee, I exalt Thee I exalt Thee, O Lord
I exalt Thee, I exalt Thee I exalt Thee, O Lord

© 1977 Pete Sanchez Jr./Gabriel Music

The Consequences of Obedience


by Mike Ratliff

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” (Hebrews 2:10-12 ESV)

The last few days have been pretty rough. However, as most of you are aware, prior to writing those posts on profanity and coarse language, I wrote several posts on humility and boldness. Part of being that humble believer who boldly stands in the gap, sword drawn, and fighting the good fight is taking the hits from fiery darts and blows to the shield, helmet and armor. I know that I am far from perfect. I know, unless I am Spirit-filled, I will be involved in fleshly pursuits that are sin.

I counsel each of you reading this to stay out of the battle unless you prepare first. The spiritual oppression and resulting deception that inhabit these battles is very real and can cause much doubt and heartache unless we remain on our knees and obedient. The enemy will tell you that the battle we were in these last few days was simply what words are okay to say what words aren’t okay for Christians. That was not what this battle was about at all. This battle was about the veracity of the Spirit-filled life as taught in scripture. What does it mean to be conformed to this world or not? What does it mean to be holy as God is holy? Are we regenerate and, therefore, a new creation as scripture teaches, or are we simply religious people who can live any way we want? Is Jesus Lord or not? Continue reading

Holy, Holy , Holy


For the Lord’s Day I would like to change our focus a bit.

Some of the comments and emails pertaining to our last two discussions, Genuine Repentance and That Which Defiles, which I did not post or share were very interesting. The demands for tolerance of fleshly behavior and unity at all costs intermixed with sarcastic statements and demeaning comments brought much sorrow to this heart.

In any case, we must pray for these people that God would break through their blindness and draw them into the light. Also, that He would reveal to them that their concern for freedom is totally misguided and should be replaced with reverence and focus and devotion to His glory alone.

Below are the words to my favorite Hymn. I’m not sharing it for that reason though.The reason I am using it is that it directs our devotion to the proper person, off of self and onto our Most High God! Yes, worship Him, praise Him, and repent of all of your self-focus and demands that are only meant to bring self-gratification.

Holy, Holy, Holy

by Reginald Heber 1826

  1. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
    Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
    Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
    God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!
  2. Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
    Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
    Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
    Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.
  3. Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
    Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
    Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
    Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.
  4. Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
    All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
    Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty!
    God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

That Which Defiles


by Mike Ratliff

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. (Matthew 15:18-19 ESV)

I never thought I would see the day when professing Christians and their pastors would be offended by a teaching that is a call to repentance from the use of profanity or coarse language. Their response is that we are being legalistic for teaching this because it is culture that defines what profanity or coarse language is. Since the Bible doesn’t list certain words as bad words to use then it is judgmental and hypocritical to teach that it is wrong to use that form of language by Christians, especially preachers in the pulpit.

However, the Bible most definitely teaches that Christians are called to be holy and pure. They are to deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Jesus. They are to not be legalistic about following rules, but instead are to become Spirit-filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit. They are to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. They have freedom from legalism, but are challenged to not take lightly the shedding of Christ’s blood. Continue reading

The Undeviating Test


I have been working some very strange hours lately and also have been helping my wife paint some rooms in our house to get ready for family this Thanksgiving. I sit here at 9:50pm on Wednesday night with paint spots all over my hands. I praise the Lord and thank Him from the depths of my heart that I have just finished rolling my last wall. I am very tired.

Right at this moment my wife is retouching with a small brush and mini roller the walls I just rolled. She is doing this over spots that don’t meet her very high standards. She is judging my work to not be perfect. Of course, I’m not a professional painter nor do I claim to be very good at it at all. Also, I don’t mind one bit that she is doing that for I want it to look good too.

If we apply this sort of “judging” in our relationships what will happen? I contend that if a believer becomes highly judgmental in his or her relationships it is the fruit of pride. The humble believer will not do this to the level of trying to force others to be “perfect.” In fact, I have found that when I find myself feeling resentment against how others behave I will usually find myself doing some self-examination. Then I discover that I am just a guilty of the same behavior. I believe that The Holy Spirit imparts that realization to me through my conscience. What is vital is that we repent of this ASAP. Why? The longer that we remain in this “judgmental” mode the longer we are not Spirit-filled. Continue reading

Do Not Grow Weary


by Mike Ratliff

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)

When things appear dark and perhaps the bottom just fell out of a major part of our lives, we may fall into doubt about God’s sustaining grace. However, God is faithful. He is also Sovereign and never taken by surprise by the good and bad events in the lives of His people.

On April 19, 1995 I was at work at Bank of Oklahoma in my office at the BOk Plaza in Oklahoma City, which is just a block South of where the Murrah Federal Building used to be. I was preparing to walk outside into the elevator lobby to go up to the main plaza level to help a person who was having network problems on her PC. I had made an appointment with her for 9:00am. It was about two or three minutes before the hour so I stood up to tell my coworkers where I was headed.

My phone rang so I went back to my desk to answer it. The call lasted until just after 9:00am. I was going to be late for my appointment, so I did all I could do to get through the call, hang up, and head for the door. When I hung up I stood up then turned to tell everyone where I was going and before I could get halfway to the door the strangest sound moved through the ceiling over our heads. It was the shock wave from a massive explosion just up the street, but we didn’t know that at the time. One of my coworkers was sure an elevator had crashed into the basement. Another one said it sounded like a plane or helicopter had crashed nearby. Continue reading

Does God’s Sovereign Election of His People Make Us Mere Puppets on a String?


When I started writing about the Doctrines of Grace I noticed something that was common in all of those who have commented in opposition. That commonality is that everything they use as their evidence is predicated on preserving their Free Will. Some were gracious. Some were honestly attempting to understand the truth. However, the bulk of them were hostile and accusatory. These “battles” have left scars, but God also used them in my own sanctification and I hope He did as well for those who came along side me to help fight the good fight.

Also, I have become aware, because I have studied the history of this conflict in great detail, that this issue runs deep and is also vital to the health of the Church as well as the individual spiritual health of each believer. After all, we are battling over how Sovereign God is. The God whose glory Ezekiel saw in that magnificent vision from the first chapter of his prophetic book is not held to be high and lifted up by most of those whose theology is geared towards preserving Free Will. Instead, they demote Him and take Him casually even taking Him for granted like He is the old man upstairs. On the other hand, most of those who adhere to the Doctrines of Grace hold a high view of God who is completely Sovereign over creation. Continue reading

The Superiority of Christ and the Cost of Discipleship


by Mike Ratliff

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4 ESV)

The Church in the early part of the 21st Century is very sick. This sickness has not happened all at once. Instead, it is the result of centuries of compromise after compromise on the part of Christian leaders and their followers to adapt the Gospel and the Church doctrines to conform to what men want. As a result, the Church has lost its savor. It is no longer salty. The countries in Europe where the Reformers restored the Gospel at the cost of untold numbers of martyrs would not now be considered Christian at all.

In the United States, the visible Church still has some influence in politics and society, but is that what the Church is supposed to be about? The segment of the American Church that would consider itself evangelical has become so doctrinally shallow that most of the members as well as their leadership have no idea what they really believe. If they are confronted with the Arminain/Semi-Pelagian vs. Calvinism debate they would be clueless about what each side believes and does not believe. In fact, they are so spiritually shallow, they don’t understand why it is important to know what you believe and why you believe it. Continue reading

2 Peter 2:1 and Universal Redemption


Last night I had a late start to getting my post written and placed on my blog and CRN. Therefore, I decided to write a short piece to intro a great article by John Piper that I had wanted to use for some time about the Sovereignty of God and Prayer. My focus was on the importance of praying for the lost. However, there were some who complained about the obvious links that John Piper made to the doctrines of Limited Atonement and Irresistible Grace. Continue reading