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

Hypocrisy


by Mike Ratliff

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5 KJV)

I believe that I have been called a hypocrite more this year than in any other year of my life. No matter who says it or writes it, it still stings. What is so troubling to me, however, is not that I am called that, but that most believers are ignorant of the fact that the most prevalent example of hypocrisy is to profess Christ as Lord and Saviour, while being totally enslaved to one’s flesh with the resultant fleshly behavior that is the fruit of pride. 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

Testing of Your Faith


by Mike Ratliff

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV)

There is no guarantee that the Genuine Christian will be immune from suffering. In fact, suffering is the method God uses to prune the branches that abide in the Vine, our Lord Jesus Christ. (John 15) I have found that the form this suffering takes is nearly always a surprise. When atheists or pagans ridicule, the resulting sorrow from that is relatively minor and easily borne compared to that delivered by professing Christians. In any case, we must not be discouraged, even though that is what our enemy seeks to do to us through it. God is allowing him to do this to us, therefore, what should our reaction be? Continue reading

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 Deceit of Human Reason


by Mike Ratliff

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. (2 Timothy 3:1-8 ESV)

Genuine Christianity is not a world religion. Instead, it is a fellowship of believers who have been justified by Faith. There are many professing Christians who would not fit that definition. They may be religious. They may have made a “profession of faith,” but they are not regenerate nor do they have The Holy Spirit. Why? They have not repented and submitted to the Lordship of Christ. They are not New Creations through the washing of Regeneration, which quickens believers from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive in Christ. (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13)

Saving Faith is not the result of Human Reason. It is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8,9) Knowing God and obeying God requires an active faith that is outside of Human Reason. Over the last several months I have debated some folks that were obviously very bright, but their arguments were based entirely within intellect and totally outside of faith. After a few rounds of back and forth responses it becomes very obvious that unless God opens their hearts to the truth they simply will not believe it. They will even say things like I and those who fight the fight along side me have no regard for the truth. How do we answer a charge like that when all we do is present the truth? They have their own understanding of the truth that they have formulated via Human Reason, which looks at Biblical Truth as nonsense because it makes demands that are outside of what they can understand or see as fair or right. Continue reading

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

Genuine Repentance


by Mike Ratliff

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5 ESV)

I became involved in discussion today on a blog that was proclaiming that it is perfectly fine for Christians to use profanity and those who call them on it are being hypocritical and self-righteous. I have been teaching for quite a while that the genuine believer is regenerate, a new creation, whom God is the process of sanctifying. Our humility must come to predominate our pride. The prideful person is self-focused while the humble person is not.

What are the motives for using coarse or vulgar language? There are many, but not one of them will cause a believer to edify others or glorify God. In fact, in the Bible, in every mention of coarse language, it is cast as part of sin or sinful itself. What was Isaiah’s lament when he saw the Lord high and lifted up? 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