Out of Pocket

I am leaving for Arkansas in just a few moments to visit some In-Laws. I will be unavailable for comment moderation except possibly in the evenings. I intend to rest a bit and get back into the swing of things Monday. Have a blessed weekend. – Mike Ratliff

The Just Live by Faith

by Mike Ratliff

And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:7-8 ESV)

I am in the process of reading a book that is a collection of works by John Owen. One of the works is his masterpiece The Mortification of Sin, which I have read several times already. The other two works are Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of It and Indwelling Sin. This is not light reading, but it is rich and a treasure house of Biblical wisdom that is presented practically to shine these truths from God into our hearts.

I was attempting to read some of this last evening so I deliberately separated myself from my Mac and went to another part of the house. However, my wife was watching an episode of Law and Order on TV. As I read about the necessity of actively putting to death the sinful desires in my heart I found my mind drawn to the presentation on the screen of some of the most sinful things imaginable. All this day I have been asking God for direction because I know that He was speaking volumes to me through this.

As the time grew near to write this, it all started coming together. As usual, I got into the Word. I did a search in my Bible software for the phrase, “sin no more.” This lead me to John 5:14. Continue reading

The Righteousness That Exceeds That of the Scribes and Pharisees

by Mike Ratliff

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20 ESV)

I had a friend tell me several days ago that her father had made the comment that most believers nowadays have never experienced real Christianity. I agree with that statement. Why? Most professing Christians are not regenerate. They are in the Religion of Do. They practice the same righteousness that the scribes and Pharisees practiced in Jesus’ day.

As we saw in John Piper’s sermon “Battling the Unbelief of Lust,” the predominate teaching in most churches is salvation by grace, but sanctification by works. In this dualistic view of our salvation, all who profess Christ are saved, but not all actually work to be holy and pure before God and that’s okay because, once saved, always saved. Piper showed us in his sermon that genuine Christians are those who battle unbelief in all its forms. They work with God in mortifying their sins by killing the desire within them to walk according to the flesh. I found it very striking that Piper’s stance was that the mark of Christian genuineness is perseverance to the end. Continue reading

Battling the Unbelief of Lust

As I prayed today in light of yesterday’s post on what Biblical Phariseeism really is, I asked for direction and discernment in what direction to go next. As usual, I simply went to work. At my job as a Database Administrator I am surrounded by cubicles. Some of those I work with love to have speaker phone meetings in their cubes that seem to go on forever. The way God created my mind, I cannot work if those amplified conversations are going on all around me. Therefore, I use my iPod and headphones to compensate.

I have podcasts on my iPod from John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul, among others. Today during a very long, loud meeting in the cube behind me, I listened to a sermon by John Piper called “Battling the Unbelief of Lust.” I did not think that this sermon would have much to do with our current topic, but I was very surprised. Those who battle lust, mortifying the desires for it, are the ones who seek a pure and holy life. They are genuine Christians. On the other hand, those who treat lust as simply something temporal while their salvation is some abstract concept that guarantees eternal life in Heaven are assuming that that religious act they did in the past saves them and their pastor has told them, “once saved, always saved.”

What has this got to do with Phariseeism? Phariseeism is the Religion of Do. It is based on salvation by religion instead of by faith in the promises of God and the finished work of Christ. Who battles unbelief in all its forms? The genuine Christian who is regenerate and justified by faith does this because they are working out their salvation with fear and trembling. They seek holiness and purity and Christlikeness. The temporal is their proving ground. On the other hand, those who do not battle unbelief prove that they are in it and their unregenerate nature becomes manifest in their dead religiosity through which they depend upon to gain God’s favor. Please read John Piper’s sermon below. I pray that it will bless you as it did me. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

The Religion of Do

by Mike Ratliff

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:7-10 ESV)

I watched a special on the National Geographic Channel over the weekend about a small group of people who absolutely refuse to believe that NASA landed men on the Moon in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I graduated from High School in May 1969 and I remember very well watching the lift off of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. I watched the coverage of the mission from end to end. Then several years later when these accusations came out from these skeptics I was astounded. Continue reading

The Root of Liberal Theology

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. (2Timothy 3:1-7 ESV)

Observing unbelief in a professing Christian is a terrible thing. Unbelief, which is rooted in spiritual blindness, is deceitful. We must never forget that spiritual blindness is the product of idolatry. These nominal Christians never walk by faith. They make choices based entirely within a flesh-bound value system. This decision making process is part of self-worship. Their value system is based entirely within self-worth, self-focusedness, self-protection, et cetera. If they are religious Christians then their religion will be the same.

This is idolatry. It is worship of self. As a result, God blinds their hearts. They are given over to their idol. Genuine Christianity is of faith. God’s grace accords with His people’s faith thereby washing them clean in their regeneration. Their faith was dead, but now it it is alive. They are new creations. God justifies them by this faith and begins their sanctification. This sanctification is the process of removing them from sin. This process takes time and will result in their spiritual blindness coming under attack. This means that their self-worship must go. They are called to humility and to be God’s servants forever. Continue reading

How The Gospel Makes Men Holy

As I stated in the last post, some of us have been looking in-depth into the preaching and teaching of some post-evangelicals. These are the fellows who are trying to have the coolest, largest church in town. The methods they use are pure Church Growth tactics, in other words, pragmatism. These are the same methods used by entrepreneurs who are trying to start a successful company. They even measure their “success” the same way. It’s all about numbers and how much money came in through tithes and offerings.

Some may ask why we would have a problem with that. That’s a fair question. The problem with “doing church” this way is that is just man-made, man-focused religiosity dressed up in Christian clothes. It is pragmatism, therefore, it is of the flesh and not of faith. It is not doctrinally sound and makes “church” all about self-adoration rather than God glorification. Man was created by God to love, serve and enjoy Him forever. Church should be all about worshiping God for His glory alone and hearing God’s Word expounded to the flock for their edification. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

War? What War?

by Mike Ratliff

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:1-2 ESV)

About a week ago or so a fellow writer for CRN gave me access to a preview of the video of Bill Clinton speaking at the Liberal Baptist conference in Atlanta. When I first watched it I had to stop. I just couldn’t take his deceptive handling of his version of Christianity. I made a comment along those lines and my friend wrote back that I should watch it all. Why? It is imperative to know the enemy and how he works. To have an enemy implies that there is a conflict of some kind. Is there a war going on between God and His forces on one side and Satan and his forces on the other? Continue reading

Love’s Foremost

by Mike Ratliff

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7:41-43 ESV)

Do you love God? Why or why not? If you consider yourself a Christian yet your love for God is not growing both in depth and breadth then there is a problem. Those who have this growing love for God are those who have learned the art of contentment. (Philippians 4:11) Their circumstances are not the basis for their love of their God. Instead, their love for God is the product of His working in their hearts as they have become God’s humble and obedient bondservants. They are spirit-filled because their lives are saturated in God’s Word. They are living sacrifices whose minds are being renewed under the control of the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

The Good Practitioner

Some friends sent me this after the skirmishes we had this week with those who claim that intellect and human reason combined with Liberal Theology far outweighs knowledge of and obedience to God’s Word. Those of the Liberal Theology camp are like snakes, they are all head and no feet. – Mike Ratliff Continue reading

Praying at All Times

by Mike Ratliff

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:17-20 ESV)

Ungodly focus is the focus that everyone has except for the Spirit-filled believer. This focus is oriented to self. Believers who are self-focused are either baby Christians or they have succumbed to Satan’s attacks against them. These attacks are designed specifically to render each believer powerless and without a Christlike testimony. He does this with temptations, fiery darts, that are designed to bring believers to be self-satisfied, self-sufficient, and spiritually arrogant. Of course, these are the marks of a Christian who is not humble, but whose pride is in control. Continue reading


by Mike Ratliff

The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? (Obadiah 1:3 KJV)

Adapted from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon titled “Self-Deceived

Human pride is incredibly deceitful. It can so deceive its host that he or she may well believe they are the truly humble. It is true of all proud people, for pride is self-deceit. Some reading this may be proud. In fact, it is those who believe they have no pride who are most likely the proudest of all. Those who are proud of their humility are proud indeed. Continue reading

The Root of Pragmatism

by Mike Ratliff

God is an expert at cutting through the blindness and hardness in our hearts. In 1995 I was a Deacon at a church in Oklahoma. I had been a Christian about 10 years at that time. I was at a point in my walk at that time that I am actually ashamed to discuss. I was active in Church, but the rest of the time, I functioned almost as an unbeliever. Then on April 19th I had a huge intervention into my life. While I was in my office at Bank of Oklahoma in downtown Oklahoma City, Timothy McVee set off a massive truck bomb just a block or so North of our building all but wiping out the Federal Building. I wrote about my experiences from this in Do Not Grow Weary. Continue reading