Little Children Keep Yourselves From Idols

by Mike Ratliff

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21 ESV)

My bags are packed. We have finished the first leg of our trip and tomorrow we fly to Washington, DC. This morning I received an email from a friend imploring me to go to his site and follow a link he had setup to a discernment site that had information on a very well known Christian “leader” who most believe is the numero uno “exegete” in the Church. I have many of this man’s books and use some of them in my research for these articles even though I disagree with him on some very important issues. As I read what he had written, my first reaction was to dismiss it as an attack by the enemy to divide the elect. However, I did pray and ask God to show me what to do. I followed the link and was very surprised by what I found. 

The “data” about this person came in two parts. The first was an actual interview with the man so it contained his very own words saying things that really surprised me. The second part was an interview with another man who had done extensive research into this man’s ministry showing that despite what he preached, his actual ministry was very wrapped up in the Purpose Driven Church model and the leaders in it used Total Quality Management techniques in their structure, utilizing dialectical methods in their small groups. I went from surprise to amazement to disgust to repentance. I found that I had, in part of my own reverence for this man, elevated him to a level that is not right for any of us to hold. This is a form of idolatry my brethren. Of this, I repent.

All through the couple of hours I spent in listening to these interviews this morning, I kept asking myself why someone who looked so right and who was such a good teacher of the word would compromise like that. What could have happened to cause this? Then the answers came. We are fallible creatures my brethren and when we become elevated in people’s eyes we become very vulnerable to the temptation to compromise. The owner of the website hosting these interviews and his own commentary on them stated that he did not believe the man was really a Christian based upon what he said in the first interview. Is it possible for a non-believer to be so well educated in Greek and Hebrew and have the right personality to look so right while our Lord does not even know Him?

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:15-23 ESV)

Now, let me say right here that I have heard this man preach on this very passage when referring to men such as Rob Bell or other emergents, et cetera. What irony if he is also in that group! We have studied this passage quite a bit this year so I won’t break it down for you again. However, in the context of the Sermon on the Mount from which I took it, our Lord contrasts true prophets of the Church and false prophets by their fruit. Also, the true prophets are shepherds of the sheep who obey their Lord in all things by preaching the Word. On the other hand, the false prophets fruit is seen in the contrast of what they preach with the actual results of their ministry. Even if they are 90% right on what they preach, that 10% that is of the devil nullifies it all because this is the unsound doctrines that cause the sheep to come under the domination of the world and the flesh.

Tabletalk magazine for the month of October had many fine articles on hypocrisy. What is it? It is being two-faced. There is the image everyone sees and then there is reality, which is quite different. I find it truly amazing that anyone who would profess to be such a lover of God’s Word would also condone putting the sheep in his church under the bondage of ‘communitarianism.’ Spurgeon spent the last several years of his ministry fighting the Great Downgrade of the Church in England. This is the dummying-down of the Church through watering down the Gospel with an emphasis on ecumenicalism. Communitarians are all about reinventing the Church into a social network to effect temporal change in the here and now to make the world a better place. Sounds nice, but at what cost? Instead of ensuring the spiritual health of their flocks by making sure each knows the Lord and is being properly discipled according to the Word of God, they create social networking groups that receive only bare-minimum Biblical teaching if any.

My brethren, we are told in God’s Word to imitate only the Apostles in our service of God. We err badly when we elevate our leaders to that level. I prefer to read and follow the teaching of those long gone saints who were not contaminated by the sickness so prevalent today in which mere men are elevated to levels of superstar status. This is idolatry my brethren.

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV)

Are you following mere men or are you following the Lord Jesus Christ? When I was a young Christian in the late 1980’s I had a job that allowed me to spend a lot of time driving around our city. During that time I had my radio on a Christian Talk Radio station. There were three very well known Bible teachers that I listened to religiously as I did that. I elevated them on pedestals that should have reserved for my Lord alone. That was idolatry. Interestingly, one of them was forced out of his church for a moral failure. Another has revealed over the last several years his ecumenical and compromising tendencies. Now the last of the three has been revealed to be the hypocrite of hypocrites. This has caused me to examine myself and ask God to reveal all of the idolatry that I am holding to. I have asked this so I can smash the altars in my heart in which I have committed this grave sin in my idolatry. This is painful, but necessary.

Examine yourselves my brethren…

Soli Deo Gloria!














10 thoughts on “Little Children Keep Yourselves From Idols

  1. I am a new reader of your blog and have really enjoyed it. On your article about idolatry why didn’t you expose this man or at least give the website for the interviews, why allow this man to keep deceiving God’s church?


  2. Sarah,

    Because I am still seeking the Lord’s will in this. I am still researching these things myself. I am not going to take one person’s word for these things. In other words, I am praying for God to give me the knowledge and wisdom to discern the truth through another source. To to otherwise would not be wise.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  3. Thanks, Mike. I really needed this. I was searching for more information about idolatry on this website the other day. So if I recognize there is idolatry, how do I get rid of it?


  4. It is with a heavy heart that I thank you, Mike. Our family left a church that we had attended for many, many years. Our pastor was one of the finest expositors, well trained, leading a growing flock…until he compromised with Saddleback to “grow his church.” We grieved deeply. I understand what you are saying in this article. Some of my favorite teachers on the radio are no longer holding firmly to the pure Word of God. The last decade has seen many link hands with the tools of the enemy, so that I could no longer listen. Interestingly, it was those very men who helped to grow my faith! God is still faithful to those who want His Truth alone.

    Praying for you. Have a safe trip.


  5. I have listened to the audio’s about the man of who you speak but have not read (yet) the written article about this on another web site. The full audio of where this was taken from was on the church web site and I listened to that.
    I think it is very wise to go slow with this and pray before you mention any names although this man’s own words are very confusing. I remember when I was born again but he doesn’t have an exact memory????
    We humans are always looking for a leader or someone to worship instead of God. Reminds me of when Israel kept demanding a king. They got one and everything that went along with an earthly king. We have made Christian leaders into celebrities in this country and it is blinding us.
    There is a lot of information here to investigate and digest. I will pray for you Mike that God will show you the truth.


  6. Yea. Stay away from communitarian thought. It is just what you said. It is man’s effort to make the church fit the world. Politically, it is what the New World Order is pushing through Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Obama, Gordon Brown, Rick Warren, and many others. The globalists know that Christian fundamentalists are a threat to their agenda. Rick Warren, the Ecumenicals, Evangelicals, and Emergents are all part of that same system where the cross is a condiment instead of the foundation. We are living in the days when it is taboo to walk like a Berean.


  7. No it wouldn’t be wise to take one man’s word for it, but wasn’t this proof in the man’s interview and your reaction was one of surprise to amazement to disgust to repentance? I understand not wanting to cause devision which is what satan wants and I pray you will be led to at least give out the website so we can determine if he truly is a wolf in sheeps clothing.
    Thank you for your blog and for the quick reply


  8. Pingback: Mike Ratliff: Little Children Keep Yourselves From Idols and False Teachers - Rapture Forums

  9. Hi Mike,
    I am fairly certain I know who you are talking about in this post and I would encourage you to go forth in the discernment of the Spirit. Of course if there is hypocrisy and falsehood people should be warned, however I think that many of the attacks or critiques on the popular “exegete” I am thinking of, come from questionable sources.
    I think discernment ministries are valuable, but they must not devolve into conspiracy theorist groups. I think if you look at some of the websites propagating these accusations, also link discernment ministries to new age philosophies! Another site (I have self-censored this, so that you would not feel the need to, to prserve the identity of who I think you are referring to) also implicates two other very well known and seemingly sound pastors and evangelical leaders.

    Hegelian dialectic and communitarianism are more than likely very influential in the end times scheme of things, but almost anyone could be accused of somehow being connected to these things, the question is does the accusation stick?

    But what you have said about human idols and pedestals is undoubtedly true – it will at one point or another lead to disappointment.
    That being said, there are good Christian ministers that do provide leadership and edification to the church through their gifts and I hope that God will enable you to determine whether or not the man in question is one of them.


  10. This is an interesting development, but a sad one at the same time.

    You are doing right in not letting us know, just yet, who this pastor is.

    The word of God tells us in 2 Cor 13v1″… by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”

    One source isn’t good enough, because it is your word against their’s.

    But that which is false needs to be exposed.



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