Counterfeit Love

by Mike Ratliff

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. (Colossians 3:5-6 ESV)

In Ephesians 5:1-2 the Apostle Paul gave us exhortation to line up our lives with God’s standard of self-sacrificial love that mimics His own for His beloved Children.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)

He then, in vv3-7, gives us the opposite, which is counterfeit love. This form of fleshly love always results in impurity of life. I find it amazing how I find so many professing Christians ready to call what I am teaching here “legalism” because they want to embrace the very things Paul lists in these verses which are Satan’s perversion of God’s creation.

First, here are vv3-7 from the ESV.

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. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; (Ephesians 5:3-7 ESV)

Here are vv3-7 from the Greek New Testament.

πορνεία δὲ καὶ πᾶσα ἀκαθαρσία ἢ πλεονεξία μηδὲ ὀνομαζέσθω ἐν ὑμῖν, καθὼς πρέπει ἁγίοις, καὶ αἰσχρότης καὶ μωρολογία ἢ εὐτραπελία, τὰ οὐκ ἀνήκοντα, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον εὐχαριστία. τοῦτο γὰρ ἴστε γινώσκοντες, ὅτι πᾶς πόρνος ἢ ἀκάθαρτος ἢ πλεονέκτης, ὅ ἐστιν εἰδωλολάτρης, οὐκ ἔχει κληρονομίαν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ Θεοῦ. Μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς ἀπατάτω κενοῖς λόγοις· διὰ ταῦτα γὰρ ἔρχεται ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐπὶ τοὺς υἱοὺς τῆς ἀπειθείας. μὴ οὖν γίνεσθε συμμέτοχοι αὐτῶν.

Here is a word-for-word translation of this passage from Koine Greek to English.

Fornication but and uncleanness all or greediness but not let be named in you, just as it is fitting to holy ones, and shamefulness and foolish words or coarse joking, which not is proper, but more good favor. This for you know knowing, that all sexually immoral one or unclean one or greedy one, who is idol server, not he has inheritance in the kingdom of the Christ and God. No one you let deceive in empty words; through these for comes the anger of the God upon the sons of the disobedience. Not then become co-partakers of them;

The word I translated as “fornication” and the ESV translated as “sexual immorality” in v3 is πορνεία. It originally referred to prostitution. It is derived from the related word in Greek which means “prostitute.” It was used in the Septuagint to refer not only to common prostitution, but religious prostitution that was part of the fertility rites of Baal worship. By sexual relations with temple prostitutes, humans, supposedly, could share in the fertilizing power of and cosmic harmony with the fertility god Baal.

However, in in later rabbinical language, which heavily influenced the New Testament, πορνεία came to be used for any sexual relations outside of marriage, including: premarital sex, extramarital sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, sodomy, pedophilia, incest, and bestiality. In the Graeco-Roman world, this became so perverted that all of these activities were indulged in without shame or scruple, not only by the common people, but by the social elite as well.

Our time is no different. In fact, indifference to the practice of these things runs deep in our society as well as the visible church. However, lest we become distracted, we must not forget that all Christians are commanded to turn from these things in repentance.

The ESV translated ἀκαθαρσία as “impurity” and I as “uncleanness.” This the state of people who have are so far gone, so past even feeling guilt for his or her sin, that they are totally given over to filthy living. This concept, ἀκαθαρσία, is actually tied in with the Old Testament standards of “clean” and “unclean.” Paul is telling Christians that everything propagated by Satan’s counterfeit love is unclean, impure, and polluted. This includes not only the imoral acts themselves, but immoral thoughts and fantasies as well. Pornography is built around this and is big business.

The third characteristic of counterfeit love is πλεονεξία, which is covetousness or greediness. It is a desire to have more. Christians should learn to be content with God’s provision as they rest in God’s promises to supply their needs. However, when people are consumed by πλεονεξία it causes many other compromises that lead to things like idolatry and move the heart away from God.

The next three characteristics of counterfeit love involve impure speech. The first one of these is αἰσχρότης which the ESV translates as “filthiness” and I translated as “shamefulness” when referring to how one speaks. This is referring to improper conduct that is ugly, indecent and reveals that there is deep impropriety in a person’s life and conduct by how they talk.

The next improper way of speaking is μωρολογία, which the ESV translates as “foolish talk” and I as “foolish words.” This is not seen “as bad” as αἰσχρότης so it is tolerated by many people, but we are still commanded to not do this. It is “silly, stupid, and foolish.” It is speaking of things that are foolish and pointless.

The third and final wrong way of speakings is εὐτραπελία which is “crude joking” or “coarse joking” or “jesting.” To be honest, I deal with people who do this quite often. They do it intentionally. The word actually means to to turn something spoken into a different meaning. They take something good and twist it into something else, into a double meaning. I find this one very prevalent within the apologists for the men and ministries I have revealed to you to be apostate or at least on that road using discernment and God’s Word. They come at us with their deceit and this is their favorite weapon.

There you have it my brethren. Counterfeit love is Satan’s attempt to take what is good, confuse the issue and turn it around to cause destruction. All these things are based in the flesh. I have asked professing Christians who have attacked this ministry using εὐτραπελία, for instance, how they could justify doing something they claimed to be doing in God’s name that was nothing more than deceitful works of the flesh. I never got any answers to that one.

My brethren. We must all examine ourselves. Are any of these things found in our hearts? We must turn from them in repentance. We must seek healing from God and move toward Him in obedience by faith. We cannot live in the flesh and please Him. We must walk and serve Him by faith alone.

Soli Deo Gloria!

7 thoughts on “Counterfeit Love

  1. Great post Mike. Can you sometime expound on Romans 7:13 through 25? I feel some may use this reading to excuse their thoughts and actions. (At one time I did!) If Paul had to struggle and endure back then… How so VERY much more so today. I would be a big liar if I claimed never to have grieved God concerning many of the things mentioned in this post.

    You truely have a great gift. Thank you and may God bless.


    PS. I realize there is much leading up to verse 13 but that would take us back to Genesis!


  2. Yes, there is much leading us back to the concepts of what is clean and unclean. God has not changed George. Yes, we are under grace if we are in Christ and that is good. We do not have to fulfill the Law for that was fulfilled in Christ, but we are still called to live Christlike lives as Paul makes very clear in these passages.

    I will expound on those passages as the Lord leads. All for His glory and His will be done George.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  3. None of us can change another persons heart, only God can. For all of our hearts are decitfully wicked and who can know? Only God can. We are all given a free gift that not one of us deserve! For The Lord Jesus Christ stated that if we continue in His words the Truth will set us free. And their are many that are under a heavy delusion thinking they are free from all things. They are blown by ever wind of doctrine. Twice dead. I’m a slave to the Lord Jesus Christ, I can’t quit or remove the things His has revealed from His Living Word. I could be sarcastic at times but at the end of the Day, where did humor come from? Who is on the Throne and in control of all things, for I don’t have control of the destiny upon my life, only the Lord Jesus Christ can forgive all of us from our wicked nature!!! If He didn’t accomplish that at the Cross and wasn’t resurrected, all of us need to find a Savior. No not one of us is any good and all of our good works are nothing but a bunch of filthy rags in God’s eye. Father calls our names and we find the true Jesus Christ. All others are conterfiet. May the Father call many names to repent for the forgiveness of sins in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and that they recieve the gift of the Holy Spirit, in Christs’ name I pray. Father have mercy upon their souls for they know not what they do!
    In Christ,


  4. Please all forgive me, for every single one of us have been in this bolded area Proverbs 1: 24 – 31 if it doesn’t show up in bold letters. I will share words of Wisdom and they are not my words.
    Proverbs 1
    The Call of Wisdom
    20(Y) Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
    in the markets she raises her voice;
    21at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
    at(Z) the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
    22″How long, O(AA) simple ones, will you love being simple?How long will(AB) scoffers delight in their scoffing
    and fools(AC) hate knowledge?
    23If you turn at my reproof,[a]behold, I will(AD) pour out my spirit to you;
    I will make my words known to you.
    24(AE) Because I have called and(AF) you refused to listen,
    have(AG) stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
    25because you have(AH) ignored all my counsel
    and(AI) would have none of my reproof,
    26I also(AJ) will laugh at your calamity;
    I will mock when(AK) terror strikes you,
    27when terror strikes you like(AL) a storm
    and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
    when distress and anguish come upon you.
    28(AM) Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
    they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
    29Because they(AN) hated knowledge
    and(AO) did not choose the fear of the LORD,
    30(AP) would have none of my counsel
    and(AQ) despised all my reproof,
    31therefore they shall eat(AR) the fruit of their way,
    and have(AS) their fill of their own devices.
    32For the simple are killed by(AT) their turning away,
    and(AU) the complacency of fools destroys them;
    33but(AV) whoever listens to me will dwell secure
    and will be(AW) at ease, without dread of disaster.”


  5. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for this. Our sermon yesterday was on antinomianism. The apostle Paul asks this incredible question—how can we, who are dead to sin, wish to continue in it? I don’t think we dwell enough on that…the fact that we are dead to sin. I would love more insights on this as the Lord would lead.

    Grace and His precious peace to you~!


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