Man-made Religiosity

by Mike Ratliff

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. (Colossians 2:16-19 ESV)

I received an email today from my friend Ken Silva that contained the following “rebuke” in the form of a “word ” the person claimed to have received directly from God pertaining to Ken and his ministry.

A word came to me for you from our Lord Jesus Christ. I sent you to pastor a flock of sheep,not to separate the sheep from the goats. I will do that. You are throwing many of my sheep in with the goats by throwing their shepherds in with the goat-herders.Your zeal for the truth is blinding you to the power of my redeeming grace. In your writing I have called you to apprise not to attack. In the former I am pleased. In the latter I am not. In your zeal to reveal the compromising (and I know there are many), you have compromised the compassionate, many of whom I know but you do not. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil through self-righteous hearts. Do not call unclean that which I have made clean and that which I am making clean. Be still and know that I am God, not you. Wait upon Me. Meditate on Me as well as my Word. God made the sabbath for man not man for the sabbath. Meditate on Me. Yes, meditate on Me and my precepts as David did. Return to me. Stop trying to save the sheep of others before you tend to the flock immediately in your sight. Yes Ken, tend to the least of my brethren in New Hampshire, tend to their needs, not to the learned and the wise who flatter themselves. My people are thirsty Ken. Do not give them dry doctrine to drink. Lead them to the well of my living waters. There you will see who is a shepherd and who is a goat-herder.

Here is Ken’s response:

Thank you for contacting Apprising Ministries. I reject this false prophesy in the Name of Jesus Christ; this wasn’t from God.

What’s wrong with the so-called “word” from God or “prophecy” that this person proclaimed against Ken? The first thing I thought of when I read this was of Nehemiah when the attacks on the wall building was at its height and one of his so-called allies attempted to get him to go into the house of God to pray instead of at the wall to work. Nehemiah refused to go because he discerned that the person was not from God, but from his enemies. Nowhere in God’s Word are we commanded to have fellowship with those who teach and preach heresy. No, we are to separate from them and warn the flock. That is what Ken does. This so-called prophecy disqualifies itself almost immediately by attacking that and then trying to force Ken not to preach “dry doctrine” but from the well of my “living waters.” What I read in this is someone who has absolutely no fear of God and the sin of proclaiming to be prophet of God when you are not is quite a heavy one.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:20-23 ESV)

Appearances can be deceiving. Most people would look at the above statements and those who conformed to the rules of submission to the “elemental spirits of the world” according to human precepts and teachings and view them as the epitome of those the those who reached the higher echelons of their religion. However, as Paul makes clear here, their religion, no matter what it is called, is only self-made and is of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 ESV)

Our Lord made it clear that the path of following Him was not easy. It involves taking up one’s own cross and following Him through a narrow, hard to find gate down a narrow path. He also promised that this involves self-denial to the point of loving the Lord our God as His slaves and that means loving Him more than spouses, children, and parents and far more than this world. The person who sent that so-called “word from God” to my friend Ken is in big trouble with God. Why? He or she is a liar and has misrepresented Him. This is serious, but it reminds me so much of those false prophets that Ahab had assembled around him who told him what he wanted to hear, but when a real prophet of God spoke they attacked him. That’s the way it is in this world and the way it will always be until our Lord returns for His own.  Come soon Lord Jesus.

Soli Deo Gloria!


12 thoughts on “Man-made Religiosity

  1. Mike,
    Everytime people claim to have a word from the LORD and it is not from Him, I am drawn to this passage.

    Jeremiah 23:9-40 (Amplified Bible)
    9Concerning the prophets: My heart [says Jeremiah] is broken within me, all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, a man whom wine has overcome, because of the Lord and because of His holy words [which He has pronounced against unfaithful leaders].

    10For the land is full of adulterers (forsakers of God, Israel’s true Husband). Because of the curse [of God upon it] the land mourns, the pastures of the wilderness are dried up. They [both false prophets and people] rush into wickedness; and their course is evil, their might is not right.

    11For both [false] prophet and priest are ungodly and profane; even in My house have I found their wickedness, says the Lord.

    12Therefore their way will be to them like slippery paths in the dark; they will be driven on and fall into them. For I will bring evil upon them in the year of their punishment, says the Lord.

    13And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria: they prophesied by Baal and caused My people Israel to err and go astray.

    14I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they encourage and strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that none returns from his wickedness. They have all of them become to Me like Sodom, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah.

    15Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets: Behold, I will feed them with [the bitterness of] wormwood and make them drink the [poisonous] water of gall, for from the [false] prophets of Jerusalem profaneness and ungodliness have gone forth into all the land.

    16Thus says the Lord of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the [false] prophets who prophesy to you. They teach you vanity (emptiness, falsity, and futility) and fill you with vain hopes; they speak a vision of their own minds and not from the mouth of the Lord.

    17They are continually saying to those who despise Me and the word of the Lord, The Lord has said: You shall have peace; and they say to everyone who walks after the stubbornness of his own mind and heart, No evil shall come upon you.

    18For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord, that he should perceive and hear His word? Who has marked His word [noticing and observing and giving attention to it] and has [actually] heard it?

    19Behold, the tempest of the Lord has gone forth in wrath, a whirling tempest; it shall whirl and burst upon the heads of the wicked.

    20The anger of the Lord shall not turn back until He has executed and accomplished the thoughts and intents of His mind and heart. In the latter days you shall consider and understand it perfectly.

    21I did not send these [false] prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.

    22But if they had stood in My council, then they would have caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them [My people] from their evil way and from the evil of their doings.

    23Am I a God at hand, says the Lord, and not a God afar off?

    24Can anyone hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? says the Lord.

    25I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed [visions on my bed at night].

    26[How long shall this state of things continue?] How long yet shall it be in the minds of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even the prophets of the deceit of their own hearts,

    27Who think that they can cause My people to forget My name by their dreams which every man tells to his neighbor, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal?

    28The prophet who has a dream, let him tell his dream; but he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat [for nourishment]? says the Lord.

    29Is not My word like fire [that consumes all that cannot endure the test]? says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks in pieces the rock [of most stubborn resistance]?

    30Therefore behold, I am against the [false] prophets, says the Lord, [I am even now descending upon them with punishment, these prophets] who steal My words from one another [imitating the phrases of the true prophets].

    31Behold, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who use their [own deceitful] tongues and say, Thus says the Lord.

    32Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the Lord, and tell them and cause My people to err and go astray by their lies and by their vain boasting and recklessness–when I did not send them or command them; nor do they profit these people at all, says the Lord.

    33And when these people, or a prophet or a priest, ask you, What is the burden of the Lord [the thing to be lifted up now]? then you shall say to them, What burden [indeed]! [You are the burden!] And I will disburden Myself of you and I will cast you off, says the Lord.

    34And as for the prophet, the priest, or [any of these] the people, whoever [in mockery calls the word of the Lord a burden and] says, The burden of the Lord, I will even visit in wrath and punish that man and his house.

    35[For the future, in speaking of the utterances of the Lord] thus shall you say every one to his neighbor and every one to his brother: What has the Lord answered? or, What has the Lord spoken?

    36But the burden of the Lord you must mention no more, for every man’s burden is his own response and word [for as they mockingly call all prophecies burdens, whether good or bad, so will it prove to be to them; God will take them at their own word]; for you pervert the words [not of a lifeless idol, but] of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God!

    37Thus shall you [reverently] say to the prophet: What has the Lord answered you? Or, What has the Lord spoken?

    38But if you say, The burden of the Lord, therefore thus says the Lord: Because you said these words, The burden of the Lord, when I sent to you, saying, You shall not say, The burden of the Lord,

    39Therefore behold, I, even I, will assuredly take you up and cast you away from My presence, you and the city [Jerusalem] which I gave to you and to your fathers.

    40And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you and a perpetual shame which will not be forgotten.


  2. Don’t the scriptures tell us to guard our doctrine? Maybe if more “dry doctrine” were fed to the flock instead of these goofy appeals to emotionalism read “living waters” as this “prophet” puts it; the church wouldn’t be so rampant with this kind of pentecostal foolishness. Ken, Mike keep up the good work! Thanks for standing on the wall for us. Oh and I’ll have another helping of dry doctrine please.


  3. Mike and Ken;
    Keep up the sound work you both do.
    Sound doctrine, last time I looked, takes enduring!
    Further, if sheep are being fed, and goats are being seperated, it is due to the adherance to the Word by you both that is seperating them. We, as you both know, have no business fellowshipping with goats. Further, it is the Evil One who puts them there in the first place, to destroy the good growth. Faithful servants tend the field, and protect the Master’s property. The problem today in most “fallowsheeps” is the catering to the goats in an effort to make them into sheep. Thank you both for sticking to the Master(‘s) Plan. Should you ever be lead to move to NW Pennsylvania, I will be here to greet and support you!


  4. Mike the claims about “visions’ seems to be increasing. My understanding is that we don’t have visions from God today. The word of God or from God for us today is this: the scriptures. Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

    Some even claim that multitudes of people are coming to Christ through visions. Really? I thought people were saved and brought to Christ through the gospel. The gospel comes objectively to us through the written and spoken word of God, not a subjective vision. Paul gives the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15: Jesus died on the cross for sins and He rose on the third day. There are warnings in the New Testament about false visions and fallen angels bringing a false message and we are not to believe them. Galatians 1:8-9; Colossians 2:8


  5. Mike, I thank God for you and Ken. Your articles help keep us on the right track, while warning of the imminent danger of those false teachers and prophets around us. “Keep on keeping on” as my pastor used to say.


  6. An old saying goes….

    You catch the most flack when you are directly over the target.

    Flack being the tracers sent up to track an aircraft for fire.

    In other words, if you are getting more flack right now guys, you are probably on top of a very strategic target.

    Just think, this person is trying to get you off the Net and to only deal with local people. What would that do? Simple, it would remove you as a watchman, ceasing to notify the people in the church of the soldiers approaching in battle. Who would let their guard down here?


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