by Mike Ratliff
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9,10 ESV)
In 2004, God worked a miracle in this Christian. I began the year a self-focused, somewhat bitter, bible teacher at a church that was in the process of falling into the chasm of seeker-sensitivity with the rest of the SBC. However, right at the end of 2003 and the first of 2004 I was asked to prepare to start a new class for singles. This drew me to prayer with a commitment to obey what God called me to do. God used this to draw me deeper into obedience into His Word and over the first six months or so of 2004 I increased the time I spent in prayer and worship every day until by August, that is all I did when I was not sleeping or working. I cut out all TV and entertainment. This came to a climax in the first week of August when I discovered that I had been changed. It was as if part of me died and was replaced with something very much alive. This joyful awareness within me was desperately in love with God while becoming increasingly skeptical of “religion.” This was only the beginning.
Over the next few months, I attempted to share what God was teaching me in my hours of prayer and Bible study. I started with the men at our church. I was very surprised by the rejection by most of them. My Pastor even said, “Oh, you’ll get over it.” A few were very much intrigued though. This was my first taste of the deep spiritual blindness in the visible church attacking the truth directly given to it from God’s Word. God used that to draw us out of that church. Over the next several months I had a few more “climaxes” as God took me deeper and gave me an insatiable appetite for theology, ‘the study of God.’ This is not the same thing as religion or religiosity, but is the study of God Himself and both the content of and how He has revealed Himself and His truth to His people. I repented a great deal through all of this becoming one who used only one hermeneutic when studying the Bible; the glory and sovereignty of God. When we draw near to God, He draws near to us for our edification and His glory (Hebrews 11:6).
It was from this that I came to believe that God wanted me to write. I put a couple of books together, which talked about the things God had been showing me. As I look back on that it would have been better to have waited for those later battles in the Truth War, but I found a publisher for those books who wanted me to attempt to generate interest in those books by going public on the internet writing and commenting. This began my discernment ministry. Oh, if only I could rewrite those books! I am glad all that fell through. In any case, God used this to get me to this point and the focus is not me nor has it ever been in what I do. God teaches me every day and as I obey Him in the midst of fiery trials, I grow as a Christian. This is why I have moved away from all forms of self-promotion or self-protection, et cetera and have taken on topics, dealing with those I would have blocked and shunned before. God uses these ugly things to teach us eternal truths.
One of these truths is that the ugly attacks do not come to us when we are barely scratching the surface of the truth or just writing or ministering in such a way so as not be offensive to anyone. If we minister in such a way that no one is offended then why would the enemy come and attack? On the other hand, I have never taken on an adversary of the truth who was causing much damage to the Church that did not result in ugly attacks. The surprise for me is from where these attack seem to be coming. I contribute to The Christian Research Network and we consist of a group of people who do nothing more than expose the lies and deceit that are contributing to the apostasy of the Church. Over the last few years, however, there has been an opposition to what we are doing that is coming from some people who one would think should be trying to do the same thing we are doing. However, instead of working with those who preach and teach the truth, they come up behind us and attack from the dark with deceitful techniques and logical fallacies that take the truth and twist it in order to entice people to respond and therefore create controversies that serve their own warped purposes. What does the Word of God tell us about this sort of thing?
1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. (1 Peter 2:1 ESV)
Deceit is rooted in envy that leads to malice that always results in hypocrisy. These are things of the flesh. When we expose false teachers, we do not use any of this. However, I have never been attacked by anyone in this battle who refrained from these things. These battles are always accompanied by personal attacks from our enemy and this causes us to doubt and fear. However, God has never failed to point out to me that those tools of our enemy who are doing the attacking are not operating within the bounds of righteousness, but are using the very tools that our enemy uses. He is a liar and a murderer and is full of deceit and slander. Therefore, when we encounter those whose methods mirror these very things then we should be comforted and are able to resist our enemy who will then flee from us. Let us obey this command my brethren and never stoop to use these methods in our work.
2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:2-3 ESV)
Genuine believers are new creations. They are changed forever and, therefore, these deeply desire the pure milk of God’s Word to be taught them. Why? This transforms them into more mature Christians through the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:1-2). Notice that disingenuous Christians are not hungry for God’s truth. This is why I try to use only God’s Word as my sword in this battle, never personal attacks. It both edifies God’s people and causes much damage to His enemies.
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. (1 Peter 2:4-8 ESV)
There is a lot of truth in these verses. Natural men naturally reject our Saviour. Even those who think they are Christians because of their religiosity, but do not know Him, actually are rejecting Him as the living stone, the cornerstone of our faith. In fact, those who reject Him, the real Jesus, will find that He has become their stumbling block, the rock of offense. In v8 we have this, “…They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” What is this telling us? This verse teaches both divine sovereignty and human responsibility. People stumble because of their own disobedience, but this does not occur apart from the sovereign will of God (Romans 9:14-24). Therefore, when we encounter those who use our enemy’s own methods as they attack the ones who are actually doing the work of discernment, what are we seeing?
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:9-12 ESV)
I pray that all of you who think it is your duty to attack the very ones who are doing the work of discernment in order to warn the Body of Christ as they are commanded to do by God, to examine your motives and look at your methods. Are you using deceit? Are you using Guilt by Association attacks? Are you using personal attacks of of any kind? Are you slandering others? Are you using logical fallacies in an attempt to make them sell your suppositions? I urge you to stop it and abstain from the passions of the flesh. You are being used by our enemy to divide and discourage the brethren. Stop it! If you cannot “expose” what you are attempting to expose without resorting to these techniques then you are not being a worker of righteousness. Examine your motives!
Soli Deo Gloria!