Sanctification – Slaves to Righteousness


by Mike Ratliff

17 χάρις δὲ τῷ θεῷ ὅτι ἦτε δοῦλοι τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὑπηκούσατε δὲ ἐκ καρδίας εἰς ὃν παρεδόθητε τύπον διδαχῆς, 18 ἐλευθερωθέντες δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ἐδουλώθητε τῇ δικαιοσύνῃ. Romans 6:17-18 (NA28)

17Thanks but to God that you were slaves of sin, you obeyed and from the heart to which you were delivered a form of teaching; 18 having been freed and from sin, you were enslaved to righteousness. Romans 6:17-18 (translated from the NA28 Greek Text)

17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.Romans 6:17-18 (NASB) 

17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.Romans 6:17-18 (NASB) 

What does it mean that genuine Christians have been enslaved (εδουλωθητε) to righteousness (δικαιοσυνη)? So many professing Christians today have absolutely no concept of this. It would be safe to say that those professing Christians who are ignorant of this are the vast majority. Some of those ignorant of this have never been properly discipled so their concept of the correct way to walk before the face of God in this life, is based in some sentimental or “culturally relevant” standard instead of what God’s Word says. On the other hand, there are also some in this group who are not genuine Christians. They are not regenerate so they would be those who are still δουλοι της αμαρτιας. Continue reading

Sanctify them through Thy truth


This Devotional comes from Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning for July 4th.

“Sanctify them through Thy truth.”—John 17:17.
SANCTIFICATION begins in regeneration. The Spirit of God infuses into man that new living principle by which he becomes “a new creation”1 in Christ Jesus. This work, which begins in the new birth, is carried on in two ways—mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh are subdued and kept under; and vivification, by which the life which God has put within us is made to be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. This is carried on every day in what is called “perseverance,” by which the Christian is preserved and continued in a gracious state, and is made to abound in good works unto the praise and glory of God; and it culminates or comes to perfection, in “glory,” when the soul, being thoroughly purged, is caught up to dwell with holy beings at the right hand of the Majesty on high. But while the Spirit of God is thus the author of sanctification, yet there is a visible agency employed which must not be forgotten. “Sanctify them,” said Jesus, “through thy truth: thy word is truth.” The passages of Scripture which prove that the instrument of our sanctification is the Word of God are very many. The Spirit of God brings to our minds the precepts and doctrines of truth, and applies them with power. These are heard in the ear, and being received in the heart, they work in us to will and to do of God’s good pleasure. The truth is the sanctifier, and if we do not hear or read the truth, we shall not grow in sanctification. We only progress in sound living as we progress in sound understanding. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”2 Do not say of any error, “It is a mere matter of opinion.” No man indulges an error of judgment, without sooner or later tolerating an error in practice. Hold fast the truth, for by so holding the truth shall you be sanctified by the Spirit of God.

12 Corinthians 5:17
2Psalm 119:105

Sanctification by Suffering


“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.”-Hebrews 5:8

We are told that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, therefore we who are sinful, and who are far from being perfect, must not wonder if we are called to pass through suffering too. Shall the head be crowned with thorns, and shall the other members of the body be rocked upon the dainty lap of ease? Must Christ pass through seas of His own blood to win the crown, and are we to walk to heaven dryshod in silver slippers? No, our Master’s experience teaches us that suffering is necessary, and the true-born child of God must not, would not, escape it if he might. But there is one very comforting thought in the fact of Christ’s “being made perfect through suffering”-it is, that He can have complete sympathy with us. “He is not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”1 In this sympathy of Christ we find a sustaining power. One of the early martyrs said, “I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and He suffers in me now; He sympathizes with me, and this makes me strong.”

Believer, lay hold of this thought in all times of agony. Let the thought of Jesus strengthen you as you follow in His steps. Find a sweet support in His sympathy; and remember that, to suffer is an honourable thing-to suffer for Christ is glory. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to do this. Just so far as the Lord shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, just so far does He honour us. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia of the kings whom God hath anointed are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs. Let us not, therefore, shun being honoured. Let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us up. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.”2

1Hebrews 4:15
22 Timothy 2:12

This devotional is from C.H. Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning for March 29.

Soli Deo Gloria!

You shall be holy for I am holy


By Mike Ratliff

44 For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth. 45 For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.’” Leviticus 11:44-45 (NASB) 

Much of the writing and exposing that we do in this battle against the growing apostasy in the Church is, unfortunately, simply about symptoms of a much deeper problem. Several years ago I had lunch with a pastor of a church that my wife and I had been visiting for several Sundays. We talked about many things as we ate our pizza. One question he asked me really stood out though. He asked me what I considered the main problem in our churches. It would have been very easy to point fingers at Rick Warren and others, but I stopped and thought a moment then said, “I believe that one of the main problems was that most professing believers are enslaved to their flesh.” He wholeheartedly agreed with me. Continue reading

It’s All About Me


by Mike Ratliff

3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:3-16 (NASB) 

I have often written on this blog and elsewhere about the spiritual awakening that God took me through in 2004. I remember vividly, however, being very confused about some things as I went through that. Several years earlier, I had been deeply involved in several men’s studies at a former church that were built around the teachings of Henry Blackaby. I had been through once and led several times the study called “Experiencing God.” One thing that always puzzled me in that study was how cool it was and how “deep” it was in the beginning and then so wrapped up in spiritual or mystical disciplines toward the end because to progress past the initial seeking where God is working then get involved stage, which was always quite exciting for everyone, it got into those parts of self-discipline that most of the men simply shrugged off and didn’t come back. In any case, I used the context of those studies to evaluate or try to understand what God was doing in my life in August 2004. Things just did not jibe together as I thought they should.  Continue reading

Our Heavenly Dwelling and the Ministry of Reconciliation


by Mike Ratliff

1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 (NASB) 

As I shared in another post, I tested positive for Covid-19. I retested about a week later when my symptoms seemed to be abating and it was again positive. My symptoms worsened. Then last week I retested again and it still came up as positive. I contacted my son who is an M.D. He had recently gone through the same thing, but was back at work. He told me to quit retesting as I will continue to test positive for about 90 days. This caused me to look back at how long these “symptoms” had been plaguing me. It started the same day I retired which was Christmas Eve. It was also the day that all of our family members came in for the holidays. We had a houseful. That’s when it started. My symptoms have been bad, then almost went away only to come back again and again. So, counting back to Christmas Eve I think I have another month of this up and down stuff. When the symptoms are raging I feel awful. When they abate it is like nothing at all is wrong. While this was all going on my brother had to be hospitalized because he got Pneumonia from the Covid infection he had. That started in December and even though he is home now, he is still on oxygen. I am very thankful that I have not had to go through that. So, as believers we have to ask, “What is God doing through all this?”

Continue reading

Cynicism Bitterness and Sacrifice


by Mike Ratliff

29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:29-32 (NASB) 

Steel is made through the smelting of iron ore. Iron becomes steel as carbon is added while the iron is very hot. What makes steel much harder than iron was not really understood by the ancients who created it. All they knew was that at a certain point in the shaping of a sword they would lay the red hot blade into the coals for a few minutes then resume the process of hammering, cooling in water, re-heating, hammering, cooling in water, et cetera. The finished product was a sword that would not bend in battle and could be sharpened over and over. The blade was actually made up of many pieces of iron rods that were heated, flattened, and folded upon itself over and over. It was hard work, but that was what it took to create a fine, usable steel sword.

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) 

When we are born of the Spirit at regeneration we are new creations. However, that does not mean that we become instantly sinless. Nor does it mean that we are instantly mature and able to know the will of God in walking before Him for His glory alone. No, these attributes come over time and after much “smelting, hammering, cooling, re-heating of us in the fires of sanctification. When I was a young Christian I remember many times being on the verge of walking away from my faith. Why? It seemed that I was “in the fire” all the time. I am very glad that God preserved me, but I want to share with all of you reading this that God has not stopped this process in me. I have been a believer since 1986, but I am no where near complete and this is obvious as God has not relented in showing me how much I must suffer for the name of Christ. Continue reading

Do Not Grow Weary


by Mike Ratliff

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NASB) 

When things appear dark and perhaps the bottom just fell out of a major part of our lives, we may fall into doubt about God’s sustaining grace. However, God is faithful. He is also Sovereign and never taken by surprise by the good and bad events in the lives of His people.

On April 19, 1995 I was at work at Bank of Oklahoma in my office at the BOk Plaza in Oklahoma City, which is just a block South of where the Murrah Federal Building used to be. I was preparing to walk outside into the elevator lobby to go up to the main plaza level to help a person who was having network problems on her PC. I had made an appointment with her for 9:00am. It was about two or three minutes before the hour so I stood up to tell my coworkers where I was headed.

My phone rang so I went back to my desk to answer it. The call lasted until just after 9:00am. I was going to be late for my appointment, so I did all I could do to get through the call, hang up, and head for the door. When I hung up I stood up then turned to tell everyone where I was going and before I could get halfway to the door the strangest sound moved through the ceiling over our heads. It was the shock wave from a massive explosion just up the street, but we didn’t know that at the time. One of my coworkers was sure an elevator had crashed into the basement. Another one said it sounded like a plane or helicopter had crashed nearby. Continue reading

The Effect of the God-Centered Gospel


by Mike Ratliff

1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. 1 John 1:1-4 (NASB) 

Most, if not all, of the contention that I have experienced in this ministry has to do with people’s demand to be “justified” on their own terms. For instance, one fellow angrily told me that the genuine gospel was to do good works, to feed the hungry and minister to the homeless. Another one insists that all he has to do is love God and love everyone and that is how he experiences “salvation.” Are these valid forms of the Gospel? Continue reading

Christians Should Bear Their Crosses With Patience


by Mike Ratliff

33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NASB) 

The natural man in each of us wants to paint God as a combination of a spiritual Santa Claus and the Genie from Aladdin’s Lamp. We tie our good works into how well our lives go. If we do good things then God will surely see to it that we don’t lose our jobs or we get a great raise each year or our health is good. Equity or fairness is our cry. Just look at our society. Even though it isn’t a reality everyone seems to demand that no one be offended or that everyone be treated fairly. This has bled over into the Church in the 21st Century.

Christians who are driven by their flesh are very superstitious. These folks are the suckers that the hucksters of the Word Faith movement prey upon. These folks give their money away to evangelists and faith healers hoping to be blessed. I remember when I lived in Tulsa in the mid-1980s that Oral and Richard Roberts were preaching “seed-faith” theology. That meant they asked people to send in their money to show their faith and in return God would bless them by multiplying their seed. In other words, send in some money and we guarantee you that God will give back to you even more. Continue reading

Damaged Goods


by Mike Ratliff

There is a push in the United States to make it illegal to preach the truth from God’s Word where it pertains to the sin of homosexuality. Of course the emphasis of those laws or initiatives is to protect the rights of certain people based on their sexual preference, which is also called gay rights. They say that to preach what the Bible says about homosexuality is to foment hate; therefore, the laws are placed under the umbrella of hate crimes.

On the other hand, some who preach against certain sins are also guilty of trying to force morality upon the unregenerate. How can an unregenerate person stop sinning? When Christians focus on sins that are abhorrent to God that should be just as abhorrent to believers, the focus should be on cleansing those sins from the Church itself. At the same time, we must never shut our doors to the lost, no matter what sins are consuming them. God saves sinners. Continue reading

The Lord is My Strength and My Shield


by Mike Ratliff

1 “I love You, O LORD, my strength.”
2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalms 18:1-2 (NASB) 

This walk before the face of God is according to the ways of God not according the ways of men. God’s good work in our hearts to grow us unto Christlikeness resembles the work of of a good diamond cutter who shapes an uncut, rough gemstone from something that is not worth much in its raw state into a polished, faceted, and extremely valuable diamond that appears to have a brilliant fire within with innumerable facets reflecting that light in every direction. The various planes and facets are cut to perfection. That internal fire is actually the result of the diamond’s form as a many faceted prism. The light comes from outside the diamond, but it appears to be within. Continue reading

Sanctification begins in Regeneration


by Mike Ratliff

13 But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:13-19 (NASB)

I have read and heard countless arguments about our sanctification. Some say that we are sanctified by our religion. Some say that we are sanctified by God and we have nothing to do with it. Some say that while our Justification is Monergistic (all of God) our Sanctification is Synergistic (us working with God). I used to have fellowship with a very likable young man on Facebook who actually teamed up with me in several debates then something changed. He suddendly dropped out of all of my discussion groups. Then a few weeks later he came back, but he had changed. He had become part of the Hebrews Roots movement. I don’t know all their precepts, but I do know that one of their requirements is that Christians must keep the Law. I contacted my friend about this and referred him to the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. It was to no avail. He told me flat out that in the Hebrew Roots movement that the keeping of the Law is the source of their Sanctifcation. I have had no contact with him since. So which is it?

Continue reading

Humility Under the Lash


by Mike Ratliff

9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:9-10 (NASB) 

There is a form of Christianity prevalent in post-modern America that has an incredible hold on some people to the point their conception of God is that He is little more than a vending machine or a kindly grandfather who would never hurt anyone. I speak, of course, of all forms of Christianity that are man-based. Their problem is that they are conceived of by people who have no patience for theology. Instead, they rely on their own conception of God based within the limits of their ability to reason. For instance, their conception of God is that He is too good to be unfair. Then, of course, their conception of what is fair and unfair enter into their reasoning. The end result is that, since God does not seem to come through the same for all people, then the problem must be with the people themselves. If one person is not healed while some are then those who are not healed must not have enough faith because God is fair and would not leave anyone in sickness while healing others. Continue reading