The cost of sin


by Mike Ratliff

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:1-5 (NASB) 

Those who have a problem with the Doctrine of Original Sin and the Wrath of God against all sin attempt to paint the God of Reformation Theology as some sort of ogre full of anger with very little love manifest except in the case of a chosen few. In their examples of how God operates in saving people, sin is never the issue. They portray God as loving everyone to the maximum and even if their sin amounted open rebellion against Him on their part. In their theology He just looks the other way and attempts to save everyone, but the point of contention is that the God in their example is unable to save anyone. The salvation of people is only made a possibility with those actually being saved being those who hear the Gospel and respond by exercising their sovereign Free Will. On the other hand, the God of the Bible is not anything like this. He is Sovereign. He saves those whom He has elected or chosen unto eternal life. No one limits Him in any way. Man’s will is in no way a barrier to God fulfilling His Will. From these two vastly different understandings of theology comes to very different understandings of sin.  Let’s look at a biblical view of sin and I invite you to compare your own understanding of it to what we unpack here. If your’s is different, I suggest to you that the Bible is not in error…  Continue reading

The sin of lying


by Mike Ratliff

Lying is the most prominent sin of mankind, and because truth is the most essential characteristic of Christianity, in Ephesians 4:22-29 which lists the remnants of the old man that are sins that are most likely to creep back into the Christian’s life, Paul mentions lying first.

20 Ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐχ οὕτως ἐμάθετε τὸν Χριστόν, 21 εἴ γε αὐτὸν ἠκούσατε καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ ἐδιδάχθητε, καθώς ἐστιν ἀλήθεια ἐν τῷ Ἰησοῦ, 22 ἀποθέσθαι ὑμᾶς κατὰ τὴν προτέραν ἀναστροφὴν τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸν φθειρόμενον κατὰ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τῆς ἀπάτης, 23 ἀνανεοῦσθαι δὲ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ νοὸς ὑμῶν 24 καὶ ἐνδύσασθαι τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸν κατὰ θεὸν κτισθέντα ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ὁσιότητι τῆς ἀληθείας.
25 Διὸ ἀποθέμενοι τὸ ψεῦδος λαλεῖτε ἀλήθειαν ἕκαστος μετὰ τοῦ πλησίον αὐτοῦ, ὅτι ἐσμὲν ἀλλήλων μέλη. 26 ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε· ὁ ἥλιος μὴ ἐπιδυέτω ἐπὶ [τῷ] παροργισμῷ ὑμῶν, 27 μηδὲ δίδοτε τόπον τῷ διαβόλῳ. 28 ὁ κλέπτων μηκέτι κλεπτέτω, μᾶλλον δὲ κοπιάτω ἐργαζόμενος ταῖς [ἰδίαις] χερσὶν τὸ ἀγαθόν, ἵνα ἔχῃ μεταδιδόναι τῷ χρείαν ἔχοντι. 29 πᾶς λόγος σαπρὸς ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν μὴ ἐκπορευέσθω, ἀλλʼ εἴ τις ἀγαθὸς πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας, ἵνα δῷ χάριν τοῖς ἀκούουσιν. Ephesians 4:20-29 (NA28)

20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you heard Him and were taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off the old man, which pertains to your former manner of life, the one being corrupted according to the lusts of deceit, 23 and to be renewed by the Spirit controlling your mind, 24 and putting on the new man, the one according to God having been created in righteousness and sanctity of the truth.
25 Wherefore, having put off falsehood let each of us speak truth with our neighbor because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin. Let not the sun set on you anger. 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 The one stealing, let him no longer steal, but rather let him labor working with his own hands at something good that he may have something to share with the in need. 29 Let no corrupt work proceed from your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:20-29 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In v25 the word “falsehood” translates ψεῦδος (pseudos), “lie, falsehood.” It is from this word that we get our English pseudo (as in pseudonym, a false name). It means “the antithesis of the truth.” In 1 John 2:21, the Apostle John wrote to the churches in Asia that they knew “the truth” and “that no lie is of the truth. Think about it. I know that in our relativistic culture that that may a bold statement, but there is not even the slightest bit of truth in a lie, no “gray area” as is commonly believed. There is no such thing as a small lie.

A lie is “a statement that is contrary to fact offered with the intent to deceive.” There are two parts to that definition. A statement that is contrary to fact is not necessarily a lie. People can make appointments, but circumstances can prevent them from showing up on time or even being there at all. That is not a lie because the one delayed was not trying to deceive anyone. However, if the attempt is being made to make people believe that you will do something that you have no intention of doing or vice versa, then that is a lie because that is intentional deception.

Such things as kidding, fictional stories, figurative language, and not saying something out of politeness are not lying. However, there are many things that are lying: blatant falsehoods, exaggerating or embellishing a story, cheating (because you are saying you did something on your own when you didn’t), betraying a confidence, making excuses for wrong conduct, telling a half-truth, plagiarism, boasting, flattery, false humility, hypocrisy, false promises, and obfuscation in order to deceive, no matter the motive.

Lying is a universal vice as it at the core of man’s fallen nature. Christians are not immune, but God does give the victory to those who confess and repent.

Soli Deo Gloria!

What is the danger of entering temptation?


by Mike Ratliff

9 “ Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘ Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘ Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] (Matthew 6:9-13 NASB)

In this post we will look at the danger of “entering temptation.” There is no doubt that most believers walk in defeat in this battle much if not most of the time. On top of the guilt and self-abhorrence that are natural products of Christians sinning, there is also the battle fatigue that comes upon them which results in more guilt simply for being “tempted” in the first place. Of course, much of this can be blamed on faulty theology and an extreme drought in the area of teaching the Biblical truth about sin and temptation from our pulpits and Bible studies. To understand the danger of “entering temptation” we must first understand what it is and what it is not.

Continue reading

The Orthodox Christian view of sin


by Mike Ratliff

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5 NASB)

Those who have a problem with the Doctrine of Original Sin and the Wrath of God against all sin attempt to paint the God of Reformation Theology as some sort of ogre full of anger with very little love manifest except in the case of a chosen few. In their examples of how God operates in saving people, sin is never the issue. They portray God as loving everyone to the maximum and even if their sin amounted to open rebellion against Him on their part. In their theology He just looks the other way and attempts to save everyone, but the point of contention is that the God in their example is unable to save anyone. The salvation of people is only made a possibility with those actually being saved being those who hear the Gospel and respond by exercising their “sovereign free will.” On the other hand, the God of the Bible is not anything like this. He is Sovereign. He saves those whom He has elected or chosen unto eternal life. No one limits Him in any way. Man’s will is in no way a barrier to God fulfilling His will. From these two vastly different understandings of theology comes to very different understandings of sin. Let’s look at a biblical view of sin and I invite you to compare your own understanding of it to what we unpack here. If your’s is different, I suggest to you that the Bible is not in error. Continue reading

Sin


by Mike Ratliff

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:18-21 (NASB) 

18 Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἡ γένεσις οὕτως ἦν. μνηστευθείσης τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ Μαρίας τῷ Ἰωσήφ, πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν αὐτοὺς εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου. 19 Ἰωσὴφ δὲ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς, δίκαιος ὢν καὶ μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι, ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν. 20 ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐνθυμηθέντος ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος κυρίου κατʼ ὄναρ ἐφάνη αὐτῷ λέγων· Ἰωσὴφ υἱὸς Δαυίδ, μὴ φοβηθῇς παραλαβεῖν Μαρίαν τὴν γυναῖκά σου· τὸ γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ γεννηθὲν ἐκ πνεύματός ἐστιν ἁγίου. 21 τέξεται δὲ υἱόν, καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν· αὐτὸς γὰρ σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν. Matthew 1:18-21 (NA28)

In the passage above, the word “sins” in v21 translates the noun ἁμαρτιῶν, which is the Genitive, Plural of ἁμαρτία or hamartia, from the verb ἁμαρτάνω or hamartanō, which means, “to miss the mark.” The word group from which these two words belong gives the sense of missing the mark, losing, or falling short of a goal (particularly a spiritual one), as in Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” The noun form, ἁμαρτία, typically refers to the transgression of the law, for example, 1 John 3:4, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” Therefore, ἁμαρτία is used to denote our sin against God. Apart from the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, ἁμαρτία results in death, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). Continue reading

Consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry


by Mike Ratliff

5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. Colossians 3:5-7 (NASB) 

It is one thing to compare the Biblical teaching of our Sanctification with the man-oriented false teaching that is prevalent seemingly everywhere, but then easily overlook the fact that so many believers are desperate to know how to obey the command in the passage I placed at the top of this post (Colossians 3:5-7) to consider the members of your earthly body as dead to sin. Christian living is frustrating for the truly regenerate when they forget that we are actually commanded in Sacred Scripture to “be what we already are.” That takes us aback because we do not “feel” Holy or Christlike. Why? Our repeated sins lead us to believe that we are anything but. Then we hear false teachers like Rick Warren and his followers tell us that what we need is his program of behavior modification to fix us right up. When I was a youth, the big thing was “let go and let God.” Well, that didn’t work either. Both trying hard to not sin through some program and simply “letting go” to have God take over leads to the inevitable breeding of discouragement, apathy, and the lowering of God’s standards.

Continue reading

Sin and missing the mark


by Mike Ratliff

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows:when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “ Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21 NASB)

In the passage above, the word “sins” translates the noun ἁμαρτιῶν, which is the Genitive, Plural of ἁμαρτία or hamartia, from the verb ἁμαρτάνω or hamartanō, which means, “to miss the mark.” The word group from which these two words belong gives the sense of missing the mark, losing, or falling short of a goal (particularly a spiritual one), as in Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” The noun form, ἁμαρτία, typically refers to the transgression of the law, for example, 1 John 3:4, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” Therefore, ἁμαρτία is used to denote our sin against God. Apart from the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, ἁμαρτία results in death, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord ” (Romans 6:23).

Continue reading

To miss the mark


by Mike Ratliff

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows:when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “ Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21 NASB)

In the passage above, the word “sins” translates the noun ἁμαρτιῶν, which is the Genitive, Plural of ἁμαρτία or hamartia, from the verb ἁμαρτάνω or hamartanō, which means, “to miss the mark.” The word group from which these two words belong gives the sense of missing the mark, losing, or falling short of a goal (particularly a spiritual one), as in Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” The noun form, ἁμαρτία, typically refers to the transgression of the law, for example, 1 John 3:4, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” Therefore, ἁμαρτία is used to denote our sin against God. Apart from the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, ἁμαρτία results in death, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord ” (Romans 6:23). Continue reading

The costliness of a Biblical view of sin


by Mike Ratliff

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5 NASB)

Those who have a problem with the Doctrine of Original Sin and the Wrath of God against all sin attempt to paint the God of Reformation Theology as some sort of ogre full of anger with very little love manifest except in the case of a chosen few. In their examples of how God operates in saving people, sin is never the issue. They portray God as loving everyone to the maximum and even if their sin amounted to open rebellion against Him on their part. In their theology He just looks the other way and attempts to save everyone, but the point of contention is that the God in their example is unable to save anyone. The salvation of people is only made a possibility with those actually being saved being those who hear the Gospel and respond by exercising their “sovereign free will.” On the other hand, the God of the Bible is not anything like this. He is Sovereign. He saves those whom He has elected or chosen unto eternal life. No one limits Him in any way. Man’s will is in no way a barrier to God fulfilling His will. From these two vastly different understandings of theology comes to very different understandings of sin. Let’s look at a biblical view of sin and I invite you to compare your own understanding of it to what we unpack here. If your’s is different, I suggest to you that the Bible is not in error…  Continue reading

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?


by Mike Ratliff

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. (Romans 1:26-27 NASB)

The Postmodern paradigm sees, “… affirming gays as liberating them from their oppressors…” This postmodern mindset is deeply engrained in what is known as Emergence Christianity. This is why its leaders nearly all line up and stand with their “gay friends” in support and do not attempt to get them to repent of their sin because they actually believe that a person can be a practicing homosexual and a good Christian at the same time. Well, actually, I do understand what they are saying and I do understand the underlying compassion that leads them to this, but there comes a point as Christians when we cannot cross certain lines. What God calls sin is sin regardless of how we or anyone else “feels” about it. What does God’s word say about those who will not inherit the kingdom of God? Continue reading

Sin, faith, regeneration, righteousness, flesh and spirit


by Mike Ratliff

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They *said to Him, “Yes.” 52 And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” (Matthew 13:51-52 NASB)

Charles Spurgeon spent the last several years of his ministry contending with “liberalizing” efforts within the Evangelical churches in England in what came to be known as the “Great Downgrade Controversy.” That “downgrade” gained momentum not only in England, but here in the United States and around the world. It began in the 19th Century when Seminaries began embracing “higher criticism” of the Bible. This caused many promising Biblical Scholars to eventually cast loose that which moored them to orthodoxy, the belief that the Bible is God’s Word, inerrant, and complete. Even though movements came forth to contend with this liberalization, this downgrade, instead of dying, has only changed form many times while still poisoning the Church like a parasite, sucking the spiritual life from it. Continue reading

Sanctification and our flesh


by Mike Ratliff

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:20-23 NASB)

If you read or listen to the “testimonies” of the “new evangelists” or the emergents or even those in the conservative denominations like the Southern Baptist Denomination who are working very hard to transform them into something they perceive as more culturally relevant, you will discover that they, across the board, arrived at their theology as they became “refugees” from some form of pietism or American Evangelicalism that leaned heavily towards semi-pelagianism and/or legalism. That mix in whatever proportions is intellectually veneer thin. When the leadership within those groups move at all away from being centered on God’s Word and His grace then all that is left is the legalism that only leads those in unbelief to despair for without the preaching of the Good News according to the Free Grace of God, all that is left is simply manmade religiosity. These “refugees” now look at all who they view as dogmatic in any way about their theology as simply “fundamentalist” even though there is a vast difference between what we preach and teach from what they fled. Of course these “refugees” are mired in unbelief no matter how “religious” they appear.

Continue reading

Oh, if only we could recognize how poor and filthy we are in God’s sight!


by Mike Ratliff

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” (Zechariah 3:1-4 ESV)

The neo-evangelists in our day push their evangelical emphasis to the forefront where it has become the golden calf in their churches. Instead of obeying our Lord to make disciples they seek to multiply their numbers through easy believism. They use shame tactics to get their flocks to bring their friends and relatives to church so they can hear that Jesus wants to come into their lives so they can live abundantly here and now.

It is a golden calf because it is the primary focus at the cost of discipleship. Being an idol, it cannot deliver on its promises though. Whereas, we learn in the Bible that those who abide in Christ and His word and obey Him in all things will have an abundant life. This abundant life is spiritual not material. It is the byproduct of becoming more and more Christlike as God molds and shapes His people as they surrender to the Lordship of Christ more and more in every part of their lives. On the other hand, the golden calf’s version of the Gospel is incomplete and skewed towards “decisions for Christ” instead of giving people the good news that even though they are filthy in God’s sight because of their sin, there is peace available between God and men through the Son who paid the price for their sin.

Continue reading