Judge Not Part 15 – Letting the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly


by Mike Ratliff

12 So, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and graciously forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone, just as the Lord graciously forgave you, so also should you. 14 Above all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with gratefulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:12-17 (LSB) 

Before I became a Christian, I was a Christian in name only. In other words, I was a religious Christian instead of a genuine Christian. I went to Church. I tried to be good. I was supremely unsuccessful at both being good, and being a good Christian. I thought that someday I would start to like church and get good at it. I simply thought that good Christians tired harder than the rest of us. Then God saved me. Continue reading

Judge Not Part 14 – Being a Living Sacrifice


by Mike Ratliff

1 Therefore I exhort you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice–living, holy, and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may approve what the will of God is, that which is good and pleasing and perfect.
3 For through the grace given to me I say to each one among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound thinking, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Romans 12:1-3 (LSB) 

All of the things we have looked at so far in this study about doing all for the glory of God, drinking from the cup of Christ’s suffering, wrestling the correct opponent, loving your enemies, and behaving like a Christian are possible only for the believer who is in the process of taking on Christ’s character. No one can do these things naturally. No one is able to attain this level of spirituality by trying to do those things. Instead, these behaviors flow from a Christlike heart. No believer will ever become Christlike in their character unless they also become Spirit-led. If a believer is controlled by their emotions then they are not Spirit-led. Neither are they who have not learned to walk in the Spirit. If sin runs rampant through a believer’s life then they are not Spirit-led. In addition, if a believer is constantly consumed by anger, bitterness, envy, and self-protection then they are not Spirit-led. Continue reading

Judge Not Part 13 – Behaving like a Christian


by Mike Ratliff

9 Let love be without hypocrisy–by abhorring what is evil, clinging to what is good, 10 being devoted to one another in brotherly love, giving preference to one another in honor, 11 not lagging behind in diligence, being fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in affliction, being devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, pursuing hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep, 16 by being of the same mind toward one another, not being haughty in mind, but associating with the humble. Do not be wise in your own mind. 17 Never paying back evil for evil to anyone, respecting what is good in the sight of all men, 18 if possible, so far as it depends on you, being at peace with all men, 19 never taking your own revenge, beloved–instead leave room for the wrath of God. For it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20 “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9-21 (LSB) 

When I began working on this series, I was intent on presenting to all who read this the facts about the tremendous damage hypocritical judging does within the body of Christ as well as to those who practice it. However, the more I studied and wrote the more I became convinced that Christians judging others is a symptom of something much more dreadful. Just as bitterness and resentment have their roots in pride, judging hypocritically has its roots in spiritual immaturity. The spiritually immature believer’s biggest problem is a lack of humility. The believer’s level of Christlikeness is directly related to how successful he or she is in uprooting pride while cultivating humility in the heart. Continue reading

Judge Not Part 12 – Loving your Enemies


by Mike Ratliff

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ 39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your garment also. 41 And whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:38-48 (LSB) 

I remember the first time I read the passage I placed at the beginning of this chapter. I simply could not believe that it was possible for anyone to love one’s enemies or pray for them. I read in the Gospels that Jesus did those things, but He is God. How could any mortal person ever do this? At the time of that reading, I was not a regenerate believer. I was definitely in the process of being called, but God’s effectual call had not touched my heart yet. I still had the idea that one had to be able to do Christian things in order to become a Christian. I had to learn and believe the right things and do the right things so that I could possibly “grow into” a good Christian. Continue reading

Judge Not Part 10 – Drinking from Christ’s Cup of Suffering


by Mike Ratliff

34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who were following him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away people after him. He too perished, and all those who were following him were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I also say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or you may even be found fighting against God.”
40 So they followed his advice. And after calling the apostles in and beating them, they commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for the Name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ. Acts 5:34-42 (LSB emphasis mine) 

I am sure you have heard some preacher somewhere at sometime say something like, “Come to Jesus so He can bless you and make your life better.” Every time I hear or read something like that, I want to grab them and ask them if they have ever seriously read their Bibles. Yes, a life in Christ is far superior to life outside of God’s grace; however, people who preach a gospel of health, wealth, and prosperity are guilty of misleading the gullible. The walk of a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is one of self-denial, humility, obedience, and devotion to God’s glory. Continue reading

Judge not Part 9 – Doing all for the Glory of God


by Mike Ratliff

31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 (LSB) 

Some have said that God’s demand that He be glorified above all things (Isaiah 43:7; Colossians 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:4; John 8:29; Romans 8:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; Ephesians 4:1; 2 Corinthians 5:9) while commanding that His people remain humble, puts Him in a bad light. The scriptures tell us that God created humankind for His glory. Doesn’t this make God selfish, vain, and overly proud? That viewpoint comes from a distorted view of God and Man. That viewpoint is at the core of Humanism. Continue reading

Judge Not Part 8 – The Invaluable Treasure of a Clear Conscience


by Mike Ratliff

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I am grateful to God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I unceasingly remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 longing to see you, having remembered your tears, so that I may be filled with joy, 5 being reminded of the unhypocritical faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am convinced that it is in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:1-7 (LSB) 

People are such illogical creatures. The fallen nature we all inherited from Adam reveals itself at the most maddening of times. Our Christian scholars, ministers, and theologians are not immune. It seems that our lack of humility is Satan’s most valuable tool in defeating us. I have a Blog as part of my writing ministry. I also participate in theological discussions on other Blogs. Some of those discussions can become chaotic situations at times. There are times when the ones contending in these “discussions” become so adamant about their polarized positions that the situation becomes ripe for frustration, anger, and bitterness. Continue reading

Slavery Freedom Faith and Fruit


by Mike Ratliff

1 Τῇ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἡμᾶς Χριστὸς ἠλευθέρωσεν· στήκετε οὖν καὶ μὴ πάλιν ζυγῷ δουλείας ἐνέχεσθε. Galatians 5:1 (NA28)

1 For this freedom, Christ freed us, therefore, stand fast, and be not held again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)

In Galatians 5:1 (above), the reference to the freedom for which Christ freed us is refers to Paul’s arguments from Galatians 4. Never forget the purpose of this letter to the Galatian churches. They were being attacked by “Judiazers” who were attempting to get these Gentile believers to look to keeping the Jewish ceremonial law and regulations because they were saying the atonement bought for them through Christ’s blood was not sufficient for their justification. Paul’s argument is exactly the opposite. In Galatians 5:1, he makes it clear to them that Christ freed us through His atoning death especially for this freedom and those who have it must stand firm and not submit again to a yoke of legalism or slavery.  Continue reading

What is the Biblical Evidence of Being Filled With the Spirit?


by Mike Ratliff

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18 (NASB) 

As we have seen, the passage Ephesians 5:18 is a command. The verb forms of “do not get drunk” and “be filled” are both present tense, imperative mood, passive voice. The imperative mood equates to a military command and something the Christian does control. Neither not getting drunk with wine unto debauchery or Spirit-filling are optional, but rather mandatory for Christians. You may ask, “how so?” This is clearly shown to be the will of God in Ephesians 5:17, just one verse earlier, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Never forget my brethren, God would not give us command unless we were being put in charge of carrying out the command, so it’s up to us to obey.  Continue reading

Personal Holiness


by Mike Ratliff

Beth.
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
10 With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O LORD;
Teach me Your statutes.
13 With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.
16 I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word. Psalms 119:9-16 (NASB) 

The concept that God would somehow be satisfied with those who call themselves Christians, but who live their lives totally apart from Him, seems very strange to me. The idea that the Lord is only after converts who say a quick sinner’s prayer, but never really change must really insult Him. Look at the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us on the cross. How could anyone really think He went through all that to accomplish only the possibility of salvation for all people or, even worse, automatically save all people including those who continue to live reprobate lives after hearing the gospel? Those who believe either of those are deluding themselves. Of course, their hearts are self-focused and they are suffering from a severe case of hardheartedness. God’s values are not apparent to their hearts so they live the way they want. Many of them compartmentalize their lives to the point they give God those couple of hours on some Sunday mornings, but the rest of their time is theirs.

God’s standards for those in His Kingdom are very different from that ugly, fleshly, and useless scenario above. The Lord is calling us to be His disciples not religious pew sitters. The cost of our commitment may look high, but we count the cost and submit to His Lordship anyway because it is only costly in the world’s eyes. When compared to the eternal it is as nothing.

25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
34 “Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35 It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:25-35 (NASB) 

Our calling is to shoulder our own cross. That means dying to self. Then what? We are to follow Him without holding any relationship or thing higher than our devotion to Him. We must value our relationship with our Lord as our most valuable treasure. We must not only do this, but also do it continuously. How? This stanza of Psalms 119 is titled “Beth” and it shows us the source of our personal holiness that is the source of our ability to live this way.

The first line in this stanza is, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” This stanza begins with a question followed by the answer. The idea stated in the question is, “tell me how to cleanse my ways and live in a way which keeps me pure.” The Spirit-led know the answer. Why? They know the processes God drew them into which led them to the moment of heart circumcision. They know it took total immersion into the Word of God and staying in His presence to put them into that position. They also know what it takes to maintain this walk. What is it? They must guard their hearts by staying focused on the Lord—they must walk in the Spirit and stay in the Word. When we do this, the Lord will give us His peace and joy by His grace.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:4-9 (NASB)

What a great picture of the sufficiency of our Lord! When we live for Him, come to Him with all our problems and stay away from adulterating ways He will give us what we need to stay pure. What is that? It is His peace. How does that guard our hearts and keep us pure? Our focus is on the Lord when He fills us with His peace and joy instead of self. We focus on our Lord and rejoice in His presence. In return, we are content in His grace. What a deal!

The second line in this stanza is, “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!” I have learned the hard way my heart will most definitely wander from the truth if I get careless with focus. I have been in the midst of extreme joy and communion with my Lord one minute then I have walked right into some self-focused mess just a few seconds later. Why? We have to learn not to become self-focused in our delight and rejoicing in the Lord. I tend to do this sometimes. It is such a wonderful place to be! However, sometimes I will be experiencing that and start thinking of self-focused things. Once that starts, it is all over. Bah! In extreme situations, we get careless, walk right away from this very narrow path, and back to ugly fleshly things for self-gratification. How can we not do this? Ask God for Help. The psalmist tells us. We must remain humble and Spirit-led and avoid self-focus. We need His help to do this. If we try to go this alone, we will stumble. It is just a matter of time. However, do not lose heart. Those in Christ have regenerate hearts. That means God has granted them repentance and changed their heart to the point their will is now subject to His. What that means is those in Christ now have Free Will. Prior to salvation all choices made by our will eventually lead to sin so our will cannot choose anything except evil. Why? Prior to salvation, we are outside of God’s grace. The only way we can do anything that is not evil is within God’s grace. Once we are Born Again we are changed. We are new creations. Part of that is we now have the ability to exercise Free Will by God’s grace. That means the Born Again can now decide or choose to obey God and not sin. The fact we still sin tells us we are still in the process of sanctification. This process is what God is using to mature us unto Christ-likeness. It will continue for the rest of our Earthly lives.

Staying immersed in the Word of God, internalizing it through meditation and study, will help us stay Spirit-led. When we are Spirit-led, we will not sin. Why? The Holy Spirit is leading us. When we are walking in the Spirit, we are also walking and standing fully armored with the whole armor of God. Never forget, this battle to remain pure is a spiritual battle. We are under attack from our “OLD MAN” sin nature and our enemy to go back to self-gratification and idol worship. To fight and win this battle we must remain armored by being Spirit-led. Internalized scripture is a mighty weapon. It guards our hearts. What we are really discussing here is a battle to remain obedient to our Lord, and therefore, remain pure. When we are tempted to react in the flesh, we must not try to fight this battle with our own strength. Why? We will stumble. However, when we deny self and obey what is right we must do so by His grace and power not ours. If we do this, we will not stumble.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, 19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10-20 (NASB)

We did a very detailed study of the whole armor of God in my second book Possessing the Treasure, which is no longer in print. However I have published The chapter  “God Fights Our Battles.” here on this blog from that book. Here is the link. If you have that book, check it out or review it. lastly, I have posted the manuscript of Possessing he Treasure on this blog as well so if you want to read it, here is the link. The reason we are inconsistent in this walk of personal holiness is we try to fight these battles ourselves. That is a mistake. Instead, we must simply stand in our armor as we call upon the Lord to do the fighting. As we mature from Adult to Mature Christians, we should learn how to fight these battles. I firmly believe this marker, among others, differentiates the Adult Christian from the Mature Christian. The Mature Christian knows he or she cannot do the fighting and wants only to be pure and holy before the Lord, which results in constantly remaining armored and ready for battle by choosing to be so.

The third line in this stanza is, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Again, we have a bold statement from the psalmist that makes it clear the way to remain pure is to hide or store God’s Word in our hearts. We have already discussed this. We know this. Why don’t we do it then? This stanza repeats it twice for us. That means it is vitally important. We need to take this seriously. We need to take this to heart and make some changes. What changes? We must determine we want personal holiness and are willing to pay the price to get it. What is that price? We must submit to our Lord and do what He wills for us to do. We must get into the Word and get the Word into us. Some may believe that is not necessary, but God’s Word is very powerful. It is the Sword of the Spirit. It is one of our mighty weapons.

12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Hebrews 4:12-13 (NASB)

When it comes to listening to the doctrines of men or following what the Word says I chose the Word. Forget the doctrines of men. Give me the pure and unadulterated doctrines of God’s Word. When we internalize His wonderful Word, we are exposing all of our false ways to His spiritual surgeon’s scalpel. Ouch! However, this is vital. We must submit to the wonderful pulverizing work in our hearts. How do we do this? Get into the Word and get the Word into our hearts.

The fourth line in this stanza is, “Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!” We must never lose sight of the fact that the Lord is our discipler. I would be nowhere without His leading and guiding in my heart. When I do research, I am amazed how He works out all those situations so I end up right where I learn what He wants me to learn so I can grasp and internalize His truth. I would rather sit at the feet of Jesus and learn what He teaches than any human teacher. This statement begins with “Blessed.” This is a different word than the “Blessed” found in the stanza entitled “Aleph.” This word describes one who is blessed as they kneel. God does not kneel to us. However, He does participate in our worship as we do it correctly, in spirit and in truth.

3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Psalms 22:3 (KJV) 

This is a verse from Psalms 22 that is called a messianic Psalm because it prophetically describes Jesus’ agony on the cross. The psalmist was expressing agony and grief, but in this verse, he reveals what happens in our hearts when we are in the midst of true worship of our Lord. This verse is a call to God from one who is suffering and feels abandoned by God just as Jesus was on the cross. Some modern translations use the word “enthroned” instead of “inhabitest.” That implies God becomes enthroned in the heart of those who worship Him in spirit and in truth. What a wonderful truth! When we live for His glory, He becomes enthroned in our hearts. This means we are in His presence and He is doing His good work in our hearts to regenerate them unto Christ-likeness. Here is the same verse from the NASB.

3 Yet You are holy,
O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. Psalms 22:3 (NASB)

The Hebrew word that is translated “inhabitest” and “enthroned” in this verse means “to sit” or “take up residence.” However, it can also mean, “to sit as judge.” Our Lord is Lord of all. We do not make Him Lord because he is Lord. However, we must submit to Him as Lord. When we do that, he is enthroned there. In fact, this very act places us on the altar of self-sacrifice and self-denial. Picture it, when we are living a life that is a life of worship of our Lord we are actually walking in the Spirit, abiding in Christ, running the race that is set before us and we are presenting our bodies as living sacrifices to Him. This is how we walk the Walk by Faith. This is how we walk Spirit-led.

The fifth line from this stanza is, “With my lips I have told of All the ordinances of Your mouth.” The psalmist is telling us he is a teacher to others of what the Lord has revealed to him. When God reveals His wisdom, His ways and His standards they do a wonderful work within us, but they are also the source of fruitful teaching and preaching. The great Puritan writers, who were teachers and preachers, were adamant that the masses should have the revealed Word of God proclaimed to them. In fact, they took on the attitude they were dying men preaching to dying men. God granted a tremendous revival or spiritual awakening to the Reformers because they went hard after learning the truth from His Word. The impact of those truths was a conviction to pass them on to all.

One major reason the Church in the 21st Century is so weak and powerless is the rampant lack of Bible knowledge by the majority of the believers in it. When God draws someone into this Spirit-led walk, the self-focused majority view that dear saint as ultra-spiritual and strange. What a tragedy! It should be the other way around. The Church should be full of mature believers who disciple new believers. However, in fact, the Church is full of weak and powerless self-focused believers who see the Spirit-led as a threat to their ease and comfort. Since Bible knowledge within the Western Church is lacking there is also a glut of false doctrines touted as truth to those unfortunate masses of self-focused pew sitters. This compounds the problem. For instance, if a preacher or teacher expounds Puritan doctrines, which are hundreds of years old, in some of these churches or on so-called Christian Radio, it causes such an uproar one might believe he or she is spewing evil from Satan’s own lips.

Our Western culture is part of the problem. Today it is not “politically correct” to tell people they are totally depraved sinners when compared to the holiness of God. The doctrines taught by some folks have been bent and twisted around our culture to the point they no longer have any impact on anyone. These are the doctrines of demons. Look at the passage below.

1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 1 Timothy 4:1-3 (NASB) 

This is just an example of what has happened in our day. I have been studying the teachings of those great theologians who were the backbone of the Protestant Reformation. I am very fond of the writings of John Bunyan. John Owen is another example along with Richard Baxter and Jonathan Edwards. There are many more. These men knew their Bibles. They knew how to rightly divide the Word of truth and were not interested in being “pleasers of men.”

What we have to understand is, God’s ways are not our ways. His ways are perfect and always right while man’s ways may look right unto him, but are wholly false.

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB) 

12 There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12 (NASB) 

With all that in focus, what doctrines should be taught to God’s people? Forget doctrines that simply tickle the ears of those who care nothing about being a disciple of Christ. We must pursue the truth, God’s truth, not politically correct drivel.

1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 (NASB) 

We must do as the psalmist says and teach what God teaches us. Preach what God reveals to us. Never deviate into doctrinal compromise by adulterating them with the ways that seem right unto men. When we present God’s truth, the hearts of men are cut, sliced, and crushed. Lives are changed and God is glorified.

The sixth line in this stanza is, “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.” The thing which puzzles the natural man when he or she observes those who become completely sold out Spirit-led believers is their total devotion to God’s truth coupled with a complete lack of care for the things of the this world. The Spirit-led believer has an insatiable thirst and hunger for God’s truth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6 (NASB) 

This believer is so devoted to God’s truth he or she sees it as equal to the air breathed to stay alive. The Holy Spirit will send Divine Illumination into our hearts as we study the Word and seek the truth. We do not have to rely on our intellect for God to do this. The Spirit-led believer will treasure this eternal treasure more than anything this World can offer. This is God imparting His wisdom unto us. None of us are worthy of this. However, our God is gracious and wants the best for us. When we respond to God’s call to dig deeper He blesses us with his Divine Illumination that is that overwhelming understanding of the truth and where it has come from.

The seventh line is this stanza is, “I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways.” This statement is showing us the benefit of getting into the Word and getting the Word into us. What is it? Having the living Word of God in our hearts causes us to draw near unto Him. When we do this, He draws near unto us. When we are close to our Lord like this, He does a marvelous work in our hearts. He will open our hearts to the truth. He will then reveal those ways that are in us that are not His ways. He will then lead us into repentance. The Lord will then grant us that repentance which means we actually grow, change, and conform to His ways. It is all by His grace.

The eighth line in this stanza is, “I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.” The psalmist was testifying of the results of the Lord’s good work in His heart as he dug into the Word. He had fallen in love with God’s truth and as a result, it had taken up residence there. God drew him into this devotion then blessed Him via the regenerative work by Grace in his heart. We must never forget this good work in our hearts is always by His grace not because we will it to be so.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are taken from The Holy Bible, King James Version.

Fight the Good Fight of Faith


by Mike Ratliff

12 ἀγωνίζου τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς πίστεως,
ἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς, εἰς ἣν ἐκλήθης
καὶ ὡμολόγησας τὴν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν
ἐνώπιον πολλῶν μαρτύρων. 1 Timothy 6:12 (NA28)

12 Fight the good fight of faith,
Lay hold of the eternal life to which you were called
and confessed the good confession
before many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12 (Translated from the NA28 Greek text)

There are times when this work becomes an agonizing battle just to combat the attacks of our accuser; just to pray and prepare to open God’s Word; let alone dig into the Greek then translate et cetera. I am a mere man upon whom God had mercy January 1986 when I was 34. I was 35 later that year. Here I am now just a couple of months from being 71 years old and when the accuser comes to battle me, to distract me, to belittle me, what do you think he uses for ammunition? Yes, I know that at the cross all my sins were atoned for and that by God’s grace through faith the father justified me. Yes, Amen! I have days when I can take any fiery dart the enemy shoots in my direction with hardly any problem because I am so totally full of the Spirit and, using the shield of faith, extinguish those fiery darts as if they are nothing. However, there are times, especially since my stroke in April, when I am convinced that God allows the enemy access so that his accusations seem to overwhelm me. I feel worthless. I look at my past sins and then at the task of doing this work and cannot see how God could or even want to use one such as I.  Continue reading

Shame and a tender conscience


by Mike Ratliff

31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:31-38 (NASB) 

One of the major weapons of our enemy is attacks centered on provoking our pride, to incite us to be deeply concerned about what others think of us in relation to our profession of faith and how we walk the narrow path set before us by God. Our Lord warned us that this sort of attack would be coming our way and it causes professing Christians to lose their boldness as they actually seek to preserve “their life” for their own sake. When we are more concerned with our image and standing before men rather than for Christ and His gospel then we compromise because we have set our minds on the things of man rather than the things of God. 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

Lights in the World


by Mike Ratliff

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 5:14-16 (NASB) 

While Joel and Victoria Osteen believe that our Lord’s command to let your light shine before others is to prosper and show everyone how God is blessing you, this is not what He was talking about at all. We are not to be conformed to this world, we are to unified with our brothers and sisters in Christ while not being yoked to professing Christians who are not genuine, and we are to lay up our treasure in heaven not here on earth. Living like this makes one stand out because it is a way of life that is conformed to God and His ways, which are not the ways of the world. It will get the attention of the unregenerate. Continue reading