The Holy War


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 The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Zechariah 3:1-2 (NASB) 

Is there a war going on between God and His forces on one side and Satan and his forces on the other? If you listen to certain preachers such as Joel Osteen you won’t hear anything about that. However, as we saw in this post several months ago, persecution is the natural result of teaching or preaching God’s Word without compromise. Of course the implication of that is to avoid persecution and stay out of “The Holy War” then all Christians need to do is compromise and be friends with the world. Before we take a look at this Holy War, please carefully read the following passage. It is one of the seven letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. It is to the church at Smyrna, which is the only one of the seven that was not rebuked by our Lord. Read it carefully.

8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:
9 ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’ Revelation 2:8-11 (NASB) 

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The root of a godly focused life


by Mike Ratliff

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 6:17-20 (NASB) 

Ungodly focus is the focus that everyone has except for the Spirit-filled believer. This focus is oriented to self. Believers who are self-focused are either baby Christians or they have succumbed to Satan’s attacks against them. These attacks are designed specifically to render each believer powerless and without a Christlike testimony. He does this with temptations, fiery darts, that are designed to bring believers to be self-satisfied, self-sufficient, and spiritually arrogant. Of course, these are the marks of a Christian who is not humble, but whose pride is in control. Continue reading

Standing firm in your faith


by Mike Ratliff

3 Ἐν σαρκὶ γὰρ περιπατοῦντες οὐ κατὰ σάρκα στρατευόμεθα, 4 τὰ γὰρ ὅπλα τῆς στρατείας ἡμῶν οὐ σαρκικὰ ἀλλὰ δυνατὰ τῷ θεῷ πρὸς καθαίρεσιν ὀχυρωμάτων, λογισμοὺς καθαιροῦντες 5 καὶ πᾶν ὕψωμα ἐπαιρόμενον κατὰ τῆς γνώσεως τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ αἰχμαλωτίζοντες πᾶν νόημα εἰς τὴν ὑπακοὴν τοῦ Χριστοῦ, (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NA28)

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not warring according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful through God to the overthrow of strongholds overthrowing reasonings 5 and every high thing rising up against the knowledge of God and leading captive every thought into the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

All believers who are still in this life also live and walk in the flesh in a physical sense, but the goal must be to grow into maturity and no longer walk that way in a moral sense (Romans 8:4). Christians who are obediently doing this must actively war according to the spirit, never the flesh, in the battle to free souls from the forces of darkness and bring them to maturity in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:17-25; 2:1-4). Therefore, those whose ministries are based around appealing to the flesh are actually warring according to the flesh and that does not work, at least not in an eternal sense. What is done in the flesh may look impressive to those who walk in the flesh in a moral sense, but they are impotent and powerless to free souls from the forces of darkness and bring them to maturity in Christ. Why? They cannot successfully oppose satanic assaults on the gospel or any of God’s truths, which explains why the “seeker” oriented “churches” continually morph into more and more bizarre forms.  Continue reading

O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?


by Mike Ratliff

5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. (Luke 17:5-6 NASB)

This Christian walk is actually a pilgrimage through life. It begins at salvation and continues to the Celestial City where the believer will be with the Lord eternally. However, the journey itself is the means through which God sanctifies His children. Satan hinders God’s people at every turn. The more they are devoted to the Lord and obey Him, the more He hinders. God allows this in order to peel away the layers of pride and self-sufficiency in each believer. These things are bound to this world and flesh and, therefore, are impotent to bring joy to the believer and glory to God. Even in our “devotion” we can fall into the trap of self-focus and self-righteousness. Therefore, God allows Satan to hinder us that we will see clearly that our joy and fulfillment are only in humbly submitting to the Lord in all things instead of always getting our way about our circumstances, which are ordained by God. This is also true for those whom God has ordained to stand firm and use His discernment and wisdom to withstand the enemy’s attacks on the church through heresies and growing apostasy. As we uncover and expose what is really going on in the visible church we must do so in light of the spiritual warfare going on all around us. As God uses us we must be even more alert and prepared for Satan’s hindering attacks. His goal is to destroy our faith and drive a wedge between us and our Lord. He will use other people and our circumstances to do this. We must, therefore, ask God to increase our faith and help our unbelief each day in order to do what we do for the Lord in prayerful humility with the fortitude He gives us. It must be for His glory alone.
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Our enemy and his tactics


by Mike Ratliff

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. (Ephesians 6:10-13 NASB)

Before believers mature to the point where they can consistently mortify the sins that so easily ensnare them, they are not a serious threat to Satan and his subordinates in his war against God. However, when believers have matured so that they continually seek to grow in their knowledge of and obedience to the Word and to serve the Lord more faithfully they will soon discover that their walk before the face of God, serving Him, and living for His glory becomes more difficult instead of easier.

This difficulty is part of the battle against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. When believers become Spirit-filled, growing in Christ-likeness, they come under attack by our enemy because his goal is to rob God of His glory and those believers are living in such state of grace that their lives bring glory to God more and more as they obey Him in every part of their lives. Of course God uses the ensuing battle both for His glory and the edification of His saints as well.  Continue reading

Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths


by Mike Ratliff

1 To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in You I trust,
Do not let me be ashamed;
Do not let my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;
Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.
4 Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day. (Psalms 25:1-5 NASB)

Doubting God and His promises, worrying about things that are in God’s control leads us into sin. As we have seen in the last few posts, our enemy focuses primarily in His attacks on us on attempting to bring us to a place where we doubt God. This struggle comes to all who commit themselves to serving God with their lives. The closer they draw to God, the more Satan or his forces attempt to bring discouragement and despair to bear on these believers in an attempt to thwart their devotion to their Lord. Continue reading

Is there a war going on between God and His forces on one side and Satan and his forces on the other?


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 The Lord said to Satan, “ The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:1-2 NASB)

I have had a rough couple of days. For a while I could not figure out what was wrong. Then at 3:30am this morning, not being able to sleep, I asked God for help. Things began to become clear. I was being accused by the enemy. I do not pretend to be righteous by my own merit. If I was I would have lost it a long time ago. However, our enemy loves to attack us, especially when we attack him and his strongholds. It is imperative to know the enemy and how he works. To have an enemy implies that there is a conflict of some kind. Is there a war going on between God and His forces on one side and Satan and his forces on the other? Continue reading

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ


by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9 NASB)

There is no guarantee that the Genuine Christian will ever be immune from suffering despite what false teachers like Joel Osteen say. In fact, suffering is the method God uses to prune the branches that abide in the Vine, our Lord Jesus Christ. (John 15) I have found that the form this suffering takes is nearly always a surprise. When atheists or pagans ridicule the resulting sorrow from that is relatively minor and easily borne compared to that delivered by professing Christians. In any case, we must not be discouraged, even though that is what our enemy seeks to do to us through it. God is allowing him to do this to us, therefore, what should our reaction be? Continue reading

God’s purpose in our fiery trials and tribulations


by Mike Ratliff

1 To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in You I trust, Do not let me be ashamed; Do not let my enemies exult over me. 3 Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed. 4 Make me know Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day. (Psalms 25:1-5 NASB)

Doubting God and His promises, worrying about things that are in God’s control are sins. Our enemy focuses primarily in His attacks on us in attempts to bring us to a place where we doubt God. This struggle comes to all who commit themselves to serving God with their lives. The closer they draw to God, the more Satan or his forces attempt to bring discouragement and despair to bear on these believers in an attempt to thwart their devotion to their Lord.

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I have not come to bring peace, but a sword


by Mike Ratliff

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34 ESV)

The character and the mission of our Lord Jesus Christ is not well understood by the majority of people on planet Earth. In fact, many professing “Christians” have an image of Him in their understanding that is based upon fleshly reasoning. This “other” Jesus is not Biblical for the most part. They have given their Jesus a whole new set of values and traits that conflict sharply with the Jesus presented in the Gospels in His own words. In fact, many of their attributes of “their Jesus” come directly from how he is portrayed in pop culture.  Continue reading

What are fiery darts?


by Mike Ratliff

11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” (Revelation 22:11 ESV)

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan is a allegory of the journey of one man, Christian, who is saved and makes the journey to escape his home town, The City of Destruction. The journey takes him to the cross by him entering the narrow way by way of the narrow gate that few find. After the burden of sin is taken away at the cross he journeys until he reaches the Celestial City.

One of the most interesting places he must travel through is called The Valley of Humiliation. It is the place where all Christians must travel through in order to reach Heaven. In the Valley their pride is attacked while their humility is cultivated. They are taught to rely solely on the Lord instead of their own wits or reason or abilities. In the book, Christian finds Apollyon there who is enraged that he had lost one of his subjects, who of course is Christian. A battle ensues. Apollyon does Christian much damage, but Christian uses his armor, sword and shield to fight to save his life. One of the main weapons of our enemy is his fiery darts. What are they?

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Why Christians must walk humbly before the Lord


by Mike Ratliff

Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother? (Genesis 43:5-6 ESV)

Unforgiveness is poison for the Soul as it ensnares those who refuse to forgive by binding them into the prison of bitterness. This world is not a peaceful, easy, benign place. It is fallen. The world system is the product of Man’s rebellion against God. There is war. There is crime. There is oppression. People wrong other people. They place their wants and desires and perceived needs ahead of the wants and desires of others. The world system is marked by people pursuing their own no matter who gets hurt. The Christian is called to respond to the hurts and wrongs done to them in a vastly different way from the ways of the world. Continue reading

To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us.


by Mike Ratliff

1 To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
2 Behold, as the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he has mercy upon us.
3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
4 Our soul has had more than enough
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.
(Psalms 123:1-4 ESV)

The vast majority of people on planet Earth want nothing to do with the real Jesus. Many love and hold dear “another Jesus,” but he is one made up by people who don’t know the one who is real. Also their Jesus is “different” because they do not particularly like the one who is revealed to mankind in God’s Word. Tragically, the numbers of professing Christians are growing continually who are also following “another Jesus” who does not resemble in the least the one found in Sacred Scripture. Those who hold dear the real Jesus are those who are entirely reliant upon the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Undoubtedly there are immature Christians who whose faith is not strong. However, there are also huge numbers of “religious”  Christians who live as if their “decision for Christ” many years ago is their fire insurance. Some of these are quite religious while others are simply calling themselves Christian as if it is some sort of family trait, these being “cultural Christians.” Those who are completely reliant upon God, whose focus is His glory in all things are those who know the real Jesus and are known by Him. These are the believers whose eyes look to the Lord their God. They look unto God because this brings them knowledge of His countenance. Christians know God by interacting with Him in prayer, Bible Study, obedience and repentance and, of course, by partaking of the means of grace. They are able to do these things with Him as they look unto Him, fully trusting Him to work out the details for His glory. Continue reading

The Temporal Result Of The Testing of Our Faith


by Mike Ratliff

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV)

Despite what some false “so-called Christian leaders” in our time say, there is no guarantee that the Genuine Christian will be immune from suffering. In fact, suffering is the method God uses to prune the branches that abide in the Vine, our Lord Jesus Christ. (John 15) I have found that the form this suffering takes is nearly always a surprise. When atheists or pagans ridicule, the resulting sorrow from that is relatively minor and easily borne compared to that delivered by professing Christians. In any case, we must not be discouraged, even though that is what our enemy seeks to do to us through it. God is allowing him to do this to us, therefore, what should our reaction be? Continue reading