Judge Not Part 11 – Wrestling the Correct Opponent


by Mike Ratliff

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the might of His strength. 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 authorities, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10-12 (LSB) 

When I was in Junior High, I wrestled for a couple of years. I was never very good, but I did learn many things about the importance of leverage, quickness, and flexibility. When I had to wrestle some kid who had long arms and who was physically bigger than I was, I knew I was going to have a tough time. I usually won the match if I used my speed and upper body strength to leverage my opponent onto the bottom. I usually lost if the kid I was wrestling had similar quickness to mine and who knew how to counter my upper body strength by going after my legs. Wrestling is simply body against body. It is strength and quickness against strength and quickness. It helps if the wrestler knows the right techniques for takedowns and pins; however, it is still muscle against muscle. 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 7 – The Balm of Hope


by Mike Ratliff

1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. 2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his building up. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME.” 4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through the perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now may the God of perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:1-6 (LSB) 

I have heard it both ways. I have heard that this Christian walk is one of balance between legality and grace. I have also heard that that view is a fallacy. My own observation, however, is somewhat different. I do believe we must be balanced. We are not to judge others in hypocrisy, and we are also to carry out God’s righteous judgments according to His will. However, I believe our walk of balance is one of enduring the harsh realities of this life in the power of God’s grace. This walk defies the logic of the natural mind. However, at the same time that we endure our tests and trials by the grace of God, we reflect Christ to those around us. This walk of balance is what the believer inherits as part of the suffering Church. It is enabled by God’s grace as He applies His balm of hope in our hearts. Continue reading

Trust in God Destroys the Fear of Man


by Mike Ratliff

25 The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted. Proverbs 29:25 (NASB) 

Our enemy is pretty smart. He has been around long enough that he believes he knows us. He knows that lost people are enslaved to him via their sin nature. He knows that the little flock, our Lord’s sheep, may be new creations via the washing of regeneration, but they still have their flesh and a deep, overwhelming need to be fulfilled. Their salvation has changed them so they now have the ability to be fulfilled in God the more they take on Christ’s character. Our enemy, on the other hand, does all he can to neutralize those sheep by attacking them in innumerable ways so that they walk according their flesh instead of according to the Spirit.

Satan has always wanted to be God. He caused a war in Heaven by attempting to usurp God’s throne for himself. Ever since, he has been hard at work attempting to fool people into believing that he is God or at least driving a wedge between people and the Living God by enticing them to be gods unto themselves through their self-will. Continue reading

The Compromised Church Part 2 – Spiritual Blindness


by Mike Ratliff

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew 6:22-23 (NASB) 

Over the last several years, perhaps even over the last several decades, I have become aware of a disturbing phenomenon in the Church in America. Perhaps you have noticed it as well. The phenomenon I am writing about is willful ignorance in our spiritual leaders. Continue reading

Whom Shall I Fear?


by Charles Spurgeon

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”-Psalm 27:1

“The Lord is my light and my salvation.” Here is personal interest, “my light,” “my salvation”; the soul is assured of it, and therefore declares it boldly. Into the soul at the new birth divine light is poured as the precursor of salvation; where there is not enough light to reveal our own darkness and to make us long for the Lord Jesus, there is no evidence of salvation. After conversion our God is our joy, comfort, guide, teacher, and in every sense our light: He is light within, light around, light reflected from us, and light to be revealed to us. Note, it is not said merely that the Lord gives light, but that He is light; nor that He gives salvation, but that He is salvation; he, then, who by faith has laid hold upon God, has all covenant blessings in his possession. This being made sure as a fact, the argument drawn from it is put in the form of a question, “Whom shall I fear?” A question which is its own answer.

The powers of darkness are not to be feared, for the Lord, our light, destroys them; and the damnation of hell is not to be dreaded by us, for the Lord is our salvation. This is a very different challenge from that of boastful Goliath, for it rests, not upon the conceited vigour of an arm of flesh, but upon the real power of the omnipotent I AM. “The Lord is the strength of my life.” Here is a third glowing epithet, to show that the writer’s hope was fastened with a threefold cord which could not be broken. We may well accumulate terms of praise where the Lord lavishes deeds of grace. Our life derives all its strength from God; and if He deigns to make us strong, we cannot be weakened by all the machinations of the adversary. “Of whom shall I be afraid?” The bold question looks into the future as well as the present. “If God be for us,” who can be against us, either now or in time to come?

What is the Treasure?


by Mike Ratliff

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 (NASB)

Treasure has always fascinated me. As a boy, I loved to read stories and watch movies about people who find buried treasure. Now that I am an adult, the idea of possessing a fortune is compelling. Of course, that treasure is worldly and material. I have found material possessions don’t last. Money doesn’t last and loses its value. Cars wear out. Houses get old and need renovation. Clothes wear out. It makes no sense to look to possessions for fulfillment, yet most people do. Is this what Christians are supposed to do? Continue reading

The Second Battle


by Mike Ratliff

I have taught and written much about the battle believers have, and will always have in this life, with their flesh. Most believers are enslaved to their flesh. Why? We were made with an insatiable desire for fulfillment. At birth we inherited our Sin Nature from Adam. We were all born that way. Prior to our salvation we sought fulfillment via it. It primarily utilized our flesh for that purpose. At our salvation through the washing of regeneration, our Sin Nature was cleansed from us. We are no longer hopeless sinners because of that.

However, if believers are not discipled correctly to become Spirit-filled, they may remain Christian babies for much too long. These believers have not learned to crucify the flesh. Instead, they still seek fulfillment from via the flesh, which is sin. The first battle that all Christians are in, is the battle to become free from the flesh’s dominance in our lives. We must learn to mortify our sins as we become Spirit-filled. We will always be in this battle, but there are victories available. Continue reading

The Lord is the Strength of His People


by Mike Ratliff

8 The LORD is their strength,
And He is a saving defense to His anointed.
9 Save Your people and bless Your inheritance;
Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever. Psalms 28:8-9 (NASB) 

The Genuine Christian walk is actually part of a war. Each believer’s walk is a battle or skirmish in that war. As we see in Ephesians 6:10-20, this war is not specifically against other people. Even if heretics or apostates rant and rave against us or terrorists from some pagan religion threaten our lives, our war is against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The people who attack us are in some way controlled by these evil forces. Continue reading

Dealing with Discouragement


by Mike Ratliff

23 Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. Genesis 40:23 (1599 Geneva Bible)

My natural tendency is to heartily participate in self-pity, outrage, and un-forgiveness thereby opening doors in my heart that Satan enters causing me to become discouraged. When this happens to me, I find that my circumstances drive me to become very negative and impatient. I suppose that this is one of my besetting sins which clings closely to me ready to cut in on me causing me to drop out of the race God has set before me to run with endurance (Hebrews 12:1-2). My sense of joy that strengthens me as I run this race comes from looking unto Jesus. My focus has dropped from Him to me and my circumstances. When this happens the slide into self-absorption is very quick. I suddenly find myself in this ugly spiritually flat mood whose fuel seems to be anger. I have often pondered how this happens. Prior to my personal restoration in 2004-2005 I was probably in this mood or mode the majority of the time. Since then, however, these falls into this dark ditch have been rare enough so that when I find myself there I am very surprised. Now, I implore the Lord and ask why this has happened. Why am I so full of joy on Tuesday and so fleshly and down on Wednesday? Continue reading

Testing of Your Faith


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; 1 Peter 1:3-7 (NASB) 

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

The Compromised Church is rooted in Spiritual Blindness


by Mike Ratliff

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! Matthew 6:22-23 (NASB) 

Since I began this blog and became involved with discernment ministries such as Christian Research Network, I have become aware of a disturbing phenomenon in the Church in America. Perhaps you have noticed it as well. The phenomenon I am writing about is willful ignorance in our spiritual leaders. Continue reading

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.  Continue reading

Daniel’s Terrifying Vision


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. Ephesians 6:10-12 (NASB) 

There is a great deal more going on in the spiritual than those of us in the temporal know about. All in Christ who still live and breathe are in the world, but are not part of it. Some, of course, live as if they are part of it, but we are called to be separate from the fleshpot world while being filled with the Spirit. Why? Of course if we are in love with this world, this present age, we will become encumbered and distracted from what we should be doing. Also, the world system, its things and its ways are all controlled by our enemy and his rulers, authorities, cosmic powers who do all they can to keep people blind in this present darkness. When believers are temporally focused they are being influenced by evil, if not controlled by it. Continue reading