The Power of the Cross: 185th Edition, June 13, 2021

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 185th Edition, June 13, 2021


Greetings friends,


Welcome, new subscribers! This weekly newsletter shares short gospel teachings and testimonies from Setting Captives Free students. We hope you will find it helpful and encouraging.




Announcement: The newest course from Setting Captives Free is now live.  The Freedom from Substance Abuse course is designed to help men and women to freedom from substance abuse (alcohol, smoking, drugs, etc.).  




Spanish version of newsletter: El Poder de la Cruz: Edición 184



As we consider this week's teaching, let's ask ourselves this question: what does it take to go from being enslaved in sin to being free indeed?

The answer to this question is vital because everyone wants freedom. Religion, self-help books, and new-age gurus all claim to provide freedom through their particular method, but our text today tells us the honest answer to our question.

Paul uses a simple illustration in Galatians 4:1-7 to answer this question. He talks about an underage child who is subject to guardians and trustees, meaning this underage child has no personal freedom as if he were a slave himself. And then Paul makes this amazing statement in vs. 3, "So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world."

Maybe you recall, as I can, a time of enslavement—enslaved to our base self, to our flesh, a time when something mastered us (food or alcohol, sexual impurity or drugs, or religion or self-help philosophies). These are the elemental spiritual forces of the world, and we are born enslaved to them. Paul describes this condition, in verse 5, as being "under the law."  

Application: Do you want to know how to make yourself a slave? Just put yourself under the Law, to do it, to keep it, or to try to mature yourself by obeying it. After all, "the law is the power of sin" (1 Corinthians 15:56), so when we attempt to use the Law for personal development, maturity in faith, or any other reason, we end up slaves to sin.

Husbands and fathers, do you want to know how to make slaves of your families? Put them under the Law, require that they measure up for you to love them, hold them to a very high standard and watch your family lose all their joy as they try hard to measure up and live right. 

Pastors, do you want to know how to make slaves of your church? Teach them the Old Covenant (summarized by "love God and love people"), and tell them that God requires their obedience to that covenant today. What ends up happening is that you push the Law down on them to keep them living right, but sin breaks out the sides. Galatians 4 makes this phenomenon very clear when Paul says in 4:24, "One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves."

If not the Law, then what?

So, if we can't experience freedom through obedience to the Law, how do we get free? 

Well, it takes two things, according to our passage: 

Galatians 4:4-5 say: "But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 To redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship." That's the work of the Son for you.

Verses 6 says, "Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." That's the work of the Spirit in you. 

What is it that frees us? God brought freedom to us by sending His Son and His Spirit. True and lasting freedom comes through the work of the Son for us and the work of the Spirit in us. So let's quickly look at those two:

First, God sent His Son to redeem those under the Law. Jesus redeemed us when He died on the cross for our sins. "In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding" (Ephesians 1:7-8).

Illustrations: When the Israelites were enslaved to the Egyptians, God redeemed them through the blood of the Passover Lamb, setting them free! The Egyptians no longer enslaved the Israelites! This account is a picture of how God has redeemed us, as "Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed" (1 Corinthians 5:7), and now we are free from sin's penalty and domination in our lives.

In the Book of Hosea, when Gomer was living in immorality, God told Hosea to redeem her, so he bought back his unfaithful wife through the payment of silver and barley (Hosea 3:1-3). When you and I were enslaved to sin, under the Law of sin and death, Jesus was nailed to a cross by Roman soldiers. And as He hung there in open shame and condemnation for our sins, He was joyfully paying the price to redeem us and free us. Not with silver and gold, but with His precious blood (1 Peter 1:18). He took your guilt and wore it proudly; He became your sin and removed it from you with joy (Hebrews 12:2).

This work of the Son for you is the first truth to experience when desiring freedom! You must see Jesus suffering in your place, purchasing your pardon, dying your death, redeeming you from bondage to your flesh, redeeming you from being “under law” (Galatians 4:5).

Second, as you hear that good news, and you believe it, God sends His Spirit into your heart, and He begins working in you to free you. He begins to show you that the God of the universe, the Judge of all the earth, is your Father and that He has loved you and sent His Son to rescue you. He has adopted you into His family and made you His child. 

Just as the blood of the Passover Lamb had to be applied to the doorposts, so the Holy Spirit is given to apply the cross to the doorposts of our hearts and to reveal to us the intimacy we have with the Father. God sent His Son to redeem you; God sends His Spirit to liberate you.

These two truths, according to Galatians 4:1-7, are what is needed to truly free us from slavery to the basic principles of the world, our flesh, and the Law. 

Question for this week: how are you experiencing by faith the work of the Son for you and the work of the Spirit in you this week?


Setting Captives Free has free, interactive Marco Polo studies that correspond to the teachings in this newsletter. If you’d like to join the discussion, click one of the following links on your smartphone: 

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Geniene writes, "The Weight Loss follow-up course has been exceptionally valuable in deepening my faith, trust in Christ, and learning to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. One huge revelation came when I realized that the cross of Christ is for salvation AND sanctification! Victory comes by the work of the Holy Spirit in me, not self-effort.


God is calling me into much deeper healing from childhood sexual abuse, which is painful and very necessary if I am to be the person God wants me to be. This is new territory to walk with the Spirit at this depth; I have to trust God to give me the courage to face these obstacles and overcome them once and for all. I so appreciate how Setting Captives Free offers additional courses of study to assist in this transformation process.


God has answered many prayers, and for this, I am so grateful. He has shown me, through these courses, how to wash at the cross, keep in step with the Spirit, and war against the flesh and the enemy. God is revealing many idols of my heart so I can confess and forsake them. The Holy Spirit is teaching me how to be a more proficient warrior. All of this and much patience and grace. 


Through these courses, the Lord has been stripping away 50 years of rigid self-effort attempts to control the flesh. His Word is demolishing every last program, 'expert,' doctor, diet & fitness protocol, etc., and replacing these lies with the truth that I can do nothing apart from Christ.  Physically, I am learning to cease the rigid self-effort and abuse to lose weight. The weight is coming off slowly and I am learning to be patient with this process.


God's Word, through these courses, has given me the boldness to speak the truth in love very plainly. I recently left my church because they were quickly drifting away from God and embracing the popular philosophies of man. It broke my heart to do that; it was the right thing. The power is in the gospel, not in gimmicky programs or popular books. What a breath of fresh air Setting Captives Free has been to me!"

Kevin writes, “I am connecting how impactful these principles of the Purity Bootcamp course, washing at the cross, walking by the Spirit, warring against the flesh. are in my walk. For so long I became apathetic to daily washing in the word at the foot of the cross, reminding myself of the joy found alone in Him and through walking in proper fellowship with His Spirit. I know now that the battle is real and that in Christ I have all the weapons of victory. In fact, as my General, I need to be asking him for the specific path to victory just like the Israelites. Praise God.

The biggest change for me has been in the area of washing at the cross and walking by the Spirit. I am much quicker to return from my sin and bow down again at the foot of the cross reminding myself of Christ’s forgiveness and desire to have restored fellowship. I find myself praying in the morning asking the Spirit’s help for the day ahead to flee sin and pursue righteousness.

I would recommend the Setting Captives Free Purity Bootcamp course. It is a foundational course for discipleship and can be applied to all areas of life, not just impurity. The joy found in the course was, washing at the cross, walking by the Spirit, warring against the flesh. The 3 steps outlined are incredible!


Friend, if you find you agree with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. Thank you in advance. 


For the audio version of this newsletter, click here. 


Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free

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