The Power of the Cross: 95th Edition, September 1, 2019

Mike Cleveland

Greetings friends,

Welcome to the new subscribers just joining us. We publish once per week on Sunday. The newsletter shares short gospel teachings and testimonies from Setting Captives Free students. We hope you will find the newsletter helpful and encouraging.



Perfection Precedes Performance

One of the problems in life that can keep us in bondage to sin is the feeling of not measuring up. Of falling short. Of not performing well.

Our twin daughters both had interviews at medical facilities this week, and one expressed concern that she wouldn’t get the job. It made her nervous. But her mom and I both knew she would be hired as there is a real need for nursing assistants there, and she is a bright and energetic young lady. We knew she was hired even before the interview, and that she would be offered the job. Which she was.

Think about something: as a Christian, you are hired before the interview, you won the race before it started, and you got an A+ before you took the test and you won the battle before you picked up a weapon to fight. You are declared perfect before you perform!

Hebrews 10:14 (NIV) For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Yes, through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ your sins were removed and you are declared to be perfect. Why? Because you are “in Christ” who lived perfectly, never failed once, and is holy, spotless and pure. His performance counts for your performance, His righteousness is credited to your account (2 Corinthians 5:21) and His life is substituted for your life. His sacrifice has removed your sin and made you “perfect forever.”

Think of how this affects the way we live our lives. Think of how my daughter would have felt if the interviewer called her before the interview and said, “Congratulations, you’re hired! Come see me tomorrow for the interview so that we can find out what hours you can work and what shifts you want.” Wouldn’t that have removed all pressure of performance? All interview anxiety? Don’t you think she would have bounced into that interview without a care, happy to have been accepted, eager to start?

That’s how the understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ should affect our lives. We have been declared righteous when we believed the message of Christ crucified and risen (Galatians 3:6-9), so now we live with the understanding of our total acceptance with the Father and of His complete approval of our lives. We have stepped up to the starting line of our Christian race and have heard, “On your mark, get set, it is finished!” We can bounce throughout our days knowing we are holy, perfect and pure, and this is true whether we are measuring up well, or failing miserably. This is because the cross is our beginning, the end of all our striving!

Colossians 1:21-22 (NIV) Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

Next time you feel that you have fallen short, remind yourself that God looks at Jesus’ performance, not yours. Remind yourself that Jesus removed your sin and made you perfect forever, and that now He is making you holy.

Let this understanding keep you from both pride and discouragement. Jesus' life counts for your life, and His death as your death, and you are now raised with Him. Let that encourage you to set your heart and mind on Him. "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).

How does it feel to have aced the test before you took it, won the race before you started, got the job before you interviewed and won the battle before you fought? The cross is your beginning and Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness (Romans 10:4). 

To hear this same thought in song form, listen to this wonderful song: 


Amy writes, "Since taking the Weight Loss course at Setting Captives Free, I have been able to connect more to the Holy Spirit.
Physically, I have been able to control my impulses when it comes to food. Jesus has set me free from the chains of having food dominate my every thought and action! I have found a new love for God's word; I now feel as though it covers and protects me throughout the day."

Jason writes, I find all the biblical principles taught in the Purity Boot Camp course very helpful, but the one I love the most is washing at the cross. If I keep reminded of what Jesus Christ has done for me and keep it in the forefront of my mind, I find Christ is a shield for me against my lust and my flesh.

Taking this course has helped my marriage tremendously. Staying closer to Jesus Christ has helped me with my mind and my temper towards other people. It has calmed me to hear what it is that God is trying to tell me. Now I only look towards my wife for those needs that I used to satisfy in sinful ways.

Yes, I stumble and fall sometimes, but I turn quickly to look back to the cross, which has given me the opportunity to learn more grace and forgiveness. I really have struggled in this department, but the story of Lott s wife was eye-opening: learning not to look back on what I have done but look ahead to the future with Jesus and also with my shield of armor made by the love of Jesus Christ. This study has truly opened my eyes to the Lord and the gifts He has provided for us at the cross.

We must keep our eyes on Jesus on that tree because when we are at the cross, we stay connected to the Lord. His love and mercy endure forever, so it is our job to take up his cross and share the good news of Jesus Christ so that we might help others.


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Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free