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The Power of the Cross


Mike Cleveland
 

Hello friend,

Welcome to the new subscribers just joining our newsletter. We publish once per week on Sunday. The newsletter alternates a gospel teaching on one week with testimonies from Setting Captives Free students on the following week. We hope you will find the newsletter helpful and encouraging. 

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We have released two new courses. The first is called “Set Free by Love: Stories of Transformed Lives”, which are stories of people who are experiencing freedom at the cross of Jesus Christ. You can find that course here: https://settingcaptivesfree.com/course/sfbl

The second new course is called Set Free”, which is recordings of the live, interactive teaching sessions we held over the past month or so. You can see the course here: https://settingcaptivesfree.com/course/sf

Thanks to many of you who participated in this class, as we all looked at how the gospel sets us free, using Romans chapters 5 and 6 as our study.

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At Setting Captives Free we believe in gospel transformation. This means that hearing, believing and applying the gospel sets us free from habitual sin and transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ. "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

This freedom and transformation affects every area of our lives. In this newsletter we will look at a testimony of one who has received and applied the gospel of Jesus Christ to her particular habitual sin. This testimony shows us the power of the cross! Here it is:

Vicky writes, "I was raised in a Christian home and at 9 years old, I realized that I was guilty of sin, of choosing to do wrong. My parents and my church had taught me that sin put a barrier between me and God, but that Jesus overcame that when He died on the cross for the sins of the world, including mine. I understood that just as He was raised from the dead, He was offering me life in Heaven if I let Him become my Savior. My father didn't believe that I really knew what sin was at 9 years old, but I did, and I took Jesus at His word, and accepted what He had done for me.  

I wish I could tell you that after this, I led a good and holy life, shining as a bright witness of God's love and saving power.  But that hasn't been true.  Instead, as a young adult, I fell into sin so deeply that you might think I had never even been saved.  This resulted in a failed marriage, a time of separation from my children and family, and an utterly immoral life. I chased after many things, but nothing satisfied me. I did not realize that Jesus not only died to give me eternal life, but that He also provided a way to live victoriously in the here and now. But God was good and so kind to me, helping me through this time until I once more returned to Him, asking and receiving forgiveness. God helped me re-establish good relationships with my children and family, and after several years, I met and married a good man. Neither of us was where we needed to be with God, but He was so gracious in leading us, helping to strengthen our marriage, and even eventually helping us to serve in the church.  

But we live in a dark world where we have a vicious enemy, and I still had not learned about victorious living. When God helped me to be victorious in one area, the enemy attacked me in another. Even as young adult, I had some problems with food. I had lost weight using a popular diet and kept it off for a few years.  But now I found myself looking to food for comfort when I was disappointed or angry or hurt, and using food to excess during times of celebration or happiness. I did not realize that once again, I had been taken in by the enemy.  

After several cycles of gaining and losing, I found myself very overweight with more than 100 lbs to lose. Being so overweight and looking to food instead of God put me into a prison where I was unhappy, unhealthy, and an ineffective Christian witness.  God led me to an online Bible Study at a site called "Setting Captives Free" that helped me to see that I had once again fallen into sin.  This was hard for me to accept.  The world around us doesn’t treat overeating as a spiritual problem and offers many “quick fixes” and frequently announces some magic food that will make the pounds fall off, and I tried a few of them, but I knew deep in my heart that they were all bogus and contrived.  

At Setting Captives Free, I learned for the first time, that Jesus not only died to pay the debt of my sin and open Heaven to me, but He also provided a way to live in victory while still on earth. I began to realize that my reliance on food was sinful and that it dishonored God.  I participated in an early version of the Setting Captives Free study and lost weight, but it took a second round for the truth to sink in and for me to accept all of what Jesus has done for me.  But the end result is like coming out a dark place, squinting into the light of day!  

I have lost over 110 lbs and while I may have a bit more to lose,  I feel confident that God will show me where I need to be and continue to help me get there. I thank God for His continuing grace and love and mercy, and for providing ongoing cleansing, strength, and power through what He did for me through Jesus’ death on the cross."

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free