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The Power of the Cross


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 115th Edition, January 26, 2020


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.

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Teaching:


How To Find Ongoing Freedom From Sin At The Cross


Many in the church today believe that the message of the cross is merely for salvation, and then once we’re saved, we should move on to “deeper teachings.” In limiting the message of the cross to only “the salvation message,” many are left in immaturity, struggling to overcome sin without the power or resources to do so.


The message of the cross is not merely the salvation message, it is also the sanctification message (Galatians 3:1-6) for us who believe (1 Corinthians 1:18), and the stabilization message (Romans 16:25).


So, how do we find ongoing freedom from sin at the cross? The same way we were initially saved - by seeing the cross and believing its message and turning from sin to Jesus, the Lord.


“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)


Let’s read the following passage, an exchange between the Pharisees and Jesus, and see the results of believing the message of the cross:


“Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” Matthew 21:42-44 (NIV)


It is clear from this passage that Jesus is telling the Pharisees that they would reject Him, which, of course, culminated in His death on the cross. He, Himself, was “the Stone the builders rejected” on the cross, and now He has become the Cornerstone, the foundation of the church.


Stop and think for a moment about the cross. Look up and see Jesus’ rejected so that you would be accepted. See Him taking your sin that He might give you His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) as a free gift (Romans 6:23). See Him being abandoned by God that you might be received by God. Indeed, see that the basis for all the good you have in life and throughout eternity is the rejection of the Stone, that is, the cross of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead. Is this not marvelous in your eyes? Amazing? Awe-inspiring?


But this is not all the message of the cross has to say to us. It is not merely the salvation message. Notice the effects of trusting in this message, of laying down our self-effort and relying on the finished work of Christ:


“Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed” (Matthew 21:44).


If we fall on this Stone, lay our lives of works-righteousness down and trust and rely on Jesus’ finished work, we will be broken to pieces. We look to the cross and see the Son of God wearing a crown of thorns and pouring out His blood to atone for our wrongs, His hands and feet nailed to a tree to make amends for our sin, to reconcile us to God through His death. It breaks our hearts and rightly so! It causes us to mourn (Zechariah 12:10) and to be deeply hurt and humbled, our hearts being cut and pierced by the sin that caused Jesus to suffer.


This cutting of our hearts is what it means to be broken to pieces, and it is this ongoing work of breaking our hearts, hurting and humbling us, that secures our ongoing freedom from habitual sin. For as often as we look at the cross, believing Jesus has taken our place so that we might have His, has received our punishment that we might be pardoned, has shed His blood that we might be forgiven and set free, we are once again heartbroken and cut to pieces.


Without this being "broken to pieces," our hearts are hard, and we still have a longing for sin. We might try to set fences around our behaviors (filters, accountability/support groups, etc.), but we won't find true freedom in them because if given the opportunity, we would sin. It's true because our actual problem is that we have not been "broken to pieces" over the sacrifice of God's Son for our sin.


The amazing thing is, we're not only hurt at the cross, but we're also healed! Not only broken to pieces but made whole again! Not only cut but sewn up and mended and made well. This happens when we see that our sin has been paid for, the work needed to secure our eternal redemption has been completed, and we are now fully accepted and completely loved!


Do you understand? We are not merely to look at the cross one time for salvation but also for ongoing freedom. And this freedom is maintained by the ongoing work of God's Spirit in breaking to pieces and then putting together, cutting and healing, wounding, and mending.


So don't fear to look at the cross, instead embrace it! Ask the Spirit to do His work of circumcising your heart, of cutting and healing it. For either, we fall on Jesus and are broken to pieces now, or He falls on us in judgment, and we are crushed on the last day.


"Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed" (Matthew 21:44).


In next week's newsletter, we will talk specifically about how to look at the cross and, by faith, experience this necessary brokenness and also see some biblical examples of it.


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Testimony:


Bill writes, "Without the understanding and application of the biblical principles taught in the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course, there is no victory!


I praise the Lord for the cross, where I know that I received my salvation through the washing of regeneration. Daily, I come to the cross for my cleansing through the washing of sanctification. And someday, because of the Cross, I will have the washing of glorification.


Studying through the cross-centered principles in this course was a great help; it strengthened me when I felt weak. I soon learned that if I wasn't fighting against my flesh, it was because I was not walking in the Spirit or washing at the cross. This course opened my eyes to the chain reaction that could take place in my life.


Washing at the cross taught me that I do not need to look to the world, nor accept the philosophy and terminology of the world. I am not an addict who is waiting to be triggered, but a saint who is sometimes tempted. I do not need to despair and feel unaccepted, eaten up by bitterness if I stumble in my walk because I can come to the cross. God is delighted to hear me pray in repentance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. At the cross, I am restored through love that cleanses to the uttermost.


God also opened my heart to know that I am accepted in the Beloved, and He delights to teach me daily His ways by His Word - the Bible - through His Spirit. He helps me to love the things He loves and avoid the things that hurt me and cause grief to God's heart. As I walk with the Holy Spirit, I bear fruit that honors and glorifies Him.


The strength He supplies to fight against my flesh stem from His power as I now fight from a different perspective knowing that I am assured of the victory through Him. I am on the winning side because He has already secured my victory!


I would encourage everyone to take this course as it will strengthen their faith in Christ and enables them to do greater things. It will help even those who are not struggling with sexual sin. How much more will others find deliverance through Christ, Wisdom through the Word, encouragement through the Spirit, help in prayer, guidance through mentoring, and strength in the fight for victory is sure!"



Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland