The Power of the Cross

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 200th Edition, October 3, 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 Marriage and the Gospel is now available. Come and join Erick and Sylvia Hurt as they share how the gospel of Jesus Christ saved their marriage from impurity, disrespect, adultery, bankruptcy, anger, and rage. See how Jesus raised them from their dead marriage and gave them the power to live and love again. Our prayer is that you will likewise experience the gospel's power in your marriage and fall in love all over again.




The audio version of this newsletter can be found here.




Rejoicing in Freedom

Did you know that pride is not always a bad thing? 

Typically we think of being prideful as bad, as the opposite of Jesus who lived all His life in humility and then lowered Himself to death on a cross to raise us and seat us in heavenly places. 

But there is a certain kind of pride that is actually good. Let’s look at it in Galatians 6:4-6: 

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

Previously, Paul compared the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:19-23), and now we are invited to examine our current actions and compare them with how we used to live. If we used to operate in the flesh, burdened down, overtaken by sin, and caught in sin traps, but now we’ve learned how to walk by the Spirit by coming to the cross, we can take pride in that. Rejoice in that. That’s real progress. 

Now, what we are not doing is comparing ourselves with someone else. We must avoid “the snare of compare” where we think, “Sure, I’m not perfect, but at least I don’t do what that person does.” No, that’s not the comparing to which Paul is referring. Paul’s talking specifically about comparing yourself today with your former self. We should take note of the difference between the new creation that we are today from the old self, compare our life in sinful bondage with our life in cross purchased freedom, and have pride when we see that the Spirit of God has set us free from the burden of sin and the Law.

What makes this pride good and not sinful is our understanding of how God brought about these changes in us. Look at verse 6, "nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the Word should share all good things with their instructor." Ah, the "instruction in the Word" and Paul means "the Word of the cross." Receiving gospel instruction is freeing and enables you to walk by the Spirit and take pride in yourself. 

When Onesimus was a runaway thief, sin trapped him, and the law condemned him. But as Paul instructed him in the Word of the cross, the Word of forgiveness, Onesimus embraced it, which enabled him to go back to the one (Philemon) he stole from as a brother (Philemon 1:16), and be received as if he were the apostle Paul himself (Philemon 1:17). Onesimus could take pride in himself for no longer living according to the works of the flesh but now as one who walked by the Spirit. And he should share all the good things in his life with Paul, who taught him to look at the cross.

Imagine it. Someone is overtaken in sin; they are trapped and enslaved, but then they hear the message of the cross! They are called to turn their eyes to Jesus, to see the Lamb of God suffering the penalty of their sin, to see His blood flowing like a fountain to cleanse them (Zechariah 13:1-3). They see the nails in Jesus' flesh to free them from sin's penalty and power, see Jesus die in their place to rescue them from the evil that was threatening to kill them. They see the cross, believe the good news, and are freed from their trap as they receive the Spirit and begin walking by His power. They look and live differently now as they have abandoned the works of the flesh and are now bearing the fruits of the Spirit.

And Paul would say to this liberated one and each one of us, "Take pride in yourself. Look at the transformation! You've gone from operating in the works of the flesh to walking by the power of the Spirit. Take pride in yourself and boast in the cross. For in the cross, the world was crucified to you and you to the world!"

The world takes pride in their sin and glories in their shame (Philippians 3:19), but believers can take pride in themselves as they glory in the cross (Galatians 6:14)!

Question: are you one who can take pride in your life today vs. what you used to be? Please share your thoughts.



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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Peter writes, "When I started the Purity Bootcamp course, I was caught up in self-pity and worry and turning to sexual impurity frequently for comfort. Once I learned the importance of getting sexual sin out of my life, it was a challenge, but today I can say that God has removed that desire and temptation from my life.


As I learned the three core principles and applied them daily, the desire for impurity faded, and my desire to serve the Lord grew. My loyalty is now with Jesus Christ and the gospel. Knowing that I am forgiven and can wash at the cross has really encouraged me to keep going. Reading my Bible now builds me up and helps me understand the power of Christ, which I can tap into any time I need to. The Spirit of God is now my guide. I no longer live under the law of the world or the flesh; now, I live with the Holy Spirit inside me, showing me the way to walk worthy of the gospel.


This world is a sick and twisted place to live; there are temptations everywhere, all the time, but I feel secure in Christ and His gospel. This course opened my eyes to a much better way of living in Christ and not of this world. It has made me see pornography and sexual impurity as disgusting, and I want no part of it anymore. I am grateful for this course and having Mike L. as a mentor, helping to guide me through this. Praise God! I feel free and closer to God than I ever was.


I recommend this course to anyone with a desire to let go of sexual impurity in their life. This study brought me closer to internalizing the power and the grace of God. It made me want to get rid of all of my sinful ways and walk in the Spirit of Christ. I learned a lot about myself and the kind of life I want for my son and myself, and that is to shut out what's going on around me in the world and focus on the cross, washing all of our sins and guilt and shame away forever. Jesus has won the victory for us and made a way for us to live in it. I hope you'll join me in washing at the cross, walking by the Spirit, and warring against the flesh."


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 would you consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount? Thank you in advance. 


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A new course has just been released: Marriage and the Gospel! Come and join Erick and Sylvia Hurt as they share how the gospel of Jesus Christ saved their marriage from impurity, disrespect, adultery, bankruptcy, anger, and rage. See how Jesus raised them from their dead marriage and gave them the power to live and love again. Our prayer is that you will likewise experience the gospel's power in your marriage and fall in love all over again.


Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free