The Power of the Cross


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 201st Edition, October 10, 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.

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The audio version of this newsletter can be found here.
 
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Teaching:

This week we look at ​​Galatians 6:7-10 (NIV), “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

Notice Paul leads with “Do not be deceived,” because if we are living for the flesh, we are deceived and will reap destruction. I remember believing that alcohol would provide comfort from my problems and silence the voice of my conscience. At one point, I thought viewing pornography would make me desire my wife more. I also believed that food could provide me with the fullness that would resolve my emptiness. I accepted all these lies that led to my destruction! 

And down through the years of ministry with Setting Captives Free, I have heard hundreds of lies from students worldwide. I had a friend one time who clung to the belief that he was so thankful for his ongoing sin as it showed him what grace was. Another lady stated she would always keep her sin because it kept her humble—so many lies. “Do not be deceived,” if we are sowing to the flesh, we are mocking God and will reap destruction, just as surely as a man playing with fire will eventually get burned. 

But there is always a reference to the gospel in new covenant warnings, and maybe you saw it here. What is "sowing"? It's where a farmer plants a seed into the ground, which would spring up later to produce fruit. Sowing should make us think of Jesus, who sowed His body into the ground for us, but then He sprung out of the grave three days later and reaped eternal life for all who believe in Him. He never sowed to please His flesh, quite the opposite; He died to His flesh, died to Satan's temptation, died on the cross for our sins, and then rose again having paid for our sin.

And now we are told to follow Him into the grave and out the other side to eternal life. We do this by acknowledging the deceptions we've believed, turn away from those lies, and instead fix our eyes on Jesus, the Truth.  We die to sin instead of entertaining reasons why we should keep it. We crucify our lusts, pounding the nails of truth into the body of our flesh, stabbing our old man in the heart, and letting him bleed out before us. And in dying spiritually, we begin to live our true Spirit-filled life. 

Now, let's consider what "sowing to please the Spirit" means. Well, the Spirit is all about Jesus, and we sow to please the Spirit as we die to sin and find life in Christ. As we study our Bible and see the gospel, we sow to the Spirit. As we see the Lamb of God dying in love, as we view His suffering in our place, as we watch Him cry out in thirst to quench us, as we hear Him plead for forgiveness for His crucifiers, as we listen to Him preach the good news to a dying thief, we are sowing to please the Spirit. As we die to sin and live a new life, we sow to please the Spirit.

Oh, friends, let's not become weary in doing good; that is, in coming to the cross, in staring up at what we see there, God suffering in a body out of love for us, which gives us Holy Spirit power to turn from sin, to cancel all lies, and to find our life at the cross.

And as we make it our ambition in life to do good to all people, especially to our family of believers in Jesus, we are sowing to please the Spirit. In this way, we follow the One who works all things together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. And we will reap a harvest, fruit produced by love if we don’t weary in doing good.

Two Questions for this week: 1) Can you name any lies you believed while sowing to please the flesh? 2) How does the message of the cross counteract and defeat those lies?

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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: 

To join one of the men’s groups, click this link: https://onmarcopolo.com/groups/Va6HzPIPDxWU/4-scf-mens-group   

To join the female (only) group, click this link: https://onmarcopolo.com/groups/Zv8WlxPaMZuu/scf-womens-group-1  

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Testimonies

Cheryle writes, "Since starting the Weight Loss Bootcamp course at Setting Captives Free, I am down a few pounds, and I 'feel' lighter. 
 
I find that I am moving more with less strain and less fatigue. I have been spending more time walking outside as that is what I love to do, and I have begun to recognize the enemy's tactics more quickly when he tries to dissuade me from going out for a good walk. My husband and I have spent many hours hiking in the woods and up my favorite trail to a beautiful waterfall.
 
I have come to understand that the most important thing is living for the Lord by 'washing at the cross, walking by the Holy Spirit and warring with the flesh.' and following God's battle plan. The results are up to God, and I can trust Him to finish the work He has begun in me. I don't want to be distracted by the scale anymore but rather keep my focus on living healthy and trust that the Lord will bless those efforts.
 
Worldly weight-loss courses bring such temporary results, if any at all - down 20 up 25, down 70 up 80. Ugh! I left that behind, and I praise God for it. I want to LIVE for Jesus in obedience to His wisdom. In His time, the results will come. Even now, I have more peace; I feel lighter and freer. My focus is not on the scale but my health. I am grateful!"

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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? www.settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance. 

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Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free