The Power of the Cross: 105th Edition, November 10, 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.



To be free from any sin struggle requires us to hear and embrace the good news of Jesus’ finished work and ongoing intercession. If freedom were merely as easy as taking certain steps, doing a certain diet or working some program, then Jesus did not need to die. But He did die, because when we sin, we become slaves to sin (John 8:34), and a slave can only be set free when purchased. Jesus’ death on the cross was the purchase price for our freedom.

The Son of God came to make atonement for our sins, and this He did by sacrificing Himself for us on a cross. This was almighty God becoming man to die as a sacrifice, because of His love for us. Can you imagine the intensity of this love, for Jesus to have purposely come to earth to be ridiculed and shamed, to be wounded and pierced, to be hung up on the cross to die for the ones He loves? Do you see Him hanging there for you? Blood flowing from His wounds and love flowing from His heart? This is the love of Jesus, the paying of the price to release you from slavery.

Having thus died for our sins, He rose from the dead, and now He ever lives to intercede for us. "Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Again, imagine the love of someone who ever lives for someone else. Jesus ever lives for you. His prayers and intercessions for you are based on the work He accomplished through His death. Oh such love! Oh such power!

This concept, of Jesus' interceding for us based on His finished cross-work is captured wonderfully in the hymn, “Arise My Soul, Arise” by Charles Wesley:

  1. Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
    The bleeding Sacrifice in my behalf appears:
    Before the throne my surety stands,
    Before the throne my surety stands,
    My name is written on His hands.
  2. He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
    His all-redeeming love, His precious blood to plead:
    His blood atoned for all our race,
    His blood atoned for all our race,
    And sprinkles now the throne of grace.
  3. Five bleeding wounds He bears, received on Calvary;
    They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
    “Forgive him, oh, forgive,” they cry,
    “Forgive him, oh, forgive,” they cry,
    “Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

This teaching, that Jesus made a blood atonement for us, and now pleads His precious blood as the reason for the Father to forgive us, is taught clearly by way of an illustration in the Old Testament. You can see it in Exodus 30:1-10.

In Exodus 30:1-9, God gave instructions for constructing the Altar of Incense, which represented the intercessory work of Jesus Christ. As the incense in the Holy Place wafted into the Most Holy Place, where God promised to meet with man, it became a sweet smelling aroma to God.

Exodus 30:6 (NIV) Put the altar in front of the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law—before the atonement cover that is over the tablets of the covenant law—where I will meet with you.

This teaches us that the prayers of Jesus Christ, our High Priest, are as incense to the Father. Jesus' sacrifice, and His ongoing intercession are a sweet smelling savor to God. Are they to you? Do you see this precious work Jesus did, and is doing, for you? Do you know it is because of His love for you?

In the same passage in Exodus 30, we are told that the High Priest was to make atonement, once a year, on the horns of this Altar of Incense:

Exodus 30:10 (NIV) Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.”

What is this teaching? Why this elaborate ritual of placing blood on the horns of the Altar of Incense?

Horns are a symbol of power in Scripture (Daniel 8:5, Daniel 8:9, 1 Samuel 2:1, 1 Samuel 16:1, 1 Samuel 16:13, 1 Kings 1:39, 22:11, Joshua 6:4-5, Psalms 75:5, Psalms 75:10, 132:17, Luke 1:69, etc.), and by placing the blood of the sacrifice on the horns of the altar, God was showing us there is power in the blood that Jesus shed, power in the death that Jesus died. In the blood that Jesus Christ, our Atoning Sacrifice (Romans 3:25) shed on the cross, there is true spiritual power: power to forgive your every sin, power to atone for your wrongs, power to break the power of sin, power to destroy the work of Satan in your life, power to rescue you from darkness, power to lift you up from the pit of sin, power to break your iron chains, power to open your prison door, power to set captives free.

Oh friend, look at the cross just now. See your Atoning Sacrifice shedding His blood for your pardon and freedom. See Him nailed to the cross to make an end of sin in your life, to atone for wickedness, and to bring in everlasting righteousness for you (Daniel 9:24). Jesus’ love moved Him to come from heaven to earth (John 13:1), to take up a cross and carry it up Golgotha’s hill, there to suffer the wrath of God and the scorn of men, to bleed and to die like a sacrificial lamb. Oh friend, such amazing love of Jesus, such amazing grace to us.

Then, see Jesus rise from the dead, having purchased your pardon and freedom, and watch as He is raised to heaven and exalted in the sight of all to become Lord and King. He now is our Mediator and Intercessor, the One who pleads His blood and prays His death as the means of securing our ongoing forgiveness and acceptance with God. These prayers of Jesus, His ongoing work of intercession, are a sweet smelling aroma to the Father. The importance of a sacrifice’s aroma is not the smell but what the smell represents—the substitutionary atonement for sin.

What’s even more amazing is that Jesus not only died for us, but we died in Him (Romans 6:7-10). When we believe this message, we enter in to the experience of death to our old self, death to our cravings, death to sin’s power. In rising with Jesus from the dead we are now alive to God with a new heart and a new life and a new power! Holy Spirit power! Resurrection power!

Do you believe this good news? It takes hearing and believing it over and over to win our hearts, and as we hear it over and over, we begin to walk out of sin’s prison and into the light of freedom. May it be so for you today, friend.



Rick writes,
"When I was a young married man, pornography and self-gratification were a regular part of my life. But just like anything sinful, it never satisfied.  After 20 yrs of marriage, I finally crossed the line and started an adulterous affair. As the years went on, the impure sexual lifestyle was never enough.  After 12 years of unfaithfulness, I divorced my wife of 32 years and married the woman with whom I had been having an affair.  My impure behavior continued. After 10 yrs of marriage to my second wife, she passed away from cancer. The last three months of her life, my wife wanted me out of her house, her daughter moved in to care for her, and I was never able to see her again before she died.

In desperation, I shared all this with my pastor, who recommended I go through the old course from Setting Captives Free - The Way of Purity. I did, and within the first few days, I started to see a change in my way of thing.  I learned to start my day in prayer, drinking from the Living Waters.  I completed that sixty lesson course a changed man.  Then I came to the new Setting Captives Free website and completed the Mentorship Course, but due to the distress in my family over the second wife's death, I decided to take the new Purity Boot Camp course. Wow, what a course!  The study kept me in the Word of God. It showed me to start the day with Washing at the cross, confession of my sins, Walking in the Spirit, learning to listen to the Holy Spirit talk to me through the Scriptures. It gave me a whole new love for God's Word and equipped me to War against my flesh.

God's Word, with the teaching and insight from ____________ (course authors) plus the love, friendship, and insight from my Mentor, Rob has helped me with arming myself against Satan and letting God, fight my battles.  None of this would have been possible without the sacrifice God made by sending His own Son Jesus to die on the cross.  Washing at the cross each morning makes me focus upon the love that it took for Jesus to joyfully go to the cross, and suffer the death that I deserved.

Purity Boot Camp has opened my eyes to the battle that is before each of us. It teaches us in the strategies that we need to win the battles against Satan's evil armies.

The battle belongs to God, and it starts at the cross and the death and the glorious resurrection of our King, our Commander, Christ Jesus, my Lord, and my Savior.


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Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free