The Power of the Cross: 164th Edition, January 17, 2021

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 164th Edition, January 17, 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.


Spanish version of newsletter: El Poder de la Cruz: Edición 163, 10 de enero de 2021


Why Is The Gospel So Important In Our Freedom From Habitual Sin?

Galatians is a study on freedom from habitual sin from a gospel perspective. Read this week's newsletter to see why the gospel is essential to freedom.

In last week's newsletter, we saw that Christianity is a rescue. Jesus gave Himself for our sins to rescue us. He didn't just offer the hem of His garment to heal us; He gave His broken body to rescue us from sin, He poured out His blood for our forgiveness, He gave Himself for you (Galatians 1:4). 

Now, if you and I want to be free from the power of sin today, we must hear the message of the cross again, put faith in it, and embrace and hold fast to this one message. If we turn from the message of the cross, we desert God Himself, which is what the Galatians were doing.

Paul writes in verses 6-7, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently, some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.

Notice one thought here: the message of the cross, and God Himself, are one. When the Galatians believed this message, they received God Himself by the Spirit (Galatians 3:5). Now that they are turning to some other message, they were deserting God.

In John 1, we read, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” So you have “the Word,” which is God’s communication to man, it’s the message, but that message is God, that Word is God. The two are one. Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). 

And Paul says, “I’m astonished!” I’m shocked! The word means to be aghast or appalled, to clamp your hand over your mouth. An example of this is in Leviticus 26:32, God threatens to destroy the Promised Land because of the sins of His people, and He says, “I myself will lay waste the land so that your enemies who live there will be appalled.” Paul looks at the land of the Galatians, and they are being laid waste by false teaching; they are turning from the gospel and deserting God, and Paul is appalled. 

Why? Because he knows that if they turn from the message of the cross, they are deserting God and losing their freedom. This word “deserting” is used again in verse Galatians 1:7, “some people are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” To “pervert” the gospel is to “desert” God. Same word.

This perverting and deserting is the opposite of what the Corinthians did; in 1 Corinthians 15:1, Paul says, “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.” The Corinthians had planted both feet at the cross, and then, as it were, poured cement around their feet so they couldn’t move from it. They had taken their stand on the message of the cross.

Today, I have two questions for you to consider and discuss:

Question 1. Can you see from Galatians 1:6-7 that the message of the cross and God, Himself, are connected?

Question 2. Can you relate to the Galatians? Have you ever been in a group of people who were presenting another gospel to free you from sin, a message that left out the cross? 

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Joe writes, "I have taken the Setting Captives Free weight loss course and am still a baby in this denying the flesh and suffering with Christ. I have slowly begun to experience freedom from food's control. I think it took me a long time to realize that food actually was trying to have dominion over me. Satan will use anything. Romans 6:14 says that SIN doesn't have dominion over me as a believer. I never thought of eating as a sin, so it was hard for me to recognize that I needed to be set free in this area. The subtlety here is that eating in and of itself isn't a sin. Eating for comfort, to avoid getting hungry (fear of hunger), to eliminate stress, or to just gorge myself and "forget" other things is a sin. Now I haven't ever been way off the chart in these areas, so I thought I was ok. However, comparing myself with others is not wise. Comparing myself with God's Word, seeking to walk in the Spirit, to crucify the flesh with its appetites, and to suffer with Christ has revealed much, and by His grace, I am beginning to see that I have been quite enslaved to food and have thought that I "needed" certain things instead of recognizing how free I am in Christ and how much of a feast of joy and intimacy there is in Him as I allow my flesh to suffer when it cries out for gratification.


This course really teaches you a lot about yourself. I recommend this course even if you are not overweight and don't think you are struggling with enslavement to eating. I thought I didn't need this course, but over the last month, I have become aware that food had a stronger grip on me than I realized, and even though I didn't think I needed this course, I have discovered some truths and grown in intimacy with Christ and learned more about how to have self-control as I walk in the Spirit."

Kyle writes, "A lot has changed for me. Since taking the Purity courses at Setting Captives Free, I have learned three very useful life-changing things. To wash at the cross, walk in the Spirit, and war against the flesh. To wash at the cross means daily, I look to Jesus hanging there on a tree at Calvary with nails driven in His hands and feet, and a crown of thorns on His head. There He bore all my sins past, present, and future. It is so important I see this every day and know that all my sins are forgiven me so that I have hope. The hope that salvation and sanctification are given to me by the grace of God. I must wash at the cross, daily hating my sins, and receiving cleansing of them. Even the sins committed repeatedly, I must repent and turn from them and Walk in the Spirit. To walk in the Spirit means to live a life of godliness. I pray to God that He works His Spirit in my faith to do what is right and to glorify God, who is the creator of the heavens and the earth. To walk in the Spirit is the opposite of walking in the flesh. I do not want to have intimacy with my flesh, but I desire to have intimacy with Christ, my Savior. Through flesh, there is only death. Through Christ, there is only life. Life Everlasting! To war against the flesh is to fight my sins. It is to put into place battle plans and strategies to fight the flesh. I have quit drinking and gotten rid of all social media accounts. They were very distracting and full of temptations. I have so much more free time to spend in the Word and pray and hear God’s Word preached. This course has had a huge impact on my outlook on life and has helped me grow closer to my Saviour, and I rest assured that my sins are forgiven me. I want to thank my marriage mentor for helping me through this difficult trial and guiding me down the straight and narrow path. "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11  I definitely recommend this course to anyone struggling with sexual sins such as pornography, adultery, and lust."


Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free