The Power of the Cross: 166th Edition, January 31, 2021

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 166th Edition, January 31, 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 165, 24 de enero de 2021



Setting Captives Free’s newest book called Weight Loss Bootcamp is now available and can be purchased through Amazon. 

James Hamann wrote the following review on Amazon:

“I am so glad that Setting Captives Free has published this course in book form! After spending literally decades trying every weight loss program that came my way in fruitless attempts to fix my problem, this refreshingly different approach brought renewed hope, exactly what I needed! Instead of fixating on food, I am learning to fix my eyes on Jesus where true cleansing and change takes place and power is available to live differently. With my focus on the cross, I am enjoying weight loss as a natural byproduct rather than an obsessive focus and elusive goal. I highly recommend Setting Captives Free Weightloss Bootcamp. There is so much more waiting for you in addition to weight loss!” (Review here)


Teaching: Freedom From People-Pleasing

One of the most significant problems I suffered from in my life was people-pleasing. And my propensity toward people-pleasing facilitated all kinds of sin in my life, doing everything to be seen and approved by man. When I did happen to get people's approval, I was elated; when I didn't, I was miserable and turned to impurity, gluttony, drunkenness, and so many other things to comfort my hurting flesh.

Eventually, God set me free from the fear of man and people-pleasing ways through the power of the cross, and I'm excited to share this good news with you now.

Paul writes in Galatians 1:10, "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ."

This verse tells us the motivation Paul had when he was persecuting the church. He was trying to please men. Everything Paul did in religion was to be seen by man, to be acknowledged before others, to have man's approval. 

And this desire to please people led to his going to great lengths in persecuting the church of God. Sin leads to more sin and traps us in its tight grip.

But the gospel of Jesus changes that cycle entirely. The gospel frees us from people-pleasing and all the sins that accompany it.

The death and resurrection of Jesus prove that Jesus removed our sin and made us pleasing to God. Knowing that God accepts me removes my need to please men. When I know I'm pleasing to God, my striving to be accepted by other people is halted.

Do you know that as a believer, you are pleasing to God right now? You might be stumbling your way through life, continuing to fall short as we all do, but God sees you through Jesus, and therefore God "has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel." Colossians 1:22-23

Look at the cross with me and see that you are now reconciled to God; you have no more sin and are holy in His sight, you have no blemishes, and you are entirely free from accusation. God sees you, “holy in His sight.” When I read that truth, I am shocked! “Me? Holy in His sight?” And yet when I look at the cross, I see Jesus stripped naked to clothe me, dying as in sin that I might live in His righteousness. And I believe that just as God saw Jesus as hanging in my sin, He sees me clothed in the robes of righteousness that Jesus has given me.

When you know that God has reconciled you, has fully accepted you, and you are pleasing to Him, other people can look down on you if they want; it doesn’t affect your day. The gospel rescues you from people-pleasing and enables you to be people-loving. The gospel makes you see others as people Jesus loved unto death, so you love them even when they mistreat you. 

Imagine for a minute, a disfigured young lady, who, when she goes out in public, is ridiculed and scoffed at by mean people, and so she’s always trying to cover up her disfigurement, trying to make others like her.

One day she meets a young man who is absolutely smitten with her. He sees her heart, and it captures him; he loves her. He continually tells her that she’s the most beautiful woman he’s ever met. And with him, she feels pretty. Now when she goes out and people mock her, she remembers how her young man loves her and can ignore the unkind comments. She’s found acceptance; she knows she’s beautiful to the one that matters.

Oh, friend, you’re beautiful to Jesus! You’re pleasing to Him! Embrace that truth, and you will be free from trying to please people.

The fear of man is a snare; trying to please other humans is a trap (Proverbs 29:25). I have experience with this: I founded a ministry called Setting Captives Free 1.0 twenty-one years ago because I sought validation from other people. I was a man-pleaser, but only until God showed me that Jesus died to rescue me and that I was fully pleasing in His sight. Now I’m free! Now my wife, Jody, and I have founded Setting Captives Free 2,0; we are no longer trying to win the approval of man, we just want to give the gospel to as many people as possible.

How about you? Question for this week: What has been your experience with people-pleasing? Do you see how embracing the gospel of Jesus Christ frees you from this snare and all the sins that follow it?

If you want to see your fellow brothers and sisters comments you can go to and look at the course called “Freedom Through the Gospel”, and while you’re there check out the cool course banner!

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: 


To join one of the men’s groups, click this link: 


To join the female (only) group, click this link: 



Molly writes, "Going through this Weight Loss Follow-Up course has helped me to understand more about the love of Jesus, and it is helping me to be able to apply what the cross means in the area of eating. I know that God loves me because he saved my soul but going through this course, there have been some times where washing brought me back to a place of intimacy that I once knew when I was newly saved, and this has been wonderful to rekindle my relationship with God. It's almost like I am being born again - again! That's the best way I can describe it, even though I know that I am being sanctified.  Food was an area that I couldn't quite pinpoint the sin, and going through the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss courses has helped me name the different sins associated with the way that I eat. Gluttony, idolatry, laziness, and other sins have been shown to me because God loves me, and He disciplines those He loves. I am so thankful for His love for me, and whether I eat or drink or whatever I do, I will do all to the glory of God! He is worthy."

Sheila writes, A lot has changed in my life since I started the A United Front course! God has used this course to get me back in step with Him.


When I said yes to reconciling with my husband, it was not a full yes. It was a yes that was still accompanied by a hard and unforgiving heart. I was full of mistrust and hurt, which led me to plan with my mum against my husband. I was a United front with my mum against my husband.


Well, God allowed the plan we had to fall apart, and I lost so much money! However, that was my moment of surrender. I knew from the lessons in this course that God was calling me to surrender, and I did. God melted my hard heart with the gospel so that I fully forgave my husband. The result has been peace and joy unspeakable!! I now love spending time with my husband. Our intimacy has not returned, but I will patiently wait as I continue to love him.


Lastly, I had really been praying for God to bless the work of my husband's hands because his lack of work has also been a huge issue for us. Now that we're praying as a United front, we just got a big breakthrough in our business that he's running!! Now that we are a United Front, God is answering our prayers.


This course has blessed me so much, and I pray that intimacy would return in my marriage. I will continue to put what I've learned into practice. God has truly proved Himself faithful. I am thankful!


I recommend this course; it is Bible-centered and focuses on the power of the cross. I would recommend it to any wife who is trapped by a hard heart like I was."



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


As an Amazon affiliate, Setting Captives Free earns a small commission if you purchase a book through the link in this newsletter. This does not increase your cost, but it does help to support this ministry.


Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free