The Power of the Cross: 175th Edition, April 4, 2021

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 175th Edition, April 4, 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. For the audio version, click here.




Spanish version of newsletter: El Poder de la Cruz: Edición 174





What happens to our lives of sin when we put faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ? What happens to my life of gluttony with food, or my life of over-drinking, viewing porn, or gratifying the flesh in other ways? 

The passage we are looking at this week in Galatians shows us that we are justified by God and that we destroy our entire past life when we put faith in the gospel. Let's look together at the next section of Galatians. Here is our passage for this week:

Galatians 2:17-18 (NIV) 17 "But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn't that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

Here Paul is continuing to recount to the Galatians his experiences in Jerusalem when he dealt with the issue of whether or not Christians are still under the requirements of the Law. 

So, we learn at least two things in these verses: First, believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ destroys our previous life of sin. Second, all who put faith in Jesus still sin. So let's talk about those.

First, we can see that putting faith in Jesus destroys your past life of sin because when you believe the gospel, you legally come out from under the Law, out from under condemnation, out from under guilt. You are legally removed from being "in Adam" and are now "in Christ." 

This transformation means that any sin you have committed or will commit has been assigned to Jesus, as if He committed your sin, so no sin is ever applied to you as it was all applied to Jesus. So, you are no longer under the curse or condemnation of the Law; you are officially and legally free, justified, acquitted of all sin for the rest of your life and throughout eternity.

Romans 8:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Jesus was condemned in your place, and God does not condemn two people for the same sin) because through Christ Jesus the Law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the Law of sin and death.

When you hear the message of the cross, that God has condemned Jesus instead of you, that you are forgiven because He was forsaken, and you believe this message, your entire past life of sin is destroyed (Galatians 2:17-18). Your old nature has legally and officially died (Galatians 2:20), and you have been given a new life in Jesus (Colossians 3:1-3). You destroyed your past life when you put faith in Jesus. 

Now, why is Paul telling Peter this? Well, Peter had believed the gospel, he had destroyed his past life under the Law, but now he was siding with the Jews, moving back toward the Law and circumcision, and essentially beginning to rebuild his old life. Paul says, "when you do that, you're a lawbreaker." Isn't that interesting? When you turn back to the Law to be justified, you become a Lawbreaker!

Illustration: Imagine that you built a home a long time ago and lived in it for many decades, but you didn't keep it up - the roof started sagging, the walls began bending, the foundation is crumbling. And one day, the building department shows up, examines the house, and declares the house condemned; you must move out and destroy the house. And you watch as the wrecking crew comes in and destroys that house, leveling it to its foundation.

Then your neighbor comes along and suggests that instead of building a new house, you should rebuild your old home. You can salvage the wood and make it better this time. You'll repair the foundation and "recover" the house. It sounds good, but it isn't - physically or spiritually. 

Spiritually, if we turn back to the Law to be justified by God, that is, we try to earn His favor through our own efforts, God counts such an act as "breaking the Law." We destroyed that old house; now we rebuild on a new foundation, the gospel of grace, meaning we live a new life in Jesus, our Savior. This life is one of freedom from the Law, freedom from the power of sin, and freedom to love others as Jesus has loved us.

Question 1. You destroyed your past life of sin when you believed the good news of Jesus’ death on the cross to take away your sin and His victorious resurrection; how does that truth affect the way you live today? 


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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Jennifer writes, "In the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss Bootcamp course, I have had joy in realizing how set free I really am in Christ. To dwell upon His love on full display at the cross is just amazing; what a gift to be loved like that. 


I no longer condemn myself over the scale, what I ate, or my thoughts about myself. I feel set free from that condemnation which before only made me want to eat more and blow it because I felt bad. Now those feelings are gone, and I praise God for that!


I went to the doctor for a check-up recently, and I didn't worry at all about weighing on the scale because I knew I had not overindulged.


I have been fasting with a friend almost every Saturday. It has been challenging and revealing of how weak my flesh is and how strong Jesus is - He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, and I just praise Him for how good and perfect He is!


This Bible study has brought to life many Old Testament accounts and related them to weight loss and pointed to Jesus. I want to repeat this study; it has been incredible, and I want to remember all the lessons and Scriptures!


I'm not comparing myself to other people, but instead, I feel inspired and know that God will continue to show me His battle plan for me. Even though I don't have the battle plan complete, I know He is with me, and I feel so patient with myself, which is because of the cross and Jesus' love. 


I'm catching myself and becoming aware of when I want to turn to food or coffee for comfort and try to run to Christ instead.


My clothes fit well, and I feel great. When people ask if I am losing weight, I share about Setting the Captives Free and how I'm washing at the cross, walking by His Spirit, and warring against my flesh. Mentally I am so much better - not constantly thinking about food, not mindlessly eating because I'm bored or stressed or in need of comfort. I am so thankful for this study, and all God has done in me, and I feel confident He will continue to work on me.


I recommend the course. It is the best study on focusing on the cross of Christ and how to apply the cross to your everyday, real struggles in your life."


Dominic writes, "Up until December 31, 2020, I had been in an adulterous affair, I had been viewing pornography, I had been pursuing women to satisfy an emptiness inside. I was a Christian for over 20 years, involved in my local church, and married, but I had never conquered sexual temptation.


By the end of 2020, things had come to a head with my wife filing for divorce; I was ready to walk away from Christ forever until a friend recommended this amazing course.  So, on New Year's Eve, with God's help, I repented. I stopped the adulterous affair and signed up for the Purity Bootcamp course because I wanted to start the new year of 2021 free!


What makes this course different, effective, and supernatural is it is Christ-centered. It will point you back to the cross of Jesus, where you can obtain real victory.


It's day 30, and I have been free from sexual sin for the first time in a long time. Praise God!  I had days where it felt effortless and days where it felt all of hell was against me. But if God is for us, who can be against us! This course taught me how to draw close to God and use the right weapons to ensure victory.


No matter how bad your situation is or how long you've been bound, God has a purpose for you still and can totally turn your life all around. This course is incredible because it brings us back to the prison breaker - King Jesus! It put the spotlight on spiritual truths I had glossed over previously.


If you have not been experiencing real freedom in Christ, this course is for you. If you have hit rock bottom like I had because of the shame of your sins, there is help in this study. This course is different! Jesus is at the center. "Who the Son sets free is free indeed!" If this is not a reality in your life, get on this course now!


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


Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free