The Power of the Cross: 180th Edition, May 9, 2021

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 180th Edition, May 9, 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 179



Did you know that there is no way to live in freedom from sinful bondage if you're trying to live under God's Law? It is true, but the good news is that there is a way to be free; it is unlike anything this world offers. Let's see what it is.

We are looking into the Book of Galatians, and this week we are faced with the terrible news that you and I are under a curse. Galatians 3:10 quotes Deuteronomy 27:26, which says, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." 

In other words, the Law requires PERFECT obedience — "everything written in the Book of the Law," and it requires PERPETUAL obedience — we must "continue" to do it. Perfect, perpetual obedience, or a curse.

Now I don't know about you, but that makes me feel condemned. I feel unworthy because I know I don't measure up to God's perfect standard. I remember living for decades in the lusts of my flesh, thinking I was cursed by God because of my sin. It was a horrible, terrifying time.

To be under a curse means eternal banishment from God's presence and complete destruction. Zechariah 5:3-4 says, "This is the curse that is going out over the whole land...every thief will be banished, everyone who swears falsely will be banished. 4 The LORD Almighty declares, 'I will send it (the curse) out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of anyone who swears falsely by my name. It will remain in that house and destroy it completely...'" So you and I are born under a curse because of sin, which means, barring any intervention, we will be banished from God's presence and completely destroyed. Think about it!

This consequence is why the Law has such appeal to our old nature because if we could just obey the Law, we could escape the curse. In other words, our flesh thinks if we're cursed for our disobedience, well, let's just change that and start obeying God, and we'll be free from the curse. 

So there we are, trying to obey God and escape the curse. Then we get more bad news in Galatians 3:11-12, "Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because "the righteous will live by faith." 12 The Law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, "The person who does these things will live by them." And it dawns on us, we have not "done these things" perfectly, we can't cover over our mistakes through our attempts at obedience. Our covering of "righteous living" and "good works" is full of holes. 

Like the fig leaves that Adam and Eve sewed together as a covering in the Garden of Eden, our efforts towards righteousness are flimsy and can't withstand the storm of God's wrath. 

So, here we are, knowing we're under God's curse because of our sin, covered in the withering leaves of our attempts at obedience. What is the solution? Is there any way out at all? The very next verse presents it to us clearly:

"Christ took away the curse the Law put on us. He changed places with us and put himself under that curse. It is written in the Scriptures, "Anyone whose body is displayed on a tree is cursed" (Galatians 3:13 NCV). 

Notice the word "displayed." When you walk by a store, you might see a "display" that they set up; that's because they want you to look. Well, Jesus was displayed on a tree when He died for our sins, and we are to look. We are to see Him wearing a crown of thorns, meaning He is wearing your curse even as He is bearing your sins in His own body on the tree. And why is He removing the curse from you? The next verse tells us:

"Christ did this so that God's blessing promised to Abraham might come through Jesus Christ to those who are not Jews. Jesus died so that by our believing we could receive the Spirit that God promised" (Galatians 3:14). 

Ah, all nations on earth were blessed through Abraham when Jesus died! He died to remove the curse and bless us with His Spirit. Jesus' death on the cross eradicated your curse and gave you an eternal blessing - God's presence through His Spirit living in you. And with His Spirit comes freedom! "The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17). 

Question: have you been living as if you could be right with God by obeying Him, or are you fully relying on the cross to do that for you?


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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Gail writes, "The biblical principles in the Weight Loss Bootcamp course continually pointed me back to having my focus on my Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross and rose again so I might be set free from sin, have the Holy Spirit in me to guide me, and be able to war against the flesh and win because He has already won the battle over sin and death on the cross.


I feel I stand at the cross so much more now than I ever did before. I have and am dealing with defeating the sin in my life that has kept me trapped in a cell. I can give more and more of it over to my Savior, who continually forgives me. I walk more by the Spirit than I have done so in the past. I have learned how to fight against my flesh in the Spirit's power. I have been set free from a dungeon that I didn't even know I was in.


Physically, I have lowered my blood glucose numbers which means my diabetes is better under control. I have learned through God's discipline that I feel sick when I overeat or eat the wrong foods. I am better able to say no to those foods now. I know I have lost a few pounds because I was weighed at the doctor's office recently.


I recommend this course because it is so much more than just a Christ-centered weight loss program. It is a reclaiming of my focus on my Lord and Savior. I gained so much more from that than I would have ever thought. Refocusing on Jesus is what was life-changing for me."

Clare writes, In the Purity Bootcamp course, I’ve learned to stop looking at my sin and failures and myself.


Before this study, I always felt condemned because my eyes were in the wrong place. Now my eyes are on the perfect One, Jesus. I’m focused on who He is and what He has done for me through His death on the cross for my sins and His glorious resurrection and the new person He has made me. I died and rose with Him. The focus is Jesus, not Clare. I have been crucified; it is no longer I who lives, but it’s Christ who lives in me.


If you want to have your life transformed, take this course. The inner change in my life was huge because it’s gospel-centered.


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