The Power of the Cross: 181st Edition, May 16, 2021


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 181st Edition, May 16, 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.

 

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Spanish version of newsletter: El Poder de la Cruz: Edición 180

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Teaching:

Have you been trying to obey God but find another principle within you that prevents your ongoing obedience? Paul said:

"For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing". “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me” (Romans 7:21-23).

In Romans 7, Paul shares that he is desiring and striving to do good but discovering that he keeps doing evil - he keeps on sinning. The good news is that there is a solution to this difficulty; we find it in Romans 7:25 and again throughout the book of Galatians. Let's see the answer from Galatians 3:15-21:

Galatians 3:15-21 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. 19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. 21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.

What we see here is an example of the truth that you and I become righteous in God's eyes when we believe that Jesus died in our place and rose from the dead for us. This righteousness through believing in Christ is contrary to the false teachers in Galatia who taught that while we need the gospel for salvation, we also need to obey the Law if we want to grow in freedom and perfection. But since the Bible tells us that "Law is the power of sin" (1 Corinthians 15:56), we know that this form of teaching (obedience to the Law) leads to slavery to sin, not freedom or perfection.

To help the Galatians understand, Paul provides a powerful example. He says that when Abraham believed and was credited with righteousness, there was no law to obey! The Law didn't even come into existence until 400 years later. There is no way that Abraham could be righteous through obedience to God's Old Covenant Law because 1) he was already righteous through his faith in the foretold gospel (Galatians 3:8), and 2) there was no Old Covenant law to obey. That's Paul's point!

So it's imperative to understand that the Old Covenant Law was temporary. The Law is not God's character engraved on stone and therefore "permanent"; instead, it had a "shelf life." Notice in verse 19 it says, the Law "was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come." Notice the words "added" and "until." So the Law was added at Mt. Sinai and in place only until Jesus died on the cross, at which time the Old Covenant expired, and a New Covenant was instituted. I like Charles Spurgeon's comments that the Law engraved on stone tablets was "ground to powder" at the cross. The Old Covenant Law is no longer the power of sin for us because we are not under that covenant; it can no longer condemn us because it condemned Jesus in our place, and when Jesus died, it died, and we are free!

I was raised as a Seventh-Day-Adventist, believing very firmly in keeping God's Old Covenant Law. I was taught that the Old Covenant Law was God's character revealed to us; it was God's desire for us. And so I believed and taught others the need to be obedient to God in everything. I taught that all ten commandments (Exodus 20) were valid and in force today and were God's revealed will for His people. 

But God brought me out of Adventism into the joy of the Gospel life when I read in 2 Corinthians 3 that God, Himself calls the Old Covenant a "ministry that brought death" in verse 7 and a "ministry that brought condemnation" in verse 9. My life verified the truth of 2 Corinthians 3:7-9 because as long as I was focused on the Law, as long as I tried to live up to God's standards, I felt this intense weight of condemnation on me. I experienced death in my spiritual relationship to God, in my marriage, and in other relationships as I tried to point out how they were not living up to God’s standard. 

Paul explains in Galatians 3 that the Old Covenant Law was temporary: it was "added" at Mt. Sinai and was in place "until" Jesus came and made a New Covenant. The Old Covenant said, "Obey God perfectly and continually, and you will live forever," but because we could not do it, Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant for us and put that covenant to death at the cross. "By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear" (Hebrews 8:13, the sacrificial part of the Old Covenant disappeared in AD 70 with the destruction of the temple). 

The New Covenant that Jesus instituted through His death on the cross says, "Jesus lived in your place perfectly and continually, and died to remove all your sin forever. And if you believe that message, you are righteous, you are holy, you are perfect forever, and you are free!" "For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant" (Hebrews 9:15). 

At Jesus' death, He initiated a New and better Covenant built on new and better promises. "But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises" (Hebrews 8:6).

The effects of believing this message are to escape the curse, be free from all condemnation, be lifted out of death, set free from sin and receive new life. 

As Phillip Bliss wrote in his hymn "Once for All":

Free from the Law, O happy condition, 
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission; 
Cursed by the Law and bruised by the fall, 
Grace hath redeemed us once for all.--

Question: are you trying your best to obey a covenant that doesn't exist, or are you living in the freedom purchased for you at the cross?

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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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To join the female (only) group, click this link: https://onmarcopolo.com/groups/Zv8WlxPaMZuu/scf-womens-group-1  

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Testimonies

Nick writes, "I started the Purity Bootcamp course broken and at a new low. My wife was crushed by my lies and secrets and unsure if we would stay together. I first started when my pastor told me about it. Day one hit me hard; I cried and gave it all to God.

 

I grew up in church but never had the cross explained to me as it was in this course. I know Jesus died for my sins, and I was saved through His life, death, and resurrection, but I never realized that Jesus also bore all of the guilt, shame, labels, and pain I had too! Once I realized that, then true healing and freedom began.

 

Walking in the Spirit made the chains of impurity melt away. O, I love the walk! It is so amazing; day by day, my love for Jesus grows as the Spirit keeps telling me more and more about Him! The freedom and joy are overwhelming and starting to overflow from my soul.

 

Warring against the flesh is possible now. When temptations come, or the sins of my past haunt me, I look to Jesus, and He leads me to kill it all and not look back on it in shame or pity. Praise, honor, and glory to the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit! They have set me free and showed me new levels of love, mercy, and grace that I never knew existed.

 

I know the fight will go on the rest of my life, but if I wash at the cross often, walk in the Spirit, and war against my flesh, I know God is faithful and will see me through till He calls me home. My wife and I are in a better place now; we are working on our relationship day by day and keeping Jesus the center of it all. The road may be long and hard, but it will more than worth it at the end to see Christ glorified and captives set free.

 

I recommend this course! My advice to students: stay humble, be honest, and keep looking to Jesus and the cross."

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."

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. www.settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance. 



Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free