The Power of the Cross: 182nd Edition, May 23, 2021


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 182nd Edition, May 23, 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 181

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Teaching:

 

To start this week, I have two questions for you to consider: 1) What is our worst problem from birth? 2) What is the only solution?

Some people might think the greatest problem is violence, drugs, alcohol, abortion, obesity, immorality, lying, greed, etc. But these are all just various expressions of our worst problem.

Today we come to a verse that explains our worst problem, and at the same time, gives us the only solution; consider with me Galatians 3:22:

Galatians 3:22 (NIV) "But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe."

It's clear from the text that Scripture has locked up everything and everyone under the control of sin. Or as 1 John 5:19 says, "the whole world is under the power of the evil one."  Since birth, our worst problem is that we were imprisoned in sin. We were born under the control and power of sin, which explains why we did things we knew were wrong, why temptation could overpower us, and why we felt helpless to change. Consequently, we have an innate sense of failure; we feel condemnation and guilt as if we do not measure up and God is displeased with us. 

So what is the only solution? The false teachers were teaching the Galatians that the answer is to obey God's Law - keep the commandments, that's the way to be free! "Do this and live!" (Luke 10:28). "Love God and love your neighbor" (Luke 10:27). But that's like telling a prisoner behind bars, "leave that jail cell immediately!" You're telling him to do something he is unable to do! The prisoner would say, "I would if I could, but I can't. I'm locked up, and every time I try to get free, I fail. Or concerning obeying God's law: every time I try to obey God's Law, I'm overpowered by the guards (my flesh, the devil, sin's power) and thrown back into sin."

Notice the Bible's solution: "so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe." So the only solution is "faith in Jesus Christ." What this means is that you actively believe that Jesus came to rescue you, that Jesus came with a key to your jail cell, and that key is the cross, and He set you free with it. You actually believe that through His death, Jesus defeated your worst problem (sin), your worst enemy (Satan), and your final enemy (death).

Sometimes it helps to see truths illustrated. Do you remember the story of Samson? If so, you might recall that when Samson was about to die, he stretched out his hands, putting them on two pillars of the house, pushed with all his might, and brought the house down on his enemies who were partying on the roof. Samson died with his enemies (the Philistines), and the Bible says he killed more of his enemies in his death than he did in his life (Judges 16:30). In dying, with his arms stretched out, he destroyed the enemy for his people.

Similarly, when Jesus stretched out His hands on the cross, He destroyed our enemy and won the victory for us. Hebrews 2 speaks of Jesus saying that by dying, he would "destroy the one who has the power of death--the devil--15 and free those who were like slaves all their lives." God wants you to see this solution and believe it. He says the promise was given "through faith in Jesus Christ to those who believe." As we believe, we experience the freedom Jesus won at the cross for us.

It's incredible that when you and I put faith in the rescue of the cross, our prison cell is unlocked; we are no longer dominated by sin, no longer mastered by sin. And finally, we escape that whole mindset of "I'm not good enough, I don't measure up, I don't meet the standard. I can't clear the bar." Now our eyes are on Jesus, who cleared the bar by a mile. In Christ, you and I won the battle at the cross; we were set free from sins' prison at the cross. We believe, and faith is the victory! "This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God" (1 John 5:4-5).

Question for this week: do you believe today that Jesus' purpose for dying was not only to forgive you of every sin but also to free you from the prison of sin?

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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: 

To join one of the men’s groups, click this link: https://onmarcopolo.com/groups/Va6HzPIPDxWU/4-scf-mens-group   

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

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Testimonies

Alex writes, "Through the Purity Boot Camp course, the Lord has helped me turn away from all sexually immoral content. I've moved into a deeper relationship with God and begun to enjoy reading His Word and meditating on His way. God has been transforming my mind and heart to love others, especially my wife. God enabled me to be honest with my wife and others. I am finally out of hiding and moving towards true freedom. God is redeeming every part of my being and making me a man of integrity and selfless love. 

 

The foundational principles taught in this course highlight the Christian way to live in holiness. I need to be reminded of these principles often as I am prone to forget, just like Israel. I love these principles because they take the focus off of me and my strength. My willpower is useless against my enemies. God desires me to run to Him for freedom, not escape to my own strength; moreover, Christ is my freedom. He tells me who I am now.

 

There are times when I still struggle with lusting, yet the Holy Spirit calls me to run back to Christ. I don't want lust to be an option anymore. I want to dwell in the house of the Lord and worship Christ consistently. He must increase while I decrease.

 

Purity Bootcamp is a challenging course that points towards the freedom Christ offers. It incorporates the Holy Scriptures with personal testimonies to illustrate the power of God. The law provides no freedom in countering sin struggles. Instead, the Word of God proclaims the majesty, might, and freedom of God. God's touch alone can shatter our chains. Trust me; I've tried for 16 years in my own strength to break the bonds of sin. The best strength of my youth cannot free me. Liberation from sin comes through God alone. 

 

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17). Submit to Christ, and He will guide you to safety."

Desiree writes, "After taking the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss courses, I now have an understanding of HOW to wash at the cross, walk with the Lord, and war against the flesh. Previously, these were just words I knew by rote but never made it past that, no understanding or application.

 

I prayed to be closer to God, and now I understand and know Him better; this course has shown me the path to that, and my walk is more meaningful, and I have a closer relationship with my Lord and Savior!

 

I can now distinguish true hunger or if some other need isn't being met. I rarely experienced true hunger before (I never went that long without eating SOMETHING), but now I can spiritually discern what's really going on with me when I feel restless or "hungry."

 

I have lost several pounds, but now that isn't my main goal, but it is a pleasant side effect of following God's leading in my life.

 

I have recommended this course to a few Christian friends because the benefits are eternal and far greater than weight loss."

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