The Power of the Cross: 183rd Edition, May 30, 2021


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 183rd Edition, May 30, 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 182

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Teaching:

This week, we will answer the question: how do we mature in our spiritual life? That is, how do we go from being people who live in bondage to our flesh, comfort ourselves in sinful ways, and live self-centered lives to being people who resemble Christ?

We've been studying through the book of Galatians, and there we find that the false teachers in Galatia taught that maturity and perfection come through obedience to God's Law. 

But notice Galatians 3:23-25:

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

In these verses, Paul describes being under the Law as being a minor, an underaged child with a guardian, whereas when faith in Christ comes, maturity also comes.

This truth makes sense; little children need rules and supervision for their safety and well-being. For example, we tell a child to hold an adult's hand when crossing the street, brush their teeth, go to bed, etc. But when a child grows into a mature adult, they govern themselves. 

And Paul is saying that the entire life of the Jewish nation (life under the Law) can be described as infancy and childhood until Jesus came and lived and died and rose again. And when God gave faith to believe in Jesus, maturity and adulthood came. 

Paul's point is that when faith in Christ's death and resurrection to take away their sins comes to an individual, that person no longer needs a law guardian. As long as we focus on the Law (rules, steps), we remain childish, but faith in Christ matures us, grows us in the Lord. 

Think of it this way: putting faith in the gospel enables us to lose our sinful pacifiers, comfort blankies, milk bottles, and diapers. Placing faith in Jesus' finished work grows us into mature people, enabling us to walk by the Spirit where we do not gratify the lusts of our flesh (Galatians 5:16). 

Ephesians 4 also speaks about the growth and maturity that comes through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Starting in verse 8:

“When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” 9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) (Ephesians 4:8-10).

This passage invites you to look at Jesus descending from heaven to earth for you. Jesus came down to live as a man in your place so that God would count Christ's perfect living as yours. Then Jesus went lower to a criminal's cross where He suffered for your sin and died to remove not only your sins but also your guilt and shame. Finally, Jesus descended into the grave to bury your sin and your old identity. God calls you to see and believe this message so that you can grow up in Christ and experience the new life He purchased for you with His blood.

Then Ephesians 4:11-12 speak of God giving the gift of His Spirit who grows the church through each one using their gift. And notice in verses 13-14 how the result of this gospel and the work of the Spirit is maturity and stability:

“until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”

Do you see how the message of the cross, accompanied by the work of the Spirit, stabilizes and matures us? It keeps us from believing wrong doctrines, and it grows us into spiritually mature adults. Putting faith in the gospel message does what the Law could not do; it brings maturity and stability. 

Question for this week: How can you know that you are being matured by putting faith in the gospel? What evidence do you see that you are growing?

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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

Kresten writes, "The Purity Bootcamp course Very helpful! It's a life-changer! This course was the best resource I have ever used. Having been a Christian for almost 20 years, the battle with my flesh lead me to read several books about overcoming sexual impurity. And though those other materials gave me some good mechanisms, this course has radically changed my mindset way beyond anything else.

 

From the beginning with talking about a heart change, the course gave me curiosity and motivation to move toward the cross and deeper into intimacy with Christ.  I have big dreams of joy and adventure for my life on earth, but I don't want to waste it giving into rebelliousness against Jesus and feeling unnecessary guilt.

I have long grown tired of the dark, confused, and bitter heart in me. Experiencing the new heart and new life that  Jesus purchased for me with His blood became the leading motivator and kick-off for my freedom.

 

The lessons helped me understand that true healing is not just about learning new habits or mechanisms but understanding myself through the cross -  who am I in the eyes of Jesus, and what did he do for me? Knowing that Jesus took not only my sin but also my guilt and shame was really helpful to gain the freedom and power inside to get restored and become truly happy.

 

Secondly (about understanding myself), I have always been scared of giving in entirely to becoming a new person. What about the things in my past which are good? The places I've lived, people I've known, and adventures I had which made me who I am?  The course helped me understand that I am becoming a new self - my TRUE self - when I unite with Jesus. For me, that meant getting restored to the innocent, enthusiastic, and adventurous youngster inside that loved life and wanted to explore the world but didn't live in sexual immorality.  I had to learn how to take the best with me and leave my sinful behaviors behind. I am becoming my true self, the one I was meant to be - without my dirty and selfish mind, but instead with a new path of following Jesus and fixing my mind and heart on Him.  I want to be the tool in His hand that He created me to become!

 

I'm starting to understand that instead of focusing on my sin and what to avoid, I can live in my new freedom and fill my mind with the good, pure, true, and powerful message of the cross. This course presented a crucial perspective on a change in my mindset. Worldly terms like addictions and recovery have been replaced with biblical terms like bondage and walking with the spirit.  We're not addicts for life; we're in bondage and CAN break free - but only by walking with Jesus, fixing our eyes on the cross.

 

I'm deeply grateful for this course and what it has done for me and my faith! It has changed my life, and I hope it will help many others to a new life of true freedom! Of all the tools I have worked with becoming pure, this one has been the best. It puts Jesus in the center, directs your eyes on his cross and the amazing life you can have with him, provides healthy and helpful biblical knowledge, and changes your overall mindset for the much better. But most of all, it gives you solid and spiritual motivation to stay pure and experience true freedom!"

Daniel writes, "I grew up in the church and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at a young age, but throughout my high school and university years, I struggled immensely with anxiety and depression. As a result, I turned to all kinds of things to cope: over-sleeping and not sleeping, over-eating and not eating, over-working, meditation, immense exercise, gratitude journaling, pornography, excessive alcohol, serving in church, praying, studying the Bible, praise & worship, and the list goes on. Nothing really worked because even with the things that I turned to that were considered good, I was not coming from the right mindset and heart.

 

But after finding the Depression course on Setting Captives Free, I began learning about the gospel of Jesus' finished work on the cross and how I am saved through grace - through His work and not mine. And after going through this course, I can say with gratitude and joy that my depression has completely lifted because of the revelation of Christ's love for me. I will admit that I still struggle with anxiety and worry, but I'm learning to give it all to God daily and to turn to the cross continually.

 

Thank you, Jesus, for saving me, and thank you, Setting Captives Free, for pointing me in the right direction."

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