The Power of the Cross: 188th Edition, July 4, 2021


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 188th Edition, July 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.

 

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Announcement: The newest course from Setting Captives Free is now live.  The Freedom from Substance Abuse course is designed to help men and women to freedom from substance abuse (alcohol, smoking, drugs, etc.).  

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Teaching:

This week we want to consider what forms Christ in us and what frees us from sin traps and enables us to serve the Lord with zeal?

Many would point us to God's Law, saying that if we are obedient to God's Law, we are following in the steps of Christ so that our obedience is that which forms Christ in us.

And yet, there is a strange phenomenon that happens when people focus on obedience to God's Law (keeping the ten commandments - loving God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves). Do you know what happens?

Well, Paul tells us in today's passage in Galatians:

"Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. 18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. 19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!" (Galatians 4:17-20).

Here, Paul talks about the false teachers who were pressing the Old Covenant down on the Galatian believers. They were saying, "the gospel is good, but you need to go on to maturity, which comes through circumcision, the keeping of Old Covenant special days like the Sabbath; obedience to God's Law is what matures you."

Paul says, "I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you." because focusing on our obedience does not give us a new birth and does not produce Christ in us. No! People focused on the Law actually perplex other believers. 

Consider an illustration: when I get up in the morning, I look in the mirror and say, "Wow, what a mess!” So I use a comb to comb what's left of my hair, use a toothbrush to brush my teeth, use a razor on my face, etc. in an effort to make myself look clean and presentable. But what would you guys think if I broke off a bit of the mirror and tried to use it to comb my hair, brush my teeth, or shave? That would perplex you, right? The mirror only serves to show me what's wrong with me; it isn't designed to fix me.

Similarly, the Law of God was designed for one purpose: to reveal our sin, to show us the areas we do not look like Jesus. It was not given to fix us through our attempts to obey it. No, the Law is glorious because we look into it and say, "Wow, what a mess!" And so, we come to Jesus the Fixer, the Rescuer, the One who took our sin on Himself and suffered our punishment to forgive every sin, cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and give us His Spirit who bears the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control in our lives. In other words, through believing the gospel, Christ is formed in us; so finally, we begin to look like Jesus. 

Question: have you ever tried to use the mirror of the Law to fix the problems in your life? If so, how would the gospel bring about a different result? Please share with us.

 

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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

 

Richsonia writes, "In the Purity Bootcamp course, I learned that washing at the cross is essential for salvation but also sanctification. The cross is something I need to remember every daily. Washing at the cross has helped me remember Jesus and what He endured on the cross for me, which helps me when I sin, when I am discouraged, feel shame or guilt, or struggle to forgive/walk in love. Remembering the cross has helped so much. It also brings a sense of gratefulness.

 

I also learned how to walk by the Spirit.  Walking by the Spirit means denying my flesh and obeying God, which is something I can't do apart from the Spirit of God. Praying, staying in the word of God, and fellowshipping with other believers is how I walk by the Spirit.

 

I learned that I am in a spiritual war, and this means I have to fight. Jesus has already won the victory over sin and death so I can fight this war against my flesh from a place of victory. Jesus has already defeated sin and death for me; now, I deny myself and follow Him.

 

I have seen many changes in my heart and life over the past thirty days. When I first started the boot camp, my heart wasn't 100% in it, but I asked God to help me be engaged in the lessons, and He did. I am so thankful for the purity boot camp.

 

The main thing I learned is about the cross of Christ. I learned that the cross is sufficient for salvation and sanctification. Looking to the cross and remembering what Jesus has done on the cross has made a big impact on my walk with Christ.

 

I struggled with so much shame and guilt over my past sexual impurity. By remembering the cross, I've come to realize that when Christ died on the cross for my sins, He took all my shame and guilt. So because of Christ, I am free from shame and guilt (Romans 8:1-4).

 

I have grown in my dependence on God. God is helping me change how I view myself and how I view others. Before the boot camp, I viewed men in an ungodly way. After praying and asking God for help to view men in a way that pleases Him, He is answering this prayer. I've also seen a change in how I see myself. Because of my past sexual sins, I used to view myself as nasty, gross, and unworthy. Now, I am starting to see myself as Christ does. He says I am forgiven, loved, clean, His child, etc.

 

I recommend this course to others because it points to Christ and the cross. The cross is more than enough. The cross is what saved me, and it is what will keep me. The cross is sufficient. I am so thankful for the cross."

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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. 

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For the audio version of this newsletter, click here


Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free