The Power of the Cross: 192nd Edition, August 8, 2021


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 192nd Edition, August 8, 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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Teaching:

Having believed in Jesus, what do we do when we discover we still have sin living in us? When we find that having come to faith in Christ, we lack total righteousness? Meaning we still fall short. We might struggle with overeating and laziness, greed and envy, porn and impurity, drunkenness and drugs, unforgiveness and bitterness, etc. The Bible calls this ongoing sin "the flesh," and our question is, what do we do about our flesh?

The false teachers in Galatia made it simple; they taught: to be perfected in righteousness, we must obey the Law. "Yes, you have faith in Jesus, but you still sin, so turn to God's Law and obey it to deal with the remaining corruption within you - to be fully righteous."

But notice our passage today to see what believers do:
Galatians 5:5-6 (NLT) But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

What do believers, who walk by the Spirit, do about this lack of total righteousness? We “eagerly wait to receive it.” We know God has promised us complete righteousness when we are in heaven (new bodies, no flesh), and not until then, so we don’t turn to the Law to make up what is lacking; we wait. Eagerly so.

We could word it like this: “don’t just do something; stand there.” Like Moses said when the armies of Pharaoh were pursuing the Israelites: “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” (Exodus 14:13-14).

What do we do when our old sins pursue us, or the old slave master comes calling? Stand still and look at the cross where the Lord rescued you and where He drowned your sins in the Red Sea of Jesus’ blood. Eagerly wait to receive His promised righteousness, look forward to the day when you will have a new body and be free from your flesh, but don’t try to pursue it through the Law. 

We will be like Jesus one day because we will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). For now, if you are being led by God’s Spirit, you will have the fruit of patience in your life (Galatians 5:22-23), you will eagerly await the promised righteousness. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that we don’t fight our flesh; of course, we war against our flesh (Ephesians 6:10-20). But we do so by learning how to walk by the Spirit, not by turning to the Law. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised; in other words, no benefit in turning to the Law to make us completely righteous.

And then Paul summarizes what is essential in life: “What is important is faith expressing itself in love” (Ephesians 5:6). He is saying that faith is the key to it all. Believe in the cross, and the Spirit will pour love in your heart. 

As you look at the cross, believe it was for you, and let it ruin you with love (Matthew 21:44), that one so holy would stoop so far as to become your sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), to rescue you from sin (Galatians 1:13). Jesus was unrecognizable as a human being while wearing your sin (Isaiah 52:14) so that you would be made righteous by faith. His body was bound and drenched in tears and torn to pieces to forgive you and free you. Let it come crashing down on you and explode your heart open with love. And let the love the Holy Spirit pours into you overflow to those around you. Just gush it out on them. You’ll be fully righteous one day; in the meantime, eagerly wait for it.

Question for this week: How does looking at the cross fill your heart with love, personally? Please share!

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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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Here are wonderful song lyrics to consider this week:

I cast my mind to Calvary
Where Jesus bled and died for me
I see His wounds, His hands, His feet
My Saviour on that cursed tree

His body bound and drenched in tears
They laid Him down in Joseph's tomb
The entrance sealed by heavy stone
Messiah still and all alone

O praise the Name of the Lord our God
O praise His Name forevermore
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God

Then on the third at break of dawn
The Son of heaven rose again
O trampled death where is your sting?
The angels roar for Christ the King

O praise the Name of the Lord our God
O praise His Name forevermore
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God

He shall return in robes of white
The blazing sun shall pierce the night
And I will rise among the saints
My gaze transfixed on Jesus' face

O praise the Name of the Lord our God
O praise His Name forevermore
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God

O praise the Name of the Lord our God
O praise His Name forevermore
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord, oh Lord our God

Oh Lord, oh Lord our God

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Testimonies

Scott writes, "I am amazed at what has occurred over the last 30 days in the Purity Bootcamp course. I first thought that I would just be taking another course and gain more "knowledge" about my sin struggle with sexual impurity; God had other plans. The three principles assisted me so much; washing at the cross daily, walking with the Spirit, and warring with the flesh. I have a battle plan in place now and have a more open and intimate relationship with my wife.

 

I still have a long way to go, but now, instead of being trapped in a dark dungeon, I see the prison doors opened. I wish to run out of that place into the light and stay far away from that prison. I have battled this sin struggle since I was 13 years old - 42 years of battle. I wrongly believed I could have both marriage and self-gratification; sadly, I was so wrong.

 

One lesson that stood out to me was the Garden Of Eden example. Adam and Eve messed up and then tried to take care of "it" on their own. They realized they were naked, and they tried desperately to cover themselves. They sewed fig leaves together and thought this would "cover" everything! God then sacrificed a lamb and used this to cover them completely. Adam and Eve learned that what they could not do for themselves, God would do for them through the sacrifice. For them to be covered, an innocent lamb died. For me to be covered, an innocent lamb (Jesus) had to die. I tried for years to "cover" things on my own and made things worse. I now am learning to listen to the Holy Spirit woo me back toward Jesus and away from my fleshly desires.

 

Brothers and sisters, I pray you will receive as much out of this course as I did, if not more! I highly recommend this course to anyone struggling with sexual impurity of any kind."

Helena writes, "I took the A United Front course, and my husband took the purity course, and these last 30 days were a time of becoming a united front.

 

In this course, I formed new habits. I laid down shock, fear, pain at the foot of the cross and took up forgiveness, peace, faith, hope, and love through the gospel. As a result, I am learning to listen to my husband from a place of thankfulness - refreshed and filled up by remembering what Jesus did for me at the cross.

I now desire to fight the good fight for my marriage, speak lovingly to my husband and remember that there is power in my tongue to bring life and love or death.

My husband and I are no longer taking each other for granted and are checking in with each other nearly every day when traveling separately. We are nurturing, watching out for, and seeking to protect each other, praying and worshipping Jesus together, and growing and hungering for the Word. Taking communion has become very powerful for us.

 

The Setting Captives Free courses reminded us about Jesus, our first love! The lessons are powerful and full of Holy Spirit wisdom. We have been refreshed, refined, and revived through these studies. We are so thankful."

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Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free