The Power of the Cross: 197th Edition, September 12, 2021


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 197th Edition, September 12, 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: Mike Cleveland is going live on Facebook today, Sunday, at 10:30 AM Pacific (West Coast) time: https://www.facebook.com/scfggm/live_videos/ He will be teaching on “Darkness and the Light of the Gospel” from John 1:6-13.

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The audio version of this newsletter can be found here.

 

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Announcement: The Setting Captives Free podcast is growing! Listen in on Sundays for the newsletter, join us on “Testimony Tuesday” and “Worship Song Wednesday” (where we discuss worship music, make recommendations, and give cautions). Thursdays are now our regular podcast days.

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Setting Captives Free’s blog page. Check out all our authors (volunteers with Setting Captives Free) who are writing for our gospel blog. It will be a feast for your soul!

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Teaching:

In the course of our study in the book of Galatians, we have seen that the Galatians experienced a struggle common to believers: having believed in the gospel, they were struggling with their flesh, doing things they didn’t want to do. Paul encapsulated this experience well when he wrote Romans 7:18-19, “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 is there a solution for us who struggle so much with our flesh? The Galatian false teachers would answer, “yes, there is! We know you’ve come to faith in Christ, but now you need to begin obeying God’s ten commandment Law to overcome your flesh. Obeying the Law is what you are missing. God knew of your flesh and gave you the Law to keep you from obeying your flesh. Either you obey your flesh, or you obey the Law.” 

But Paul responded to the false teachers of legalism by reminding the Galatians of the power of the cross and showing that the Law is the power of sin (1 Corinthians 15:56) and does not produce the righteous life they desire. In Galatians 5:16, he writes:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

Here we learn that to experience victory over life-dominating sins, we must experience true spiritual power. The Israelites tried to obey the Law without success. Sadly, many professing Christians are still trying to mature in their faith by focusing on external behaviors  - they work their steps and set accountability boundaries around their flesh, hoping to make it behave, all to no avail. External solutions are ineffective, and God's Law only binds us to our sin and condemns us (2 Corinthians 3:7-9). 

God tells us in Galatians that if we want to experience lasting freedom from the wrong desires of our flesh, we must learn to walk by the Spirit because then we will not gratify our flesh. The Spirit leads us powerfully away from sin. Think of the angels that took Lot by the hands and led him out of Sodom (Genesis 19:16) or Moses leading the people out of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12-14) - this is how the Holy Spirit works in the lives of believers. He guides us away from sin so that when we are walking by the Spirit, we are not gratifying the lusts of our flesh. There's the answer - walking by the Spirit!

Perhaps you are hearing this message and asking, "Yes, but how? I don't know how to walk by the Spirit. He's invisible, so how can I 'keep in step with the Spirit' and 'walk by the Spirit'?" 

God gives us the answer we need in His Word. He calls us to come to the cross and wash; come and experience forgiveness as you did the first time. Come and behold the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, splayed out on the altar, blood running out of Him, life draining out of Him, to fill you with His Spirit so that you can live. Come and view your God hung up on a cursed tree for your sins (Galatians 3:13) to bless you with the Spirit (Galatians 3:14) and free you from sin’s domination (Galatians 5:16). Read the Scriptures and see the cross of Christ, and you’ll learn to walk by the Spirit. 

Let’s quickly look at one example in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5: “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5), “you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (verse 9). 

The Thessalonians turned to God from idols; why? Because God commanded it? No, they turned from idols because the gospel came to them by the power of the Holy Spirit. The gospel and the Spirit, the gospel and power are always together (see 1 Corinthians 2:1-5). Experiencing Holy Spirit power sets us free from bondage, turns us from idols, and enables us to serve the living and true God.

Question: why do you think God has connected the message of the cross and the power of the Spirit together? 

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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

Dawn writes, "It is with great joy and immeasurable peace that I share what God has done in my life over the last month.

 

First, let me say that I do not have it all figured out, but I do finally understand where to run to face any problem. I get to run to Jesus over and over again and again. I am free from the demands and expectations of my flesh. I'm no longer living by a manufactured checklist or the demands of the world. I have been set free from my burdens of guilt and shame. I am being restored daily at the foot of the Cross by the blood of Jesus shed for me!!! HALLELUJAH and Amen!

 

My marriage is the most significant change I've seen since taking the A United Front course! What is the change, you ask? TRANSFORMATION of our hearts.

 

My husband was a pastor of a beautiful church for the past seven years, and we thought we were preparing for overseas mission work. So what change did we need? I mean, we were feeding a flock. Right? Wrong! We were teaching about religion. Yes, in our efforts, we tried to love others. We wanted our community saved, but we lacked the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. Before A United Front, I didn't regularly see or consider Jesus or His death for my sins. Even worse, I lacked empathy and compassion and didn't want to think that Jesus' death paid for my husband's sins or anyone else's. But now, I delight in seeing the love of Jesus come to life through His Holy Word.

 

I am overjoyed that in my brokenness, I am completely totally 100% gracefully forgiven. And now I get to see my husband with new eyes through the love of Jesus. I get to see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control all around me by the righteousness of Christ given to me.

 

I AM a child of God! Jesus has taken all my sins past, present, and future and forgiven me of them all! Praise You, Lord Jesus, my King!

 

Hallelujah, we are all set free by the tremendous love of Jesus, for God does so LOVE the world that He GAVE us His only Son Jesus to stand in our place day after day to be forgiven.

 

Maybe you’re thinking that you are doing pretty good, you've got your life under control, and you are happy for the most part, and it is your husband who is the problem. Or maybe you are feeling desperate, scared, afraid of failing, unsure that an online course can help. Let me encourage you that when we come to Jesus, it's not about us and what we do or don't do!!! Instead, it's all about what Jesus has already done and continues to do for us every day. Stop fighting yourself or anything else and enroll in the Setting Captives Free course you need and experience the POWER of Jesus dying on the Cross for your sins as more than enough to set you free and restore you.

 

I know I have finally fully turned to Jesus, and I never want to return to my old life or my old self. I am a new forgiven child of God who is fully forgiven by the blood of Jesus shed for me. Jesus has transformed my heart and healed my marriage for His glory; I'm so thankful.

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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 would you consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount? www.settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance. 

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Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free