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The Power of the Cross: 24th Edition, March 3, 2018


Mike Cleveland
 

Hello friend,

 

Welcome to the new subscribers just joining our newsletter. We publish once per week on Sunday. The newsletter alternates a short gospel teaching on one week with testimonies from Setting Captives Free students on the following week. We hope you will find the newsletter helpful and encouraging.

 

This week we have two testimonies for you, I know you’ll be encouraged at the amazing power of the cross and the Holy Spirit as you read.

 

Jeffrey writes, "I was not raised as a Christian, and by the end of high school I was a devout atheist, eagerly attacking Christianity whenever I had the chance. As you might expect, I had no moral boundaries and my life was filled with drugs, alcohol, sexual immorality and pornography.

 

I was first exposed to pornography in junior high; my friend showed me his older brother’s “stash” of magazines. I had never seen anything like it before and I was immediately “hooked.” From that moment forward, I was consumed by pornography.

 

As I entered college, the Holy Spirit began to prepare my heart. All of a sudden I was “inexplicably” drawn to Jesus. My past hostility was gone, and I questioned everyone I knew about what it meant to be saved. Months later, I gave my life to Jesus.

 

My life was radically transformed in every way. Everything was different. No more drugs and alcohol, no more wild living; my life was filled with prayer meetings, bible studies, evangelism and Christian fellowship. Although one thing remained; I continued to hold onto pornography.

 

I rationalized that I would no longer need once I got married, so until then it was a necessary evil. However, when I got married at 23, I found out that it was not so easy to eliminate. I had assumed that marital sex would be so satisfying that pornography would be unnecessary.

 

Well, that was not the case. Pornography did not become unnecessary; in fact, it became even more entrenched in my life. More and more it became a substitute for my wife, who could not understand why my passion for her was diminishing. She found my magazines, which destroyed her trust in me as well as her self image.

 

For so many years we played a game of cat and mouse. I was always hiding, always sneaking, yet she always knew. I drifted farther and farther from God. I had this image in my mind of a swimmer at the beach who has slowly, imperceptibly, drifted a great distance. That’s how I felt, so far from God and powerless to get back.

Years passed and I discovered internet pornography. It was shocking and so easily obtained. What was once a habit had now become an obsession. God was nowhere to be found in my life.

 

But God broke through. After 18 years of marriage we had our first child, and it was a life-changing experience. We were overwhelmed by God’s grace and love, and we re-committed our lives to him. We found a great church and our faith was vibrant. I eliminated pornography, drawing boundaries so that I might keep it out of my life.

 

I went a number of years without viewing pornography, however I was holding back. First of all, I was relying on my own strength and devices to refrain from pornography, not on God’s power.

 

Secondly, my approach was completely legalistic; pharisaical. I was not seeking purity of heart and mind, my only concern was to not view pornography. Accordingly, my mind was still full of impure thoughts and lusts. I made no effort to curtail my sinful thoughts because I felt I was doing so well. I was so self-righteous, thinking I was better than most men because I was not viewing pornography. I pushed the limits to the arbitrary boundaries that I set.

 

Not surprisingly, the whole house of cards came crashing down when I eventually viewed pornography again. Bit by bit it crept back into my life until I was in bondage once again. I tried again and again to stop, but I was unsuccessful. I felt worse than ever, since now I was leading a Christian life; I felt like such a hypocrite.

 

For the first time I was terrified that I was truly incapable of stopping. I felt that I was past the point of no return...I had crossed beyond the boundaries of God’s grace. He had finally given up on me.

 

When I began this course at Setting Captives Free I was hopeful, but not optimistic. I wanted things to be different, but I didn’t know what more “I could do.” I had failed again and again for so many years.

 

But as I began the course, God spoke to my heart in a new way. Suddenly I understood that I had to rely on JESUS alone, what He accomplished for me on the cross and through His resurrection, not myself. I realized that I had NEVER fully surrendered to him. Never before had I given him everything, I had always held back. I had always kept a certain sinful domain that I kept for myself. I had never even tried to seek purity of thoughts and mind. It’s no wonder that my lustful thoughts inevitably led to sin and bondage.

 

But praise God, he has delivered me. I saw that Jesus didn’t hold anything back, but gave Himself for me entirely on the cross. So I surrendered too. Now, for the first time I am truly abiding in Christ; day by day, moment by moment. As I walk in the Spirit, I feel Christ’s love and power in me.

 

I fill my heart and mind with Jesus, and flee from sin. When temptations come, I immediately cling to Jesus and embrace him. Never before have I felt such freedom. I realize now that true freedom is freedom NOT to sin.


No longer do I feel doomed or condemned, seeing that on the cross Jesus was doomed and condemned in my place; now I feel God’s love and grace pouring over me. Praise God. I am home at last."

 

The next is from Lalaine who is going through the mentorship course with Setting Captives Free:

 

Lalaine writes, "I am really excited about the prospect of becoming a mentor with you. God put this on my heart while I was doing the ‘purity course’ myself. Thanks to you guys at SCF and your constant pointing me to the cross I fell in love with Jesus all over again. I have really changed over the past six months. The Holy Spirit has been working in my life. Not only has Jesus set me free from the chains of sexual impurity He’s also changing me in other areas too. You know, I’ve been filled with so much love that I cannot contain that love for myself. I desperately need to share it. I need to give hope to others who are going to be coming to us with their seemingly desperate situations. I can’t let them stay trapped. They need to know there is power in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want to be part of this."

 

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Dear friend, we are desiring to get the message of the power of the cross out to as many people as we can. Please consider forwarding or posting and inviting others to subscribe. Anyone can subscribe by sending a blank email to main+subscribe@SettingCaptivesFree.groups.io.

 

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Sincerely,

 

Mike Cleveland

Volunteer for Setting Captives Free

 

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