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The Power of the Cross: 71st Edition, March 17, 2019

Mike Cleveland
 

Greetings friends,

Welcome to the new subscribers just joining us. We publish once per week on Sunday. The newsletter shares short gospel writings, and then testimonies from Setting Captives Free students. We hope you will find the newsletter helpful and encouraging.

This week we have a powerful writing from one of Setting Captives Free board members, Bill Miller. Don’t miss this writing on the power of forgiveness, what it means, and what happens if we don’t forgive.

Then we have two testimonies, both from ladies; one from the Purity Follow-Up course, and one from the Spouse Course (A United Front).

Now here is the writing from Bill Miller:

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What does it mean to forgive someone?  How does that lack of forgiveness lead to bitterness? Let’s look and see what we can find in God’s Word.

Thinking about the need for forgiveness, we are told to forgive in the same way God has forgiven us.  Here is a verse to consider:

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (32) Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:31-32 NASB)

So how has God forgiven?  “He remembers no more...”

"AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." (18) Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin." (Hebrews 10:17-18 NASB)

"He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:19 NASB)

It does NOT say that God forgets, God knows everything. But, He does choose NOT to “remember.” The Greek is (μιμνήσκω mimnḗskō "to remember, recollect, recall, bring to mind, remind oneself (purposefully); have in mind, "be mindful of." "actively remember" (intentionally).

So, when I choose to remind myself of something (a particular sin or some offense), I bring “it” up again. I re-hash, rehearse, re-live, remember that sin.  It becomes “alive” again and the pain and emotional consequences follows.  This is why we continue to return to the Cross – that too is a reminder, remembering what Jesus has done to deal with our sins, once and for all.

"By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:10 NKJV)

So, when I forgive someone of their sins, and I have forgiven them, it is finished and is to not be brought up again.  But there is a cost to forgiving.

Example:  You stole $20 from me.  I had left it laying around, you saw it and took it.  Then you took that $20 and spent it.  The money is gone.  Then your conscience, reminds you that you stole $20 from Bill and need to confess that sin. You ask God’s forgiveness and then come to me.

So, being the repentant sinner, you come and ask for my forgiveness of stealing $20, but you are unable to repay. (You ought to repay – because you stole – but you are unable.)

Now what do I do? I forgive you. And in that forgiveness – it cost me $20.  I wipe the slate clean – you owe me nothing. It is forgiven.  It is painful to forgive, because I was going to take Diane out on a date and now I can’t.  But to forgive – is also to bear the cost of that forgiveness. This matter is to never be brought up again. “It is finished.”  (I’m sure you see this is how God has forgiven us at the Cross and it wasn’t a mere $20, but an overwhelming amount of sin that was forgiven.)

All is good, we are reconciled, and all is at peace once again.  But a few weeks later, I come up to you and say, “You rotten thief, you stole that $20 that I was going to take Diane out on a date, and YOU ruined that date.”

Now have I really forgiven you?  No, I have now sinned against you by reminding myself (and you) of your sin and how it hurt me.  I am allowing a root of bitterness take hold within and it festers and spills out on you.  And of course, I told Diane of your thievery, so she is also mad at you.  And it was a “prayer concern” that I shared at the men’s Bible study. Now, they think of you as a thief. And on and on it will go – because I did not really forgive.

We hear, “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget.”  Again, it is not a matter of forgetting, but one of remembering. Reminding myself, over and over again of some past transgression.  It is the “remembering” that re-opens the sin and hurt.  It is here at this point that we go to the Cross and place those “memories” at the foot of the Cross to be washed by the blood.

As we forgive one another, we forgive and by God’s grace, put it behind us and not bring it up again.  But I will not leave money out, putting a temptation in front of you, because I love you and don’t want to put you in a situation that might cause you to fall. (^:

When I sin, I bring that sin to the foot of the Cross. When I forgive, I bring that sin (of another) to the foot of the Cross.  And declare, “It is finished.”

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Here is Karen’s testimony, writing about the course “A United Front” at Setting Captives Free.

Karen writes: "I have been looking for help in my marriage for over ten years. I love my husband, but at the same time would often dread being around him. I read Christian books, talked to pastors and pastor's wives, church counselors, and Bible study teachers, yet couldn't find the way to live in freedom. I would sometimes get depressed and feel hopeless. 

Then I came to the Setting Captives Free A United Front course, and with every lesson, I felt like my head was lifted to look to Jesus and the Cross. I cried out to Jesus and shared my burdens with my mentor and received love, compassion, and most importantly, Scripture. I had no idea how deep my resentment was and how much it was hurting myself, my husband and others.

As I continually walked towards the Cross and understood in a profound way that Jesus died on the Cross taking on ALL my sin and my husband's sin, along with our guilt and condemnation, I was overwhelmed with God's love. Jesus suffered more than I can imagine on my behalf so that I could live a new life in Him. My walls of unforgiveness, resentment, hurt and wrong attitudes have been replaced with love, peace, and joy. As I applied the Scriptures and saw things in my heart that needed the healing of Christ, I noticed my husband was more open to me.

1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

I have learned that when I feel upset to not focus on myself but to go right to Jesus because all healing is found in the finished work of the Cross. I have such hope and know that God is working all things for my good and His glory!

Romans 6:10-11 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
"

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Finally, here is Sonia’s testimony, from the Purity Follow-Up course:

Sonia writes:

"Hello. Everyone. My name is Sonia and today I am 27 years old. I was a slave to sexual impurity and self-gratification for almost 16 years. I was exposed to this sin as a child when I saw some movie clips which some of my family members used to watch and some impure magazines that I found while cleaning.

When I became a teen, especially when I had my boyfriend, all these things became so real to me as my boyfriend wanted me to be immoral with him, but I was too afraid.

When I became a believer in Christ at the age of 16, I thought I was free of immoral temptations and struggles, but eventually, the temptation to comfort myself with self-gratification combined with the ease of accessing immoral content through my smartphone overwhelmed me and I fell into sexual sin. I confessed and tried not to do it again. I even became a youth ministry helper in my church, but then I had to get a job.

I was working alone at night, listening to music that made me think immoral thoughts and so I would go on the internet to see immoral content. Soon I became enslaved to it again. I did confession so many times. I fasted. I prayed. I did so many things trying to break free. And for a few days I would be fine and then I would fall again.

But then I started this course at Setting Captives Free and really focused on and prayed through each lesson. I learned so much like it is not about how I do confession or anything else but understanding the love of Christ as displayed on the cross. That is sufficient for me.

I used to sin as I was lacking in love, feeling alone, but after considering the cross of Christ and seeing His love and what he did and reminding myself every day, I overcame. I've been enjoying freedom from sexual sin for about 3 months now. I am thankful that looking to the cross helps me to overcome each day.

There was a time when I used to feel that I would never be free of sexual sin, but I have learned that the power of the Holy Spirit and cross of Christ is so more powerful than sin and my weak flesh. When I was involved in habitual sin I used to feel sick, hopeless and discouraged, but now, praise God, I have a new hope and I'm enjoying a new life of freedom.
"

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Friend if you find you are in agreement 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 also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.


Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland