Response from Mike Cleveland...

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Just got this response by Mike Cleveland to our earlier post, Setting Captives Free repents of focus on sin and repentance...

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Mike Cleveland writes:

I tried to post the following on your comment section but it did not go through.
Greetings all,
This is Mike Cleveland, the one to whom you have made very rash judgments against, even without examining the new material that we have made. Why is it that people are so quick to judge, even without examining the evidence?
I assure you that in our new courses we still call sin, sin. We have in no way minimized it. How can one look at the cross of Jesus Christ, the blood He shed for our forgiveness, and minimize sin?
Homosexuality is still sin. Pornography is still sin. Gluttony and laziness are still sin. Gambling is still sin.
I assure you we have not taken the way of some well known pastors and are simply speaking of grace covering our sin with no resultant life-transformation. The comparison some made to pastors who have believed "cheap grace" and have fallen because of it is deplorable.
But you know what else is sin? Pride. Rash judgments. Harshness. Speaking ill of your brother. In fact, if I were to ask most of you on this blog, what is the biblical definition of "Grieving the Holy Spirit", what would you answer? I used to think it was when someone fell into pornography, or drunkenness or some open and vile sin. Surely this does grieve the Holy Spirit, but as you may or may not know the biblical definition of grieving the Holy Spirit is when we speak words that do not edify and do not give grace to our hearers (Ephesians 4:29-32).
Would it be the case, then, that each of you who have rashly judged and falsely accused, even before examining our new material, are guilty of grieving the Holy Spirit? Yes, viewing porn and overeating, homosexuality and drunkenness are sin, but so is grieving the Holy Spirit by speaking ill of your brother for whom Christ died.
There is a spirit of Phariseeism in the church today that wants to take great pride in being free from this open sin or that vile sin; all the while remaining in their pride and looking down on others. Responding harshly to someone who has fallen to pornography or to drunkenness can be just as grieving to the Holy Spirit as the sin itself.
No, I have not repented of calling sin, sin. You will see it all through our new material. To state that I have is to speak ignorantly of the facts, and should be repented of.
What I have done is repent of putting principles ahead of the Person of Jesus Christ. Requirements ahead of the gospel. When the Israelites were bitten by the snakes, did Moses tell them to cut the wound, suck out all the venom, bandage up the wound, and then look at the uplifted snake on the pole? No, that would have been exactly backwards.
Setting Captives Free taught principles first, and then added in a few gospel passages. This is backwards. Cart before horse.
In our new material we teach that transformation flows out of seeing Jesus and believing the gospel. It is a gracious transformation of our entire selves. "The old has gone, the new has come." When we are being transformed by the gospel it is just as hard for us to make rash judgments as it is to imbibe in the toxic poison of pornography.
So my encouragement to each of you reading this blog is the following:
1. Please do not judge a matter before you have had opportunity to see all sides. If you judge rashly you will be seen as foolish.
2. Do not grieve the Spirit of God by the way in which you denounce the people of God.
Ephesians 4:29-32
29  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
30  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
31  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
32  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
3. Learn that transformation of life follows hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ, not the Setting Captives Free way of trying hard to obey Bible principles, apart from the gospel.
Thank you for letting me share with you today.
Mike Cleveland
Mike Cleveland
Volunteer at Gospel Growth Ministries
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us…” (1 John 3:16).

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Comment from Tim Bayly: We've heard from one of Mr. Cleveland's volunteers who thanked us for our previous post. In two e-mails to us, this volunteer mentor said he and other volunteers are very concerned over Mr. Cleveland's announcement repenting of Setting Captives Free former emphasis on sin and repentance. More to follow.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!