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A Look at ‘Setting Captives Free’ by Shane Pilo

Like many men, especially those in the body of Christ I found myself in the midst of a struggle, not just for purity, but for life – spiritual life, not death. I was tired of striving for behavioral changes and failing.

Let’s face it, sometimes we need help and a little kick in the rear. Ideally, we would run to scripture and draw directly on the awesome power of God’s word. However, on occasion it takes another human who has gone ahead of us to help us along the way.

It was this desire to break free and live again that led me to Setting Captives Free — a free online scriptural, mentor-led system where there are courses helping people breaking free of the bonds of sin. Of particular interest to me was their Way of Purity course. At first glance it seems very cliché and packaged, but believe me, it is very personal and deep, if you give it a real chance.

Now, I want to take a second and clarify that I don’t believe there is ever a “magic bullet” or special words or methods to break free of captivity. Only God can truly help you break those bonds. Setting Captives Free provides a format for pointing you to the cross where you can truly begin to understand your need for a savior — but it’s not a guilt trip. In my view it humbly and lovingly points you to the cross, to a deeper understanding of how failure in this area of your life affects you and those around you, and without this understanding, true heart change is not possible. Period.

Here’s how it works:

1. You sign up and do a lesson daily

2. Shortly after signing up, you are assigned a mentor who contacts you via email

(This person has usually been through the study themselves, and can often relate directly to the struggles/issues you face)

3. This person is then copied in on all of your answers for each daily less

4. As you proceed through the lessons you are given testimonies by other members, as well as plenty of scripture, and thought-provoking questions

For myself, having a person who could relate to my struggles encouraging me, and praying for me was an immense relief — an unfortunate commentary on the state of the church in general and how it treats issues of purity in men’s lives.

Brother, if you struggle with this area of life, I urge you to check out this program and be diligent and honest with yourself. The rewards you can reap are beyond what you can imagine.
In addition to the Way of Purity, SCF has courses for those who struggle with alcoholism, drugs, self-inflicted pain and depression, and eating issues.

Shane Pilo (AKA – Spilo) is husband to an awesome woman, father of 4, he grew up in the Seattle area, a typical suburban kid. After high school migrated to Oregon to get an education and came away with both a wife and an education. Still living in Oregon he enjoys fishing, learning to hunt, woodworking, biking, camping, cooking, making music, and hanging out with his family. By day a software developer, by night a renaissance man of too many interests.

“God is teaching me SO much, “Shane says, “about His love, humility, my own need for a Savior, and how to be a better husband and father. I love watching my children become true children of God, and the incredible opportunities to grow and stretch in this crucible known as a family.”

You can reach him at

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. YES! Thanks to God leading me to Setting Captives Free I have been free, truly free, for 128 days. I am 45 years old hand have been in this bondage since I was 12. If you have an issue with pornography / masturbation (and MOST of us do), please, sign up today.

  2. I too was in bondage to pornography/masterbation despite a life of ministry, bible college and seminar and would not break free. It took me 2 times through the course to find freedom. The first time I did not find freedom because I would not submit to accountability, and I left open footholds for Satan. God broke me and let me back to the program where I found lasting freedom in Christ, and plan to join the mentoring program to help other men find freedom. Join today!

  3. Thank you for this board.

    When encountering Spiritually abusive mind control cults we are to

    Setting Captives Free is a mind control Cult.

    It uses the right language to ensnare the Christian looking for help.

    When questions are answered SCF keeps copies of the answers to exert future control.

    Consider also the following statement “ money is the root of all Evil”

    We are to be pointed to Christ, not books that make money for Mike Cleveland

    Quite simply, a wolf in sheeps clothing.

    Mike, intellectuallizes allot, where is the heart? The feelings?

    1. I completely disagree with your statement that Setting Captives Free is a mind control cult.

      The course is entirely based on the Bible and the testimonies of people who have been freed from enslavement to habitual sin. I began this course about two years ago to find that it was changing my life – I was beginning to find freedom and I knew joy like I hadn’t before. I never got the sense from my mentor or the course that anyone was trying to do something strange or somehow lead me astray.

      During my first time starting to go through the couse, in spite of the biblical passages referenced in the course to cut myself off from access to temptations – for example, setting up web filters and getting rid of access to certain kinds of movies – I left access to some of it available. I could not read the Scriptures and respond meaningfully to the comments while knowing that I was secretly maintaining my grip on my sinful lifestyle (or, perhaps, allowing it to maintain its grip on me). This led me to stop the program, at which point my mentor simply emailed me a few times to encourage me and also mentioning that he was praying for me. True to the words of another poster here, he allowed me to continue in my own way. A few emails of kind and encouraging words followed by allowing me the “freedom” to walk away is not remotely a cultic response.

      I now am back on the course and have been for the last week and a half. I came back because my life of habitual sin was dragging me down and I was disgusted at what I had become. I wanted the Lord to use me and I wanted my life to glorify him. I came back to start the course again by my own decision, without any contact from my previous mentor. Once again, I have experienced more freedom in these ten days than I had in the two years since I quit SCF the first time, despite even having gotten married during that interim (thinking somehow that that would help my battle for purity).

      I have been thoroughly impressed with the way the website offers the whole course for free, and as for my new mentor, he emails me to encourage me, remind me that he is praying for me, and even help me with other areas of my life, which is pretty much the same thing the first mentor of mine did. (For example, he has shared some time management tips that have benefitted him and that he thinks will help me since I mentioned that that was a problem.) If there is anything for sale on the website, I haven’t noticed it at all. Naturally, there is a link you can click to support the site if you wish, but if you ran a website that you wholeheartedly believed in and wanted to keep up and running but you had tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of subscribers, I suspect you might set up a donations page, too.

      Finally, I would be wary of someone who attempts to use the Bible as fuel for a debate or to make a point when he or she is misquoting what it actually says and/or is stripping it of its proper context. I have heard the phrase, “Money is the root of all evil,” but it is a perversion of the original passage in the Bible that says, “For the love of money is a root of all evils” (1 Timothy 6:10). These two statements have entirely different meanings. It’s hard to take somebody’s claims seriously when there appears to be a lack of time actually spent in the Word of God on his or her part. Mike Cleveland’s testimony and materials (the free ones on the website that have been helping me grow), on the other hand, have not shown any indication whatsoever of perversion of biblical passages. I’ll be sure to come back and update this post if I find something that is clearly unbiblical, but the way the course is going so far, I have to say that it is a stretch to imagine that happening.

      1. Hello Dan. I was wondering if you had an update on your progress after completing the course? I am wanting to go through it and I seem to be seeing tons of praise for the program and great experiences.

      2. I started a course and almost immediately stopped. When it asked if I had gotten rid of temptation; all my porn, I couldn’t go on. It took me another month to delete all the porn I had on my computer. Sadly and sinfully, I actually felt sad and depressed after getting rid of it. Today, I feel much better about my decision to follow the Lord and forsake my sin. As far as mind control, not enough feeling, etc, simply no true. From what I have witnessed, it is one of the most biblically balanced studies out there.

    2. The attack by anonymous is ill conceived. First, be transparent. Second, be specific. All you do is talk about feelings and say that Mike intellectualizes too much. The Bible, God’s word, is all about fact (the mind) over feelings. The drunk feels he needs another drink. We know better because we are thinking, spiritual beings created in the image of God and if we are born again then we have God’s Spirit in us, enabling us to read and understand and apply God’s word–all of which involves the mind. We are not impulse driven animals but thinking beings created in God’s image and likeness.

      It doesn’t feel good to be told that the all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It might not feel good to hear that the wages of sin is death… or that the soul who sins will perish. But the good news is… if you think about it… that the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. I’d rather have my feelings hurt and my mind confronted with the need to repent and God’s word applied intelligently to my life than simply feel my way through. After all, feelings are like the weather, they change every 15 minutes… but God’s word abides forever. That’s why it says in Proverbs that the one who trusts in his own heart is a fool. Think about it anonymous.

  4. I wonder if the above poster has ever gone through a Setting Captives Free Course. It is Scripturally based and has nothing to do with mind control”. It also provides the website course for free, not for profit. Just for the record, the Bible says, “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.” Be careful not to misquote God’s Words. Besides, I have not seen any sales pitch in any material for anything.

  5. The Anonymous post above asks us to “discern” and “warn”, so I’d like to help everyone who reads this post do just that. SCF is a non-profit organization which is not in love with money. To discern this, I recommend that anyone interested visit their web site and see how many “profit centers” they have. Typical websites get profit from tons of links including automatic Google ads. You won’t find this at SCF. Typical websites have multiple paths to their paid products or paid subscriptions. At SCF you are not asked to pay for any access to any part of the site and they have very few items for sale.
    As for the accusation of cultic mind-control, the anonymous post claims that SCF keeps your answers to control you at a later time. This is not only untrue, its a scandalous lie. Mentors at SCF are all volunteers and are instructed to let people who refuse to change their lives go to their sinful ways. If a student turns back to their habitual sin, mentors will remind them of their own answers to questions from the past. This hardly qualifies as mind control.
    Finally, Mike Cleveland is being accused of intellectualizing. This is a silly accusation and there really is no response to this. I encourage any father who needs to flee habitual sin to join SCF and stick to the courses they offer for 60 days. The Lord requires us to put to death our sinful habits, or He will not bless our families.

  6. Hi! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Excellent blog and wonderful design.

  7. It has apparently been a number of years since this was posted, but I would like to weigh in on my experience with SCF. I recently completed The Lord’s Table after staring once, quitting after forty days and then starting over. The Lord’s Table deals with the issue of bondage to food. This study has transformed my life and way of seeing myself and God. to me it sounds like anonymous may have a personal issue with Mike Cleveland and just want to make the program look bad. Any time someone is too cowardly to identify themselves, I don’t put much stock in what they say.
    I can think of nothing negative to say about the Setting Captives Free course. I am currently going through The Cross and have ordered The Lord’s Table books to do once again at home. I believe God has used Setting Captives Free to deliver me from my bondage to food. However, I don’t think we can ever let our guard down. Satan is waiting in the wings to attack, but with the help of God, and ministries like Setting Captives Free I do believe we can be free from bondage to sin.

    1. Hi Ann, Thank you for your positive review of this program. I am just starting the workbook and the online lesson is not available. I am trying to figure out how to have accountability if I am doing this on my own. Would you know of anyone in this program (including yourself) who would be willing to check in with me?


  8. I would like to get started back with setting captives free. I am not able to find the site. The Lord’s table is truly amazing and life changing. I was in the middle of the course and now I can’t find it. How do I get started again?

    1. Hi, this is the same for me. I started the course about year ago and fell away, now I want to complete it and I can no longer find the site.? Can anyone please help? Thank you

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