There Is No Condemnation in Christ Jesus - Romans 8:1-2

Focus On Grace

I’ve been working through thoughts and frustrations that are along the lines of, “Why can’t I just do what I know I’m supposed to?” (like exercising, not being generous enough or compassionate enough, among other things) and “Why do I do what I’m not supposed to?” (like eating badly, not watching what I say, working in my own strength instead of God’s… the list goes on and on). These are perennial things I do that I feel like I should have conquered by now. My struggle reminded me of Romans 7 where Apostle Paul talks about the battle between flesh and spirit.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. – Romans 7:18 ESV

After Paul talks about the struggle, he goes on to talk about grace and the freedom we can live in because of Jesus.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. … – Romans 8:1-3a ESV

God has given me the grace to step out of the battle and trust in the work of Jesus. Not that I give in to the pull of the flesh (that would be serving the flesh and we’ve died to that, see Romans 6:1-3), but that I can believe in the mercy of His love. He’s poured out over me the grace I need to set aside the battle and step into His love.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. – Romans 8:5-6 ESV

Today, as I started going around and around about what I hadn’t done or what felt impossible to do, I remembered this and took a deep breath, and focused instead on His grace.

“Thank you, God, for showing Yourself to me and teaching me about who You are. Because of my relationship with you through Jesus, I can believe in You and trust in You. I know You’re working out all this in me to Your glory and I don’t have to beat myself up over it. You are good, and You are strong, and You are in me. I trust in Your work and I choose to forget about what I can/should/haven’t done. Instead, I will live in each moment and trust your guidance and mercy as you show yourself more and more to me.”


May God do what seems right to Him - 2 Samuel 10:12

Joab’s Faith

In 2 Samuel 10:6-19 we see an example of the kind of faith that gives God room to be God. The story starts after a group of David’s men have been humiliated by his enemy after they were sent on a mission of comfort (v. 1-5). The enemy realizes that David was upset at their treatment of his men, so they regrouped and called in (paid) allies to come and defend, possibly attack David. David sends out Joab, commander of his army, with what is described as “all the host of the might men” (v. 7).

Joab sees that they’ve flanked his group and he divides his men into two groups to face the army. Their loose battle plan is to fight and if either one seems to be losing badly, the other group will come help (v. 11). Not exactly a detailed attack plan, but Joab follows it up with an observation that shows his understanding of their true source, “Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the LORD do what seems good to him” (v. 12).

Joab is going to do his best for the people he cares about and he’s going to allow God room to be sovereign. He doesn’t demand an outcome or hinge his belief on the outcome on his view of God’s favor for him. He simply allows God to do what he things is best in situation and pours himself in to doing his best.

Too often we confuse faith in God with the idea that we deserve something from Him. We think that because we love Him, he must or should do something. God is a good god and He is always working for our best interest. However, He is not a force we can manipulate or connive. He doesn’t operate out of guilt. He is a sovereign God (meaning he’s the boss), and He will do what is best for all His children for all of time. That may or may not line up with your selfish outlook on what he should or shouldn’t do.

God will do what seems good to Him, and we are to do our best. We are to step into the role and circumstances that we find ourselves in and let go of the outcome. However it turns out, it’s the good outcome. Sometimes, it might be easier to accept that than others. It’s our faith in God that allows us to see past our limited circumstances to accept His goodness because of who He is and what He’s accomplishing.

The outcome for Joab, by the way, was the fleeing of the entire army before him. Then, after the enemy gathered even more men to attack with, David came with all of Israel and defeated them so soundly that the paid soldiers were too afraid to attack David anymore (v. 19). That’s God working for the good of his people: He’s working toward our ultimate win, not just momentary relief.

Expecting Vs Wanting

Wanting vs. Expecting

Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. He declared to Arioch, the king’s captain, “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel. And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king. Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. – Daniel 2:12-18 ESV

I was watching a business training video online today and she talked about in it the difference between expecting success and wanting success. She said, “Expecting to succeed and just wanting to succeed are two very different things, because if you expect it, you act very different and you put very different steps in motion than if you just want it. Wanting is just like a pipe dream or a wish.”[1]

Our small group is studying Daniel and a topic that we discussed last time we got together seems to line up exactly with this definition. Daniel expected God to come to his aid, so he put different steps in motion than I probably would have in his place. I believe that we can and should apply this idea to our faith, just as he did.

In chapter 2 of Daniel, we find the King Nebuchadnezzar is demanding an interpretation to a vision he’s had. When he finds they can’t meet his demands, he orders all their deaths. Daniel doesn’t know about any of this, even though he is among the ones that have sentenced to death, so he goes to the captain of the guard to learn what’s happening.

When he hears that a dream is the cause of the trouble, Daniel immediately sets up an appointment with the king to interpret it for him. Then, Daniel goes to his friends and asks them to pray for him to receive the interpretation, which he receives in a dream.

The part of this story that is about expectation is the moment right after he talks to the captain of the guard about why he’s been sentenced to death. The moment that he heard the reason, he went to get an appointment with the king. THEN, he went and got prayers. First, he took action, then he begged before the Lord with his friends.

I’m sure there was prayer coming out of him the whole time, as this was probably a very intense time for him. I’m not trying to say that we should not pray before taking an action. I’m saying that I think we should trust our relationship with God enough to know when to take an action and when to stop and pray before taking that action.

Daniel didn’t stop and ask God if it was alright to go tell King Nebuchadnezzar that he would interpret the dream. He didn’t ask God for a guarantee about getting that interpretation. He didn’t try to beg for more time or ask, “Why me?!”

What he told his friends to do was to, “seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery.” That doesn’t sound like what you ask for when you’re confident of the answer. That sounds more like asking to get the answer, which means: Daniel didn’t have the answer when he set up the appointment with the king. He had no idea what the dream was and he didn’t know the outcome of the conversation that would happen.

Daniel knew something far more important. Daniel expected God to help in his time of need, not just wishing for it. He also knew that he had to ask for it from the Lord; he couldn’t just waltz into the king’s court unprepared and expect the Lord would hand answer to him. Daniel walked the line of expected God’s answers and taking the action that happens as a result of that expectation, while still staying humble before the Lord and seeking Him in all things.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. – Psalm 73:24 ESV


[1] Renae Christine