Theme: We have hope as we suffer and groan, but do we have anything else? Yes. So much more. The Spirit intercedes for us, powerfully uses our sufferings, and guarantees his goal will be accomplished; we will be perfected.
How the Spirit helps. (26-27)
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Likewise: So hope helps us through, but there is more help than just hope! LIKEWISE the Spirit helps us!
Weakness / We do not know what to pray for:
- The weakness is spiritual: We don’t know what to pray for as we ought to pray.
- This is so true, but why?
- We know the general categories for prayer, but the specific prayer is often confusing.
- We know prayer is effective when we pray according to God’s will, but we don’t always know that will.
- 1 John 5:14–15 (ESV)—14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words: We’ve seen the creation groans, we groan, and now the Spirit groans.
- Both creation and we groan because of the presence of imperfection (the lack of glory).
- But the Spirit is perfect and glorious, but he is groaning over our incomplete state.
- This is not the gift of tongues, but unintelligible groanings from the Spirit for our glory!
27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
He who searches hearts: God searches the seat of man’s emotions and intellect (mind).
Knows / Hearts / Mind of the Spirit: God searches and knows man. God certainly knows his own Spirit.
According to the will of God: The Spirit is in communion with the Father about you!
- The Son intercedes as well: Romans 8:34 (ESV)—34 …Christ Jesus…who indeed is interceding for us.
- Father as well: searching hearts.
- God is plotting and planning for his children!
Our confidence regarding the Spirit’s help. (28)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
And we know: We know it because it is a famous verse. The Roman church knew it partly from experience, but mostly from the cross!
For those who love God / those who are called according to his purpose: Two sides of the same coin. This is a promise for real believers.
All things work together for good: Like a pharmacist putting in various medicines (shake the bottle), God uses the “all things” of life for the good of His children.
Illustrations of this in the Bible:
- David — Saul (character) / Church — Persecution (spread of gospel) / Philip — desert calling (Ethiopian eunuch) / Naomi — when others sinned (line of Christ) / Job — suffered immensely (Job 42:10 the Lord restored) / Jospeh
- Genesis 50:20 (ESV)—20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
- Jacob (Genesis 42:36 all this has come against me)
- The Cross: Acts 2:23 (ESV)—23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
This truth takes great care to unfold.
- We don’t know how God will work all things together for good. Usually a teaching on Romans 8:28 includes marvelous stories of a tragedy turning out well in the end (i.e. Beethoven losing his hearing, Louis Braille losing his sight).
- Don’t try to explain the unexplainable.
- You don’t know that a better fiancé/job/house is coming…
- God needs no defense (remember the cross). God does not want praise for evil, either. Just praise him for who he is, including his ability to work good in the darkest days of a life.
The destination of the Spirit’s help. (29-30)
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Foreknew: He knew you in advance — Not simply advanced knowledge, but pre-knowing us.
Predestined: He predestined you — To decide beforehand. We thank God for our salvation.
Conformed to the image of His Son: What we are predestined to! The Spirit will get us there! His groaning will be accomplished!
Firstborn among many brothers:
- 1 Corinthians 15:23 (ESV)—23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Called: He invited you.
Glorified: Past tense.
There is much that has happened to a believer in this text: The Spirit helps in our weakness by interceding for us / All things work together for good / Foreknown / Predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus / Made into a little brother of Jesus / Called / Justified / Glorified