Summary: What is God's great purpose in us?
The 8th chapter of Romans sets forth some of the most profound doctrines of assurance in all of the New Testament. In it, Paul teaches that the indwelling Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Jesus Christ. Notice though, that in verse 17 of this chapter Paul finishes this sentence with “if indeed we suffer with Him”.
Before I go further maybe we should define the term suffering as it applies to our relationship to Christ and the world.
For most of us, I think the word “suffering” conjures up mental images of people in great physical pain, or financial difficulty, emotional stress, oppression by the strong, attack by the vicious, etc.
Suffering in reference to the believer however, covers a much broader spectrum, although patient/prayerful suffering no matter how slight, is seen as acceptable sacrifice by God, who considers the believer’s continuance in this world as a sharing in the sufferings of His Son. To explain what I mean, let me say it this way: God could conceivably have taken each of us out of this world to Heaven the moment we were saved. He has left us here though, to be His voice; His representatives in the world, and to continue in our Heavenly education, being made through testing, trial, blessing and revelation, more like our Lord.
But the mind-set that most of us live with day by day seems to contradict the idea of suffering (either willingly or unwillingly) with Christ; and our efforts seem aimed to avoid suffering in any shape or form. Paul saw suffering as a blessing, to be identified in this way with the One who suffered so much for us. Paul linked suffering with heirship, with hope, with glorification...all here in this chapter.
We, on the other hand, pray not for development, but for deliverance. What are we missing? What are we failing to understand?
Let’s look closer at the specific verses of our focus today, and ask the Spirit to help us see the message there from God’s perspective in contrast to our own perspective.
The Spirit in our hearts, intercedes for us according to God’s will, as Christ intercedes for us in Heaven (Vs 26)
I’ve referred there to verse 26 because that verse specifically says, “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” and verse 27 confirms to us that Christ intercedes for us in Heaven, in the words, “He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God”.
That word “intercedes” simply means to make petition; to appeal; to plead for.
The fact of Christ’s intercession for the believer before the Throne is asserted even more clearly in Hebrews 7:25, where the writer says “He always lives to make intercession for (us)”
Christ ever stands before the throne of God, pleading for us; making petition for us...and we need a LOT of defending!
But there is much more said in Romans 8, in reference to the help the Spirit gives us. Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit 1. gives life to our mortal bodies, (vs 10,11), 2. bears witness that we are children of God, (vs 16,17), and 3. helps us in our specific weakness of not knowing how to pray, by interceding for us with groanings too deep for words.
The Holy Spirit of God is given to us in measure. That is, His dwelling in us is a measure of our inheritance...only a portion of what we will experience when we are made perfect in God’s presence. The Spirit knows the perfect will of God, and whether in our times of sheer ignorance and spiritual immaturity, or our times of greatest trial and grief, the Spirit acts as our advocate, praying for us from within, and helping us to come appropriately before the throne of Grace, even interceding with groanings that cannot be expressed by words.
He also acts as our personal guide. The New Testament refers to the Holy Spirit as a PARACLETE, which means one who comes along side to render comfort and aid. The picture that best describes the kind of help the Spirit gives here, may be of an older bull, harnessed to the plow with a young inexperienced bull. The younger bull is easily distracted, lacking in determination and focus, but the older bull keeps his eyes on the end of the row, pulling ever forward, not looking to the right or the left, and his guidance gets the younger bull to their common goal.
The realization of this truth of the indwelling, guiding Holy Spirit, is crucial to our understanding of the meaning of verse 28, when Paul says, “...God causes all things to work together for good...”, because it is only as we are consciously aware of His indwelling, and sensing His presence and his help in our heart of hearts, that we can begin to pray rightly; indeed, it is only then that we can begin to understand that the phrase “all things to work together for good” cannot possibly refer to creature comforts, or what the world would see as a ‘happy ending’ in every circumstance of life.