Here’s my note from my sermon on Romans 8:26-27 “Help in our Weakness” preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship in Naperville. You can listen to the audio here.
Romans 8:26-27 “HELP in our Weakness”
Intro: Jesus describes being a Christian as “taking up our cross and following him.” It is HARD.
-Pressures from outside: cultural, unbelieving family members, unbelieving neighbors and friends
-Temptations from within: indwelling sin; idols, discouragements, doubt, pain, trials.
-Spiritual warfare: the reality of the Devil
-As we live this life of faith, waiting for Jesus to return, we experience weakness.
-We need help in our weakness.
TODAY hear this word of assurance from God’s Word: The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.
-Theme of Romans is the Gospel
-1-4 explains the GOSPEL; 5-8 unpacks the gospel.
-Ch 8 unpacks the hopeful results of the gospel. Beautiful chapter about assurance and hope we have in Christ.
-Last week: 8:18-25—The Christian life is a waiting life: waiting for Jesus to return and new heavens and new Earth.
-We wait in hope for something far better.
This week: We are assured that in this time of waiting—a time that includes pain, suffering, groaning, hardships, and much weakness—God has given us help through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. We need help and God has given us the help we need through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.
*STRUCTURE: 1. Holy Spirit Helps Us; 2. We NEED Help; 3. HS Helps us in Prayer; 4. This is the Help We Need
I. Holy Spirits Helps Us: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” (26a)
Remember the context: we are waiting, but waiting in hope. Now we see that in this time of waiting God has given us help.-Source of our help: THE HOLY SPIRIT (the Spirit helps us)
-HS is not an impersonal force, but a person: the 3rd person of the Trinity! He is truly God!
-He leads Christians (Rom 8:14) and can be grieved (Eph 4:30); NCC 36-37
-Jesus spoke about the HS as our HELPER: John 14:16-18, 26; 16:7-15
-Sovereign Help in our conversion: Spirit opened our eyes to truth of the gospel, regenerated us, gave us faith.
-Continued Help as we follow Jesus: Rom 8:13-14 (Mortification of sin); Gal 5:22-23
-HS Helps Christians in OUR WEAKNESS
-We are called to be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might (Eph 6:10)
-But the source of our strength is the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 1:7 “power”)
-As Christians we recognize that we are weak in ourselves and own power.
-Weakness in our ability to follow Jesus; weakness in face of temptation and trials and hardships
–Christianity is for those who know they are weak.
-We also recognize that God sovereignly ordains our weakness, that we would lean on Him (2 Cor 11:30-12:10)
-Acknowledging our weakness is a form of humility and dependance on God.
QUESTION: Do you feel weak as a Christian? Do you recognize your weakness in following Jesus?
-If not, it is concerning: you may be in danger of pride, or not understand the cost of discipleship.
-If you do feel weak, see this: It is normal for Christians, and the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness!
II. We Need Help: For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, (26b)
One way we see our weakness is in our inability to pray as we ought.-Christians are called to prayer (1 Thess 5:17).
-Prayer is “pouring our hearts to God.”
-Jesus encouraged us to prayer (Matt 6, 7)
-Prayer is one thing that makes us different from world and merely cultural Christians.
QUESTION: How is your prayer life? When is the last time you went to your room and just prayed?
-Most of us probably feel inadequate in our prayer.
-Our weakness is shown in our inability to pray as we ought. we do not know what to pray for as we ought -How to pray and what to pray is often a mystery to us.
-Take heart: Mitchell notes how Paul includes himself in this inability to pray!
APP: The way to wisdom begins as we admit our weakness in prayer. We do not know how to pray as we ought.
-We NEED help in prayer: we can learn from others; from the Scripture (praying Scripture);
-But we learn here of an even more active help… The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.
III. Holy Spirit Helps us in Prayer: but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (26c)
-How does the Holy Spirit helps us in weakness in prayer? He HIMSELF prays for us!
-Most of us probably don’t think about the Holy Spirit “praying for us”
-We think of Jesus praying.
-Here we see that the Holy Spirit also prays for Christians.
-The Holy Spirit “HIMSELF intercedes for us”
-The Holy Spirit prays for us. NOTE “HIMSELF” is the “emphatic pronoun”
-This is how God helps us: The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.
-How does the HS pray for us?
-He does it with groanings too deep for words.
-NOT referring to speaking in TONGUES.
MOO: “It is preferable to understand these “groans” as the Sprit’s own “language of prayer,” a ministry of intercession that takes place in our hearts in a manner imperceptible to us.”
*Two views: 1. These prayers take place when we pray. 2. These prayers take place and we are unaware of it.
MAIN POINT: God the Holy Spirit prays for us. He makes up for our grand failures and weakness in prayer by praying for us. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness!
*BEAUTY OF HELPING ANOTHER: LOTR Rohan helping Gondor; Harry Potter’s friends (Ron and Hermione); nursing homes; parents with young children.
*BEAUTY OF GOD HELPING US IN THIS WAY: Isn’t God kind to give us the Holy Spirit who not only empowers us to live a holy life, but also prays for us? Here we see the beauty of God’s tender love and grace.
IV. This is the Help We Need (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.
This passage concludes with an assurance from Paul that this help from the HS is the kind we need.
ANSWER THIS QUESTION: How do we know that the prayers of the Holy Spirit will help us?
TWO REASONS: 1. God the Father Hears them. 2. The Holy Spirit prays according to God’s will.
1. God the Father Hears HS prayers: And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit
-God the Father= he who searches hearts
-God knows your heart! He knows us better than we know ourselves.
-What a comfort that is: we may be mystery to ourselves, but not to God.
-God the Father knows the mind of the Spirit
-Peak into the life of the Trinity.
-ALSO: Commentators note here is another example of personhood of the HS.
2. The Holy Spirit prays according to God’s will. because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
-Unlike us, the HS prays perfectly: the Spirit intercedes ….according to the will of God.
-Some say that He makes up for our imperfect prayers.
-Mitchell example of Augustine’s mother Monica: pray not to go to Italy so can become Christian.
-My own prayer: Let me marry someone from any country but England!
*ANOTHER INSIGHT: Christians are referred to as “saints”
-Bible speaks about Christians as “saints”
-Contra Roman Catholicism: all Christians are saints, not just super-Christians.
APP: Christian, see yourself this way—you are a SAINT!
-NOTE: Saints need to be prayed for, not to. Contra Roman Catholics—we don’t pray to saints: HS prays for the saints.
SO WHAT? Because the Holy Spirit Helps us in our Weakness…
1. Because the Holy Spirit Helps us in our Weakness: We can trust God in this life of waiting, pain, and suffering. Jesus really has not left us orphans but knows how hard it will be. He has given us the help we need. Isn’t God amazing and gracious and kind?
2. Because the Holy Spirit Helps us in our Weakness: We can pray boldly. The Holy Spirit is praying perfectly and effectively for us and makes up for all of our weak prayers.
3. Because the Holy Spirit Helps us in our Weakness: We can ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18) and “keep in step” with the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:25). Here is where we go to find help in this life of waiting and groaning.
4. Because the Holy Spirit Helps us in our Weakness: We can embrace the reality of our weakness. We are weak, but God’s power is manifested in our weakness.*The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. *
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