The Blessing of Guidance - Page 1 (series: lessons on Romans)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

(28) The Blessing of Guidance
Romans 8:26-30

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

The Blessing of Guidance
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession* for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

The Spirit helps us with our weaknesses. It is not the case that He helps at times when we are weak, but since we live in a state of weakness, He is helping us continually. We are often perplexed in our prayer life. We do not know how to pray, as we should. We pray selfishly and ignorantly. The great comfort we have during this period of waiting for the Lord’s return is the presence of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who helps our weaknesses. We have one great weakness while waiting for the Lord to return to us, and that is we know not what we should pray for as we ought. There are two obvious reasons why we cannot pray, as we should. First, we cannot pray right, because we cannot see into the future. We cannot see even an hour ahead, therefore we may pray to be saved from things, which are for our own good, or pray for things that would eventually harm us. Second, we cannot pray right, because in any given situation we do not know what is good for us. Often, we are like a child who wants something that is bound to hurt him. We cannot know our own real need; we cannot with our finite minds grasp God’s plan; in the last analysis, all we can bring to God is an inarticulate sigh, which the Spirit will translate to God for us. The perfect prayer is simply, “Father, into thy hands, I commend my spirit. Not my will, but thine be done.” The only thing our Lord’s disciples asked Him to teach them was how to pray. Each believer encounters that same difficulty in knowing how to pray and for what to pray. Consequently, God has given His Holy Spirit to make intercession for us with groaninges which cannot be uttered. Even when we do not know what to say to God, the Holy Spirit interprets our innermost feelings and intercedes on our behalf. God hears these inarticulate sounds when the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us, otherwise, our desires would remain unexpressed. The indwelling Holy Spirit alone knows how to interpret our needs, He makes His intercession within us, inspiring our yearnings, and thus fulfilling His gracious function as the other comforter (or advocate) whom the Lord Jesus promised, a comforter of like character with Him. Since we do not know what to pray for without His help, we are exhorted to pray “at all seasons in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18). This does not have anything to do with praying in tongues as some suggest. The groaning is done by the Holy Spirit, not believers, and is not stated in words. The help the Spirit gives is His interceding.

Paul prayed for the removal of a hindrance in his life, but God did not take away that burden—“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:7–10).

Paul knew there was a danger that others would think more highly of him than they ought because of the visions and revelations he had experienced. However, he himself was protected from self-exaltation by a persistent “thorn in the flesh.” No one knows with certainty the nature of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh.” It may have been a physical malady such as defective eyesight, a lisp, epilepsy, or recurrent malaria. Or, perhaps it was spiritual in nature—temptation or satanic persecution.

It may have even been an individual or group who continually harassed Paul. In any case, it was bothersome to him. But instead of removing the “thorn,” God assured Paul that His grace and strength would be sufficient for Paul to bear it. Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” destroyed his pride and kept him dependent on divine power. Therefore, although unpleasant, Paul regarded the “thorn” as an aid rather than a handicap.

There is a mystery here. We are peering into the unseen, spiritual realm where a great Person and great forces are at work on our behalf. Although we cannot understand it all, we can take infinite encouragement from the fact that a groan may sometimes be the most spiritual prayer. The Spirit helps in every way, but in the matter of prayer, He does in the heart, what Christ does before God. Creation groans, we groan, and the Holy Spirit groans. However, the Spirit groans within us, and in doing so strengthens us to bear our trials with confidence and courage, and at the same time directs our hearts to God. These groanings do not necessarily find expression in actual speech, but they are effective with God because as we are told in the next verse, He searches the hearts of men. Human language is, it would seem, not essential to Divine intercession.

27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints* according to the will of God.

God, through His omniscience* is the One who searches the hearts. Therefore, He is entirely acquainted with the desires of our hearts, even though they cannot be uttered. God knows what is in the mind of the Spirit because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. God’s knowledge of the mind of the Holy Spirit does not come from His intercession in our hearts. The Holy Spirit is one with the Father and with the Son in the Trinity, which is the “Godhead.” Since the Spirit’s groanings are in accordance with God’s mind, His intercession for us is consistent with how God deals with us and it fulfills His purposes for us. The Spirit articulates those prayer burdens that God’s people cannot even express. The Spirit’s intercession can be trusted because He intercedes according to God’s will. Moreover, because they are always in accordance with God’s will, they are always for our good. Thus, intercession is made for us not only by God the Son, who sits at the right hand of God the Father but also by God the Spirit who dwells within the believer.

The phrase “according to the will of God” is, literally, “according to God.”
I am convinced that most Christians, who read these lines, recall one time or another when you were so burdened you could not utter words in prayer. All you could say was, “O Lord…have mercy!” or words similar to those. Nevertheless, the Holy Ghost knows the burden, the desire, the longing of the heart of the believer; therefore, He helps us at such a time.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

There are no accidents. God is working out all things together for good for those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose. It may not always seem so! Sometimes when we are suffering heartbreak, tragedy, disappointment, frustration, and bereavement, we wonder what good can come out of it. However, the following verse (v.29) gives the answer: whatever God permits to come into our lives is designed to conform us to the image of His Son. When we see this, it takes the question mark out of our prayers. By faith, we believe that He who gave His own Son can only mean good for us in all that He does. Impersonal forces such as chance, luck, or fate do not control our lives, but the One in control is our wonderful, personal Lord, who is “too loving to be unkind and too wise to err.”

When left to our own resources, suffering is more likely to harden and embitter, than it is to enable and dignify. However, the Bible is full of occasions where God turned things around; making good out of what is evil. You may remember that Joseph could look over his life, a life that had been filled with disappointments, and sufferings, and say to his brothers—who were responsible for his misfortune—“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…” (Gen. 50:20). And I am confident that we as children of God will be able to look back over our lives someday and say, “All of this worked out for good.” Job could say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him… (Job 13:15). That is the kind of faith in God we need. We know that He is going to make things work out for good because He is the one motivating it. He is the one who is energizing it.

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