The 8th chapter of the book of Romans is one of the most fascinating and challenging book in all of the apostle’s writings. The chapter moves from “no condemnation to those who are in Christ” (Romans 8.1) to “in all these things we are more than conquerors” (Romans 8.37). And in between, Paul covers a lot of ground.
As new creations in Christ who have been made right with God, we are not to live according to the flesh any longer. Our minds are to be set on the things of the Spirit as we put to death the misdeeds of the flesh. Now that we have been adopted in the family of God, we are heirs with Christ who can expect to share in the sufferings of Christ. While these sufferings are not worthy of being compared to the future glory yet to be revealed, they do leave the followers of Christ stuck in a world that is held in bondage to corruption and decay as we wait for the return of the King of Kings. Even those of us who have the Spirit within “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly” (Romans 8.23) for Jesus to return and for our redemption to draw near (see Luke 21.28).
But that does not mean that we are left hopeless and defeated. In fact, we can live as “more than conquerors” in “all things.” In fact, the apostle gave two words of encouragement to the church in Rome about the victory in Christ found even as Christians wait with patience in a world in bondage to decay. One encouragement is found in the great promise of Romans 8.28, a promise that I preached on last week. The second word of encouragement will be the focus of this weeks’ sermon. Paul wrote,
26Likewise 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. 27And 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. (Romans 8.26-27 ESV)
This is the only time in the entire New Testament that we are told that the Spirit intercedes for us on our behalf. However, we are told repeatedly that the Second person of the Trinity intercedes for us. In fact, Paul wrote of that truth just a few verses later in the same chapter 8 of Romans.
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8.33-34 ESV)
This same idea can be found in Hebrews 4.14-15, Hebrews 7.25, Hebrews 9.24, and 1 John 2.1-2.
The questions that I will be wrestling with this week are (1) Why do we need one person of the Trinity, or two for that matter, interceding for us? Why can’t the Father hear us directly? (2) How does the fact that the Spirit and the Son are interceding for us on our behalf encourage us as we “groan inwardly and we wait eagerly”?
Be praying that the Lord will be gracious and kind to us, and that He will open our eyes to understand and accept this encouraging word on Sunday.