“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” – Romans 8:26 (ESV)
Sometimes each of us struggle with knowing just how and what to pray for. Our circumstances can be overwhelming and we can be at a lost in our need to cry out to God for help. One of the last promises Jesus made to His disciples was that he would send a helper. That promise is fulfilled through the Holy Spirit sent from God our Father. All who have believed in Jesus as their Savior and Lord, and we hope that this is true of you, have the Holy Spirit in their lives. In this verse today, God explains what is going on while we are praying. The Holy Spirit is helping us to pray by praying with us to our Heavenly Father. To start with, we really don’t know in ourselves how we should pray. We do know that if we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us He will impress on our hearts things to pray for and even how to pray. As we pray we can trust the Spirit to pray with us and we can depend on Him. We can also trust that God will hear and answer our prayer.
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39 (NASB)
An in-depth study shows us that this subdivision of Romans, chapters 5-8, ends just as it began. The same reference is made to “God through our Lord Jesus Christ” and “the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 5:1, 8:39). Paul references four pairs of things plus two more powers which are individually mentioned.
- neither death nor life: we cannot be separated in our life and even death won’t bring about any divorce between God and the believer.
- nor angels nor principalities: all angels, whether good or bad, real or imagined, (principalities are fallen angels or demons) are unable to separate us from the love of God in Christ.
- nor things present nor things to come: present circumstances or a foreboding future—can do nothing to separate us from the deep love which God grants us.
- nor height nor depth: even distance of space fails to separate us from God’s love,
- nor powers: this refers to miracles or to persons in positions of authority.
- nor any other created thing: in case anything or anyone might be left out, nothing created, even oneself can cause separation between God and the believer.
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” “– But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” – Romans 8:35,37 (NASB)
Paul asks another rhetorical question, to say “no one will ever be able to separate us from the love Christ has for us.” This is not our love for Christ but Christ’s love for us. In verse 37 Paul emphasizes that we have the victory, because we have conquered each of the threats “through Him who loved us.” The word translated ‘tribulation’ in the version we use here is also translated ‘affliction.’ In fact this Greek word means ‘persecution, affliction, and distress. Friends, each of these threats are real matters in the lives of those who believe in and profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This is not simply Paul spouting philosophical concepts. No, for if we read 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 we find Paul had already suffered the first of these seven hardships before he took to writing this letter* to Christians in Rome who were facing them as well. The apostle was speaking not only by inspiration but also from experience, therefore, when he stated that none of these things can bring about separation between believers and their Lord. He knew what he was saying!* Nothing exists that can separate us from God’s love. It is unbreakable!
*William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 12-13:291.
“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” – Romans 8:33-34 (NASB)
The setting can be visualized as being in the divine courtroom. Those charged are “God’s elect.” It is impossible, to avoid that each believer is elected (chosen) by God for salvation. Also each person must believe and is held responsible if they do not. Yet our election by God does not stop the charges brought by our enemy Satan. We already stand justified for each charge. Justified by the one who justifies and who is also the one who condemns those who will reject God to their end. If we who believe were due to be condemned it would be by Christ Jesus. Jesus intercedes on our behalf and the charges are dismissed. But according to Colossians 2:14, when Jesus was killed on the cross, he also nailed all charges for all believers to that cross by His death. When we are condemned, He steps forward and intercedes for us because Jesus holds the debts and paid for them all. He is the only one who can intercede successfully. Romans 8:1 tells us that for each person in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation because Jesus has already paid the penalty for every charge the enemy can bring.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” – Romans 8:31–32.” – (NASB)
We’re continuing to consider promises we find in Romans 8. In particular Romans 6-8, the promises God has made abound and overflow. So much so we often pass by because the passages are so familiar. It’s the “we’ve heard it all, what else is there?” habit of thinking we know all there is to know. Paul is wrapping up his teaching about the believer’s security in Christ with a culmination of questions and answers for the concerns we might still have about those who challenge our faith. The result is a delivery of praise for God’s grace in bringing salvation to completion for all who are chosen and believe. “If God is for us,” is better translated, “Since God is for us.” Paul asks, “Would God do less for His children than He did for His enemies? The word “freely give” means “to bestow out of grace.” Paul may be using it to mean forgiveness and maybe intended that here. The words “all things” may mean whatever is necessary to complete the purpose He had in choosing us. Or if ‘freely give” is translated “forgiveness” then “all things” may refer to every sin the believer commits.
“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. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” – Romans 8:29-30 (NASB)
Some commentators and theologians call this the “The Salvation Chain” but we call it “The Promise Chain.” Promises every faith believer can trust and cling to. These days we might have a difficult time knowing just what to believe. The dishonest media, the nefarious social justice erroneously labeled “woke” invades our lives without warning. It has conceited confidence that it is correct and right. It isn’t. Being unsettled, worried, anxious about our future need not overwhelm our lives with fear of the future. We may not believe we will ever see the world the way we want it to be. But we can know our glorification, our justification, our calling by God to become his children is certain and permanent. God planned us to be conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus the Anointed. He is the preeminent one, the only rightful heir of God who has adopted us and made us co-heirs with Christ. God our Father knew before the foundation of the earth that He would choose, us to be conformed to the image of His Son; so He marked out, appointed, and determined beforehand that we be justified now and eventually glorified.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 (ESV)
Our selected verse today is a kind of summary of the promises in Romans 8:1-27. We can fully understand if we view it in light of these verses.
- For all who are in Christ Jesus there is now no condemnation (verses 1–8).
- All are indwelt by that Spirit who will even raise their bodies (verses 9–11).
- They are assured that they are God’s children, and his heirs (verses 14–16).
- Present suffering for Christ promises one day they will share his glory (verse 18).
- The new heaven and earth are promised and with groaning are looked forward to (verses 19–22).
- They also groan as they eagerly await their promised adoption (verses 23–25).
- In all their weaknesses the Holy Spirit helps them always interceding for them in harmony with God’s will, (verses 26, 27).
This is in the providence of God which is his purposeful sovereignty by which He will successfully achieve his ultimate goal for the universe. God’s providence puts his plans into action, guides all toward his definitive goal. God sovereignly superintends every event in a believer’s life—even suffering, temptation, and sin—to accomplish our temporal and eternal benefit.
“For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” – Romans 8:22-23 (NASB)
There’s an interesting word in today’s selected verses and it’s good for us to understand its meaning as intended by the Apostle Paul writing this letter under the guidance and inspiration of the Spirit of God. The word ‘For’ in verse 22 introduces what we might call “Three Groanings.” These of creation (v.22), of ourselves (v.23), and of God’s Spirit (v.26). We are discussing our ‘future glory’ and not ours only but that of all creation. First Paul compares the earnest longing and eager forward looking of creation to the groaning of a woman who is in the process of giving birth to a child. It is important to recognize that such groaning, which indicates suffering and pain also promises hope. Although possessing a promise of the first fruits of the Spirit we still are looking forward and even reaching out for the fulfillment of even more precious promises. Let’s look at it this way, Since we already have the Spirit abiding in us with all He has promised and provides, we are convinced that much more, is promised and in store for us. So, we therefore yearn eagerly to receive our adoption and redemption at His coming.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” – Romans 8:18-19 (NASB)
We considered briefly verse 18 of this passage yesterday. But truly, there’s so much more in the way of promises to rejoice in. The BIG promise is that whatever difficulty, whatever conflict, whatever treatment we receive in our present lives because we have boldly spoken and stood for Jesus Christ and God our Father, it will never ever compare to the reward of glory that we will receive. We’re assured all will be okay and all wrongs will be made right. Now, we have a hope that will not let us down and a promise that one day it’ll be revealed in us. We’ll have what’s far beyond the pain heaped on us in this life. The suffering therefore doesn’t knock us down. Who’s the source and cause of our suffering? Isn’t it other people who do not by faith believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord? But our glory comes from God and there’s no comparison. Our suffering is of this world and our glory is of heaven. Our suffering is short and temporary, our glory is forever. What we suffer is light while our glory is substantial. Our glory promises total perfection of our personhood.
“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” – Romans 8:16-17 (NASB)
Our verses today are packed with promises. First is the promise that God’s Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. In Roman culture at the time Paul wrote this letter, for an adoption to be legally binding, seven reputable witnesses had to be present, attesting to its validity. God’s Holy Spirit confirms the validity of our adoption. As children, we are heirs of God. We are promised that we will inherit eternal salvation (Titus 3:7), God Himself (Revelation 21:3), glory (Romans 5:2), and everything in the universe (Hebrews 1:2). Proof of ultimate glory of faith believers is that we will suffer—whether it comes as mockery, ridicule, or physical persecution—because of our Lord and savior Jesus. Because He suffered, we suffer. Because He’s glorified, we’re glorified. It’s a long way from the peace-and -prosperity doctrine. Christianity is not escapism. In verse 18 that follows our passage, Paul considers “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
 John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible., (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 8:16.
 Ibid, Ro 8:17.
 Ibid, Ro 8:17.