I’m going to begin in a word of prayer. We’re going to dive right into this text, because it’s a great passage that every one of needs to carefully look at. So, let me pray.
Father, every time we come to Your Word, there is a sense of anticipation that we would see perhaps what we have glossed over before and that even what we have truly understood before that it would secure our attention yet again. I pray for the men here meeting with me that You would unusually bless them, sanctify them, strengthen them, encourage them, and for everyone who’s watching via live stream, I pray that You would meet with them as You are meeting with us here. So give us understanding into Your Word and help us to live the truths that we see here. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Okay, Kent just asked if we’re still in Romans, and we are. We are in the book of Romans. So your Bible, I’m sure, at this point just automatically does the flop, where it flops open to the book of Romans. And we’re going to look today at verses 26 and 27. And when you’re in Romans 8 you just have to take your time, you just can’t speed through this chapter and not notice all that is being taught. So I want us to look at verses 26 and 27.
Next week is Thanksgiving on Thursday, so we’re all meeting at Kent’s house and yeah, Amy will be very happy with that. So, no we’ll be meeting in two weeks, and in two weeks, Lord willing, if we get through verses 26 and 27, we’re going to look at verse 28, which is one of the towering mountain peaks in the entire Bible, and we really want to carefully look at that. And we’ll be meeting in December also as well. So I’m really looking forward in what lies ahead, verse 29 and verse 30, “those whom He foreknew He predestined,” etc. We’ve got a lot of meat on the bone here that we’re going to be looking into.
But let me read verses 26 and 27. To put a title on this as you’re taking notes, it is, “The Deep Groanings of the Spirit.” Let me begin by reading verses 26 and 27, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, and 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.”
As we begin looking at this verse, what I would say by way of introduction is that we all need for other people to pray for us. None of us can live the Christian life without our own prayers and without others who are praying for us and lifting us up. I am consciously aware that anything good that comes to and through my life and ministry is the result of others who are praying for me. I’m especially reminded of this when the Lord just puts wind in my sails and I’m ushered along, whether it’s teaching a lesson, preaching a message, or God just providentially intersects my path with someone else, and the Lord just gives me the right words to say. I know that that’s not me. I know that there are those who are praying for me.
I’m consciously aware of my wife, who is a real prayer warrior, who is continually interceding on my behalf. This time last year I was in Jakarta, Indonesia, on an around-the-world tour, a preaching trip. I left home in October, returned in December, as you recall, and I preached all through Africa, through Indonesia, and my wife gathered a group of ladies, about fifty ladies around the country to pray for me on this trip. And I can’t tell you how many times I was consciously aware, like this message turned out far better than these notes, and people were impacted. I knew it wasn’t me. I knew it was the result of people praying for me.
In the last church that I pastored, there were a group of precious older ladies who were widows, and I called it my “widows pew,” and there really were a couple of pews that the ladies sat together, and they were just prayer warriors for me. And they prayed and prayed, and I wouldn’t even have to ask them. They just took it upon themselves to stand in the gap for me and to pray for me. We all need people who are praying for us, and I think sometimes we lose sight of it. We become so self-focused at times that we lose sight of the bigger picture that God is actively at work as a result of prayer.
Well, how much more so when God prays for us? And that’s the truth of this passage, that God the Holy Spirit is praying on a constant, continual basis for us as we live our Christian lives. And no one can pray like God because when God prays, His prayers are always answered. And in this case, it is the third Person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit, who perfectly knows the will of God for each of our lives. And at those times when I do not know really how to pray, the Spirit of God knows how to pray. And if we could only pull back the veil and see what’s on the other side in the throne room of heaven, I am sure that we would be encouraged as well as probably astonished at how it is that our Christian life continues to move forward in the direction that God wants to send it.
So, that’s the focus of these two verses. It is the prayers of the third Person of the Trinity to the first Person of the Trinity on our behalf regarding our sanctification and regarding our moving forward in our Christian lives. And this is one reason why no one will ever fall away from grace, and this is one reason why we will never completely just go backwards, because the Spirit of God is praying and His prayers are efficacious for us. So, as we look at these two verses, and they’ve been a little bit of a challenge for me just to know how to outline these, and I like a good outline, this is where I’ve settled on this outline.
“No changing now.”
Yeah, no changing now. The first thing that I want you to see is “The Involvement of the Spirit.” That’s at the beginning of verse 26, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness, for we do not know how to pray.” So, He helps us. The second thing that I want you to notice is “The Intercession of the Spirit.” “But the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” And then the third thing that I want you to notice is in verse 27, “The Intelligence of the Spirit,” for “and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is.” So I think you can see that.
All right, let’s begin with “The Involvement of the Spirit.” The Spirit is intimately, personally, continually, constantly involved in our spiritual lives and specifically in our sanctification. So in verse 26 Paul begins, “In the same way,” and I want to just hit the pause button for a moment, that’s important because these little four words connect what he’s about to say with what has just preceded. When he says, “In the same way,” this points back to verses 18 to 25. And in verses 18 to 25, as you recall, he talked about the groanings of creation. That was in verses 19 to 22. And he talked about the groaning of believers, that’s in verses 23 to 25. And so now he says, “In the same way,” and he talks about the groanings of the Holy Spirit. So there is lined up here three groanings – the groanings of creation, verses 19 to 22, the groanings of Christians, verses 23 to 25, and now the groanings of the Comforter in verses 26 and 27. So it’s important that we understand this continues the same train of thought.
As we are living in the midst of what verse 18 called “the sufferings of this present time,” we live in a fallen world, we live under the curse of sin as a result of Adam’s sin, and God put the curse on the entire planet as well as on the entire human race. And that’s just the reality of the world in which we live and the life that we live. And so as he begins verse 26, he says, “in the same way,” as you are living in the midst of these present sufferings and difficulties and trials and tribulations, he says the Spirit also helps.
Now, the Holy Spirit has been the main focus of chapter 8 to this point. And I’ve taken a ballpoint pen and drawn a circle around every time I see in chapter 8 “the Spirit,” just so my eye can see it in my own Bible and just so that you can see it, “the Spirit” is mentioned in verse 2, verse 4, twice in verse 5, verse 6, three times in verse 9, in verse 11, in fact twice in verse 11, verse 13, verse 14, verse 16, verse 23, and now twice in verse 26, and again in verse 27. So, as he says now, “in the same way the Spirit also helps,” he’s not introducing a new subject. The Spirit of God is the primary Agent, capital A, in our sanctification, in our spiritual growth. The Spirit of God indwells us, and the Spirit of God is at work within us both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Now he says, “the Spirit also helps.” The word “also” is important because we have been helped by the future glory that is ahead of us, that’s what Paul has been talking about. But he says, well the Spirit also helps, it’s not just what lies before us; it’s who is within us. Let me repeat that, it’s not just what lies before us, but it is who lives within us – the Spirit of God helps.
Now I want to pause just for a moment with that word “helps.” I know it’s in your translation. It’s five little letters in English. Just so you’ll know this, when Paul wrote this in koine Greek the word is seventeen letters. So something has been lost a little bit in the translation. And the word “helps” doesn’t quite do it. It’s a stronger word, and it’s actually three words combined together to make a compound word.
Now, there is a root word, and there’s two prefixes put at the beginning. And in the Greek language if you want to intensify a word, you frontload a prefix at the beginning. Well, Paul here frontloads two prefixes, so it’s just like “helps” is in bold letters, all caps, yellow highlighted and italicized. I mean, it’s intensified, and the root word means “to lay hold of something,” to like literally grab it in your hands so that you can carry it. And the two prefixes, the first one means “with” or “along with,” and the other prefix means “in the place of.” And when you pull all this together, the idea is the Holy Spirit literally lays hold of us powerfully and pulls us along in the Christian life.
So it’s almost like when I go to the airport there’s that moving sidewalk, and I’m doing the walking, but that moving sidewalk is just propelling me forward. And I love the feeling of just passing up everyone else. I just feel better about myself, like I’m getting ahead so I can wait at the gate. So that’s the idea here. We still are involved, very much so, in our own sanctification, but beneath our feet is the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit who literally is laying hold of us and pulling us forward in a very powerful way, in a very strong way. And without this help of the Holy Spirit we would be stationary. We wouldn’t be able to walk in our own strength.
You remember Jesus said in John 15 verse 5, “Apart from me you can do,” you remember the next word, “nothing.” That’s a zero with the edges trimmed off, that’s just nothing. But Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things for him who strengthens me,” meaning all things within the will of God. So it is the Spirit of God who helps, but it’s far more than just helps, I mean He literally at times is carrying us forward, He’s propelling us forward, He is blowing wind into our sails, He’s putting octane into our tank.
Now this verb “helps,” I want to parse it just for a moment because it brings out the richness of the meaning here. You need to know, first of all, it’s in the present tense, and what that means is constantly, continually, every moment of every day, the Holy Spirit is helping us in our Christian life. This isn’t just a Sunday morning thing and it’s not just a Thursday morning as we come here to the Bible study. It’s going to be…He is going to be with you when you get in the car and you drive back to your office, He’s going to be with you as you face the challenges of the day, He’s going to be with you when you go back home and there are demands upon you with your family or with your friends. He is constantly, continually helping you, always helping you.
Second, it’s in the active voice, which means He is dynamically active. He’s not passive; He is active. He’s taking the initiative in our sanctification, and He is dynamically involved in helping us live the Christian life.
And this is also in the indicative mood, which means this is just simply a statement of fact. There are no conditions on this, it is a matter of fact, the Spirit of God every moment of every day is helping you live the Christian life. And this is really the fulfillment of Matthew 28:20, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Well, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father, how is He with us always? He is with us by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, who has taken up His royal residence within our heart and soul, and He will never leave us nor forsake us.
So, this is His involvement, and now Paul tells us why we need His involvement. He says, the next two words, he says, “For the Spirit also helps our weakness.” Even as believers, even as Christians, we are still woefully weak to live the Christian life. You and I cannot live the Christian life apart from the Holy Spirit who indwells us. We just can’t do it, we’re too weak in and of ourselves. And this word “weak” means “helpless,” “infirmity,” it means “a disability.” I mean, you and I have a significant spiritual disability in and of ourselves to live the Christian life. It is God the Holy Spirit who must do this in us.
And please note the word, “our” refers to all believers, every believer. And Paul includes himself in this. Now just think about this, arguably Paul was the greatest Christian who ever lived. If anybody could have lived their Christian life with autopilot on, it would have been the Apostle Paul, and even Paul includes himself in this, with his weakness. Now, what is this weakness? Well first of all, it’s certainly a mental weakness, because he goes on to say here that in the very next…in the middle of verse 26, “we do not know how to pray as we should.” So, you and I have very limited understanding in knowing how to pray for our own lives.
Now, we have some general principles and commands that are given us in Scripture, and in Matthew chapter 6 we have the Lord’s Prayer, “Pray then, in these words, ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,'” etc. We have the big, broad brush strokes, but the specifics on how this interfaces with our daily lives, I mean let’s face it, we do not know exactly how to pray. And the Spirit of God, as we will see under the next heading, is constantly, continually pleading with the Father on our behalf for His glory and for our good. So this weakness is, first of all, a mental limitation that we have to know how we should pray, he says that in the middle of verse 26.
But also emotionally. Sometimes we become so discouraged and we so lose heart that we just give up praying – it will never happen, and we just look to ourselves to make it happen. And in those times when we are so emotionally discouraged and we lose heart in prayer, the Spirit of God perseveres on our behalf.
And then also physically we are weak. I mean, there are times in our Christian lives where it’s as if we’re just too tired to even pray. I mean, we’re just so exhausted from the trial, from the difficulty, it has just sucked the life out of us, and the Spirit of God at those times continues to pray on our behalf. And so, he explains why we need His help. Notice, he says, “the Spirit helps our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we should.” That explains our weakness and why you and I need the Holy Spirit to help us to pray.
Now, as we look at this next part of the verse, “for we do not know how to pray,” I just want to draw your attention again to “we.” The “we” refers to you and me, no matter who you are as a believer in Jesus Christ. In fact, Paul again includes himself in this, and I just want you to see this, and I could go all the way back to the beginning of this chapter. But the “we” is identified in verse 19, as “the sons of God.” The “we” is identified in verse 23 as “those who have the adoption as sons.” The “we” in verse 24 is even stronger, the “we” are “those who have been saved.” Do you see that in verse 24? In verse 25, the “we” are “those who have hope for what we do not see.” Well, that’s not an unbeliever. And in verse 27, the “we” is identified as “the saints.” And in verse 28, the “we” is identified as “those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” In verse 29, the “we” is “those whom He foreknew, He predestined.”
I mean, we could just continue to layer this out in both directions, the “we” is obviously all believers and only believers. The Holy Spirit is not praying for unbelievers. The Holy Spirit is praying, this is a family business, the Spirit of God is praying for you and me and helping us. This is very personal. He says, “We do not know how to pray as we should.”
Now I want to give you two examples from the life of the Apostle Paul when he did not know how to pray. One is in 2 Corinthians 12, verses 7 through 10, when Paul had a thorn in the flesh. And that thorn was not a real thorn like from a rosebush, it’s metaphorical, and it referred to a person who was the ringleader in the church at Corinth who rallied significant opposition against the spiritual leadership of the Apostle Paul. And I know as a pastor, and I know what that feels like to have a posse after you, to have the spiritual Ku Klux Klan after you to hang you by a rope. And it is a thorn in the flesh, it’s more than a thorn in the flesh, it’s a steel girder in the flesh. And Paul prayed not once, not twice, he prayed three times to the Lord to remove the thorn in the flesh.
And God said, “No, I’m going to keep the thorn in the flesh in you, because when you are weak, you are trusting me and you are relying upon me more. And it is at that time that my grace is sufficient for you, and you are the strongest when you are weak.” So that’s one example when Paul didn’t know how to pray, he was praying contrary to the will of God. He had no idea. Yet the Spirit of God was helping Paul at that time by pouring out grace into his life and interceding according to the will of God.
A second example is in Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome. In Philippians 1 and verses 22 and 23, let me just back up to verse 21, he says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” You remember that passage. And then in the next two verses he says, “I really don’t know which way to go. I prefer to go to heaven, but I’m willing to stay behind and minister to you. But I really want to go to heaven,” and we can just hear Paul praying, “Lord, just take me home right now, because it would be far better to be with Christ in glory than to be sitting in this imprisonment in Rome with Roman soldiers chained to me twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.” And Paul a hyperactive, type triple-A male had to sit in that room for two solid years without any relief, without any escape. And God chose not to answer that prayer for Paul to come home early but to stay right there on the earth and to preach the Word of God.
So, it’s in our weakness that we don’t know how to pray, and there are so many times in our Christian lives that we come to certain intersections in life and we’re pulled in different directions, we need the Spirit’s help to know how to pray. So be encouraged, you have someone who is at work in your life in a powerful way, constantly helping you live your Christian life in a victorious way.
Now, this leads us to second, not only the involvement of the Spirit, and that’s in a general way, now more specifically, “The Intercession of the Spirit.” And beginning in the middle, really towards the end of verse 26, he says, “but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Now, we want this to say exactly what it says – the Holy Spirit Himself personally, individually, directly intercedes for us.
Now “to intercede” means that you plead someone else’s case on their behalf before a superior. You stand in the gap, and you plead the case for someone who is so weak that they cannot even plead their own case, and they don’t know how to plead their own case. That person would represent you before the higher authority and to intercede on your behalf and in your best interest and to petition the higher authority for your good. That is what this is saying, the Spirit Himself intercedes for us. And I want to bring this to your attention, “intercedes” is in the present tense. That’s how it’s translated in your English translation, which means He’s continually and constantly interceding for you on a daily basis, always representing you before the Father.
Now, you need to know you have not one, but you have two divine Intercessors. Not only is the Holy Spirit interceding on your behalf to the Father, but God the Son is interceding on your behalf with the Father. You have two attorneys who have never lost a case, pleading on your behalf to the Father, who loves you. Now, I want to draw to your attention the intercession of God the Son. And in this very chapter, in verse 34, I want you to see in Romans 8 verse 34, “Jesus…” excuse me, “Christ Jesus is the one who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” Do you see that?
One reason why you will never be lost once you’re saved is God the Son is at the right hand of the Father, and He is pleading His righteousness on your behalf with the Father. And even when Satan, who is the accuser of the brethren, accuses you of sin like he did Job in Job chapters 1 and 2, you have an advocate at the right hand of God the Father, 1 John 2:1-2, who is representing you and keeping you in the grace of God. You can never fall away because of your representation at the right hand of God the Father. But it’s not just that you have a divine Intercessor in heaven, you also have a divine intercessor in you. You have One in heaven and One on the earth. And the One who is on the earth is indwelling you, and that is God the Holy Spirit.
Let me take you to one more passage, as we think about just the intercession of God the Son, in Hebrews chapter 7 and in verse 25, but I think I may begin reading in verse 23. Hebrews 7 beginning in verse 23, but my eye is on verse 25, “The former priests,” referring to those under the old covenant in the Old Testament, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing. So the priests kept dying off century by century, generation by generation. So, there had to be new priests to come out of the tribe of Levi, so there was just an army of priests that was representing the people of God before the throne of God. That’s what a priest did. A priest represented the people of God before the throne of God.
A prophet did the opposite, he represented God before the people, bringing the Word of God to the people. The priest did the other, the priest represented the interests of the people before God in prayer by making sacrifice. So verse 24, “but Jesus,” so you know this is heading in the right direction, “but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continually lives, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore, He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” This is tremendous! Jesus ever lives at the right hand of God the Father, and He is interceding on your behalf with the Father, refuting and rebutting all accusations that would be hurled against you by the accuser of the brethren.
So, and it’s important for us also to note at this point that Jesus only intercedes for those whom the Father gave to Him before the foundation of the world. In John 17 verse 9, Jesus says very bluntly, “I do not pray for the world, but for those whom You gave Me.” So Jesus is making intercession only for the elect. He is not interceding for the non-elect. He is only interceding for the elect at the right hand of God the Father.
And this is yet another reason why I personally believe that Jesus died only for the elect, that He laid down His life for those who were chosen by the Father before time began. His intercession upon the cross and His intercession at the right hand of the Father is for the very same group. Those for whom He is interceding right now at the right hand of the Father is the same group for whom He interceded when He hung upon the cross and died for the sins of His people. So John 17:9 is a very clear text, “I do not pray for the world, but for those whom You have given Me.”
That’s why it is sometimes referred to as a “definite atonement.” It was for a very definite group of people that Jesus interceded upon the cross. And so there is a glorious triumph. No one for whom Christ died will ever perish, no one for whom Christ died will ever be subjected to the final judgment at the Great White Throne judgment and cast down into hell. If Christ has died for you, then Christ has saved you, and it is only this understanding that allows someone to sing the hymn “Jesus saves, Jesus saves,” because He actually saved, not hypothetically, potentially saved, depending upon what you do. No, He actually saved at the cross. So, I’m just making a theological point here with you. Those for whom He interceded on the cross is the same group for whom He intercedes at the right hand of the Father as He is praying and pleading the merit of His sinless life and substitutionary death.
Now, I know that what I just said is a lot for you to take in, and you may not be at that point. And I understand that, but the more you study your Bible the more it becomes more clear or clearer that Christ, His intercession, is only for us. It is only for the “we” as we find in this passage.
Now, the Spirit of God is also interceding for the very same group, otherwise there would be a fracture in the Godhead. There would be a severe division within the Trinity. It is only with this understanding that those whom the Father chose are those for whom the Son is interceding, are those for whom the Spirit is interceding. Therefore, all three persons of the Godhead are pulling in the same direction, saving and interceding on behalf of the same group. Otherwise, you have the Father doing His own thing, you have the Son doing His own things trying to save a different group, and you have the Holy Spirit doing His own thing trying to save yet a different group, if you follow the logic of that.
And so, you would have the Father choosing the elect to save, but then the Son dying for everybody, but then the Spirit working with a group halfway in-between everybody and the elect, just trying to woo people to Christ. No, that’s not how the Godhead works, the Trinity works. There is an indivisible unity and economy of effort and mission and purpose within the Trinity. That is why Jesus said in John 10 verse 30, “I and the Father are one.” It doesn’t mean one person – that means one purpose, one mission, one direction, one aim, one goal. The Father and the Son are one, and we can add, and yes, the Spirit is one as well.
So, come back to the book of Romans. I hope I didn’t lose you on all that, the good news is the Spirit is praying for you, okay? Whatever slipped through the cracks with me, He’s got your safety net covered, and it shall be revealed to you. Okay now, we’re still in verse 26, “but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
Now, what we need to understand from this is several things. Number one, the Spirit of God is not a stoic, He is not an emotionless being. The Spirit of God has deep feelings and deep affections toward us and toward the Father and the Son. That’s why it says in Ephesians 4, I think, its verse 30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.” That’s another emotion of the Spirit. And what we learn here, just even with the groanings of the Spirit, and by the way, “groanings” is in the plural which speaks to the intensity of these groanings. It’s not just “groaning” singular; it’s the idea of the abundance, overflowing, deep groanings.
What we learn here, and this is very important for me to say, is that the Holy Spirit is a person, not an “it.” The Holy Spirit bears all the marks and characteristics of personality and personhood. And let me just give you three key categories, and whenever you teach the Scripture and whenever you preach the Scripture, you’re to always be pulling the doctrine, the theology out of that text, and that’s what we’re doing right now. We’re just pulling the doctrine out of this text. The Spirit of God has a mind, He has intelligence. We know that in the next verse, when he talks about “the mind of the Spirit,” you see that in verse 27?
An object does not have a mind, a rock does not have a mind, a tree does not have a mind, this microphone does not have a mind. Only a person has a mind, but also emotions, and we see here one of the emotions of the Holy Spirit as He groans deeply, as He prays for us, and it drives me crazy when I hear someone say, they’re praying for me or someone else, they go, “Yeah, I’ll blow up some smoke for you,” you know, like this is such a casual thing. That’s not how the Spirit of God prays for us. He prays with intensity, and He prays with urgency, and with deep emotions, pleading, and urging the Father as He prays.
And the Spirit of God also has a will, He has volition. And 1 Corinthians 12 verse 11 talks about the freedom of the will of the Holy Spirit. Now, let me just give you a footnote under this footnote, the Spirit of God does what only a person can do. The Spirit of God teaches, John 14:26, the Spirit of God guides, Romans 8 verse 14, the Spirit of God commands, Acts 8:29, the Spirit of God speaks, John 15:26, the Spirit of God commissions, Acts 13 verse 4, the Spirit of God restrains, Genesis 6 verse 3, the Spirit of God moves in creation, Genesis 1 verse 2. I’m just going to stop here, but this list can just keep going. The point has been made.
Do not think of the Holy Spirit as a force or as a power, He is a person who has power and possesses the force of might, but He nevertheless is a person. You can only grieve a person and, by the way, you can only grieve someone who loves you, and the Spirit of God here groans as He prays for us. And the groaning is appropriate because when you bear someone’s burden, you groan. When you carry a heavy load, you groan. If you were to pick up a heavy box for your wife and carry that up the stairs, I mean you might be groaning because of the heavy load, and the Spirit of God actually feels the burden…the burdens in our life.
I mean, Jesus does. Hebrews 4:14 through 16 says, He’s a sympathetic High Priest. He has lived in this world, and He’s been in our skin, and He knows by experience, He feels for us, not just cognitively, but experientially. And the Spirit of God is also groaning as He prays for us. He says at the end of verse 26, “with groans too deep for words.” Now, “too deep for words” is just one word in the Greek language and it comes into our English translation as these four words, and it just simply means “unspeakable,” it just simply means “speechless.”
But it does not mean “meaningless.” It does not mean “unintelligent.” And the reason the Spirit does not even have to speak is because the Father knows the mind of the Spirit. We have that in the next verse, because the Spirit intimately, perfectly knows the mind of the Spirit. The Spirit does not even have to utter words in prayer on our behalf. The Father, we would say, just reads the mind of the Spirit and knows the mind of the Spirit as the Spirit is thinking the very intercessions on our behalf. Not all communication is done with words.
Our wives communicate with us very well without saying a word. In our house we call it “the look,” and my wife communicates multiple volumes of tomes with just the look, the countenance, the body posture, the eyes. Well, the Spirit of God communicates with the Father without even having to speak the words, because the Father intimately and perfectly knows the mind of the Spirit.
Remember, the Father has never learned anything. How could the Father ever learn anything? He’s omniscient, He knows everything just like the Holy Spirit knows everything, and just like God the Son knows everything. And so, in this intercession by the Spirit to the Father, the Father knows immediately what the Spirit is thinking. He knows perfectly, He knows comprehensively what the Spirit is thinking on our behalf as the Spirit intercedes silently, yet deeply with deep groans on our behalf.
And an example of that might even be sometimes when we pray together, as I’m passionate in praying and I’ll have some other men with me before I go out into the sanctuary to preach, some of the other men will just groan, and they just “hmm,” and there is a deep groan as you identify with what is being prayed. Now that doesn’t mean that it’s any more spiritual or any less spiritual, but there is often just a silent without words even being spoken, “I’m joining with you in this intercession to the Father,” that arises out of the depths of my heart as well.
So, you and I should be greatly encouraged to know that God the Son is at the right hand of the Father praying for us right now, and all of His prayers are being answered. And God the Holy Spirit is praying from within us to the Father, and all of His prayers are being answered. And when we meet in two weeks, we’re going to see how this is inseparably connected to Romans 8:28, because Romans 8:28 begins with the word “and,” which continues the train of thought of what we’re looking at in this session, the reason why all things work together for good is because the Spirit is praying for us.
And even in our trials and adversity, and even when we sin, the Spirit of God is nevertheless praying on our behalf that God will bring glory to Himself and will be bring good to our lives out of the milieu of the confusion and the chaos of where we find ourselves. The reason verse 28 comes to fruition is because the Spirit of God is praying for us in ways that we don’t even know how to pray as we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place, as we find ourselves at the end of ourselves, when we find ourselves in the darkest hour of the trial, the Spirit of God is praying on our behalf, and God is hearing that prayer, and the Father is answering that prayer, and the Father is causing all things to work together for our good because the Spirit knows exactly how to pray for us even when we do not.
Now, let’s just quickly look at verse 27 and I’ll wrap this up, because I don’t want to have to rebuild this house one more time. In verse 27, very quickly, I want you to see “The Intelligence of the Spirit.” The Spirit is absolutely brilliant! The Spirit is omniscient, He knows everything. The Spirit is all-wise, He not only knows the highest end, but He knows the best means to accomplish that highest end. The Spirit of God is perfectly genius.
So please note verse 27, “and He,” the He refers to God the Father, the One with whom He is making intercession. “And He who searches the hearts,” those hearts refer to our hearts, our thoughts, our desires, our ambitions. “He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is,” He knows what the Spirit is praying for us, with words that are not even being spoken. That’s how intimate the Trinity is. That’s how personal the interrelationships are within the Godhead, that words do not even have to be spoken. They know each other perfectly.
Not only do they know everything in the universe perfectly, they know everything within the Trinity perfectly. And so God the Father searches our hearts and knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints, and the “He” refers to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints, and again that’s all of us, “according to the will of the Father.” That tells us every prayer that the Spirit offers on our behalf is perfectly on target. It is according to the will of the Father, according to the perfect plan of God for the life of every believer, it is always in perfect agreement with the will of God and never contrary to the will of God. There’s never the will of God is going in this direction, but the Spirit of God is praying in the opposite direction. No, they are one of mind, one of heart, one of will, one of purpose, one of mission.
This is absolutely extraordinary. This is like what John Piper says, “God’s doing a thousand things in your life and you’re only aware of two of those.” There’s another nine hundred and ninety-eight things going on in the invisible world of the Spirit around you and in the invisible world of heaven on the other side of the veil, things of which we are totally unaware. That it is, how it is, that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are keeping our faith strong, are keeping us pointed and directed in the right path and even when we stray and we bear the responsibility of all of our stumbles and falls, the Spirit of God is still praying that God will cause all things, even when we trip and fall, to work together for our good because we are those who love God and have been sovereignly called according to His purpose.
And that highest good, just to get a little bit ahead of myself, is in the middle of verse 29, it is “to conform us into the image of His Son.” And God is using good times and bad times, He is using prosperity and adversity, He is using everything that is taking place in our lives in one way or another to humble us, to reshape us, and to remold us and reconfigure us into the image of God’s Son.
And it is towards that that the Spirit of God is pleading and praying, “Father, make them more like the Son. Conform them more into the image of the Son. Remove from them that which is not in conformity with the Son, and solidify yet deeper that which reflects the life, the character, the ministry, the words, the teaching of the Son of God.”
No one has ever prayed for you like the Holy Spirit. No one has ever pleaded with the Father more on target and with deeper groanings and passion than the Holy Spirit. Even as He’s praying during this study that your eyes would be opened and that your mind would be renewed, that you would have an increased understanding of something, yet more, of what He, the Holy Spirit is doing in your life even when you are not thinking about it, and even when you are not consciously aware.