When coming to the full acknowledgment of the pain and anguish of sin that he seems to never be able to overcome, Paul cries the same incredible prayer in the same spirit as the tax collector in the synagogue:
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”[^1]
And I believe the totality of Romans 8 is the extended, thorough, exegetical explanation to his powerful nine-word answer: “Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus our Lord!”[^2]
So let’s suppose that we find ourselves in the same shoes as Paul. We see our sin and we even try to wrestle it and overcome it and try to choke the life out of it but we all know that our strength is neither perfect nor mighty. It wanes day to day and even moment to moment. We are not as strong as the Almighty Savior who counted it as all joy to ascend to the cross and hand over his life as a ransom for many.
What shall we do? Do we give up hope? Do we scream out “Forget this! This is too much for me to handle. I will never succeed! Why even try?”
Romans 8:26 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.
But don’t you see? Your cries are exactly like those of the children of Israel. The Old Testament is your prayer and the New Testament is your answer.
What, you can’t do it? God knows and He shows us His great love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us? (Romans 5:8)
Remember before God saved you to himself and filled your heart with His Holy Spirit? When you were “once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3)
Yes, God was mindful of you, saw you, and saved you despite your own wickedness, evilness, and malice towards the Himself.
If God is so good and powerful to do that, what do you think He’s going to do when you know you are weak, sick and more need of a Savior? Leave you? NO! You are His precious adopted child to whom all that belongs to His only begotten Son also is yours.
Hebrews 1:1-2 (CSB) Long ago God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets at different times and in different ways. 2 In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him.
That gift includes the world. But that includes something much greater than all of anything that we could want or desire on this earth:
God the Father, whose mind, compassion, grace, sovereignty, and love is yours.
God the Son, whose life and body was in your place on the cross so that you could be with “His God, your God, His Father and your Father”. That’s yours.
God the Spirit, by whom is the power, connection, intimacy, closeness and the very voice that brings you and God together forever never to break apart or be forgotten. That’s yours.
By the power of the same Spirit that Jesus was able to walk this earth and live as we should have lived.
By the power of the same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
If His Spirit dwells in you, you are now fully completely alive.
God WOULD NEVER ABANDON YOU, FORSAKE YOU, NOR FORGET YOU.
So why would he leave you at your weakest?
Paul goes on to say:
Titus 3:4-7 (CSB) But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
When sin crouches like a hungry lion ready to devour our souls.
When the Devil and his demons shower you a million arrows of arrows to consume your flesh.
When everything that has worked before and now nothing does.
When you are at loss for words and nothing comes out.
That’s when the almighty Spirit steps in, shatters the mouth of the lion, shields us and absorbs every single arrow aimed for our hearts. He actually gives you the power to overcome all fears, anxiety, and sins, and speaks perfectly to God, our Father, on your behalf. Giving what is the very best for you when you couldn’t figure that out yourself.
That is powerful love.
Yours to do: is to give the only thing you and I have to offer to the Son of God who is God: our sin.
Christ does not invite us and the world into his kingdom. Christ does not have a soft “come if you want to–if you are not too busy” under his rule as though he is throwing some sort of party.
Matthew 22:8-14 (CSB) “Then he told his servants, ‘The banquet is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Go then to where the roads exit the city and invite everyone you find to the banquet.’ 10 So those servants went out on the roads and gathered everyone they found, both evil and good. The wedding banquet was filled with guests. 11 When the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed for a wedding. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes? ’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
This is the gospel–this is the good news: Christ is commanding you and me and every single child born of Adam to repent of our sins.
What does it mean to repent?
Give your sins over to Christ.
You don’t have to figure out what is sin and not sin. You don’t have to figure out how to keep sinning when God has commanded you from death to life. You don’t have to do Biblical gymnastics and try to skirt around His law.
God’s law is bond. Listen, we have all fallen short. James says, “when you have broken one law, you have broken all of the law.” So for you and me to fulfill God’s law on our own is a fool’s errand. We are not strong enough. We are too weak.
God knows. That is why he sent his Son to live and die for us. God knows our weakness. We are so weak, we can’t even pray right. God knows. So that is why the same Spirit who raised Christ Jesus from the dead, and raises us from death unto life, also intercedes–constantly, consistently, perfectly prays for saints.
Even when we are at loss for words, God never is. He contends for us. He cares for us. He speaks goodness over our lives. He sings over us. He rejoices over us. He loves us. Forever.
1. Paul calls for us to "pray constantly" (1 Thessalonians 5:17 (CSB)). Is that even possible? Have you ever been at a loss for words in prayer?
2. Read about how Christ teaches us how to pray (Matthew 6; Luke 11). Does it make it easier to pray when you keep it simply according to the Lord's instruction?
3. How do you feel know the Holy Spirit, who is God Almighty and fully God Himself, who is perfectly interceding and praying for you?
4. IF God is praying for you and saving you and refining you, who can be against you? Who are your real enemies?
I adore you. Keep me in you grasp. Led me to the Father. All in what the Son has done for me. Amen.
Today’s episode at The Study
Christian Standard Bible.
Holmon Publishing. 2020.
ESV Study Bible.
by John Calvin.
No Condemnation in Christ Jesus: As Unfolded in the Eighth Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans.
by Octavius Winslow.
Banner of Trust. 1991.
Romans: An Expositional Commentary.
by R.C. Sproul.
Reformation Trust Publishing. 2019.
The Letter to the Romans (New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT)).
by Douglas Moo.
New Testament Commentary: Romans: Chapters 1-16.
by William Hendriksen.
by William S. Plumer.
Romans: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary).
by Robert Mounce.
Holmon Reference. 1995.
Romans (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT Volume 6).
Edited by Gerald L. Bray.
IVP Academic. 2005.
Commentary on Romans.
by Martin Luther.