The Helpful Work of the Holy Spirit

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At our Word and Prayer Wednesday on August 16th we looked at Romans 8:26, which says this:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.

This familiar verse can come to life if we contrast what the Scripture says with its opposite. So ask yourself, “What do you look to for help in your weakness?”

Many people might say nutrition, drugs, political power, or even a new relationship. But the bible tells us that “the Spirit” helps us. You can turn to many things that help temporarilily, but the Spirit truly helps in a deep and lasting, even eternal way.

Or think about whether you really believe “the Spirit helps”. Maybe you have a jaded view of God. Maybe you don’t think of God, the Spirit as One who helps. Maybe you’ve given in to the lie that God is distant and unconcerned with us. Maybe you think more like a Deist who views God as a clockmaker who has wound up the universe and let it go on its own. The bible is clear that “the Spirit helps” and it shows the kind character of God toward his creatures.

What about the object of the help? The text says, “the Spirit helps us”. Who is the “us” referring to? Well if the letter to the Romans is written to the Christian believers at Rome, then Paul means that the Spirit helps believers. It doesn’t say the Spirit helps everyone. The Spirit doesn’t help demons and he doesn’t assist the unrepentant. But the Spirit helps believers. It is stated as a fact. This is what the Spirit characteristically does. The Spirit helps believers, so believers can have confidence that God, the Holy Spirit has not abandoned them. Their trials may be great but believers have hope because as Paul said, “hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love  has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

In what context does the Spirit help us? The location of this help is when we are “in our weakness.” The idea is the the Spirit helps us in a sort of place or sphere or realm. It is as if we have been trapped within the four walls of a prison of weakness. Our weakness can be sin, or physical weakness, or weakness in faith or prayer. We can feel trapped by our weakness so that we cannot get out. We are stuck within those limitations. We might feel despair or hopelessness, but “the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” It is as if the Spirit gives us secret nourishment so that we can endure in our discipleship. We can be lifted in our weakness to follow Christ.  

We may not have all our weakness eradicated until we are in heaven, but we can have the Spirit strengthening us inwardly, even as Paul prayed that, “according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith”

Be encouraged, Christian. The Spirit helps us in our weakness.