The Spirit's Intercession
Romans 8: 27
Our text says that God searches our hearts and knows the intentions of the Holy Spirit
who is interceding for us even when we cannot properly express the objects of our prayers.
God knows the mind of the Spirit.
God is thoroughly acquainted with the mind of His own Spirit.
The argument is untenable that, if God is to understand the mind of the Spirit,
the groanings must be the Spirit's and not our own.
Why should God not know the Spirit's mind when He uses our inmost groaning
and adds his intercessory meaning to it?
God looks below the surface and sees the very bottom of things.
God discerns the motive which prompts the most faltering utterance and knows the mind of the Spirit. (Cf. 8: 6)
God interprets the mind of the Spirit, and the Spirit reinforces our prayers.
God knows the mind and intention of the Spirit because His mind and intention are internal to Himself.
"Your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of these things before you ask them."
They are "the mind of the Spirit."
God is one, and therefore, it cannot be conceived that anything could be the mind of the Holy Spirit,
and not be the mind of the Father and of the Son.
If, therefore, the Holy Spirit moves you to any desire, then His mind is in your prayer,
and it is not possible that the eternal Father should reject your petitions.
Look at the action itself -- God "knoweth."
This may be taken in two ways:
It may be taken as the Lord knows and understands the mind of the Spirit in those imperfect sighs and groans.
Or it may be that the Lord knows -- that is, the Lord approves.
He approves of the graces and good affections of His people
in the midst of those manifold weaknesses and imperfections which are mingled in with them.
He knows them so as to accept them.
Some may question what Spirit is meant here when it is said that:
"God knoweth the mind of the Spirit."
Is it our own spirit or is it the Spirit of God?
God knows what is Spirit and grace in us, distinct from what is flesh and corruption in our prayers.
The text speaks of "the mind of the Spirit."
What a mind that is!
His mind always reflects the will of God and is free from all the errors which may pervade our prayers.
Praying in the Spirit is to prevail with God.
It is not our crying, our begging, or anything of ourselves that prevails with God.
It is praying in the Spirit.
"The mind of the Spirit" in this instance is not the mind created and fostered in us
by the Holy Spirit as in Romans 8: 6.
It is the mind of the Holy Spirit Himself as is made apparent by the emphasis
upon the intercession of the Spirit in verse 26,
and particularly by what follows in this verse:
"Because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." (Verse 27)
This is a wonderful truth for us!
When we have sighs and groans that we cannot express in words,
does the Lord reject our prayers because of the defect in us?
No! He knows the mind of the Spirit.
Not only do we have difficulty of utterance, but our own spirit gets distracted.
But our gracious God knows the mind of the Spirit in His children.
Even in our times of forgetfulness, where important matters are left out of our prayers,
the Lord knows the mind of the Spirit in this respect also.
We are often selfish in our prayers concerning petitions and purposes,
but God knows the mind of the Spirit in this sense also.
So, here in this verse is added another great comfort and encouragement,
which belongs to us as God's children.
It is such a comfort that the Lord passes over that which is flesh in us,
and looks only at that which is Spirit.
There is no experience of life that we can rely on for divine aid with more confidence
than when we are praying in the Spirit, even when we feel too weak to pray.
We can be confident that we have a divine Intercessor, a Helper, a Comforter
who is voicing the longings for which we lack the ability or knowledge to express.
We have an advocate above, as well as an advocate within,
and between these two advocates there is no discord.
The Spirit's intercession is an effect of Christ's intercession and flows out of it.
He makes intercession within when our prayers are in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6: 18)
The Spirit's intercession is not carried on apart from us, but in us and through us.
The presence of the Spirit and the first fruits are proofs that the age to come has dawned,
and that its consummation cannot be long delayed.
The intercession made by the Holy Spirit is according to the command and will of God,
and in the name of and in dependence on Christ, the Mediator.
This is great assurance to us as saints of God -- that our prayers shall be heard by our Father in heaven
even though they may be expressed only in groans.
The Holy Spirit makes intercession for us,
and His intercession is in accordance with the mind and will of God.
What a glorious guarantee!
If left to ourselves, we put too much of one ingredient or another into our prayer and spoil the sacred compound.
But the Holy Spirit's intercessions have a blessed blending of all that is good
and they go up to God as a sweet perfume.
The intercessions of which this text is speaking are only for the saints.
The Holy Spirit makes intercessions in us that are consistent with the divine will of God.
In verse 27, we see something of the true nature of prayer, which lies not so much in gifts as in graces,
and is a work of the Spirit in the sanctifying operations of prayer.
In verse 26, Paul had said, "for us."
Now he adds, "for the saints," that he might show under what conditions
the intercession mentioned becomes available to us.
This verse affords us the observation which arises out of it, and that observation is
-- only the saints can truly and effectively pray. (Psalm 32: 6; Proverbs 15: 8; Psalm 145: 19)
It is the saints, emphatically and exclusively,
for whom the Spirit makes such intercession as related here in verse 27.
This is not the first work of the Spirit in us.
First, He sanctifies.
Then, He intercedes.
First, He puts into us gracious dispositions.
Then, He stirs up holy desires.
In those in whom the Spirit is a Spirit of intercession, He has been to them a Spirit of regeneration.
These are joined together in Zechariah 12: 10: "The Spirit of grace and of supplication."
No one is able to pray for himself, for whom Christ does not also pray.
We can only approach God by the Spirit.
"We have access by one Spirit to the Father." (Ephesians 2: 18)
We can only pray under the influence and aid of the Holy Spirit with groanings which cannot be uttered;
and He makes intercession for us according to the will of God.
From all of this, we see how certain it is that these groanings
which cannot be uttered are heard and consequently answered.
For "This is the confidence that we have in Him,
that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us."
Such prayers and sighs excited in the saints by the Holy Spirit are according to the will of God.
The Spirit Himself being God leaves no doubt that these prayers are agreeable to God.
So, it is impossible for our cares and needs to be mismanaged
for such intercession is according to the will of God.
Therefore, the thought of the passage is: as God searches the hearts of the children of God,
He finds unuttered and unutterable groanings.
Though they are inarticulate, there is a meaning and content that does not escape our all-seeing and all-knowing heavenly Father.
They are known to Him.
Furthermore, they are in accordance with His will.
I know not, but God knows;
Oh, blessed rest from fear!
All my unfolding days
To Him are plain and clear.
Each anxious, puzzled 'why?'
From doubt or dread that grows,
Finds answer in this thought:
I know not, but He knows.
I cannot, but God can;
Oh, balm for all my care!
The burden that I drop
His hand will lift and bear.
Tho eagle pinions tire,
I'll walk where once I ran,
This is my strength I know
I cannot, but He can.
I see not, but God sees;
Oh, all sufficient light!
My dark and hidden way
To Him is always bright.
My strained and peering eyes
May close in restful ease,
And I in peace may sleep;
I see not, but He sees."
-- Annie Johnson Flint
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White