Paul’s primary theme in Romans is that we are saved through faith in Jesus. Another major theme, implied by the first, is that to believe in Jesus is to take on a whole new way of life.
Hence, now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death.
But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness. (Romans 8:1-2, 10)
What does it mean to be alive in the Spirit?
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:14-17)
Receiving the Holy Spirit makes us children of God. Of course, all human beings are God’s children in that He made all of us; yet, we become His children in a particular and special way when we receive the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us that as children of God we no longer need to have a servile fear of God (though a reverent fear, a holy fear is always appropriate). Instead, we are blessed to address the Father as “Abba,” as “Daddy,” just as Jesus did. We are invited into a profoundly intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which Paul calls the Spirit of Christ. We cannot have this close, personal relationship with Father apart from the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who bears witness that we are heirs to the Kingdom of God with Christ our savior and our brother.
Paul reminds us (as Jesus did) that the way to attain the Kingdom is to take up our cross daily and follow Him. But Paul reminds us as well that our earthly sufferings are fleeting, but the Kingdom of God is eternal. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us” (Romans 8:18). Amidst our small and great trials, we should always bear in mind God’s promises to us, and that His words are trustworthy.
The Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will. (Romans 8:26-27)
While the Spirit gives us an intimate relationship with the Father, at times we still struggle to know what to say to God. We should pour our hearts out to God as our closest confidant. Even though He knows everything already, and knows us better than we know ourselves, still it pleases Him, and benefits us, when we confide in Him. But sometimes we don’t know what to say to Him. Or sometimes we pour our hearts out to Him, but somehow still feel there’s more to tell Him, something deep in our hearts that our words cannot express. This is the time to let the Spirit to take over. Let the Spirit talk to the Father for you, and listen to the words God whispers back to you in your heart through the Spirit. This is the hardest part of prayer, but is where the deepest conversion takes place.
One minor footnote: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is a Peanuts comic strip that quotes this passage from Romans. Lucy complains to Linus that his sighs are annoying her. Using a slightly different translation than the one above, Linus tells her, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.” Linus walks away from a startled Lucy with the words, “Romans, eighth chapter.” In the final panel Lucy says to herself, “I don’t know… I’m either going to have to slug him or start going back to Sunday school!”
Image: Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schultz (downloaded from gocomics.com).
Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet every day for the salvation of souls.
Thanks Michael. Your blogs always help me to grow spiritually.