Friday, August 18, 2017

Romans, part 4, the Intimacy of the Holy Spirit

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 8, we find the ONLY place in all the Scriptures where we learn an intimate fact about the Holy Spirit – that the Spirit prays for the believer:
 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
The Holy Spirit intercedes for us! This is very comforting, as is another verse in Romans – 8:28:
 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
How is this comforting?
Whatever happens, good, bad or tragic, God can bring good from it. I know of a young man whose suicide devastated his family. Yet at the funeral the brave mother begged everyone to refrain from blaming themselves for ignoring the signs or failing to do something to prevent this horrible death. She trusted God and gave a marvelous testimony to her Lord and Savior and because of that thirteen people came forward and were saved. Glory to God! I’m sure there is very little that could comfort a grieving mother, but I am also sure that the Lord did comfort her with the knowledge that so many came to Christ through that tragedy.
Another distinctive passage in Romans is the most severe condemnation of sexual immorality found in the Bible. It comes early on in chapter 1: 24 – 32:
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Do you approve of those who practice these things? It is pretty clear here that you should not. Do not hide behind the “political correctness” of “tolerance.” God does not tolerate these things. You can love the sinner, but hate the sin.