The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities - The same Spirit, το πνευμα, mentioned before as bearing witness with ours that we are the children of God; and consequently it is not a disposition or frame of mind, for the disposition of our mind surely cannot help the infirmities of our minds.
The word συναντιλαμβανεται is very inadequately expressed by helpeth. It is compounded of συν, together, αντι, against, and λαμβανομαι, to support or help, and signifies such assistance as is afforded by any two persons to each other, who mutually bear the same load or carry it between them. He who prays, receives help from the Spirit of God; but he who prays not receives no such help. Whatever our strength may be, we must put it forth, even while most implicitly depending on the strength of God himself.
For we know not what we should pray for as we ought - And should therefore be liable to endless mistakes in our prayers, if suitable desires were not excited by the Holy Spirit and power received to bring these desires, by prayer, before the throne of grace.
But the Spirit itself - Αυτο το πνευμα, The same Spirit, viz. the Spirit that witnesses of our adoption and sonship, Romans 8:15, Romans 8:16, makes intercession for us. Surely if the apostle had designed to teach us that he meant our own sense and understanding by the Spirit, he never could have spoken in a manner in which plain common sense was never likely to comprehend his meaning. Besides, how can it be said that our own spirit, our filial disposition, bears witness with our own spirit; that our own spirit helps the infirmities of our own spirit; that our own spirit teaches our own spirit that of which it is ignorant; and that our own spirit maketh intercession for our own spirit, with groanings unutterable? This would have been both incongruous and absurd. We must therefore understand these places of that help and influence which the followers of God receive from the Holy Ghost; and consequently, of the fulfillment of the various promises relative to this point which our Lord made to his disciples, particularly in John 14:16, John 14:17, John 14:26; John 15:26, John 15:27; John 16:7; and particularly John 16:13, John 16:14; : Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.
Likewise the Spirit - This introduces a new source of consolation and support, what is derived from the Spirit. It is a continuation of the argument of the apostle, to show the sustaining power of the Christian religion. The “Spirit” here undoubtedly refers to the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us, and who strengthens us.
Helpeth - This word properly means, to sustain with us; to aid us in supporting. It is applied usually to those who unite in supporting or carrying a burden. The meaning may be thus expressed: “he greatly assists or aids us.”
Our infirmities - Assists us in our infirmities, or aids us to bear them. The word “infirmities” refers to the weaknesses to which we are subject, and to our various trials in this life. The Spirit helps us in this,
(1)By giving us strength to bear them;
(2)By exciting us to make efforts to sustain them;
(3)By ministering to us consolations, and truths, and views of our Christian privileges, that enable us to endure our trials.
For we know not - This is a specification of the aid which the Holy Spirit, renders us. The reasons why Christians do not know what to pray for may be,
(1)That they do not know what would be really best for them.
(2)they do not know what God might be willing to grant them.
(3)they are to a great extent ignorant of the character of God, the reason of his dealings, the principles of his government, and their own real needs.
(4)they are often in real, deep perplexity. They are encompassed with trials, exposed to temptations, feeble by disease, and subject to calamities. In these circumstances, if left alone, they would neither be able to bear their trials, nor know what to ask at the hand of God.
But the Spirit itself - The Holy Spirit; Romans 8:9-11.
Maketh intercession - The word used here ὑπερεντυνγχάνει huperentungchaneioccurs no where else in the New Testament. The word ἐντυνγχάνω entungchanōhowever, is used several times. It means properly to be present with anyone for the purpose of aiding, as an advocate does in a court of justice; hence, to intercede for anyone, or to aid or assist in any manner. In this place it simply means that the Holy Spirit greatly assists or aids us; not by praying for us, but in our prayers and infirmities.
With groanings - With sighs, or that deep feeling and intense anxiety which exists in the oppressed and burdened heart of the Christian.
Which cannot be uttered - Or rather, perhaps, which is not uttered; those emotions which are too deep for utterance, or for expression in articulate language. This does not mean that the Spirit produces these groanings; but that in these deep-felt emotions, when the soul is oppressed and overwhelmed, he lends us his assistance and sustains us. The phrase may be thus translated: “The Spirit greatly aids or supports us in those deep emotions, those intense feelings, those inward sighs which cannot be expressed in language, but which he enables us to bear, and which are understood by Him that searcheth the hearts.”
There is in genuine faith a buoyancy, a steadfastness of principle, and a fixedness of purpose that neither time nor toil can weaken. “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:30, 31. COL 147.1
There are many who long to help others, but they feel that they have no spiritual strength or light to impart. Let them present their petitions at the throne of grace. Plead for the Holy Spirit. God stands back of every promise He has made. With your Bible in your hands say, I have done as Thou hast said. I present Thy promise, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” COL 147.2
We must not only pray in Christ's name, but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This explains what is meant when it is said that the Spirit “maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26. Such prayer God delights to answer. When with earnestness and intensity we breathe a prayer in the name of Christ, there is in that very intensity a pledge from God that He is about to answer our prayer “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20. COL 147.3Read in context »
(Romans 8:26; Hebrews 4:16.) Heaven Open to Petitions—[Matthew 3:13-17 quoted.] What does this scene mean to us? How thoughtlessly we have read the account of the baptism of our Lord, not realizing that its significance was of the greatest importance to us, and that Christ was accepted of the Father in man's behalf. As Jesus bowed on the banks of Jordan and offered up His petition, humanity was presented to the Father by Him who had clothed His divinity with humanity. Jesus offered Himself to the Father in man's behalf, that those who had been separated from God through sin, might be brought back to God through the merits of the divine Petitioner. Because of sin the earth had been cut off from heaven, but with His human arm Christ encircles the fallen race, and with His divine arm He grasps the throne of the Infinite, and earth is brought into favor with heaven, and man into communion with his God. The prayer of Christ in behalf of lost humanity cleaved its way through every shadow that Satan had cast between man and God, and left a clear channel of communication to the very throne of glory. The gates were left ajar, the heavens were opened, and the Spirit of God, in the form of a dove, encircled the head of Christ, and the voice of God was heard saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 5BC 1078.1
The voice of God was heard in answer to the petition of Christ, and this tells the sinner that his prayer will find a lodgment at the throne of the Father. The Holy Spirit will be given to those who seek for its power and grace, and will help our infirmities when we would have audience with God. Heaven is open to our petitions, and we are invited to come “boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” We are to come in faith, believing that we shall obtain the very things we ask of Him (The Signs of the Times, April 18, 1892). 5BC 1078.2
The Sound of a Death Knell—When Christ presented Himself to John for baptism, Satan was among the witnesses of that event. He saw the lightnings flash from the cloudless heavens. He heard the majestic voice of Jehovah that resounded through heaven, and echoed through the earth like peals of thunder, announcing, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” He saw the brightness of the Father's glory overshadowing the form of Jesus, thus pointing out with unmistakable assurance the One in that crowd whom He acknowledged as His Son. The circumstances connected with this baptismal scene were of the greatest interest to Satan. He knew then for a certainty that unless he could overcome Christ, from thenceforth there would be a limit to his power. He understood that this communication from the throne of God signified that heaven was now more directly accessible to man than it had been, and the most intense hatred was aroused in his breast. 5BC 1078.3Read in context »
15-21 (1 Timothy 1:9, 10; James 1:22-25; see EGW on 2 Corinthians 3:6-9). Not Obedient, but Transgressors, Under Bondage—Paul in his Epistle to Timothy describes the very men who are under the bondage of the law. They are the transgressors of the law. He names them lawless, disobedient, sinners, unholy, profane, murderers, adulterers, liars, and all who depart from sound doctrine. 1 Timothy 1:9, 10. 6BC 1077.2
The law of God is the mirror to show man the defects in his character. But it is not pleasant to those who take pleasure in unrighteousness to see their moral deformity. They do not prize this faithful mirror, because it reveals to them their sins. Therefore, instead of instituting a war against their carnal minds, they war against the true and faithful mirror, given them by Jehovah for the very purpose that they may not be deceived, but that they may have revealed to them the defects in their character. 6BC 1077.3Read in context »
Some seem to feel that they must be on probation and must prove to the Lord that they are reformed before they can claim his blessing. But these dear souls may claim the blessing of God even now. They must have his grace, the spirit of Christ to help their infirmities, or they cannot form Christian characters. Jesus loves to have us come to Him just as we are—sinful, helpless, dependent. We claim to be children of the light, not of the night nor of darkness; what right have we to be unbelieving?—The Review and Herald, April 22, 1884. 3SM 150.1Read in context »