Sunday Sermon: ‘The Holy Spirit – Our Perfect Prayer Partner’

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As I bring this sermon series on prayer to a close this morning, I have entitled today’s message is – ‘The Holy Spirit, Our Perfect Prayer Partner.’ In this message I want to give you three biblical reasons why you and I should desire to have the Holy Spirit as our constant prayer partner. Turn with me to Romans 8.

I. The Holy Spirit is Our Perfect Prayer Partner Because He Desires to Be an Active Part of Our Lives

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Sometimes people refer to there being many religions in the world, yet actually there are only two religions:

1) A religion based upon what man tries to do for God
2) A religion based upon what God has done for man

A. A Religion Based Upon What Man Tries to Do For God

If you went out in the streets today and did a survey on how we can go to heaven after we die, the vast majority of the answers would fall under the category of us doing something good to make ourselves worthy of heaven. “Live a good life. Be a good person. Love other people.” Even some who call themselves a Christian think that salvation is a system of – God’s grace + our good works.

Yet the Bible tells us that there is nothing we can do that will ever make ourselves worthy of heaven. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” [1] Notice – salvation is a gift based upon God’s grace and not our goodness. If it was based upon our goodness, then it wouldn’t be a gift, neither would God get the glory. Paul tells us that it is not a result of our good works, so that none of us can ever boast about what we have or haven’t done. No one will ever stand before God and say, “You own me.” The only thing God owes us is judgment and death. The Bible says – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [2] Notice, what we deserve is death. ‘Wages’ refers to something that is owed to us because of something we have done. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

There is nothing that you or I could ever do that would make us worthy of God’s love and forgiveness. To prove that we are incapable of becoming good on our own, God gave what the Bible calls ‘the Law.’ The Law includes the Ten Commandments as well as a whole host of other rules and regulations. Notice what the Bible says about us trying to earn God’s favor by keeping the Law.

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh…

The Law of God is not too weak to teach us how to be righteous. The Bible says that the Law is good, just and holy. [3] Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law. I came to fulfill it.” [4] Yet, when it comes to being saved by the Law, there is a weakness. The weakness is not with the standard, but with our ability to keep the standard.

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh…

The Law is not weak. We’re weak. We are incapable of consistently obeying the Law. The Apostle Paul said of himself –

Romans 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

Paul said, “I do not do the things I want to do. Instead, I do the very things I hate.” It’s crazy but it’s true.

Before Paul became a Christian, he tried to obey the Law of God. Yet he was never able to do it. Why? His fallen sinful nature was too weak to enable him keep the Law on his own.

Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Paul had the desire to please God, but he lacked the ability.

Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

This was the cry of Paul’s heart during the years he was a Pharisee. Perhaps there were days when Paul lived a pretty good life and thought that maybe he was finally on the right road. But then, he fell flat on his face spiritually. He did the very thing that he said that he would never do. “Is there any hope?” was the cry in his heart. Then he found the answer.

Romans 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus Christ is the answer to our failures.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…

Our hope is not in ourselves and that we can somehow, someday, become better. Our hope is in the fact that Jesus paid it all and all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow. [5]

I said a moment ago that are two religions in the world:a religion based upon what man tries to do for God, and a religion based upon what God has done for man.

B. A Religion Based Upon What God Did for Man         

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did!

God did what we could never do. What did God do?

1. God Send His Son to Die on the Cross for Our Sins

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 

The Bible says that in the fullness of God’s timetable, God sent His Son to this world to be mankind’s Savior. [6] That is why Paul could say –

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…

In Christ we have a positional righteousness in heaven that is so complete, God is able to declare us legally justified in His sight. To be justified means to be declared completely righteous. To be declared justified in the sight of God does not mean that we are sort of forgiven or that we are temporarily forgiven until the next time we mess up. It means that we are so forgiven that God is able to cast away all of sins as far as the east is from the west.  [7]

Unfortunately that’s as far as some Christians go in their understanding of what it means to be saved. They understand their positional righteousness in Christ, but they fail to understand their practical righteousness through the Holy Spirit.

2. God Sent His Spirit to Dwell Inside of Us

Notice what Paul says. God sent His Son to die in our place for our sins, so that we could begin living a life that would be pleasing to Him.

Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

God’s purpose for our salvation is that we could be declared perfectly righteous before Him in heaven, and made practically righteous as we live here on earth. Finally, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are able to live in a way that accomplishes the righteousness of God’s holy Law.

This is the New Covenant established by the blood of Christ. “I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” [8] It’s the Holy Spirit within the believer that gives them both the desire and the ability to live for God. Therefore – every prayer needs to be a Spirit-filled and Spirit-guided prayer so that we will always pray for the things that pleases God.

Many times when I go to pray, I am not in the right spirit to pray. There’s some sort of sin in my life. As soon as I start to pray, I become conscious of the terribleness of my sin. Sometimes Satan tries to use this sin to build a stronghold in my life. Though I know that I should confess my sin and let go of it, sometimes I don’t want to. Yet the Holy Spirit pleads with me to bow my will before God and seek His forgiveness and cleansing. In almost every prayer I pray, the Spirit has to encourage me to put God back on the throne, and to remove myself.

II. The Holy Spirit is Our Perfect Prayer Partner Because He Desires to Make Our Relationship With God Real and Personal

Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

There is no salvation or relationship with God without the Holy Spirit. It is completely unbiblical to suggest that someone could be a Christian and not have the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that it is by the Spirit that we are born-again unto new life. [9]

As someone has said:

God the Father Planned Our Salvation
God the Son Purchased Our Salvation
God the Spirit Produces Our Salvation

Scripture teaches us that God the Father planned our salvation before He created the world. [10] Scripture also teaches us that God the Son purchased our salvation when He poured out His blood on the cross. [11] But scripture also teaches us that God the Spirit who produces this salvation when He baptizes us into the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. [12] To be baptized into Christ means to be made one with Christ.

At the moment of our salvation, the Spirit takes up permanent residence in us in order to teach and guide us into all truth.

Romans 8:14 For as many as are led (Present Tense –being led) by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

A few years ago Francis Chan wrote a book about the Holy Spirit he entitled – ‘The Forgotten God.’ Recently I listened to a message by John MacArthur in which he stated that the Holy Spirit was the most abused and misunderstood part of the Trinity. As I prepared a slide for my sermon, I tried to think what would best symbolize the Holy Spirit. If you Google for an image of the ‘Holy Spirit’ you get one of two illustrations: a dove, or fire. Yet the Bible does not say that the Holy Spirit is a dove or that He is fire. It says that at certain times He revealed Himself ‘like as’ a dove or fire. The Bible also portrays the Spirit as: wind, rain, cloud, water, oil, and wine.

Yet the Holy Spirit is a spirit, therefore as far as I know, He has not visible image. The Bible also tells us that He is as much a person as God the Father and God the Son. He has a mind and a will. He can be grieved and part of His fruit is joy. He’s not a force or a thing. He is the third part of the Trinity, equal with God the Father and God the Son.

He is dwelling inside of every believer. When Jesus was born they named Him ‘Emmanuel’ which means – God with us. But when the Holy Spirit came, it was – God in us.

To me one of the sweetest parts of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is His work to bring me into deep intimacy with God. By the Spirit, God as my Father becomes a reality. By the Spirit, I recognize that Jesus is elder Brother and Friend. And the Spirit Himself becomes my closest Companion and Helper.

Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear…  

What is the ‘bondage of fear’ that Paul speaks of? It’s the constant fear that we’re not good enough to deserve heaven. And as many of you know, that kind of fear can become bondage. Rather than putting a song in your heart, it puts fear in your heart. Rather than feeling close to God, you feel like you’re at a distance. Rather than praying to God and sharing all of your heart, you try to hide from Him lest He somehow discover that you’re not worthy.

Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 

‘Abba’ is an Aramaic word for father which in our day and age would be translated as ‘daddy.’ God the Father becomes your Daddy. As some have expressed it – praying is like crawling up in Daddy’s lap and being loved.

Therefore every prayer needs to be a Spirit-filled and Spirit-guided prayer so that our relationship with God will become real and personal. Paul said that his supreme desire was not to know more about God, but to know God Himself. [13]

III. The Holy Spirit is Our Perfect Prayer Partner Because He Desires That All of Our Prayers Be Answered

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

If we keep this verse in its original context, we see that Paul has just been talking about us ‘groaning’ over the pressures of life. Not only do we groan about life, so does all of God’s creation. The whole universe is groaning as a result of the curse.

Sometimes life is overwhelming, isn’t it? There’s so much sorrow and sadness to groan over. The word ‘infirmities’ refers to some sort of weakness or inadequacy on our part. It can be a physical weakness, or an emotional weakness, or even a spiritual weakness. Sometimes is just too much for us to handle.

Therefore it is encouraging to know that during such times of exasperation, we have someone who is not only praying ‘with’ us, He is praying ‘for’ us. Paul tells us that when we are overwhelmed and don’t even know how to pray, the Holy Spirit steps in and prays for us with a passion that is so deep that human words cannot express it. Some have interpreted this to mean that the believer prays speaking in tongues. I Corinthians 14 refers to some praying with tongues, however I do not believe that this is what Paul is talking about right here. For one thing, he makes no reference to tongues. The Greek word for tongues is nowhere in this passage. Secondly, it is the Spirit who is praying in this deep supernatural way and not us. We don’t know how to pray. And thirdly, many believe that the phrase ‘which cannot be uttered’ means to pray without words. The power in this passage is not the words that the Spirit uses as He intercedes for us, but the passion in His heart to see us be in the center of God’s will.

Romans 8:27 And he (the Father) that searcheth the hearts (of men) knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He (the Holy Spirit) maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

God may not answer all of our prayers the way that we want Him to, but He will always answer our every prayer in the way the Spirit presents it. Many believe that Paul is saying that the Spirit takes all of our prayers and interprets them, and then presents them in a way that is always pleasing to God. Therefore, every prayer that we pray needs to be a Spirit-filled / Spirit-guided prayer so that God can in His perfect way answer them.

Conclusion

How can we make the Holy Spirit our constant prayer partner? Here are four words that might help us.

1. Presence

Paul says that if anyone doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, that individual is not saved. The Holy Spirit is present in the life of every believer. At the beginning of every prayer, we need to pause for a moment and recognize His presence.

2. Purpose

What is God’s purpose for putting His Spirit in us? It is to help us life out in a practical way the righteousness of the Law. Paul tells us that this righteousness can finally be fulfilled in those who surrender their lives to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

3. Purity

Along with that we must always remember that He is the ‘Holy’ Spirit. The Spirit is never going to be in agreement or in support of anything that is impure. Scripture teaches us that spiritual impurity in the life of a believer ‘grieves’ the Holy Spirit and ‘quenches’ His power.

4. Power

God did not send us His Spirit so that the Spirit could listen to our constant whining or complaining. Perhaps the Spirit might sometimes say to us what Jesus said to the man by the pool of Bethesda – “Do you want to be made whole?” [14] Do you want God’s will in this matter, or do you just want to complain? One of the symbols used in scripture to describe the Holy Spirit is ‘dynamite.’ The word ‘power’ that is often used to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit is the Greek word from which we get the English word dynamite. The Holy Spirit is God’s spiritual dynamite. God has sent us His Spirit to do things beyond what we can even think or imagine.

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[1] Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

[2] Romans 6:23 NIV

[3] Romans 7:12

[4] Matthew 5:17

[5] Elvina M. Hall, 1865.

[6] Galatians 4:4

[7] Psalm 103:12

[8] Ezekiel 36:27

[9] John 3:5-8

[10] Ephesians 1:3-5

[11] 1 Peter 1:18

[12] 1 Corinthians 12:13

[13] Philippians 3:10

[14] John 5:6

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