The Work of the Spirit in the Life of the Believer: Help in Weakness
Because sanctification is a process, and we will not “arrive” until glory, believers still have many weaknesses and shortcomings.
Jesus said, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41, Mark 14:38).
Contrary to popular belief, weakness is not a bad thing. Paul, speaking to the Corinthian church who were proud in their strengths and gifts, says about the nature of salvation, “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27). So by definition, a Christian is someone who is weak (Luke 5:31), Mark 2:17). God has sovereignly ordained our weaknesses and uses them as an instrument for his own glory (2 Co 11:30, 2 Co 12:5). God shows his power through the weak vessel of the believer.
The Christian walk is made up of a weak person trusting in the grace of a powerful Savior, “for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Co 12:10). Christians are constantly weak, so we need constant help from God. Whether it is physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental weakness that we struggle with at any given time, there is great assurance for the fallen, discouraged, depressed, and struggling believer who has grown weary and become weak in the midst of suffering, persecution, depression, and the battle of everyday life.
This assurance comes from the Spirit, who “helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26).
Paul depicts a prayer of complete weakness; in the darkest of nights when the believer’s weakness is so intense that he is not capable of expressing all of the turmoil that is within, the Spirit himself is at work. Sinclair Ferguson helpfully compares this being like “the grunts or groans of those whose cerebral abilities have been impaired, yet which are marvellously interpreted by their loved ones”. God pours out his unfathomable, fatherly love on the believer’s heart through the Spirit (Rom. 5:5).