© Carlos Padilla, October 2019


The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Sanctification of the Believer – Romans 8:26-27

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

We can trust that the Spirit of God will do His work in us, because He intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, according the will and faithfulness of God.

Abraham heard God promise that he would be father of nations of people. At that moment he had no son, he had not received circumcision as a sign of covenant, he had not spoken to Sarah, ninety years old, for what we could say he was in weakness, or should we say something stronger, like with no hope, with no options? God was telling him something unbelievable (Gn. 15:1-21). If this was not enough God said to Abram (He had not changed his name yet) that He would give the land to his descendents. Then He gave him the sigh of the covenant in the circumcision (Gn. 17). We could say that the Spirit of God “helped him in his weakness” (Ro. 8:26) interceded for him, gave him faith, helped him pray. But where our heart shrinks is in (Gn. 22) when, after God doing the miracle of Abraham and Sarah have Isaac, God asks to have in offered in sacrifice. And we see the patriarch taking his beloved son, his only, born in his old age, with the wood to give him to God. How could a man of God do such a thing? Again I cannot find another explanation than the Holy Spirit helping Abraham in his weakness with something more than groanings which cannot be uttered. However God, after providing an animal and avoiding Abraham the suffering of offering his son, He sacrifices His, Jesus Christ, for His love for us. In our lives there are occasions similar to Abraham’s. I do not know how many of you have had to face losing what has taken many years and suffering, give to you by God in your lives, but there is a reason why God does this: only He must take the first place in our heart. The Holy Spirit is always going to be with us and by our side to give us superhuman strength for the key moments of our lives; such is His love for us.

The meaning of “sanctification” is to set aside, and in our case, for God. The terms kadosh in Hebrew for holy, and hagios in Greek verb,jagiazo, to make holy. This work of sanctification of the Holy Spirit (1 Co. 6:11) is part of the actions that prove the divinity of the Holy Spirit as Ryrie comments. Also Millar Erickson tells of the work of sanctification of the believer made by the Holy Spirit as a prove of the love of God which includes: Benevolence, Grace, Mercy, Perseverance. But from the love and the justice of God I want to focus on “perseverance (Hebrew: ‘erek ‘appayin –Ex. 34-6; and Greek makrothumia)” with reference to that continuous work of sanctification, at the time which has been a work of essence, which shows His love for us. God’s love includes having put in us His Holy Spirit making us His temple, from where we claim “Abba, Father” every day and in every moment having given us an eternal link with the Father, in Christ (1 John 1:3).

(8:26, 27) in the same way as we groan (8:19-22) and creation groans (8:23-25) we now see that also the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Or weakness refers to our limitations as believer, how many times we pray egoistically! And now He helps us in prayer interceding for us so that our prayer is effective towards the needs of the holy and ours, because He know them better than us and considers us beloved children with whom to share. He receives us to intercede with spiritual groanings before the Father, bringing us peace by knowing He is guiding us to intercede and carry the burden for that which God has for us; this implies both to ask, as to seek and wait for answer, an experience fruit of the intimacy with Christ in prayer with the Holy Spirit, in the permanent work of sanctification of the believer. The sanctification of the believer has always been one of the battle horses of theology, for in Catholicism and his shared work, Luther and Calvin in the one of the Holy Spirit as far as possible, with true possibility of reaching perfection, but rarely is achieved in this life; however Wesley insisted in preaching Christian perfection.

We conclude that the greater our groaning, greater glory we will receive because God has foreseen that in our suffering the Spirit is interceding with groanings greater than ours, as well as animating that every suffering will not be wasted, but have a purpose, for God has power to change pain into blessing making us more similar to the Son. This gives us believer’s great tranquillity, as Stanley comments. Roman believers did not have it easy many times; nor we sometimes have it easy, but God comforts us and we must trust Him. The weaker we are in the spirit the stronger the Spirit is in us. The Saturday before a Sunday when I had to preach I was not able to concentrate due to a family problem as my daughter was facing a hard time before going to university –those who are parents of older children will know what I mean– I tried to have another brother preach but finally I put my trust in the Lord and went with only the basic ideas; it was one of the best and more profound sermons for the unity of the church despite the difficulties. Swindoll briefs some interesting points: Do not give for granted that suffering is the result of the punishment of God. Wait for the suffering to end, God will give you greater joy. Do not give for granted that the Lord has abandoned you. Confess your fear and doubt and pray for strength to keep going. Do not give for granted that God has rejected or forgotten you. Continue faithful, even if your burden has to be reduced in a temporary way. Do not give for granted that your prayers have not been heard. Keep praying, even when you don’t know what to say (the Holy Spirit intercedes with groanings which cannot be uttered). Do not give for granted that your suffering allows for you to quit. Trust that God will give you strength in your weakness. Vila-Escuain in their Biblical Dictionary also expose how Romans 8 teaches that the redemptory work of Christ provides spiritual renovation, and the complete sanctification, until the final triumph of those who are in Christ. In the same way Charles Spurgeon in his inspired book “Holy Spirit” that precisely the work of the Holy Spirit is the one that carries us to rejoice in the presence of the Father after having made us in Christ by praying with Him. Charles Ryrie teaches that in practice and by experience, the fullness of the Spirit is the more relevant of the aspects of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Through the fullness the ministries are carried out in us and from us. For the work of sanctification of the Holy Spirit in the believer it is required maturity, time and continuous control under His power. A requirement for the believer is to be full of the Spirit, something that repeats, differently that baptism, presence, the seal or the regeneration. The apostles were full in Pentecost (Acts 2:4) and then before the Sanhedrin (4:31), but the condition is obedience.  

Finally, the same as Paul reminds the roman believers that if they continue to trust in the work of sanctification of the Holy Spirit they would understand that the gifts are the fruit of the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, this must also be a reminder to all of us; true sanctification is that which depends on the Holy Spirit, Whom also administers and works in us the use of His gifts, as well as the calling to the ministries, like missions. But about gifts and ministries we will talk in another occasion.


I close this exposition as I started, talking about that special Friend to Whom we own our daily life, if we love Him, if it heart us to be separated from Him, if, finally and like the inspired Text of Paul, that such special Friend inhabits us. Those of you who know Him will appreciate who painful is to lose to be close to Him and the intimacy with Him, because they have been anointed with His presence, have seen His work in their lives and in those they love and pray for. But the conclusion must be clear and not to be forgotten, God sees our heart and knows how much we love Him and that we do not want to lose not a bit of His presence in our lives in this world while we wait the perfect, and it is precisely for that, that the Text sais: “...the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (8:26) such is His love for us that does not allow for the relationship with Him depends only on us. No matter how much we pray, fight, study the Word, fast and suffer so that He does not depart from our side, remember that we depend on Him, have given us to Him and He loves us. If we believe that it is hard to walk in the Spirit, we shall pray, because the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. If any still doubt if they have the Spirit, pray because the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And if we do not know what how to pray, pray, pray, because the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Whatever our burden today, God knows what each one of us is going through and our personal weaknesses, of the family, financial or spiritual that each one of you is facing today, and I do not say that life in this world is easy, but we have the earnest of the Spirit and can be sure of one thing which is stronger than everything we may do, and is that our sanctification –that intimate and precious relationship impossible to acquire without the Holy Spirit inhabiting in us to enter in the Holy Place of the heart of God, tearing the veil of our flesh– depends on the work of the Holy Spirit in the sanctification of the believer. May God bless and sanctify you!



  • For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Prophecy of Isaiah 9:6.

  • I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6. Words of Yahshua - Jesus Christ.
  • You want to know God, but you know the way is not through organized religion, nor by sects, nor by society. The world has failed. ...I pray for them;  I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours... John 17:9. Prayer of Yahshua - Jesus Christ.

  • If you really seek God, begin today the new life though the true hand of God. The Gospel is the message for all nations, no matter their race, their origins or culture. God is the saviour of those from humanity who open their hearts to Him.

  • ...Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.  1Corinthians 15:58.

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