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And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

I don’t know about you, but this verse has stirred up many different emotions for me over the years. There are times when I am praising God for this promise, and then there are times when this verse is hard to swallow. Suffering is a mixed bag of feelings. 

Last month I was in a Bible study with some sweet friends and we were unpacking this verse. I think this might have been the first time I realized where this verse is placed in Scripture. Often we quote one verse but don’t take the time to read the whole passage surrounding it to get the full context. Tonight was different. 

The previous month we had studied Romans 8:1-16 as a group. Romans 8 is chock full of promises and truth!! Let me summarize the beginning of the chapter so that we can fully understand Romans 8:28 at the end.

  • Romans 8:1 says, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” God does not discipline us by shaming us and inflicting guilt and judgment. We belong to Christ when we make Him Lord of our lives.
  • Romans 8:2 says, “Because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Because of what Jesus did we are free from the penalty of our sins. He died so we do not have to. 
  • Romans 8:6 says, “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” We have the mind of Christ. Therefore we can have life and peace instead of death.
  • Romans 8:9-11 says, “You are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by the same Spirit living within you.” We have the wonderful gift of Christ living inside of us through Holy Spirit. Because He is inside us, we are righteous in God’s eyes. 
  • Romans 8:12 says, “Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” I love this call to action. We have no obligation to continue to sin. With Holy Spirit’s help, we can make wise and Godly choices. 

So in these verses we learn that we belong to Christ. That Christ died so we do not have to.  Because Holy Spirit lives inside us, we do not have to obey our flesh and sin. This is all wonderful news, but then there is this reality check. We live in a fallen world full of sin. Sometimes our own sin, and sometimes the sin of others directly affects us. What do we do in those situations?

To really embrace the promise and feel the hope of verse 28 you need to back up two verses.

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” Romans 8:26-27

We are weak and we need help! I know for some of us that is hard to admit. We like doing it ourselves and maybe even have a sense of pride for being able to. But God created us for relationship. He created us to NEED Him. We were not created to do this alone. Humility is a beautiful place. When we admit our weakness and ask for God’s help, miracles start happening. 

What next?

Have you ever been in a situation where you have absolutely no idea how to pray? These verses show us two different times when praying with the Holy Spirit is very beneficial. The first is when we are at a loss for words. Several years ago we found ourselves in a very dark place. There was confusion, hurt, disappointment and depression. I can so relate to “groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” How beautiful it is that we have Holy Spirit who can meet us in our deep groans and understand them completely. Then He speaks to our Father God on our behalf so that we can know exactly what to do. 

The second is when we don’t know God’s will for a situation. We have had that happen before when a job opportunity has unexpectedly come up. We weren’t looking for a new job and were content with our current job situation. In this opportunity we were unsure about which way to go so we were so thankful to have Holy Spirit guide our prayers so we could line them up with God’s will, whatever it was for us. 

These two verses show us that Holy Spirit understands what we are going through. He knows and sees our pain, our tears, our confusion and our need. He steps in the gap to pray to God on our behalf. To pray when we can no longer muster the words and to pray when we don’t know what to pray. It is in the context of these two verses that we have the promise of verse 28. 

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28

When we read Romans 8 as a whole we learn that we belong to Christ. Because we belong to Christ, we are free from the penalty of death. Oh Praise God!! Christ took our punishment (death) and gave us peace and life instead. YAY!! Holy Spirit now lives inside of us. What a gift! He gives us power to live by the Spirit instead of allowing our flesh to control us. We are human and we are weak but Holy Spirit is there to help us in our weakness. When we are at a loss for words, He prays for us. There are times when we don’t know what God’s will is, He does and prays in agreement with that. When we allow Holy Spirit to rule in our lives we have the glorious promise that EVERYTHING will work together for good because we love God and He has a purpose for our lives. Praise God!! 

Holy Spirit’s Power

What situation is going on in your life that you want God to make a bad situation turn into good? Have you tapped into the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit to help make it happen? What promise of Romans 8 do you need to remind yourself of? Maybe that Jesus took our punishment and we are made right with God? Maybe we need to use Holy Spirit’s power to be controlled by the Spirit and not by the flesh? I know I need to frequently ask Holy Spirit to pray for me in situations where I see no hope and in other situations where I don’t know which way to go. What is amazing is each new day we have a new choice. His mercies are new every day. At any point we can make the choice to tap into the Holy Spirit’s power and guidance and take that first step towards life and peace. 

I want to leave you with the promise given at the end of chapter 8. Guys, this really is an amazing chapter that we need to commit to our hearts and mind!  

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that NOTHING can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow- not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below- indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:37-39


Parenting Tip: When your child needs to make a decision, do you point them to the Holy Spirit? Instead of telling them what to do, ask them to spend time praying and asking God what to do first. Then have a conversation about the options. Ask them what they feel like the Holy Spirit is guiding them to do. Talk about it if it lines up with Scripture and if it seems like the best option. The Holy Spirit is available to your children just like He is available to you! 

Marriage Tip: What big decision do you need to make? What small decision do you have? Is there a situation in your lives that has left you confused and unsure of what to do? Spend some time with your spouse this week talking over the situation and then spend 5 minutes in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to guide your next step. See if He speaks the same thing to both of you. (If He doesn’t keep praying, He will lead you to unity!)


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