Some mistakenly believe God should spare His people from broken relationships, serious illnesses, financial setbacks, having to pay for breaking the law or facing the consequences of poor choices and sinful decisions. The truth is Christians are not exempt from any of these. However, the Scriptures assure us that we do not have to face life’s trials alone. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Romans 8:26). What a blessing! Often we are weak and ill-prepared for the struggles we must face. Life takes us by surprise. We need help to survive. We need divine help to discover the pathway to peace and inner joy. God provides the help we need, giving us strength to overcome through the work of His Spirit. God is determined that not only will we not lose, but we will win!
How does the Spirit help us?
The Spirit helps us through the written word (the Bible). In the parallel passage to Ephesians 5:18 (“be filled with the Spirit“), the apostle writes in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Reading and taking in the word of God fills us with the Spirit of God. Through the written word the psalmist found strength in his weaknesses. “Strengthen me according to your word” (Psalm 119:28). Reading the word of God every day will fortify us for things we face. Each of us needs to make some time available in our stressful days to read a portion of the word of God. Through the years I have personally found great strength from reading the book of Psalms as well as books of the New Testament like Luke, Philippians and 1st and 2nd Peter. I usually read with a pen in hand, underlining the words and phrases that mean the most to me.
The Spirit also works in a personal way in the Christian’s life. He is not limited to the written word, but works along with the written word to accomplish His purposes. The epistle of Hebrews, for example, describes two things that have impacted Christians: we have “shared in the Holy Spirit, (and we) have tasted the goodness of the word of God” (Hebrews 6:4-5). The two are not synonymous, but work together. In a similar way, Paul instructs Timothy to “guard the good deposit” (that is, the word of God which had been entrusted to him), “with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us” (2 Timothy 1:14). Just as a security officer guards the entrance to a building and protects the people inside, so the Spirit empowered Timothy to guard the word of God. God’s Spirit works in, through and with the written word.
The Holy Spirit helps Christians develop godly character — He produces the “fruit of the Spirit” which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5;22-23). Tragically, some think God is guiding them to teach and practice things that are at variance with the clear and certain teachings of the Bible. But God’s Spirit never strengthens His people to do wrong, to pursue a sinful life or to teach and believe things that contradict His written word, the Scriptures. We should not expect the Holy Spirit to “nudge” or “move” us to do things that God does not approve or to neglect to do what God has commanded us to do. He always works in concert with His written word; He fortifies us to do the right things, not the wrong things. Being “led by the Spirit” is not an excuse for failing to obey God’s will! The Bible says God gives His Spirit to all who “obey Him” (Acts 5:32).
Those who are trying to live according the teaching of Scripture are assured that the Holy Spirit helps them in their weaknesses. They are “strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner being” (Ephesians 3:16). They are being built into a holy temple “to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit”(Ephesians 2:21-22). Everyone who repents and is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins receives “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). By the Spirit’s power they are able to “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (Romans 8:12). When they pray, even though they may not know what to say and how to express their deepest needs, they have the promise that the Spirit “helps us in our weakness,” and “interceeds for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). God knows and understands these groans of the Spirit for “the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:27). The ancient psalmist looked forward to the spiritual power of God’s Spirit. After committing adultery and being weighed down by the guilt of his conduct, David prayed: “Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:11-12). If David needed the joy, peace and sustaining power of a heart cleansed from sin, do we not also need the same today?
Those who are the children of God have this promise: “Your Father in Heaven will give His Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11:13). Those who are not yet the spiritual children of God need to do what the Lord has said they must do to become children of God. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). Have you done what the Bible says all must do to become a “son of God” and to receive this precious gift the Holy Spirit? Make the commitment to obey God’s will. God will give you the power of His Spirit to face today’s struggles. It’s the road to guaranteed success!