By Charlie McCall
We Need Christ
God is Himself the grace needed for the Christian life.
Romans 7 depicts the Christian experience when a person attempts to live from the Word of God or from his new orientation (new nature) toward Christ but not from the person of Christ Himself.
That experience is defeat and despair.
The divinely provided resources of the inspired Word, and a new nature that gives hearty agreement with the Word of God, were never intended to be replacements for Christ Himself. They were intended to orient us to Christ and to teach us of Christ, but we must have Christ. That is, we must have His indwelling presence. Only He can save us from our sin, indeed, from ourselves.
The Benefits of the Indwelling Spirit
The indwelling presence of the Spirit of Christ means many things for the believer.
For example, Romans 8 tells us that He lives in us to fulfill all that God requires of us, He sets us free from the law of sin and death, He gives us life and peace; He bears witness of our being children of God; He puts to death the deeds of the body; and He leads us.
All of these things God lives in us to do.
He is the answer to the sin within us.
He is the One Who delivers us from the defeat and despair depicted in Romans 7.
This Fallen World
This is all very true and triumphant. Yet the world we live in is still fallen!
Jesus died for all sin and for all its consequences, including death. Yet, creation is still suffering, and we are still dying.
What Christ has accomplished is clearly not yet fully applied.
We wait and groan with creation for the “not yet” of what God is yet to do. It is the “not yet” which causes us so much heartache, confusion, and even despair. We are prone to wonder if something is wrong with our faith when so much is still so wrong in our circumstances.
While the world remains fallen and our bodies remain unredeemed, we groan in every aspect of our beings.
Sometimes it is simply too much to bear.
For this, too, we need the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit. Creation groans. We groan. And the Holy Spirit groans.
He doesn’t just empathize with us; He is personally pained by the sin that pains this world and pains us.
Sin and death were not God’s will. Sin entered the world because of one man (Adam), and death came through sin. Death spread to all men because all sinned (Rom 5:12). No one hates death more than God does. It is His last enemy (1 Cor 15:26). He despises it. It pains Him to the point of groanings that can’t even be expressed.
Frankly, that comforts me.
The Need to Pray
The world is fallen, and Christ lives in us to be victorious over sin and death. How are we then to pray? Do we pray for healing, or not?
We don’t know.
If God, through Paul, says that believers don’t know how to pray (Rom 8:26) in view of the apparent conflict between the ministry of the Spirit within us and the sin and suffering that is in creation, is it honest to say that we do know?
Only the Spirit knows.
He knows the Father.
And He knows how to pray for us.
He lives in us to intercede for us constantly, correctly, and effectively.
Sometimes, I believe, He will lead us to pray for healing. Sometimes He will tell us not to do so, as Jesus did with Paul in 2 Cor 12:9. Always He will lead us to Christ, remind us that we are His, and give us life and peace. Always. He never lags in His ministry to us.
Be assured, God lives in you to be and to give grace and victory over indwelling sin, and He groans in intercession for you concerning the tragic effects of sin around you. The power of His indwelling life coupled with the fallenness of this world means that we are not always going to know how to pray. It is not unbelief to admit that.
Avoid the ditch of saying there is no healing.
Avoid the other ditch that says He wants everything healed now.
Both are wrong.
In between is great turmoil of soul.
Turn to the One who is living in you, and rest in Him Who knows how to pray for us and Who is constantly doing so.
Thank you, O Lord, for Your indwelling presence which graces us and for Your constant intercession in groanings for us.
Charlie McCall is the General Director of His Hill Bible School and Camp in Comfort, TX.