The Groaning of the Spirit

Donnie Berry explains that He's groaning for our sanctification.

Donnie Berry’s article on the work of the Holy Spirit as developed by Paul in Romans 5-8 is a most helpful contribution to our understanding of the work of sanctification (“Groaning for Glory: Another Look at the Spirit’s Intercession in Romans 8:26-27,” JETS, June 2020.

Dr. Berry shows clearly that the end of our sanctification is glory, to be transformed increasingly and ultimately into the image of Jesus Christ. The Spirit is the love of God at work within us, using our afflictions to grow us in hope and trust, and thus to enable us to realize more of the glory of Christ.

As we grow in glory, even the creation around derives benefits from this, since we bring our sanctified life to bear on creation and everything in it. The Spirit helps us in this process through His groaning in us in prayer, seeking through words we long to say but cannot utter greater heights of attainment of the glory of God.

This is a helpful article, though Dr. Berry seems a bit ambivalent about the role of God’s Law in the sanctifying work of the Spirit. In one place, he gives the clear impression that Christians no longer have any obligation to the Law, even though, in another place, he explains that the Spirit writes the Law on our hearts. Why would He bother, if we did not need to nurture love for and obedience to that Law, drawing on His instruction and power to those ends? He does not mention Paul’s comment that the mind of the Spirit submits to the Law (Rom. 8.5-9), and that Paul establishes the Law in us as a pathway for righteousness (Rom. 3.31. 7.12).

I suspect, however, that the role of Law in sanctification not being his primary interest, Dr. Berry simply chose to focus more on the Spirit, Who works with the Law as He groans within us to bring us further along in our sanctification (cf. Ezek. 36.26, 27).

This is a very useful article, especially because of its focus on the Spirit’s work of transforming us from glory to glory into the image of Jesus Christ.


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