What does it mean that we are more than conquerors?
Romans 8:37 “Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
In order to fully understand and grasp the victory in this saying, we must read a few verses before this in v35 and v36.
Romans 8:35 says “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?.” Then Romans 8:36 goes onto say “As it is written “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are account as sheep for the slaughter.”
We see Paul asking this question, “who can separate us from the love of Christ?”, it is important to also take notice of the answer he provides in v37. What we notice from his response is that, rather than simply saying, No, such powerless things can separate us from the love of God, instead he says “Yet in all things” meaning that while we are in the midst of our distress, while we are encircled by our enemies, while we feel hopeless, in the midst of all of this, he says we are more than conquerors.
There are so many illustration from the Bible of God bringing miraculous victory to His people, Israel. Humanly speaking Israel was no match for the enemies. God told them not to be afraid, and that He would fight their battles for them as it says in Exodus 14:14 “The Lord shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” We also see that in Jeremiah 1:19, it says “They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,” says the LORD, “to deliver you.””
This is also suggesting, that in the midst of all of this there is something we need to do as well, so that whatever trouble or issue we are in, they will not exercise their effect on us. There are 3 things we can look at to understand and prevail in our battles and storms:
1. The powerless enemies of love
Paul provides a list of these enemies in v35, “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”. He begins with the word that covers all afflictions, “tribulation (a cause of great trouble or suffering“), then he goes onto specify its various forms. Distress – extreme anxiety, sorrow or pain, followed by persecution – being ill treated for Christ’s sake, then he goes onto physical enemies. hunger and nakedness, then back to peril or sword. These are the storms of life and the tribulations we go through yet Paul laughs at them all, because they are all powerless and ineffective when compared to the love of Christ which shields us from them all.
Also notice that in this triumphant question, Paul does not mean our love to Christ, but he is talking about Christ’ love to us. Is there anything in this world that can stop Christ from loving us? There is no denying that these afflictions have power to separate and to wound. They can separate us from joy, from hope, from almost all things that makes life desirable. They can do everything but cannot touch our soul. For example, it is like when the frost comes and browns the leaves, freezes a flowing river, casts mists and darkness over the land, but it cannot touch the life that is at its root. Praise God!
All of these calamities have power over the outward life and can rob us of our joy and hope, and can push people to their darkest levels and solitude, but it cannot touch to the smallest degree the bond that binds our heart to Jesus, nor in any measure affect the flow of His love to us. As it says in Psalms 73:26 “My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
You don’t need to be afraid of anything being taken from you as long as you have Christ. You will not always be in a hopeless conditions, as long as Christ who is our hope, always speaks His faithful promises to you. Not even when you feel you are at your darkest or loneliest place, remember His unchanging love for you and the promise given in Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
So now we know that none of these things have power over the fact of Christ’s love for us, but the one power they do have is over our consciousness of that love. In the midst of our situation, and in the midst of our pain we can lose the assurance of His presence and His love. Not only in our sorrowful situation, but also when we are enticed by the false promises and lusts of this world. Remember that no tribulation can strip us of His love but that tribulation may darken our perception that we cannot see the sun, or feel His love and His mercy.
Therefore we need to recognize and never underestimate the powerlessness of such foes, but understanding the danger that these sorrows and even the blessings of our outward life of covering our consciousness of His great love for us, so that they do not come between us and the love of the loving Christ.
2. The abundant victory of love (more than conquerors)
As it says Romans 8:37 “Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Paul is not simply saying that we will be victorious over our calamities, but he is saying that we are ‘more than conquerors’. Not that we are victorious just by a hairs breadth out of the jaws of defeat. What is this abundant victory? There must be something more than just victory to correspond to the power of the victorious Christ that is in us. We not only hinder the trials and tribulations that come against us but we convert them into our helpers and allies. This is what it means to be more than a conqueror, to convert the enemy conquered into a friend and a helper. The pain conquered transforms into our strength, the sorrow conquered transforms into our joy, the famine conquered transforms into our feast, the nakedness becomes into blessedness, the sword transforms into peace. By overcoming and converting these enemies, we become more stronger and more rooted to fight every battle that comes against us, through Christ’ love.
Note then that, not only is the victory more than bare victory, but it has converted our enemies into our allies. These are the victories that are won while we are in the strife. It is not that we shall be conquerors in some far off heaven when we are no longer in this strife, but it is the here and now, in the hand to hand and the foot to foot death grapple that we do overcome.
So then we conquer the world, but the real victory arrives when we point all this to your conscious possession of the love of Christ. That is the real victory. This is the only real victory in life. If the world has helped you to lay hold of Christ, then you conquered it, but if the world has loosened your grasp of the Lord Jesus Christ, then it has conquered you.
3. The love that makes us conquerors
In v35, Paul is asking who can separate us from the love of Christ? Romans 8:35 says “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation,..” His answers by saying that none of these sorrows and afflictions can, and when they tighten their grip in us, we actually become more than conquerors. This great love of the Lord Jesus Christ from which nothing can separate us, will use the very things that seem to threaten our separation as a means of coming nearer to us in its depth and preciousness. The cross is the key to all tribulation, and shows it to be a token and an instrument of an unchanging love.
It is the great love of Christ that helps us to conquer because in His sufferings and death, He becomes the companion of all the weary. The rough, dark, lonely roads changes its look when we see His footprints there, not without specks of blood in them, where the thorns tore His feet. We ultimately conquer our afflictions when we recognize that in all our afflictions He was afflicted, and that He has gone through all that we have gone through. This one thought of the companionship of the Christ in our sorrows makes us more than conquerors.
Finally, Christ communicates to us all. Our sorrows and distractions seek to drag us away from Him. But because He holds us, we shall not be dragged away , by anything outside of our own weak and wavering souls. Every calamity may come against us and take everything away from us, but the one thing it cannot do is to separate us from the love of Christ, unless we ourselves throw Him away. In this we shall conquer as it says in Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony,…”
Bible reading: New King James Version (NKJV)
Sources: various Bible commentaries