If someone said to me, “Mark, you are such a conqueror”, I’d be laughing in this person’s face just like Sarah when she laughed at God for telling her she’d be pregnant. Can’t blame her! She and Abraham were 90 and 100 years of age respectively. But here in Romans 8:37, Paul announces that we are more than conquerors (vs 37)!
Unfortunately, the phrase can conjure up ideas that the Christian life is a walk in a park but it would be a mistake to think that. Here is verse 37 in full, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us”. Two things to point out. First, what is Paul is referring to ‘in all these things’? He lists them in verse 35: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or sword! To be sure we haven’t missed it, Paul follows the list with a quote from Psalm 44 (you should read it!), which is a song of lament and sorrow at God’s seemingly unfair rejection of his people: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered” (vs 36). In other words, we are more than conquerors in the midst of pain and suffering not in the absence of them!
Why do need to be reminded of this? When we find life difficult, we’re quick to conclude that we’ve done something wrong and that God has rejected us but nothing could be further from the truth! Even when we feel like sheep set to be slaughtered or when darkness is our only friend (Ps 88:18), we are more than conquerors because it is ‘through him that loved us’. This is the second thing we see. God’s love is tangible – he demonstrated it by sending his Son to the cross for us. Furthermore, God’s love is entirely based on His character, not our obedience or lack of, nor our goodness or lack of. We can be 100% confident of God’s uncompromising love for us even when we’ve failed Him. Paul emphasises this point through a series of questions he poses, much like a lawyer making his closing argument:
· “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (31)
· “He who did not spare his own Son…how will he not….graciously give us all things? (32)
· “Who will bring any charge against those…God has chosen? It is God who justifies. (33)
· “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died…raised to life…is…interceding for us. (34)
And then his final question “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (35), which sums up the previous questions. He answers it in vs 38-39 with an emphatic, “Nothing!” because God is for us; Jesus died for us, He has justified us. He intercedes for us. Indeed, we are more than conquerors; we are his precious children whom he absolutely loves and adores without question. That is why Paul prayed fervently that with God’s power we would grasp the width, length, height and depth of Christ’s love for us (Ephesians 3:17b-18).
Because of God’s unceasing love for us, we can even be certain then that God can redeem our pain, suffering, affliction and Satan’s attacks to serve his purpose in order to produce an even greater weight of glory than we would have experienced without them (see Gen 50:20). Interestingly, conquering through suffering is one of the major themes of Revelation, with the words, “To conquer” appearing 17 times. Jesus said, “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down my with Father on his throne” (Rev 3:21, ESV).
“Lord, grow our faith in you!”