More than Conquerors

Romans 8 is my favorite chapter in the Bible. It has also been argued by some to be the greatest chapter in all the Bible. That’s not the focus of this post, but I did preface it that way for a reason.

As we continue to push through this global pandemic, people are looking for hope; something to grasp onto in these times of uncertainty and potential danger. And what better hope to give them than knowing that no matter what happens, God is for them and nothing that is thrown at us will be able to separate us from him? So we come to Romans 8:31-39. Let’s read this:

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

   we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There is so much to observe here, so let’s get right into it.

In verse 31, Paul asks what our response is to “these things.” What exactly are “these things”? Verse 31 comes off a string of verses in which Paul writes of an unbreakable chain of events that happen between when a person is foreknown by God and when they are glorified by God in their resurrected bodies at the second coming of Christ. In this, he says, “Those whom he foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30). Notice the common theme: All who are foreknown are predestined; all who are predestined are called; all who are called are justified; all who are justified are glorified. No one is lost between being foreknown and glorified. What a wonderful promise! Jesus spoke similar words when he said “I should lose nothing of all that he has given me,” (John 6:39) and “they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my [and the Father’s] hand” (John 10:28-29). So what Paul means by “these things,” is God’s unbreakable chain of events of drawing a believer to himself from start to finish. How then do we respond to this? “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (8:31). We will come back to this statement later.

Moving onto the next verses, we see one of the most amazing statements in all the Bible. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (v.32). Imagine for a second (not too long) that you are in God’s position. If you are a parent, imagine giving up your child so that your enemies could have a relationship with you (Romans 5:10). If you’re not a parent, think of someone who is close to you and you deeply care about. Now, multiply that love you have for someone else by infinity and that’s how much the Father loves the Son, yet “[God]…did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (8:32). But it doesn’t end there.

God not only gave up Jesus for us so that we can have a relationship with him, but he will also “graciously give us all things” (v.32). What does Paul mean by “all things”? Let’s look at what Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-33. To paraphrase, he tells us to not be anxious about what we will eat or drink or wear because God takes care of the birds and the lilies, and we are of much more value than them so we can trust that God will also provide for us. Jesus says to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). So “these things” that Jesus refers to and “all things” that Paul refers to mean this: God will give us everything we need to fulfill our purpose here on earth, which is glorify him. You will never be left alone or forsaken (Hebrews 13:5).

I want to briefly point out one more quick thing about the Matthew verses before we get back into our Romans text. Jesus says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Added. That means that there is something that comes before food, drink, clothing, and other things we see as essential to living. There is something even more vital to living than those things. This is the very hand of God himself. Job 12:10 says, “In [the Lord’s] hand is the life of everything living thing and the breath of all mankind,” and Acts 17:28 echos this saying, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” We were created by God and through God and exist solely for God (Colossians 1:15-17). Now, back to Romans.

Let’s lump the next four verses together.

33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

   we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Knowing what we now know from verses 31-32, all of this makes sense. If there is an unbreakable chain of events of God drawing a believer to himself from start to finish, and if we know that God will always provide for us, then we can only conclude that no one or nothing can ever bring us down in regards to God’s plan and purpose for our life. If God says it, then who can stop it? When Paul says, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies,” think of God as saying, “You’re mine! I bought you from your life of sin and slavery by the blood of my Son. All of that garbage is behind you. It doesn’t have power over you anymore. It can no longer cause you to take your eyes off me. You’re mine, and I will never let go.” Moving onto the last set of verses, we see this idea expanded even more.

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There are two important words here I want to focus on. They are the words “in” and “more than.” Let’s start with in.

Paul says, “In all these things,” meaning that despite all of the hardships and struggles he lists off in verse 35, he tells us “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (v.37). What does it mean to be more than a conqueror? We know what it means to be a conqueror of something, but more than that? I think what Paul means by this is the same idea he conveys in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities, for when I am weak, then I am strong.

To be more than a conqueror means that we not only defeat our struggles and hardships by the power of Christ, but it also means that we use them to magnify Christ. Look again at what Paul says. “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me…for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Strong not by his own power or doing, but strong by the power of Christ. Even our struggles are meant to glorify Christ.

Let’s apply this to our current situation. Will a virus separate us from the love of God? Will uncertainty separate us? Will the loss of a job separate us? Will being stuck in our houses all day separate us? Will lack of food because of a lack of money due to the loss of a job separate us? Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew we looked at.

No. None of these things, “nor anything else in all creation, will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord…If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:39, 31).

He will always provide for our every need, especially the most basic of them, which is himself. So “Ask [for God], and [he] will be given to you; seek [God], and you will find [him]; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

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