Peninsula Community Church
More Than Conquerors
June 10, 2018
Romans 8:35, 37-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … ”No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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.
As we look at the words of Paul today, the first realization we have is that life happens. We all face problems, difficulties, and trials. Jesus Himself stated I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Notice what Jesus says. In Him you will have peace, but in the world you will have tribulation. Does this mean that we stick our head in the sand and never interact with the world around us? No, that is not the point at all. What Jesus is encouraging is that when we have a right view of Him, we find our peace in Him. We also find that He will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is focused on Him (Isaiah 26:3). Because our peace is in Him, no matter what comes at us, we will be able to overcome it. To know that He has already overcome the world, should bring us peace.
In our passage, Paul asks somewhat of a rhetorical question which he then answers. He asks “What shall separate us from the love of Christ?” He then proceeds to list a number of things that invade our space and causes problems. Each of these have a potential to disrupt life and cause us to believe that God somehow does not love us any more. In our humanity, apart from God, it seems that any of these things could take us out. We find that tribulation is the pressure that comes from outside. Distress is that pressure that comes from within. And then of course, there is persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword! All of these things impact our lives. All of these things want to take us out.
As Paul lists these possibilities, he emphatically answers the rhetorical question by saying there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Nothing! No thing! No situation! No problem! None of the issues Paul listed is able to separate us from His love. Later in the verse, we find that He goes into even more detail. He says For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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.
To fully understand this, we must understand the love of God. First of all, too often we equate God’s love to human love. When it comes to human love, we have been deceived, forsaken, and forgotten. This world does not always provide us with a good example of love because our view of love is often predicated on our personal experience with love. We tend to place onto God the failures of those who failed us. We place onto God the hurts of those who have hurt us. We place onto God the rejection we have experienced. The result is that we believe that God’s love wavers and ebbs and flows based on how people treat us or what circumstances we face.
But, God’s love does not ebb and flow. God’s love is eternal and it is everlasting. How do we know this? We know this because He loved us before the foundation of the world, and He already had in motion His plan for redemption. The blessing is that you and I are a part of His plan. When He went to the cross, He had you on His mind. He thought of you when He died. When He took His last breath, He had you on His mind. In fact, if you were the only one on earth He would have died and He would have given Himself, just for you. Why? Because He loved you with an everlasting love and He still loves you with that kind of love.
You see unless we understand God’s love the way it really is, we will never understand that His love never fails and that He never fails us. Moses gives us some insight into the love of God in Exodus 34:6-7. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Here is the point. We must understand that God loves us and that His love is not contingent upon the issues we face. He loves us and continues to love us no matter what comes. We know the depth of His love because it cost Him everything. He modeled His love by giving us what we did not deserve and it seems sometimes the more undeserving we feel the more He gives. Only as we recognize God’s love for us can we understand there is nothing that can separate us from His love. So, do you know His love?
Paul says that nothing can separate us from His love but he also helps us to see that because of His love we are more than conquerors. Notice that it is through Christ that we are conquerors. The word Paul uses for conqueror is the word “nikao.” You might be familiar with the word Nike. The word nikao is the word where Nike is derived. Specifically, the verb ‘nikao’ means to conquer, to vanquish, or to overcome.
Secondly, the word conqueror is prefaced by the words “more than.” The idea presented in this phrase is that there is an abundant and an overwhelming ability to conquer. Therefore, we are not just a conqueror, we are more than a conqueror. We do not just get by, but we more than exceed. We do not just conquer, we completely overcome. How often do we live in the mentality that we are going to just get by? We do not exceed expectations, but we stay on the margin. When this happens we can be motivated to settle for less than what God has for us. God’s plan for us is that we will be more than a conqueror. Because of His love, His plan is that we live above and beyond and not to just get by. We must be “more than conquerors.”
The problem is that too often we allow the enemy to get a foothold in our life when we live as a victim rather than a victor. In our society, today, there is a pervasive mindset that we are victims. Thus everyone is a victim and since everyone is a victim we are easily offended. We live as a victim which diminishes our ability to overcome and be effective. Thus succumbing to a victim mentality demoralizes and weakens us. It is almost impossible to walk in victory, as we will always find fault and we will blame others for our failures, our lack of joy, and our ability to move forward in the things of God. Once we renounce a victim mentality, we can begin to take responsibility for our sin, our wrong, and our failures. Then and only then can we accept God’s love. Then and only then can we walk in victory. But as long as we blame others and refuse to take responsibility for our actions, we will not be able to live victoriously and we will certainly not be able accept His love as He meant it.
We must also understand that with all of the tactics of the enemy, Satan lacks the power to steal our eternal destiny, and he cannot separate us from the love of God. The problems of life cannot separate us. Nothing we face worries God in the least. If we are His children through faith in His Son, then we have His pledge of love and protection. In John 10:27–29, Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” Because of Jesus’s resurrection, all threats against you are tamed. Jesus conquered death, so death and evil are not the end of the story.
To be more than a conqueror means that before you ever get a problem, you already know that whatever problem comes your way, you can overcome it through Jesus Christ. You can live with confidence that God loves you no matter what and He will never leave you nor forsake you. That is a promise! When you have this kind of relationship with Christ, you are not constantly afraid of bad news or of things that may happen that are not in your plan. When the unexpected happens or you are disappointed, you will not be devastated by it.
This is an amazing truth and Paul encapsulates all of this in one verse. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Corinthians 4:7-11).
Therefore, since we know that God loves us, we do not have to worry about being destroyed or conquered. We are more than conquerors! We do not have to fear what comes our way. We are more than conquerors! We do not have to worry about any external or internal force overcoming us. We are more than conquerors! He loves us and when we follow Him wholeheartedly, we do not have to fear defeat because He loves us and we are more than conquerors.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom