More than Conquerors
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
It is a great thing to be a conqueror in the common Christian life and conflict. It is a much greater thing to be a conqueror “in all these things” which the apostle names, an outright host of trials, troubles, and foes. But what does it mean to be “more than conquerors”?
1. It means to have a decisive victory.
There are some victories that cost nearly as much as defeats, and a few more such triumphs would annihilate us. There are some battles which have to be renewed again and again until we are exhausted with the ceaseless strife. Many a Christian is kept in constant warfare through lack of courage to venture on a bold and final contest and end the strife by a decisive victory. It is blessed to so die to sin that we are “dead indeed” (Romans 6:11); to so yield to God that the last strand of the heart’s reluctance is severed (Romans 6:13); to so refuse the imposter enemy that he will never repeat the enticement. There have been decisive battles in the history of nations, conflicts whose outcome have settled the future of a people or an age—and the soul has such battles too. God is able to give us the grace to so win an encounter with the enemy that there shall be no doubt about the side on which the victory falls and no danger of the contest ever being renewed again (Exodus 14:13; Deuteronomy 7:1-2). Other battles we will certainly face, but surely it is possible for us to settle the questions that meet us, one by one, and settle them forever.
Beloved, are not some of you weakened by this indecisiveness in your views of truth, in your steps of faith, in your refusals of temptation, in your surrender to God, in your consecration to His service and your obedience to His special call? You have been just uncertain enough to keep the question open and motivate the adversary to renew the conflict evermore. But God’s word shows us the possibility of decisive victories, such as we read after Joshua’s bold triumphs, “the land had rest from war.” (Joshua 14:15) Thus we have rest by becoming “more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
2. It means to have such a victory as will not only free us from our enemy’s attacks, but also weaken his own forces.
This is one of the purposes of temptation, that we may be workers together with God in destroying evil. We read of Joshua’s battles with the kings of Canaan that “it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly.” (Joshua 11:20) It was not enough for Israel to beat them off and be saved from their attacks, but God wanted those enemies exterminated. Likewise, when God allows the enemy to appear in our own lives, it is so that we may do him irreparable and eternal injury, and thus glorify God and be fellowsoldiers with Christ in destroying the works of the devil (1 John 3:8; Luke 10:17-19; Revelation 19:11-16). For this purpose, we may expect, in our own private lives as well as the more public realms of kingdom service, to find God bringing to light evils that were hidden, not that they might merely test our strength, but that we might demolish the strongholds of darkness. If this discovery and conquest does not occur, they might remain a lurking menace, like an undetected cancer promising spiritual tragedy ahead. But God allows these enemies to be provoked into activity and come to our attention in order to challenge our resistance and lead to our aggressive and victorious advance against them. Therefore when we find anything in our own hearts and lives, or in connection with the work of our Master committed to our hands, which seems to threaten our triumph or His work, let us remember that God has allowed it to confront us in order that, in His mighty name, it might be forever put aside and rendered powerless to injure or oppose again.
Beloved, are we thus fighting the good fight of faith, resisting the devil and rising up for God against them that do wickedly with the weapons that are not of this world? Are we looking upon our spiritual adversaries and obstacles as things that have come, not to crush us, but to be cast down for the honor and glory of our Captain’s cause? Thus shall we be “more than conquerors through him that loved us.” As the prophet beautifully expresses it, “Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.” (Isaiah 41:11-12)
3. It means to have such a victory as brings actual benefit out of the battle and makes it serve our Master’s cause.
It is possible in a certain sense to take our enemies prisoners and make them fight for us—or at least do the menial work of our camp. In other words, it is possible to get such good out of Satan’s assaults that he shall actually become our ally without intending it and shall find with eternal chagrin that he has been doing us real service.
Doubtless he thought, when he stirred up Pharaoh to murder the little children of the Hebrews, that he was exterminating a people of which he was afraid. But that very act of his brought Moses into Pharaoh’s house and raised up a deliverer for Israel and the destroyer of Pharaoh. Surely that was being more than a conqueror! The devil was not only beaten but made to work in the Lord’s chain-gang as a galley slave.
Again, he overmatched himself when he instigated Haman to build his lofty gallows and send forth the decree for Israel’s extermination, for he had the misery of seeing Haman hang on those gallows and Israel delivered.
So again, no doubt he put the three Hebrews into the furnace and Daniel into the den of lions hoping to destroy the last remnants of godliness in places of prominence, but lo! these heroes also were “more than conquerors.” Not only did they escape their would-be destroyer, but their deliverance led to Nebuchadnezzar’s proclamation that magnified the truth of God through the entire Babylonian empire, and to the similar confession of Darius, recognizing God throughout the even greater realms of Persia. Surely Satan was more than beaten that time!
His most audacious attempt was the crucifixion of our Lord, and all hell, no doubt, held high jubilee on that dark afternoon when Jesus sank to death. But lo! the cross has become the weapon by which Satan’s head is already bruised and his kingdom but awaits the last trumpet to be completely demolished.
Thus God makes him forge the weapons of his own destruction, and hurl the thunderbolts that fall back upon his own head (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28,31). So may we ever turn his fiercest assaults to our advantage, and to the glory of our King.
It is said that Wycliffe’s Bible contained a frontispiece illustration rich in symbolic imagery. A group of figures are gathered round a fire which is bursting from the open pages of a Bible. Their countenances all wear a look of consternation, and with one consent they are all gathered around, trying to blow out the fire. There are bishops and archbishops of the church of Rome, and the devil at the head of the crowd, all blowing vigorously with swollen cheeks and strained countenances. But the more they blow the more it burns, until at last the fierce blaze leaps up so high and out so far and wide that they are obliged to shrink back, and even Satan himself, though used to such an atmosphere, is glad to escape from its consuming flame. So let us overcome and more than overcome our spiritual foes.
Often the best thing our battles do for us is the discipline they bring us in our spiritual life (James 1:2-4). In this way, and in this alone, do we learn to exercise victorious faith and endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. The two things that the Christian needs most are the power to believe and the power to suffer, and these the enemy often comes to teach us. Yet it is often not until we are ready to sink beneath the pressure that we learn the secret of triumph. From an earthly perspective, it was a valuable thing for the military men of America to experience the war with Mexico before entering the Civil War, for it was there the officers were trained and prepared to lead the armies of the greater conflict. So the Lord lets the devil act as drill sergeant to His army, teaching His children to use His spiritual weapons (Judges 3:1-2). For this cause “we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
This, indeed, is to be more than a conqueror, to learn such lessons from the enemy as will fit us for his next assaults and prepare us to meet him without fear of defeat. Mastery does not come to those occupying seats of comfort. Our spiritual senses seem to require the pressure of difficulty and suffering to awaken all their capacities and to constrain us to prove the full resources of heavenly grace. God’s school of faith always is trial, and God’s school of love is provocation and wrong. Therefore, instead of murmuring against our lot and wondering why we are permitted to be so tried, let us glorify God and put our adversary to shame by wringing a blessing from Satan’s hate and hell’s hostility. After awhile we shall find that the enemy will be glad to let us alone now and then for his own sake if not for ours.
4. It means to have not only the victory, but also the spoils of victory.
When Jehoshaphat’s army won their great deliverance from the hordes of Moab and Ammon, it took them three days to gather all the spoils of their enemies’ camps (2 Chronicles 20:25). When David captured the camp of Ziklag’s destroyers, he won so vast a booty that he was able to send rich presents to all his brethren in Israel (1 Samuel 30:26-31). When the lepers found their way to the deserted camp of the Syrians, they found such abundance that in a single hour the famine of Samaria was turned into satiety (2 Kings 7).
And so our spiritual conflicts and conquests have their rich reward in the treasures recovered from the hands of the enemy. How many things there are which Satan possesses which we might and should enjoy! Oh, the rich delight that fills the heart when we expel the giants of ill-temper, irritation, haste, hatred, malice, and envy who have long ravaged and preyed upon all the sweetness of our life. What a luxuriant land we now enter into when we overcome these foes, and how delightfully the spoils of peace and love and sweetness and heavenly joy are enriching us in the very things where once they reigned! How rich the spoils recovered from the cruel adversary, when through the name of Jesus he is driven from our body, and the suffering frame which had groaned and trembled under his oppression springs into health and freedom and yields all the fullness of its strength to the service of God and the joy of a victorious life. Oh, the rich reward that comes to the home that has been rescued from the dominancy of the devil—perhaps in the form of drunkenness in a husband and father, or of shameful lust, or sinful vanity, or empty frivolity, or heartless worldliness, or bitter strife, evil speaking and anger in some other heart—and life once more becomes a happy Eden, with love and peace enthroned by the hearth and altar of a Christian home. And, oh, the rich spoils that are to come from a world rescued from the hand of its cruel usurper. How it will bloom again in beauty, fruitfulness, and blessedness, and yield its riches to its gracious and rightful King, and to those who dare to conquer it for Him, as they share in the full enjoyment of His reign when He makes “all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)
God takes special delight in making a blessing to us of that which has been recovered from Satan’s power. The two mightiest strongholds of ancient Canaan were Hebron and Zion. The former was the seat of the Anakim, the giant chieftains of Canaan. But the brave, heroic Caleb dared to challenge them in their lair, and in the strength of God was more than a conqueror over their terrific strength, and won the heights of Hebron as his special inheritance (Joshua 14:6-15). Nor was it he alone who received that dear old city of Abraham as his portion and spoil, but later on God took special delight in blessing and honoring this very place, it would seem, just because it had been snatched from the very jaws of the enemy; for Hebron was the chosen seat where the throne of David was established, and where God began the kingdom lineage of the Lion of Judah.
Still more defiant was the strength of the citadel of Zion. It was the last stronghold that the Canaanites relinquished. All through the days of Joshua and his successors they succeeded in holding it; all through the centuries of the judges, all through the days of Saul, and even through the early days of David’s kingdom. The fortress was so impregnable that the haughty Canaanites scornfully challenged their enemies to capture it though defended by none but the blind and lame. But David met the challenge and Joab executed it by a glorious assault and took by storm the heights of Zion from the last chieftains of Canaan. Then it was that Israel found its true metropolis, and the rescued stronghold was set apart by God Himself to be the very seat of the sacred kingdom and the monument of the glorious victory which had been achieved. There it was that David reigned; there it was that Solomon in all his glory swayed his glorious scepter; there it was that the temple rose from the adjoining heights of Moriah full in view of Zion; there indeed is the crowning symbol of the kingdom of Christ’s reign. Oh, how rich and glorious the recompense of a single victory! How different the world’s history if the old Canaanites had still been permitted to hold the heights of Jebus!
Beloved, it may be that the richest treasure of your life is even now yet held by Satan. He is too shrewd to waste his strength upon what is worthless. He reaches forth his hand to grasp the sweetest, dearest, and most precious things of life, and whether in your heart, in your home, or in your circle of acquaintance, you may be sure there is a Hebron or a Zion that God wants you to overcome. And when you do, you shall find the richest inheritance of your life and your eternity, and shall forever say with rejoicing, as you realize the full meaning of your victory, “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”
5. It means having not only the spoils of victory, but also new territory, aggressive warfare, and preparation for even larger conquests to come.
Merely to beat back your foes is but a small part of the great commission of the Christian soldier. He is called not only to wield the shield of faith but also the sword of the Spirit, by which he moves against the conquered foe and claims new territory with each advance. We have “the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” (2 Corinthians 6:7)—the weapons on the left are for defense, but the weapons on the right are for offense. We are called, not only to “withstand in the evil day,” (Ephesians 6:13) but to go forth and reclaim the world for Christ. Such conflicts meet us in our Christian work at every step, in the souls we seek to win for Jesus, in the progress of truth, the spread of the gospel, the awakening and reviving of the church of God, the elevation of Christian life and holiness, the suppression of evil in all its myriad and gigantic forms around us, the evangelization of the world, and the hastening of our Captain’s kingdom and coming. Surely we should not be ever occupied only in holding our own salvation. Indeed, we shall hold it best by leaving it with God and pressing on to claim the salvation of others.
In the pivotal Franco-Prussian War the aggressors were the victors. If Germany had waited to be attacked and simply defended herself, she might well have lost. But with wise and prompt aggression she hurled her hosts across the Rhine and into the battlefields of France and marched from victory to victory, her recompense being not only the conquest of her enemy’s country, but also securing her own country and citizens from even the touch of the enemy.
This is the best way to keep the devil off our territory; keep him busy on his own, defending his kingdom from our bold attacks. Beloved, have we settled the question of our own salvation and Christian life, and are we at leisure to engage in the battles of our Lord’s Kingdom and thus be “more than conquerors through Him that loved us”?
6. It means not only to win your battle and save your territory, but to do honor to your Captain, to be a credit to your cause, and to so acquit yourself in the campaign that God shall be glorified.
Many of our battles are fought in view of heaven alone. Consider the picture that the apostle gives of his trials, “We are made a spectacle… to angels.” (1 Corinthians 4:9) Have you not felt, beloved, in some quiet hour, in the secret of your closet, that you were going through a decisive battle which no mortal saw? Within the silent walls of your chamber an issue was being decided which would affect all eternity. The question was, should you be true to God, should you trust Him, should you obey God, or should you compromise? It was a great thing for you that you gained the victory, but it was a greater thing for your Lord. Oh, how intently He watches these spectacles! How the ranks of hell and heaven look on as some David and Goliath fight alone amidst the gaze of other worlds! How your Savior’s brow flushes with shame if you betray Him, or even cower in fear! How the ranks of hell shout with satisfaction when you betray the slightest weakness! And how your Master smiles with glad approval and sees the travail of His soul with satisfaction, as like some ancient hero you dare to answer, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us…. But if not… we will not… worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)
Do you know, beloved, that Christ’s greatest victories were alone with God and the devil? No human eye saw that victory in the wilderness, nor that agony in the garden, but God saw and was glorified. Shall we stand for Him, and so stand in the strength of the Lord that He can count us, as He did His ancient prophet, to be His very towers and fortresses behind which He can entrench Himself and His cause, saying, “I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land…. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee.” (Jeremiah 1:18-19) “I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.” (Ezekiel 3:8-9) God is still looking for men and women to stand as bulwarks and battlements against the shocks of hell’s artillery. Men and women of whose faith He can say, “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Shall we, beloved, be not only conquerors, but trusted soldiers whom God can use as His battle-axe troops, or as His mighty ironclads, to carry the battle to the very ships of the enemy, not fearing their hardest blows, and hurling against them the thunderbolts of His victorious power?
7. It means not only victory now, but advancement toward the final triumph and eternal reward.
How Heaven will recompense her victors some glorious day! Two cities vied for the tomb of the man who was honored in this land as the leader of the victorious army that won the Civil War. He is honored simply because he was a conqueror. But how shabby these earthly victories will seem someday in the light of the triumph of a Stephen, a Paul, an Adoniram Judson, a David Livingstone, or some gentle woman or lowly man, who stood faithful to God on some unsung battlefield which decided the issues of life, perhaps the future of nations and ages!
Paul expected to receive a crown because he had fought the good fight of faith (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Among the special recompenses of the Day of His Appearing there is a crown, not only for the martyr, not only for the faithful minister, not only for those who love His appearing, but also for those who have endured in the battle. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” (James 1:12)
There is a chance for each one of you. There is a chance for you who think that you have the hardest time of any human being. Beloved, it is an opportunity for coronation! Will you not only triumph, but so triumph that you shall wear a crown of life in which these tears which you shed today shall flash as crystal diamonds, and these scars of battle shall be transformed into marks of eternal beauty and everlasting honor?
But mere enthusiasm or even high and glorious purpose will not accomplish this great result. It is “through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37) that we must overcome. Thank God that is possible for us all! He whom Joshua saw as Captain of the Lord’s Host and whom he took as his Great Commander-in-chief waits to lead your battle and claim your victory too. “I have overcome for thee,” He stands exclaiming by thy side. Commit your conflict into His hands, take Him into your heart as strength, “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11) “The battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15) “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:14) When all is accomplished and the banner waves in triumph and the crown is bestowed, we shall drape our battle flags around His throne, lay our diadems at His feet, and as the trophy captives in His triumphal procession, living proofs of His conquering and redeeming power, cry out, “thanks be unto God, who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14)ASV!
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:37)