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More Than Conquerors

Romans 8:35-37

Paul's notes of assurance and victory now reach their highest pitch.
Paul reaches this new and final level of thought.
Can anything cut us off from the love of God?
Can suffering do what sin cannot do?

Thinking of these glorious and divine consolations that Paul has been unfolding,
he had demanded an answer.
Who shall accuse?
Who shall condemn the children of God?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Paul has pointed out to us how our fears from within are relieved.
Now he fortifies us against fears from without.
The question is: "Will anything ever make Christ cease to love us?"
The world likes to point to our problems as proof of the fact that Christ no longer loves us.
The Jews mocked even Jesus as he was hanging on the cross:
"He trusted in God, let him deliver him now, if he will have him;
for he said, I am the Son of God
."

And even our hearts say to us when the waves threaten to overwhelm our lives
as they did the boat of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee while Jesus slept:
"He seems to have forgotten us, to have ceased caring for us."
Afflictions appear like a gulf that separate us from Him.

Can anything cut us off from the love of God?
"Shall tribulation, distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, peril, or sword?"

Shall "tribulation or distress"?
These two words are made more specific by the other five.

"Tribulation" is placed first, as being a general term comprehending all the other words
that follow.
Tribulation means afflictions in general.
Tribulation refers not only to the general state of suffering, but all suffering
that is common to man.

The Greek word for tribulation suggests "pressure from without".
It is used in the case of persons who are bearing heavy burdens, and are under heavy pressure.
There are very few of us who do not meet with outward pressure, either from sickness,
poverty, problems, or bereavement;... but under all; believers are sustained.

The two ideas are in fact quite distinct, and the verbal forms are used in a way
which makes this clear: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed."
Both were closely linked with persecution which had dogged Paul's footsteps
constantly since he had turned his back on the role of persecutor. (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:10)
Persecute means "hotly pursued."
That is the basic idea of persecution.

Shall "distress"?
The Greek word refers to mental grief.
It is a condition of being hemmed in by hard circumstances.
Sometimes, we get into a position in which we feel as if we could not move.
Our path is closed, and our mind is distracted, and we cannot calm or sturdy ourselves.

Shall "famine"?
Famine is a word that strikes the year and terror in the heart of millions in the world today.
Famine refers to the hunger and athirst which Paul encountered on many of his journeys.

Shall "nakedness"?
Today, this term suggests indecency.
Then, it meant a lack of clothes simply because no one had the means of getting any.
In 2 Corinthians 11:27, Paul speaks of being "in fastings often, in cold and nakedness."
Here we see the connection.
It is suffering due to insufficient clothing for the cold weather.
So, the thought here in verse 35 is a physical suffering from inadequate protection against the cold.

Or "peril"?
This means, "dangers, risk."

Or "sword"?
Paul lost his life by the sword.
Sword means violence carried to the utmost extremity.
It is persecution which stops not with smaller injuries, but it inflicts even death.
Someone has said, "These things rose up in Paul's mind like so many angry personalities,
and their combined force is almost overwhelming
."

"As it is written!"
To this terrible list Paul now adds the testimony of the Scriptures.
And in Romans the 15th chapter: "For what ever things were written afore time,
were written for our learning, that we thru patience and comfort of the Scriptures
might have hope
."

Instead of referring to himself as one who had experienced all these evils,
Paul reminds us of Psalm 44:22: "Nay, for thy sake we are slain all the day long,
and accounted as sheep for the slaughter."

The entire Psalm pictures Israel, not as being punished for its sins, but as being faithful
and yet been tried by its victorious enemies.
The important point is that we are afflicted for Christ's sake just because
we are the children of God.
So, it is not a sign that Christ is withdrawing His love, it is a sign of the very opposite;
we suffer for His sake.

So in specifying these evils which Paul asks: "Shall all these separate the believer from
the love of Christ
"
Paul points out the sufferings of the people of God.
He points out the time of the sufferings as "all the day long."
He points out the manner "as sheep for the slaughter".
He points out the cause as "for thy sake".

"All the day long" is a sign that the enemy is not tired or even loses his strength.
We are daily, hourly expose to these, and... to death.
"We are regarded as sheep for the slaughter. "
The world has no more conscience to destroy us than a butcher would have
of killing a sheep. (Father of daughter as missionary to Afghanistan)
But notice the difference between the tone of the Psalmist and the tone of the apostle.
The Psalmist cannot understand the chastening and complaints that God's heavy hand
has been laid upon them without cause.
Paul rejoices in persecution and exclaims: "Nay, in all these things we are
more than conquerors through Him who loved us
. "

When these things come upon us for Christ's sake, they certainly do not look like
the tender caresses of love.
They look as though Christ doesn't exist or as though He has abandoned us.
Or it may seem as though we have suffered blows of wrath.

Now it is for this reason the question -- "who shall separate..." -- is so extended and detailed.
And we must not deny the power of these terrible forces.
For these things can separate us from much.
They can separate us from joy, from comfort, from... from almost all of the satisfactions of life
and material things that makes life desirable.
They can strip us to the quick, but the quick they cannot touch.

But let's not exaggerate their importance.
They constitute real dangers to us, and they are destroying many in our world today.

No one is necessarily made better by his sorrows, and no man need be made worse.
That depends upon where our anchor is when the storms beat upon us.
Worse of all afflictions is a wasted affliction, and they are all wasted unless
they teach us more of the reality and the blessedness of the love of Jesus Christ.

They may shut us out from human love by false slanderous statements,
and they may dig deep gulfs of alienation between us and our loved ones.
They may hurt and annoy us in a thousand different ways, but one thing they cannot do;
they cannot come between us and God's love for us.

"Nay, in all these things is, we are more than conquerors..." (never -- no way)
Now we are not merely conquerors.
To be simply a conqueror is to barely overcome an enemy.

These Roman Christians were engaged in a struggle so severe that it would often
seem doubtful to them whether they could be conquerors at all.
They saw corruption reigning unbridled in power and extremely successful
while they were filled with hunger, and freezing in nakedness, and constantly faced
with peril -- even the danger of death.

It is difficult to maintain a firm belief in a truth when all circumstances seem to oppose it,
and seem to claim it as false.
And still more, their danger through the deepening hatred of the Christian must have
tempted the Roman Christians daily to save themselves by denying their Lord.
Amid the long, hard struggle they would probably think it a great achievement
if they could last till the end, and barely overcome, and enter heaven.
Paul tells them and us that we will do more.

We are more than conquerors.
This entire clause is all one word in the Greek -- "hypernikomen".
It means literally, we are super victors.
Paul's God and ours does not believe in barely getting by, in barely holding our head above water.
We are more than conquerors.
"Our life affliction which is for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding
and eternal weight of glory
."

We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
In using the past tense Paul reminds us of Christ dying for us.
It is not by our knowledge, or ability, or power, and not even because of our love and loyalty.
It is through Him who loved us, that we are more than conquerors.

And it is not only through Him that we are more than conquerors.
It is He that helps and enables us to be more than conquerors.
He is the great secret of our victory and the source of our triumphs.
He succors -- sustains -- straightens -- and keeps.
He pours His strength into our spirits.

So, fear not the darkest cloud, nor the deepest or the highest waves
nor the darkest night nor the deepest wants nor the most tantalizing temptations,
nor tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword,
or even death itself.
No!
In all these things! (And you will want to add yours...)
We are more than conquerors!

The answer to the question: "Will anything ever keep Christ from loving us?"
And Paul shouts, "No! In all these things..."
In verses 35-37 there is no separation for us who are in Christ Jesus, and even the worse sufferings
that the world can throw at us cannot separate us.
So, world do your worst!

So, we must remember that our confidence as believers that we shall not be separated
from the love of Christ, is not founded on our high opinion of ourselves,
or on our own ability to remain firm against temptations,
but is grounded on Christ's love, and His ability to serve and uphold them.

Earlier in the Book of Romans, Paul cried out, "Oh, wretched man that I am!
Who shall deliver me
?"
And now, that same Paul exclaims with triumph, "Oh, happy man that I am,
who shall separate me from the love of God
?"

Hide Thou Me

"Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And think my life in vain,
I'm tempted then to murmur,
And of my lot complain;
But when I think of Jesus, and all He's done for me,
Then, I cry, O Rock of Ages, hide thou me.

Sometimes it seems I dare not
Go one step farther on,
And from my heart all courage
Has slipped away and gone;
But, I remember Jesus, and all His love for me,
Then, I cry, O Rock of Ages, hide thou me.

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White