More Than Conquerors
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?……Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Our interpretations of difficulties determines our response to them. If we believe we deserve that God give us a smooth, relatively pain-free life, always on the upward path of greater success, we’ll be devastated (and shocked) when we experience trouble. Hey, we’ll wonder, what’s this about? Unrealistic expectations inevitably lead to resentment, and soon, our hearts grow cold toward God.
In this oddly triumphant passage, Paul doesn’t shrink from the fact that following Christ in a fallen world sometimes include genuine suffering. In fact, his list of troubles covers the spectrum from general distress to the point of a sword. Don’t be surprised, Paul reminds us, when you encounter problems, and don’t forget God’s presence and love, either.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate a believer from the personal attention and deep love of Christ. When we’re beaten up, Christ’s compassion only intensifies. When we’re wise enough to realize that difficulties don’t mean God doesn’t care, we’ll trust Him in the middle of our darkest nights and most threatening days.
When we trust God in the midst of difficulties, we don’t just grit our teeth and hang on until the pain stops. More than ever before, we trust in His wisdom to guide us, His presence to comfort us, and His strength to support us. Instead of barely making it, we become “more than conquerors.” Our interpretation of the problem, though, is the key that unlocks our response.
There are two things to do about the gospel- believe it and behave it.
It was Jesus who said that in this world we would have trouble but we find hope and peace because He has overcome the world.
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress andsuffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]”
From his rebellion, Satan has opposed God and when God created humans, he found a way to touch the heart of God. It wasn’t long after creation that Satan convinced Adam and Eve to rebel against God and into the perfect creation came the devastating power of sin. Suffering, sickness, evil of every sort, and troubles and trials became the lot of the human race. The power of sin and its destructive force wrecked havoc on the world. God in His love and grace had given to humanity the gift of choice and free will and sadly they used it unwisely. Trading the blessings of the future for instant gratification and thinking that it would be good to know good from evil, they ate the forbidden fruit, not realizing that it would also bring suffering.
Often we wonder why a good God would allow us to suffer or to go through the troubles and tribulations. Many blame God for all the wrong in the world, reasoning falsely that He could and should correct it. They do so forgetting that it would require God to take back His gift of free will. Free will is a blessing and a curse. Most of us would resist giving up our independence and choice while at the same time we would like to impose our choices on everyone else. While it may have merit to be able to impose certain restrictions on others we must also be aware that if we require others to give up choice, we also must give up ours. Because of the destructive, selfish, wicked sin nature that lies within every human, we find suffering in the world. Sometimes we suffer because we exercised our free will and indulged in sin. Sin always has consequences and they are never pleasant. There’s an old saying that says, “If you dance to the tune, you have to pay the fiddler,” and if we choose to engage in sinful acts, there are consequences. While grace provides forgiveness and eternity with God, it doesn’t always remove the consequences of sin. Sometimes we suffer because someone else has wrongly exercised their free will and their action directly or indirectly affects us. We are sometimes the victims of the sins of others. Sometimes suffering comes because the whole of creation has been warped and distorted. Paul tells us that all of creation is under the curse of sin. When Adam sinned, the whole world was brought into bondage to sin and the devil since God had given Adam dominion over creation.
We mistakenly think that this is God’s world but according to scripture, Satan is the god of this world in its present state.
“For [even the whole] creation [all nature] waits eagerly for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration and futility, not willingly [because of some intentional fault on its part], but by the will of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will also be freed from its bondage to decay [and gain entrance] into the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been moaning together as in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only this, but we too, who have the first fruits of the Spirit [a joyful indication of the blessings to come], even we groan inwardly, as we wait eagerly for [the sign of] our adoption as sons—the redemption and transformation of our body [at the resurrection]. For in this hope we were saved [by faith]. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait eagerly for it with patience and composure.”
But even if our gospel is [in some sense] hidden [behind a veil], it is hidden [only] to those who are perishing; among them the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving to prevent them from seeing the illuminating light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4: 3,4
Paul doesn’t sugarcoat things and neither did Christ. Christ told us to expect trouble as long as we are in this world especially if we are His followers and Paul affirms it as well. You might say that if that’s the case we are truly miserable people. Indeed Paul says that if in this life only we have hope we are miserable. But thanks be to God our hope is not in this world but in the world to come that God has promised us. We get to enter that new world because Christ has overcame this present one and has made us over-comers with Him. Read Revelation 2 and 3 for the promises to those who overcome. Whenever life seems to weigh you down, whenever everything that can go wrong does, when the burden of suffering seems more than you can bear, lift up your head for redemption is drawing nigh. One day all the trouble of life will vanish. One day they won’t even be a memory. One day we will be delivered from this sin-cursed world and one day we will be forever in the presence of our loving God who will make all things new. Until that day let us remember that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Here is a description of our future and I pray in it you find hope.
“Then the angel showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Christ), in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer exist anything that is cursed [because sin and illness and death are gone]; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve worship Him [with great awe and joy and loving devotion]; And there will no longer be night; they have no need for lamplight or sunlight, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign [as kings] forever and ever. they will [be privileged to] see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty [the Omnipotent, the Ruler of all] and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon to give light to it, for the glory (splendor, radiance) of God has illumined it, and the Lamb is its lamp light. The nations [the redeemed people from the earth] will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring into it their glory. and they will bring the glory (splendor, majesty) and the honor of the nations into it; By day for there will be no night there its gates will never be closed [in fear of evil]; and nothing that defiles profanes is unwashed will ever enter it, nor anyone who practices abominations [detestable, morally repugnant things] and lying, but only those [will be admitted] whose names have been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Revelation 21: 22-27, 22:1-5
May our cry in our troubles be, “Even so come quickly Lord Jesus!”
Dr. John Thompson