How Are Christians “More Than Conquerors”?

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It’s a phrase that gets thrown around quite a bit by Christians, usually in the midst of a rah-rah speech meant to build up believers and help them gain some God-given confidence. It might sound something like, Don’t let the negatives in life get you down! You can choose to be bitter or you can choose to be better. You can rise above it all. Your end is not defeat. Your end is victory! You are more than a conqueror!

While that sounds all well and good, I’m worried that a lot of people don’t actually know what they mean when they say “you are more than a conqueror”. That’s a statement that comes from the Bible, but I fear that it might be dreadfully misused. This is the verse in full:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

Any good Bible teacher will tell you that to get the meaning of a verse you first need to look at the context. So I offer up a few quick observations of the surrounding context.

1. Our victory comes through Christ.

It is significant to note that we are more than conquerors “through him who loved us”. We are not, in ourselves, conquerors. But in Christ we are. So the victory that this verse speaks of is not our own doing, but by the power of God.

2. The victory we experience is mainly an experience of God’s love.

What does the conqueror enjoy? The very next verses tell 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.

The word “for” at the beginning of verse 38 is key. We are more than conquerors—why? For nothing will separate us from God’s love. That is the spoil of the victor.

3. The victory comes through trials, not in the absence from them.

The verses preceding this passage set up the context of the battle we are in:

[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.”

So the believers here are in various severe trials, and “in all these things” they are more than conquerors. And this is where I think some Christians get it wrong. They tend to use the “more than conquerors” promise to believe that they are in control of their lives and able to defeat and escape all the challenges that come their way. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Christians are not conquerors in the absence of trials, but rather in the midst of them.

Why say “MORE than conquerors”?

So it’s safe to establish that the conquering which Christians experience is that the trials of life will never separate them from God’s love. That is the victory. So why does the verse say we are more than conquerors? Why doesn’t it just say, we are conquerors? What can be better than conquest? What’s the next level? What is the “more” promised here?

Some suggest (like those here) that being more than a conqueror simply expresses the scope of defeat. It was not a victory by a slim margin, but a total annihilation of the enemy. Just as an overmatched hockey team might lose 10-0, we also are not just victors, but victors by a long shot!

While I think that’s a valid view, it’s not what I think the verse means. Pastor John Piper offers another view which I think is very compelling. In his perspective, the difference between being a conqueror and more than a conqueror is something like this: a conqueror is one who defeats his enemies and eliminates their threat, but one who is more than a conqueror has not only defeated his enemies and eliminated their threat, but also subdues them and makes them his servants.

In the context of Christian living, this then means that the trials we face are not only defeated, but actually serve our greater good. The threat that trials bring is not only eliminated, but is turned upside down and becomes a helper. A foe becomes a friend.

Here’s a practical illustration. Say you are facing a significant trial in life. The devil’s intention with that trial is to discourage you, destroy you, and crush your faith. But because of Christ, you will not only withstand that trial (and thus be a conqueror), the trial will actually end up making you stronger as a result, and aid you in running your race with Christ (and thus be more than a conqueror). The enemy that threatened you is now that which serves your good.

This is exactly what the apostle Paul experienced in 2 Corinthians 12. He describes how he was pained with a “thorn in the flesh”. We are not told the exact nature of this “thorn”. Was it a person? A physical malady? A demonic spirit? It is up for debate. Regardless, he prayed three times for God to take it away, and each time God essentially said “no”. God’s exact response: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

What was Paul’s reaction to this? [9] …Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] 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.

In other words, Paul looked at his trial and rather than simply trying to endure through it, he saw it as an occasion to see Christ’s power all the more. He turned a trial into an opportunity. He not only conquered, but became more than a conqueror.

This is the consistent pattern of Scripture. Trials are not just things to be endured but the chosen methods of God to grow us and build us into the people he wants us to be.

[2] Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, [3] for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. [4] And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

So make no mistake about it, fellow Christian. You are more than a conqueror. No, that doesn’t mean your life will be trial free. It’s actually much better than that! Your life will be full of trials that God will use to make you a better Christian than if you had not had to go through them at all. His love, which nothing can separate you from, will be experienced all the more as the things Satan intends to take you down with are used to build you up. You don’t just defeat your enemy. You make him your servant. Such is the power of Christ for those who know him!

1 Comments on “How Are Christians “More Than Conquerors”?”

  1. We’re not supposed to conquerers? Then why did Joshua conquer Jericho? Why did the Israelites take Canaan? Why did David slay the giant? Why did Gideon conquer the Midianites? Why did Israel win when Moses’ arms were up? We could site many more? Isn’t the Bible to be our example of how to live and what to expect from life? Thousands of pages tell us, if we do the right thing, we will be victorious – the entire theme of the old testament. And if we do not follow God, we will be punished. The idea of persecution and suffering was linked to disobedience and sin.

    What about these examples?
    1. The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand.

    2. I will give you every place where you set your foot … No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life.

    3. “But you, Israel … I have chosen … So do not fear, for I am with you; for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you … You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff.
    You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away.”

    4. May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
    May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests.
    Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
    with the victorious power of his right hand … Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!

    I’m confused. Are we supposed to be content in persecution or anointed victorious warriors? Aren’t we supposed to imitate the example of God and Christ, who detest and avenge evil and meet it with ultimate victory. Why are we to have the faith of a mustard seed, enough to say to a mountain, jump into the sea. The only value that kind of faith can have is for triumph for His kingdom work. To outmaneuver oppression and persecution.

    Why did America step into foreign wars if not to fight against persecution of others. Why then should we sit by, today, and let persecution happen? If we were willing to fight against the religious persecution of Great Britain, enough to form our own country, we should still hold to that value today. Are we fighters for a cause or using the Bible to justify our inner weakness and fears.

    I say people who champion being persecuted have weak faith. Sure trials perfect us – for war – to be ready to achieve victory. It’s called bootcamp. The USA armed forces beat the crap out of their recruits so that the real battle won’t seem as hard. Persecution is the end result, it’s the process to make you a champion and victor!

    We have to be careful of promoting ongoing suffering, for one could perceive it continuing in the afterlife – as a moving goalpost. “Keep suffering, you’re getting warmer …! Someday, in the long future, you will obtain perfection if you keep trying” Are we also saying, “I have some swampland for sale too”. This type of thinking sounds like every other “works” related religion.

    Remember the verse prior to the one in this example, “If God is for us, who can be against us”. The chapter also ends by saying essentially, nothing can defeat us.

    So let’s quit championing persecution as an excuse for getting our butts whipped by the enemy – or more specifically, not having the guts to stand up and fight. God expects us to stand up for injustice and fight for righteousness. How many times does God tell us “Do not be afraid”. This is how we display to the world what is right and just. If we stand silent, as afraid wimps, God is not testified within our lives. Our best testimony is to stand against wrong of any kind with boldness, to speak out against unrighteousness. Then the world will ask, “What is it that gives them such confidence, especially in such overwhelmingly poor odds of success?” AH HA! Our testimony – we tell them, IT IS GOD!!!

    I state that it is because too many have championed persecution as a virtue that America and the world, is in the place it is today. Evangelicals, the truth bearers, have shuttered in fear to stand against evil and lied to themselves that it is more virtuous to let persecution march on. Now we’re looking uphill at seemingly an insurmountable task to ever level the playing field. We have the generation before us, those who championed persecution, to thank for where we are today. What will the next generation say to us?

    So, hey, I say, “We are MORE than conquerers!”

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