In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
When you read these words from Paul, have you ever considered the true meaning of being “more than a conqueror” through Jesus Christ? I want to encourage you today with what I believe Paul was conveying to us.
I think we can all understand what it means to conquer. We think of military victory or battles won on the field of competition. We all know what it is to conquer a bad habit that may have been dragging us down for years. Perhaps you can relate to the conquering of a particular fear or doubt. But what does it mean to be “more than a conqueror”? Once the conquering has occurred and the victory is won, doesn’t that mean the matter is concluded? In other words, once we’ve conquered . . . aren’t we done?
Those who are more than conquerors not only conquer, but go on to fill that now-empty space with Jesus Christ. Here is a wonderful biblical example.
Israel captured [conquered] all the cities of the Amorites and occupied them. (Numbers 21:25)
The people of God conquered the enemies of God, but they knew that conquering alone was not enough. They occupied the land, which shut down any possibility of the Amorites regrouping and mounting a counterattack. What does that mean to us as we face the struggles of daily living? How does the example of the Israelites apply to us as we battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil?
Once we conquer in any particular area of life, we must occupy—that is, fill the void with Christ—if victory is to be maintained. Look at it this way:
- Anger cannot truly be conquered unless it is replaced with love.
- Bitterness cannot truly be conquered unless it is replaced with forgiveness.
- Lust of the flesh cannot truly be conquered unless it is replaced with new affections.
- Fear cannot truly be conquered unless it is replaced with trust and faithfulness to Christ.
In the early 1800’s, Scottish preacher Thomas Chalmers preached his famous sermon, “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” Chalmers point was clear: In order to expel [conquer] any particular habit [affection], it must be replaced by another affection [habit]. To merely conquer is to leave a void that will eventually be filled with something undesirable. We must be intentional about refilling that space with a new and better affection. We need to be in the business of both conquering and occupying [filling with Christ]. Only then can we be assured that conquered ground will not be lost to some kind of counterattack.
Jesus taught this very principle to the crowds that followed Him:
When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, “I will return to the house I left.” When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. (Luke 11:24-26)
Are you more than a conqueror? Let me encourage you to replace your old affections with a renewed focus on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. That is how we can live out the exhortation given us in Hebrews 12:1, to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and . . . run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!