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Monday, July 27, 2009

More Than Conquerors

Our church has small house groups called "Community Groups" that meet throughout the week. My wife and I lead one of them. Our group has been walking through the book of Romans this year.

We decided at the first of the year to just read through Romans together. We're not using any kind of study guide or lesson plan. We decided to just read together and see what God might have to say to us. It has been a fascinating run so far.

So Romans 8 was the focus of our Community Group this week. It comes just on the heels of the Apostle Paul describing the dichotomy - or dilemma - of the Christian life. In Romans 7 he speaks of being quite a wretched man in that he does things he doesn't want to do, and doesn't do things he wants to do. It is the enigma of being trapped between a sinful body and a righteous spirit while here on this earth.

The surprise is that right after explaining the tension he lives in, Paul concludes in Romans 8:1 that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Our group spent some time discussing what that means. What is condemnation? Guilt? Shame?

We decided that in our modern culture most of the condemnation comes from whom we see in the mirror. In other words, we tend to be the hardest on ourselves. But the Bible says there is no legitimate condemnation to be found for those who are in Christ Jesus.

So then we move on through Romans 8. We find sound, deep expression of the truth that we are more than conquerors. We are victors. We don't even have to fight the fight. Someone in our group last night used the metaphor of a boxing ring and wondered if one of the boxers could "win a little bit." We decided that in the Christian life, there is no chance of the enemy "winning just a little bit." The outcome of this match is already known. We win.

How many of us live our lives with the awareness that we are "more than conquerors?" Do we even know what it means to be "more than a conqueror?" You know, the definition of the word "conquer" is quite simple. It means to overcome, to be victorious. So let's get this straight. The expectation here is that we win. We overcome every single trial and tribulation that life hands us. Not just endure, mind you. But win. Victorious. Conqueror.

Now what do you suppose then, it means that we are more than victorious, more than winners, more than conquerors? Have you ever fought a battle and won it ... but found yourself exhausted and spent from the fight? Think about a job you've done that got completed and was well done --- but you looked at it and thought you had "worked your butt off." Folks, this is not "more than a conqueror."

You see, "more than conquerors" means that we win the battles of course. But it also means that we are not absolutely exhausted, spent or used up in doing so. In fact, if we're to be more than conquerors ... which is God's will for His children, we will not only win, but we'll win readily and easily. Of course it doesn't mean we don't have to fight the battles. For surely we do fight those battles. But we are to fight as winners. And when we're fighting, the battles won't have taken everything out of us.

So now, let me ask you something. As a Christ-follower, calling yourself a Christian, do you get up every day aware of the fact that you are "more than a conqueror?" And what would your day be like if you were more aware of this truth? What would your thinking and decisioning be like?

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