It’s not uncommon in evangelical circles to hear about the power that we have as believers. I don’t discount the fact that believers do have power that unbelievers don’t have. Unfortunately, a growing percentage of Christian teaching distorts this reality by placing undue emphasis on certain aspects of the discussion, and overlooking other pertinent aspects of the discussion. I recently read a passage that sheds significant light on this discussion by emphasizing the origin of the power that is ours as believers.
The apostle Paul gives us the answers to those two questions at the end of Romans 8. I’ll focus specifically on verses 35-37 (I’ll bold them), but you can read a few surrounding verses to give them context.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or ness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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.
Paul gave a list of realities that will not separate us from God’s love, and then he said that we are more than conquers. What he says next is sometimes overlooked in Christian teaching today, and it’s also the most important phrase of Romans 8:37. Paul said in full “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” The Him is Jesus Christ. In context, it’s easy to see that the phrase who loved us is a reference to the sacrifice that Jesus paid in our place so that we wouldn’t have to endure the wrath of God because of our sin which separates us from Him. In other words, we are more than conquerors because we are in Christ, who has already conquered sin and and sickness and Satan. He is the ultimate Conqueror, and we as believers have access to His power.
When we look throughout history and our society today, it’s not hard to find saints who have been and are being transformed. Maybe they are no longer addicted to alcohol. Maybe they’ve stopped sleeping around. Maybe they don’t cheat on their taxes anymore. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to look at those external realities and give credit to individuals. We think, “Of course he has overcome his addiction…he’s a Christian now.” “Of course she has been nicer to her brother lately…she’s a Christian now.” There’s a serious problem with that mentality. We don’t become super-Christians upon conversion. God exists to magnify His glory, and He keeps us weak so that His power will be made perfect in our weakness. But change is also real. How do we explain it?
There’s only one difference between believers and non-believers. We’re connected to a power-source, and they’re d.e.a.d. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing (John 15:4). When we abide in Jesus, the true Vine, we can and will bear much fruit (John 15:5). He gives us the victory over sin. We can’t fight the battle alone, and we dare not try. When we stay close to Him by reading His Word and praying to Him, we will learn who He is and we will be equipped to obey Him.
Brothers and sisters, I commend the gospel to you. I cannot do so enough. Sin does not have dominion over you anymore. You are counted righteous before God in Jesus Christ. You do have power. These are awesome truths! Love them, depend on them. But don’t forget the One from whom your power comes. You are more than a conqueror because of Jesus Christ.
Don’t forget the gospel.