More Than Conquerors: Introduction

The title of these articles is “More Than Conquerors.” These words come from Romans 8:37. We will be looking at Romans 5:12–8:31, the theme of which is how we, as believers in Christ, can live victorious, Christ honouring lives. Finally, we will examine Romans 12:1,2.

The major theme of Paul’s epistle to the Romans is justification by faith. In the first three chapters Paul establishes the universal guilt of the total human race. In 3:19 he states, “Now we know that what things soever the law [i.e., the Law of Moses] saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.[1] However, in the next section (3:21-31), Paul indicates that God has provided a means whereby He can justify people whose guilt has been proven, and yet be righteous in doing so. No court on earth can justify guilty people. They may pronounce them “Not guilty!” though that would be a travesty of justice, but they cannot justify them. An attempt on the part of the guilty to cancel their guilt by seeking to obey the Law of Moses is futile (3:20). Only God can justify the guilty, and even He can only do it under the right conditions.

Paul goes on to state that we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (3:24-26). In simple terms, what these verses are stating is that Christ willingly suffered the wrath of God on the cross on the behalf of the whole human race, and by this means has made salvation available, first to Old Testament believers (“sins that are past” v25), and to all who will believe in Christ in this present era (“at this time” v26). By this means God is able to justify guilty sinners and be righteous in doing so. In fact, if someone genuinely trusted Christ, but God refused to justify him, God would be acting unjustly. God’s one requirement of us is that we acknowledge our guilt and receive Christ, by faith, as our Saviour.

Verse 21 indicates that “the law and the prophets” bear witness to the fact that justification of the guilty has always been on the ground of faith. The expression “the law and the prophets” is the simplest division of the OT, “the law” referring to the five books of Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy), and “the prophets” referring to the rest of the OT (see Joh 1:45). Paul elaborates on this in chapter 4 of Romans, where he gives two examples of men in OT times who were justified by faith. The first example is Abraham (4:1-5), an example from the books of Moses. In relation to Abraham we read, “And he [God] brought him [Abraham] forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen 15:5,6).

The second example is David (Rom 4:6-8), an example from the Prophets (the rest of the OT). Both Abraham (v3) and David (vv7,8) were justified by faith. No one has ever been justified by seeking to obey the Law of Moses. On the other hand, “all that believe [in Christ] are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Act 13:39). To be justified, in New Testament terms, means to have God’s own righteousness accredited to us, because our sins were accredited to the Lord Jesus Christ when He suffered for us on the cross.

This does not mean that we are no longer capable of sinning. We still possess the nature we were born with. Paul states, “As by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world [of people], and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom 5:12).

When Adam and Eve sinned, they became sinners. Consequently, when Cain and Abel were born, they inherited the same nature as their father Adam. The very first man who was born, Cain, murdered his brother, Abel (Gen 4:8). Our mortality is proof that when we trusted Christ, even though our spirits were made alive (Eph 2:4,5), our nature, described in the NT as “the flesh,” was left unchanged. This we will see when we look at Romans 8:10.

Some teach that once we are saved we can no longer sin. They are living in a dream land. The Scriptures do not teach this, nor does experience confirm it. In 1 John we have a number of tests to see if a person is genuinely saved or is apostate. One of those tests is found in 1 John 1:8: “If we say that we have no [not] sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” To say that we have not sin is to deny that we have a fallen, sinful nature. In Galatians 2:11 we read, “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” Peter had been acting in a hypocritical manner. Hypocrisy is sin. If one of the most prominent apostles can sin, then others who are saved can sin also.

What, then, makes us any different from unbelievers? A young believer once said to me, “Dave, I feel worse now than before I was saved.” I replied to her, “Good! Now you have a conscience!” There were things that she used to do that never bothered her. But now doing those things made her feel guilty. How, then, can we live life as “more than conquerors”? This we will see in future articles. In our next article we will look at Two Great Questions.

[1] Bible quotations in this article are from the KJV.