“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
So what does it mean to be a “more than conqueror”?
First, to be a conqueror in general, one must overcome the affliction at hand. Romans 8:35 lists a few things that we may allow to separate us from Christ: “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword.” Affliction is used by the Enemy to separate us from Christ. So the goal while enduring affliction, is to remain in Christ’s love- to not turn around and curse Him, to not lose faith and abandon Him. Afterall, the great promise Christ gives us in verse 39 is that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ. He will always love us, but we are definitely capable of turning away away from Him. So to be a mere conqueror we must rest in the assurance of God’s love and remain faithful to Him.
So, again, how are we to be “more than conquerors”? The answer lies in the fact that affliction is a tool of God, just as it is for Satan. Reflect back to the last few chapters of Genesis: Joseph was sold into slavery by Satan’s influence on his brothers; yet God, out of His grace and righteousness, uses their means of evil to produce good. In verse 50:20, Joseph says, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Joseph is a prime example of someone who was “more than a conqueror”. He not only overcame affliction, but made affliction serve him, all by God’s glorious plan. This is how we become “more than conquerors”- we turn what Satan means to destroy us by separating us from Christ, to serve us by taking it captive and subjugating it.
2 Corinthians 4:17 says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”. There’s the key phrase: “working for us”. Affliction must work for us. And the only way to make affliction our slave, instead of the other way around, is to be thankful in all of our sufferings. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It says ALL circumstances, people! I like to think of thankfulness as a weapon. It is our spiritual worship. Think back to Job: after receiving news that everything he loved was gone, what did he do? Verse 1:20 says, “..Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.” This is after all of Job’s children, servants, and livestock had died, and he still worships! Satan’s desire was to use affliction to make Job curse God, but God used it to edify Job. In the end, affliction was used to humble Job, to take him off his high-horse, to not count himself as righteousness, to not question God: “Then Job answered the Lord and said: ‘I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know’” (42:1-3). And God restores him.
I believe that if we are able to view affliction as a means of strengthening us in Christ, we will better be able to thwart the aims of Satan. John Piper puts it wonderfully, “Affliciton is made the servant of godliness and humility and love. Satan meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”