Derek Prince - More Than Conquerors
This is now the final session in this rather lengthy Romans pilgrimage. We’re coming to the end of the journey. In our previous session I dealt with the passage in Romans 8:28–30 and I outlined God’s total plan for us from eternity to eternity in seven stages. I’ll just briefly recapitulate those seven stages. God foreknew us, he chose us, he predestined us. All that happened in eternity. Then in time he called us, he saved us, he justified us, and he glorified us. He invited us to share the throne of glory with him right now in this present age. And I suggested that if you really can grasp God’s plan, there can be no further room in your life for insecurity. Everything is taken care of.
Now I want to go with you through the closing verses of Romans 8 and I just look to God for grace to be able to say the right thing because I feel so inadequate to express in my human words the majesty and the glory of what closes Romans 8. But you’ll notice as we turn to it that Paul returns again to this theme of no condemnation with which he began this chapter. You remember the first verse: There is therefore now no condemnation. You see, our greatest enemy and the greatest tool of Satan against us is condemnation, being made to feel guilty. I need to tell you there’s a great difference between being made to feel guilty and conviction of sin. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin. He’s specific, He’s practical, He says: You did this you shouldn't have done it, this is what you’ve got to do to put it right. And the moment you put it right, it’s all over. But guilt is something you can never fully define.
Did I say the right thing? Maybe I didn’t say the right thing. Maybe I haven’t done enough. Maybe I didn’t treat her right. Maybe what she said about me was right. Maybe I’m not really true or sincere or... You see, there’s no end to guilt. The further you go into it the deeper you sink. It’s totally different. Guilt comes from the enemy, conviction comes from our friend. There’s a Portuguese proverb which says, The friend is the one who shows you the danger. That’s what the Holy Spirit does. He shows us the danger to get us out of it. Let me say to you, and I can’t go into the reasons for this, be very cautious about anybody who makes you feel guilty because very seldom what they say is from God. God is not in the business of making people feel guilty.
As a young and ardent preacher, I used to tell my small congregation how bad they were. I mean, I did a good job of it. Every Sunday I would just put them down and they’d walk out and say, Thank you, wonderful message. And I’d think to myself did they really hear what I said? How could they call that a wonderful message? But one day, God in his mercy spoke to me and He said, I want you to understand you’re doing the devil’s work for him. I didn’t call you to make people feel guilty, I called you to show people how they could be made righteous. I realized that the devil and his aides were doing the job well enough without my help and I ceased to become one of the devil’s little helpers.
So let’s look now at verse 31. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? It doesn’t say nobody is against us but what he says is what does it matter who is against us. You’ve probably heard that simple little saying, one plus God is a majority. In any circumstance, one plus God is a majority. He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how will he not with Him also freely give us all things? What a tremendous verse! If you want to know how committed God is to you, look at the cross. God gave his only son to die in agony and shame on your behalf. Paul says very logically, if God did that, there’s nothing good that he’ll withhold. When you’re in times of darkness and temptation and doubt, don’t try and reason it out, just turn to the cross and say that’s the measure of God’s love and God’s commitment to me. I may not understand what’s going on but I know that God is totally committed to me. That’s what he is. Once God has accepted you as his child he’s totally committed to you.
I remember my first wife saying to one of the little girls she’d taken in, she said, When I take a child, I’m committed. It’s a lifetime commitment. When God takes a child, it’s a lifetime commitment. Any of you that have ever adopted children, you know it’s not a short commitment. Don’t imagine if you do imagine that it will end when they get married. Believe me, it won’t! God’s made a lifetime commitment to every child of his. He said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Do you want to know how much I value you? Look at the price I paid for you. The life blood of my own son. Don’t get involved in arguing with the devil about minor details. Focus on the cross and he cannot defeat you there. You’re on undefeatable ground at the foot of the cross.
Then Paul goes on, verse 33: Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies If God has justified us, who can make us feel guilty? And then he goes further still. who is the one who condemns? There will be people who will condemn us. who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is he who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God who also intercedes for us. God has done everything conceivably possible to keep us from coming under condemnation. If people accuse us he says, I’ve justified you. If people condemn us he says, The price has already been paid by the death of my son. He paid the full penalty by his death and he rose from the dead that he might be our intercessor forever.
You know, I’m writing a book which I haven’t made much progress with on the subject of curses. And I’ve got involved in something I never anticipated which is how Christians actually wound one another by words spoken out of the Spirit and become each other’s accusers. And this, I didn't anticipate, I didn't plan to put this in the book. it was something the Holy Spirit kind of forced me into and I haven’t worked through it yet. But as I did that I thought to myself I wonder how many times I’ve prayed about people and accused them to God? And I thought to myself what insolence, what arrogance. I’m accusing to God somebody that God has undertaken to justify! I’m accusing somebody for whom Christ died.
I don’t know whether you know the story of Praying Hyde, but he was a Presbyterian missionary who was going out to India in the early years of this century and on the way out, the book doesn’t tell you this, but he was baptized in the Spirit. He came into a tremendous ministry of prayer. His prayers changed total situations and he spend most of his time in prayer. He did very little of the ordinary missionary work. Early in his experience he was praying about an Indian evangelist who was very ineffective. He started to say to God, God, you know how.. and he was going to say how cold that brother is. But the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let him say the word cold. The Holy Spirit said to him, What are you doing accusing that brother to the Lord? He stopped and he began to give thanks to God for everything good he could think of in that brother. Within a few months that man was a flaming fire for Christ.
But to think of the impact of our prayers when they’re negative. Suppose he had gone accusing that brother before the Lord, that man might never have become what God intended him to be. This, to me, places a tremendous responsibility upon us when we pray for our fellow Christians. I have made this little simple rule: If you can’t thank God for a person, don’t pray for them. You’ll find almost every time Paul prayed for people he began by thanking God for them. I just give that as a little illustration how dangerous and subtle the power of condemnation and guilt is. So many times it doesn’t come from our enemies, it comes from our friends. As somebody said, with friends like that, why do we need enemies? I’m emphasizing this point: God will not tolerate condemnation of his chosen. He has pledged himself to maintain our cause. We have an expert advocate.
In Hebrews 3:1 it says: Jesus is the high priest of our confession And in Hebrews 7:25 here’s one of my favorite Scriptures. I think I’ve got a lot of favorite Scriptures! Speaking about this high priest: Hence also he is able to save forever, [but I like to 'the uttermost.' I am rooted in the old translation.] He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through him since he always lives to make intercession for them. It’s interesting to think of the life periods of Jesus’ ministry. Thirty years of perfect family life earning his family living. Three and a half years of public ministry and nearly 2000 years of intercession. What does that tell us about our priorities? We have an intercessor.
1 John 2:1. "My little children, I’m writing these things to you that you may not sin". Thank God he didn’t end there. "And if anyone sins." How many of you would agree that sometimes we do sin? Anybody that never sins, just raise your hand and come forward and we’ll pin a medal on you. "And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." We’ve got the most expert advocate in the universe pleading our case. There is no reason ever to be condemned, do you understand that? God is on our side, Jesus is at the right hand of God, he’s our advocate, God is undertaken to justify us, he will not tolerate condemnation of us. I wonder if you can see how serious this matter of guilt and condemnation is? Let me give you a beautiful Scripture from Isaiah 54, the last verse. How many of you know what that is? I’m sure some of you do. Isaiah 54 verse 17. This is spoken to God’s people. No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper.
Now there’ll be lots of weapons formed against us but they’ll never succeed. And every tongue that accuses you in judgment, you will condemn. Notice that. God doesn’t say, I’ll do it. He says, I’ve given you the basis for you to do it. Did you realize that? Every tongue that will rise against you in judgment, you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication is from me, declares the Lord. Amen. Now, having once again dealt with this matter of condemnation and guilt, we come now to the beautiful glorious climax. But notice you can’t get there under condemnation.
So we read now these closing verses. The climax, I would say, in a simple phrase is inseparable and eternal unity in Spirit with Messiah. That’s where we’re headed. Jesus is the goal. He’s the beginning, he’s the ending. He’s the first, he’s the last. He’s the alpha, he’s the omega. And you haven’t arrived until you have this union with Jesus in the Spirit. Let’s read it now. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Do you think Paul would have listed those things if they could never happen to us? It would have been a waste of words, wouldn’t it?
Paul says we may encounter any or all of those things but one thing they can never do is separate us from the love of God. And then he quotes from Psalm 44, a very somber psalm. Just as it is written, For thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered. That was God’s people under the Old Covenant. I want to tell you, brothers and sisters, I have a deep inner conviction that those words are going to be true of the church before this millennium ends. God has not promised to keep us from persecution. In fact, he’s warned us to anticipate it. But he said persecution can never separate you from the love of God.
I have an acquaintance who’s an expert in statistics in the Christian world. David Barrett is his name, some of you may know, he’s the author of the Christian Encyclopedia. He estimates that every day in this century 1000 believers are laying down their lives for Jesus. That’s 365,000 believers every year. I think that’s an underestimate. We live at the present time in the United States in a somewhat sheltered environment. It’s not going to be that way much longer. All around this earth our brothers and sisters are laying down their lives, they’re being imprisoned, they’re being beaten, they’re being persecuted; but thank God they’re not being separated from the love of God.
Now we go on in these glorious words, verse 37: But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through him who loved us In all what things? Let’s look at the list. Tribulations, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword. In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer. The old version used to say we are more than conquerors. What does that mean? I understand it means you go into the test, you go into the battle and you come through with more than you had when you went into it. You’ve not merely won but you’ve gained spoil. That’s to be more than a conqueror. And that’s what Paul promises us. In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer. Then he comes to this glorious conclusion. For I am convinced It’s something when a person can say 'I’m convinced'. It carries conviction. I’m able to say I’m convinced about some things and I notice when I use that phrase it makes an impact on people.
Paul says: I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. What is Paul talking about? An eternal and inseparable union with Jesus our savior, messiah, through the Spirit which nothing can ever break or terminate. This is the goal of the Christian life. Christ is the goal. He’s the beginning, he’s the ending. I’d like to close by some words from Colossians 3 which have been really impressed upon me recently. Colossians 3, and these will be the closing Scriptures for this session. Colossians 3:3–4: For you have died I prefer to say 'you died.' When did we die? When Jesus died on the cross. "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ".
We have a hidden life which the world cannot see. And then it continues: When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Take out four words, Christ is our life. That’s all you need. It’s a hidden life, a life beyond the veil but he is our life. And then one further Scripture from that chapter verses 10–11: You have put on the new man who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the one who created him a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free man, but Christ is all, and in all. That’s it. Christ is all. When we have him, we have everything. He’s all we need, he’s the beginning, the ending, the author and the finisher.