The apostle Paul used a powerful expression in Romans 8:37: “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” How do we become this kind of overcomer?
Romans 8 overflows with inspiring passages. Though Paul did not try to hide the difficult challenges Christians can face, he said:
- “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (verse 18).
- “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (verse 28).
- “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (verse 31).
In spite of all the trials, Paul said none of these things could separate us from the love of Christ. Then in Romans 8:37 he wrote a fascinating verse that highlights the transformation Christians are called to make:
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
More than conquerors meaning
The word Paul used comes from the Greek root word nikao “to conquer” (Thayer’s), which, as we will see, also means overcome.
The expression “more than conquerors” is hypernikao, which Thayer’s defines as “to be more than a conqueror, to gain a surpassing victory.”
Albert Barnes comments on this expression, “We are the victors, not they. Our faith is not destroyed; our love is not diminished; our hope is not blasted. But it is not simple victory; it is not mere life, and continuance of what we had before; it is more than simple triumph; it augments our faith, increases our strength, expands our love to Christ. The word used here is a strong, emphatic expression, such as the apostle Paul often employs” (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible, note on Romans 8:37).
From fear to faith
This is a wonderful promise, but the Bible makes clear that Christians do not start out as spiritual conquerors. Christians begin not as the mighty or wise of the world (1 Corinthians 1:26), but often as the weak in faith and the fearful.
But with God’s surpassing mercy and strength, we are called to change—to be transformed (Romans 12:2). We are called to grow in faith and become overcomers, conquerors—and more than conquerors!
So what does God want us to do?
He who overcomes
At the end of the Bible God says, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (Revelation 21:7). “Overcomes” is also from the Greek word nikao, “to conquer.”
This is contrasted with the negative trait “cowardly” in the next verse. The Greek word translated “cowardly” is deilos, which Thayer’s says means “timid, fearful.” We will read another use of this word later.
So we are called to be overcomers, to overcome all the sins and even the cowardice. And, as we will see, God has given us all that we need to become overcomers.So we are called to be overcomers, to overcome all the sins and even the cowardice. And, as we will see, God has given us all that we need to become overcomers.
We can conquer through Christ’s sacrifice, our repentance and God’s forgiveness, and through the power God gives through the Holy Spirit. (Study more about this in our booklet Change Your Life.)
Be strong and of good courage
So, if we start as weak in faith and spiritual power, what should we do?
First, notice that we are in good company. Consider that Timothy was probably a bit timid (2 Timothy 1:7), and that Joshua was commanded six or seven times to “be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:6). That’s a lot of encouragement!
And we can take encouragement from that instruction as well, for God wants us to grow to be strong and of good courage.
Why are you so fearful?
And consider a story from the Gospels when Jesus Christ’s chosen disciples were fearful (deilos, which can also be translated as cowardly). Jesus and the disciples were on a boat in the Sea of Galilee.
“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’
“Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?’” (Mark 4:37-40).
I admit I would have had a hard time not being fearful in that situation! If these seasoned fishermen thought it could be the end—that they were perishing—who am I to disagree!
But Jesus was expecting them to grow in faith. Other versions say, “Have you still no faith?”
It is God’s plan that they, and we, grow in faith. We know that they did overcome cowardice and grow strong in faith after that.
We, too, can overcome fearfulness and cowardice and grow in faith.
How to grow in faith and overcome
So how do we grow in faith and courage and overcome? The Bible gives several concrete steps we can take.
- Study what God has done and promised in the Bible. Study the examples of what God has promised and fulfilled, from calming the sea for the disciples to opening the Jordan River and knocking down the walls of Jericho before Joshua.
All of God’s encouragement and help worked in the life of Joshua. He became an overcomer, a conqueror. Joshua 10:40 records, “So Joshua conquered all the land.”
And the disciples also overcame fear and became overcomers.
In Acts 3 Peter and John had been used by God to do a notable miracle, and this attracted a crowd, and eventually attracted the religious leaders, who arrested Peter and John.
When the apostles were questioned, they no longer were fearful and Peter no longer denied Christ, but powerfully preached that the miracle was done in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom their captors had crucified (Acts 4:8-10, 13, 19).
Peter and John overcame their fear and became bold. They became overcomers—conquerors!
- Pray for faith. Come boldly to the throne of grace and pray for more faith. Some have prayed, “Increase our faith.” Another man said in a severe trial, “I believe; help my unbelief.” God hears these prayers and helps.
- Put on the armor of God, which allows us to be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” We have a great series of articles online that goes through all the elements of the armor of God and how to put it on.
- Confront personal sins. The way to deal with sin is not to hide or deny it, but to end it. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
- Live by faith. Try to make every decision based on the criteria, what would God want me to do? We must make the changes we know we need to make to overcome the world and to become more and more like Christ. Ask for God’s help—don’t get paralyzed by fear and discouragement. God will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Trust Him.
- Overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). When we fill our lives with good thoughts and actions, the evil will be pushed out and conquered. You can read more about this in “Bring Every Thought Into Captivity.”
“Grace to help in time of need”
God knows He has called the weak and powerless and fearful. But He gives us all the encouragement we need to rely on His strength and power and the courage that comes through His Spirit. He provides “grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
He wants us to be strong and of good courage, to be the overcomers that He promises to richly bless. He wants us to be those who conquer the pulls of the world and Satan.
God wants us to overcome. He will help us overcome. Be strong and of good courage and become “more than conquerors”!