Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril…
I. THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF MAN ON EARTH IS A BATTLE. This is true of all men, whether godly or ungodly. There are two powers in every man's soul eternally antagonistic — the spiritual and the carnal; the former struggling ever for the absolute right, and the other for the personally gratifying. In the case of the ungodly, of course the spiritual is the weaker. Selfishness and passions struggle to keep the conscience down; whereas, in the case of the godly, the spiritual is the stronger, and the struggle of the higher nature is, to bring the dictates of self and the flesh into absolute subjection. The preceding chapter is a moral history of this conflict.
II. A CONQUEROR IN THIS BATTLE IS A GLORIOUS CHARACTER He who conquers his passions, and subdues all the evil tendencies of his nature, is a hero in the highest sense.
1. He has developed some of the noblest attributes — as courage, self-sacrifice, perseverance. It requires a far higher courage to battle on the unobserved arena of the soul, against the favourite lusts and gods of the depraved nature, than to face an army in the open field.
2. He has pursued a course absolutely right. The course of a warrior admits of many solemn questions as to its rectitude; but he who battles against the wrong in his own heart is engaged in a struggle of undoubted righteousness.
3. He has achieved a result entirely benevolent. Even the most useful of the mere material wars have been mixed with immense evils; but in the case of this moral victory, nothing is destroyed but the destroyer, etc.
III. THE CHRISTIAN IS MORE THAN A CONQUEROR. A man is a conqueror when he overcomes his enemy; he is more than this when he is a gainer by the conquest.
1. He has lost nothing in the conquest. He might have been a conqueror and yet have lost much by his battles. Indeed, most material conquerors have suffered great losses; if not a loss of property, a loss of friends; a loss, perhaps, of health; a loss of peace of mind. But a Christian conqueror has lost nothing.
2. He has gained much by his conquest.
(1) Power. There is a tribe of savages whose warriors have the idea that the strength of the men they have killed flows into them by the fatal stroke. This has a reality in the moral conflict. Every moral enemy slain gives the slayer strength.
(2) Dominion. In material warfare a man may conquer, often does, and not become a king. Not so in this conflict; the Christian conqueror becomes the monarch of his own soul.
(3) Invincibility. In physical campaigns, conquerors have been conquered over again. Not so in this spiritual victory; the man who once conquers sin, becomes unconquerable for ever — he is kept by the power of God, etc.
IV. THE CHRISTIAN IS MORE THAN CONQUEROR THROUGH CHRIST.
1. Christ revealed the terribleness of the enemy. The soul would not have known how terrible her spiritual enemies were, had it not been for the revelation of Christ. He has shown what sin is.
2. Christ furnished the armour for the battle (Ephesians 6:14-18).
3. Christ gave the inspiration for the engagement. His love kindled the martial spirit in the sinner's soul, and roused him to the conflict.
4. Christ gave them the conquering power. He made His strength perfect in their weakness. Thus their victory is through Christ, and the songs of eternity ascribe all spiritual conquests to His love (Revelation 5:9, 12, 13).
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?