Last week a song-writing friend asked her friends to fill in a blank describing God, "He is the___________," She got a lot of awesome responses from her friends, however, one response really grabbed my attention. It was written by Betty Noyes Smith. "'Conqueror' is the word that comes to mind. The Love that conquers hate, the Light that conquers darkness, the Life that Conquers death, the Truth that conquers falsehood...you get the idea." I loved Betty's answer because as I read it, my mind went directly to God's attributes and His power. I also liked it because I was convicted by its truth and began to wonder if my thoughts, words, attitudes, actions, and life reflect someone who believes in God as Conqueror.
I think back on Israel's history. As they left Egypt, they had the privilege of seeing God conquer Pharaoh's hard heart through the plagues He brought about. They got to see God conquer the Egyptian armies when He split the Red Sea, giving Israel time to walk through it on dry land. God had caused confusion in the Egyptian armies. He caused their chariot wheels to become unstable and He caused the Red Sea water to flow back into place drowning Pharaoh's army. Yet, it wasn't long before they began to complain and to doubt God's goodness, love, and plans for them. It wasn't long before they openly rebelled against His instructions, delaying their entrance into the Promised Land. Years later, they learned as they walked in trust and obedience, God defeated armies in miraculous ways on their behalf and blessed them with abundance of goods and peace. Yet, Israel continued to spend years fluctuating between absolute trust and mistrust and between obedience and disobedience to Jehovah God!
When Jesus came, Israel had been without a prophet and they were looking for the Messiah to rise up and defeat the Romans who were occupying their land because of their disobedience. They were so limited in their view of God that they failed to see that Jesus came to conquer so much more than just a human army. During the time He physically lived on earth, Jesus conquered all that ravaged human bodies. He healed diseases, eyes that were blind, ears that were deaf, and limbs that were crippled. He showed that He could conquer by raising dead people from the grave. He also conquered demons that were dwelling in the souls of men, as they sought to destroy people through their sin and self-destructive behaviors.
He conquered when He dissolved gender barriers, saving both men and women, calling both to ministry. He conquered when He dissolved the social and cultural barriers by sharing truth and offering salvation to the Samaritans and other Gentiles as well as to the Jews. He conquered by tearing down economic barriers as He ministered to both the wealthy and the poor. He conquered when He gave freedom to the poor to worship by chasing money hungry vendors from the Temple. He destroyed the false religion that had been created by legalistic Pharisees that had left people either living in terror or so filled with pride that they could no longer see their need of a Savior.
In His death and Resurrection, Jesus conquered spiritual death for us when He faced God's wrath for our sin. In His Ascension and gifting of the Holy Spirit Jesus conquered the power that sin has over us. That is where many of us tend to forget that Jesus is a conqueror. I say “us” because “US” is the alcoholic trying so hard not to give in to the craving for just one more drink, finding it hard to remember to call on God who is a conqueror over his addiction. “Us” is the drug addict who is trying hard to stay clean who finds herself driven by her compulsive need for a pleasurable high, forgetting that God is the conqueror over that self-destructive drive. “Us” is the compulsive eater trying hard not to binge again, the compulsive shopper trying hard not to blow her budget this month, and the compulsive talker trying hard to control her tongue; all forgetting in the battle with the flesh that Jesus is the conqueror when their compulsions grow strong. “Us” is also the individual committed to forming healthier relationships who struggles to remember God, with His everlasting love, is the Conqueror when something triggers his or her fear of abandonment. “Us” is the woman committed to developing godlier speech patterns who feels the ugly, angry words rising up in her in the middle of a heated conflict, forgetting in the moment that Jesus is the Conqueror over her tongue, her anger, and her pride that is the root behind the rage she spews. “Us” is the porn addict who promised his partner that he would not look at porn again but finds himself literally shaking with the craving that comes when his stress levels rise, forgetting that God is the conqueror over the fleshly desire. Any of “US” caught up in that battle between the flesh and the spirit tend to forget that God is the conqueror and in Him we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). We would do well to surround ourselves with humble, gracious, and truthful people who will help us remember God in the middle of the battles in which we find ourselves.
Several years ago, I was in counseling for an eating disorder with roots that ran deep. One night I had had a very long, hard struggle with the desire to use ugly behaviors, that I despised, but I eventually gave into them. The next morning, I went for my walk and was listening to praise music and praying about the struggle I had experienced the night before. I was so full of remorse and frustration and was so focused on the music and praying I didn't even realize I had passed a lady. She hollered at me, and I turned around. She came toward me and placed her hand on my shoulder as I took my ear buds out. She looked at me, square in the eyes, and said to me, "In Jesus the victory is already yours! Believe it and take a hold of it!" Then she turned on her heel and walked away. To this day, I’ve never seen her in my neighborhood again. She saw my struggle and had the courage to remind me that in Christ I was already a conqueror. I just needed to believe it and act on it.
When I looked up the word conqueror I was excited to find that Revelation had a lot to say about us being conquerors in Christ. We conquer the evil one by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimonies! As we speak aloud we defeat the lies, the doubts, the fears, and the enemy behind them because we are living protected by the blood of Jesus. God will feed us from the tree of life, not allowing us to be hurt by the second death. He will feed us with His manna and give us a new name written on stone that no one knows except the receiver. To me, that indicates an intimacy that we have - a name, only He will call us. Maybe that name will be indicative of all that He created us to be. He will give us authority over nations and confess our names before his Father and his angels. He is our defender when the Enemy hurls his ugly accusations of not being good enough, not being worthy, not being obedient enough. He will refuse to blot our names from the book of life when the Enemy accuses us.
What hope we have when we worship the One who is the Conqueror. He has conquered sin with His righteousness, death with Life, darkness with Light, anxiousness with Peace, weakness with Strength, depression with Joy, despair with Hope. If we keep our eyes on Christ we can live the victorious lives to which we have been freed to live. He conquered the enemy at the cross and we strip the enemy of his power with God's truth and with our testimonies. When my old friend ED (eating disorder) comes knocking, I can have victory by defeating the enemy, attempting to entice me, by remembering the cross, by speaking Gods truth, and by giving testimony to what God has done for me. It doesn't matter what the besetting sin is, WE each can be conquerors in Christ by remembering, speaking, and testifying.