Essential or Non-Essential?

Have you noticed how draining political discussions can become after awhile? I’m tired of the presidential election already and we’ve got miles to go. Any continued controversy is like that, whether in a marriage, a business partnership, or, really, any relationship. Once the opinions are clear and the positions are set, it is detrimental to keep on hackling over it. I speak from experience!

Romans 7 is like that in Christian circles. The debate always gets back to “Who is the man in Romans 7?” Was it Paul’s experience as a non-Christian or as a Christian or somewhere in between? Then, as the debate heats up, the main point of the passage is totally overlooked, and we are tired of the whole thing.

I bring this up to show how “non-essential” this debate is. What are the main points of the passage? The discussion ought to be about the power and strength of sin, and how we’ve been set free from feeling like a slave to either sin or the law once we are “in Christ.” Or about how the function of the law is to show us our sin and our need of a Savior. A third main point is about how the law has its limits: it cannot save us nor sanctify us no matter how “moral” we think ourselves. Or we could talk about how Romans 7-8:4 is a cure for any spiritual depression we might slip into. Matters like these are essential, don’t you see?

That is why I bring this up. Thinking our way through the Bible requires making decisions about essentials. Enjoy your liberty to hold onto your view of which spiritual realm Paul was in at the time. Then we can focus on what really counts like, “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!” That is a wonderful essential we can agree upon.

One who is totally safe in her personal relationship with God is not captive to the sin within. She flourishes in her liberty, allowing her to grant that liberty to others. She knows how to use the law to expose her own wrong thinking or actions. She is, then, not going to stay long in spiritual depression. Now these are things worth discussing!

“Unity in essentials; Liberty in non-essentials; Charity in all virtues.”

About Carol Brandt

I earned a B.A. in History from Florida State University and M.Ed in.Higher Education from Florida Atlantic University. I taught high school social studies before "retiring" to full-time homemaking and raising two daughters. Now I love being a grandmother to four boys and a girl. I have also raised five collies. My husband, John, was an optometrist, who worked tirelessly for his profession through private practice and as a consultant, and served on the Board of Trustees of Illinois College of Optometry for twenty years. Ernest Reisinger was my chief mentor in this warm-hearted application of Calvinism. He gave me many books! The Founders Journal and Founders Conferences, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Charles Spurgeon have been other sources of Reformed thinking as well as the other warm-hearted ones listed in my book, "Warm-hearted Calvinists."

2 Comments

  1. Well said Carol. We just went that very passage in Romans 7 last week and tonight we will be looking at Romans 8:1-11.

  2. womenembracingfaith

    Ginnie,
    I hope your study of Romans 8 shows you how wrong the “carnal Christian” theory is. We can’t just do whatever we wish, and still claim a personal relationship with Christ Jesus. Instead, we have the Holy Spirit to empower us, to help us, and to guarantee that one day we will even be made perfect. Carol

Comments are closed