Do you know about Bible Study Magazine? There are a lot of Christian magazines out there (some better than others), but I have always hoped for a good one that deals with the study of Scripture. I used to enjoy Bible Review, which was discontinued some time ago. While BSM is not aiming at offering Biblical scholarship like BR did, what it is trying to do is desperately needed in the Church today. So, I support it and I encourage you to consider telling your pastor/church about it. There could be a lot worse things to be reading over your morning coffee!
My article this month is on that ever-perplexing Romans 7 and the “I.” Don’t go chasing down my article to find a new and shocking reading. I try to offer a sensible reading based on something like Francis Watson’s view of contrasting Christ with Torah and the problem of sin. Anyway, here is an excerpt:
Excerpt from “Can We Overcome Sin?” by Nijay Gupta, published in the Sept–Oct ’11 issue of Bible Study Magazine (http://www.biblestudymagazine.com )
Sometimes sin can feel like slavery. We can feel uncomfortable in our own skin. Shouldn’t we know better and do better? Should we throw up our arms and cry, “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” like Paul in Romans 7:24?
Some people certainly do that. But is Paul really communicating that Christians are bound to struggle—that we should just acknowledge our weakness and move on? If Romans 7:14–25 reflects Paul’s fight and failure with sin, the rest of the letter doesn’t make much sense.
Paul dealt with one major issue that addressed the role of the Jewish law, the “Torah” (a Hebrew word for their contractual law with their God, meaning “guidance”). Jews directed their whole lives according to the Torah. When the Messiah came along, many Jewish Christians asked: What do we do when Gentiles (non-Jews) want to join our religion? Do they believe in Jesus and follow the guidelines of the Torah, or do they just accept Jesus?
Some Jewish Christians were insistent about this issue. They could hardly conceive of life apart from obeying the Torah. It was the best way of life. It was given by their loving God and it told them how to fight sin and live prosperously. Why would they not obey the Torah and its regulations?
Paul, though, said that Gentile Christians did not need to follow the Torah. The atoning freedom of Christ and the power of the Spirit were enough for their salvation. Paul was even willing to say that the Torah could become an obsession for Jews. In their attempt to get it all right, they got it all wrong: The Torah was never meant to conquer sin. Sin was simply too strong.