John 5 demonstrates the attribute of God’s mercy in Jesus Christ. Jesus remains merciful to all those in unbelief, offering His hand of spiritual help as long as each person lives. We also see the enemies of the gospel in this passage, who they are, what they say, and how they act. Religious people who remain in unbelief are reminded by Moses in Exodus 34:6-7 and Deuteronomy 7:9-10 that the Lord God is both compassionate and just, extending lovingkindness to all and punishment to the guilty who reject Him. We learn from David that God will show Himself merciful to the merciful (2 Sam. 22:26), and all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to those who keep His commandments (Psalm 25:10). Paul teaches us more about the rich mercy of God in Ephesians 2:4-5. We are made alive by Christ because of the great love by which God loved us even when dead in our transgressions.
We live in the most informed generation possibly of all time. We have an enormous amount of information available to us, whether it is legitimate or not. Thomas Jefferson used the phrase "knowledge is power" in his letters at least four times, each time regarding the establishment of a state university in Virginia. He also believed in the power of knowledge to bring safety and happiness.
Despite the amount of knowledge acquired by all generations leading to ours, we still have not curbed societal ills of hatred, violence, immorality, and addiction. Knowledge cannot control our passions. It cannot change the human condition.
There is only one kind of knowledge that can permanently change a person. "Only intelligent commitment of a life in light of God's gift of salvation can curb the human condition" (Bennett). Only God receives the glory for changing a human being and sustaining that transformation (Romans 11:36). Sinful people need to hear of Christ and surrender their hearts to His authority.
Romans 6-7 are all about how a Christian becomes more Christ-like after he or she comes to know Jesus. Chapter 6 takes a positive approach, while chapter 7 takes a negative approach.
Sinclair Ferguson compared studying Romans to climbing Mount Everest. We are in the midst of the book's third section discussing how we become more like Christ in our character: sanctification. This chapter will be like a base camp as we prepare to take on the next ascent. The content of Romans 6-7 help us to avoid extremism on two counts: spiritual license and legalism. In Jesus Christ, we have died to both sin and the law. We are free from the power of sin, though not yet of its presence.
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