Lifeguards say one of the worst things people they are rescuing can do is to try and help with their rescue. The best thing people can do is relax and let the lifeguard do all the work. Not that long ago, lifeguards were even taught how to knock a panicked person unconscious if this is what they had to do to save them.
In a sense, Matthew 5:48 is God’s knockout punch.
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
This verse summarizes the requirement needed to enter God’s presence.
As we saw yesterday, nothing imperfect can live with him. His holiness emits from him like radiation, destroying everything flawed. Therefore, you can’t have even the slightest flaw. You must be perfect to be with him.
You must be perfect right now. Jesus didn’t say “become” perfect. There’s a big difference between the two. “Be” means right now. “Become” means getting there eventually.
That Jesus meant ‘be’ is emphasized by how it was originally written. It used wording commonly used in legal precepts and laws. And laws deal with the present. The police officer who pulls you over for speeding isn’t interested if you will try to keep the speed limit in the future. It’s about your breaking it right then.
That this deals with the present is apparent by looking at the other commands in this chapter. They are worded in the exact same way. For example, a few verses before Jesus says,
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”Matthew 5:44
These commands would lose their force if applied to the distant future.
His command to be perfect is no different.
Our first reaction is that this can’t be true. Being perfect right now is impossible. If this is what Jesus said, then nobody will be able to be in God’s presence. Why should I even try?
This is the exact point. This is God’s knockout punch. He doesn’t want you to try to help in your salvation. He knows your efforts would ruin it because they are flawed. And flawed people can’t survive in his presence.
Friends, this is essential for you to see. Don’t change God’s knockout punch into a light tap. Don’t weaken it by thinking God wants you to become perfect eventually. Despair of trying to do anything to save yourself. Rather trust solely in Jesus.
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