Lucia's Blog: SALTY CHRISTIANS
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, September 14, 2017

SALTY CHRISTIANS

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men."  
Matthew 5:13


Most of us know someone who is on a salt-free or low-salt diet under doctor's orders. In some cases, they can add a little more hot sauce or pepper to make up for the loss of taste, but we all know when food lacks salt, because it is hardly worth eating. People are sometimes like that, ... bland. It is usually a sign that they lack the faith and courage to speak up and defend what they believe in or to do the right thing when most people will not.

Jesus made a special point of using the symbolism of salt to show us the nature of our example and teaching before a watching world. Let us meditate on saltiness.

In Matthew 5:13 Jesus calls His disciples "the salt of the earth," metaphorically. Indeed, this is a great compliment that Jesus is paying His followers.  To be as "the salt of the earth" expresses the vital importance they have in God's plans and purposes.  We are as important as salt is to this earth.  Salt is so essential to human life that without it our bodies cannot function.  Salt provides balance to the earth.  Without salt in the world and in the oceans, we would all die.  God grants this honor (to be the salt of the earth) only to those who follow Him, His disciples.

Just as salt is necessary to make our food taste good, it is indispensable to our life as Christians.  The saltiness of doing the will of Jesus gives our lives flavor and the quality of life that makes us acceptable to Christ.  To understand Jesus' concept of salt, we must be aware of the many qualities salt possesses.  Consider the excellent qualities or properties that salt can offer in our lives so that we can reflect a life worthy of Christ which is vital for the preservation of our faith.

  • Salt is of Great Value:  
In Jesus' time and through out history, salt has been a very valuable product.  Salt has moved the course of history on many occasions.  It has controlled economies and generated taxes.  It has moved men to create monopolies, and even to fight wars.  Salt has been used as a currency of exchange. Many Arab merchants traded salt for gold.  The word "salary" from the Latin word, "salarium," originally denoted a Roman soldier's allowance to buy salt, from sal ‘salt.’  Salt was as valuable as the salary of a Roman soldier.

  • Salt Adds Zest And Flavor:  
Salt is a flavoring agent.  It improves the taste of bland food.  Any food that lacks salt is tasteless, plain and even unpleasant.  Job said, "Can something tasteless be eaten without salt, Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?"  Obviously NOT!  It is important that we understand that our faithfulness to Christ, our salt, is what gives flavor to life.  The saltiness of Christians even gives flavor to the lives of those who are not Christians.  Those who are not Christians are observing how we conduct and live our lives as Christians.  If we live godly and righteous lives and our faith is real, this influences them to want a similar path.  It should cause them to want to become Christians.  
"To be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.  For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age."  (Titus 2:9-12 

When Jesus said, "you are the salt of the earth," He implied that flavor was found in the salt and not on the earth.  Truly, this earth without salt is tasteless, insipid and unsavory.  Thus, our godly influence is the only thing that will give flavor and meaning to this dying world of darkness.  Our influence is very important to God and to this world.  As Christians, we must be to the world what salt is to food.  Salt turns a tasteless meal into a tasty and flavorful one.  If the world does not see Christ reflected in us, they will not see Him anywhere.  There is no other salt on earth but Christians, Jesus' followers.  There is no substitute for salt.  Each Christian must be like grains of salt, scattered throughout this world of darkness to give and intensify flavor and be acceptable and pleasing to God.  There is a significant difference between food that has no salt and food that has salt. Likewise, our lives must make a difference everywhere:  in our homes, our families, our friends, our teachers, and in the church.  Our faithfulness and righteousness, our godly conduct, our good conscience, our speech, must be the salt that will impact the lives of others around us.  We must be the salt in all of our conversations with others, (Col. 4:6).  How? By letting "our  speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person."  We must be salt when reproving, rebuking, exhorting and instructing one another.

We must be salt in our attitudes and conduct toward others.  We must stress the need for godly behavior, godly example, godly influence, manifesting the fruits of the Spirit in our daily living.  A genuine follower of Christ does not show hatred or bitterness but rather love and joy; he does not show an anxious and hopeless heart but a heart of peace and longsuffering.  He does not show malice and unbelief but kindness, goodness, and faith.

We must be the salt of the earth by the way we cover our bodies.  We must cover our bodies modestly and discreetly, (1 Tim. 2:9).  In our worldly culture, we are ruled by fashions that are indecent, sensual and provocative attire, like the attires of a harlot.  As Children of God, we must fight against the current of ungodly fashion.  We must clothe ourselves in a godly and chaste manner.  We teach others by our godly example, by dressing the way God wants us to.  We must be different!  They must know that we in the church are the salt of the earth by the way we cover our bodies with modesty and godliness.  It is the only way we can point others to Christ.

It is vital that we, Christians, show godliness and that others perceive it as being lived in our lives. This is how we portray Christ in us.  This is how we direct others to Christ, by our godly example. This is how they know we are clothed with Christ.  This is the only WAY our Christianity is enhanced or intensified by our salt.  In other words, this is how we show salt in ourselves and glorify our Creator.  How is this done? 

  1. By letting our light shine before men.  
  2. By showing our good works of righteousness.  
  3. By showing God's Ways to others responding in love, with a heart that desires to please and glorify God rather than self.

You see salt adds enthusiasm and zeal to our Christian life.  One of the greatest dangers to the Lord's church today is the danger that we become tasteless or insipid.  That is to say, that the church runs the risk of losing her enthusiasm, zeal, and interest, becoming dull, wishy-washy, anemic, weak, and lifeless.  She may stand for nothing!  She may lose her love for the Truth and her willingness to contend earnestly for it.  She may compromise everything!  She may indulge sinners within her and not correct what is crooked:  the sinful life.

Jesus expressed His fear that the “cause of Christ” might be committed to those who would lose the salty flavor that must characterize His Way of life. Sadly, those who stand for nothing and compromise everything, will fall for anything.
"As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love."  (Ephesians 4:14-16).

If we are indeed His followers, we have no business being bored and ineffective.  To the contrary, we must be zealous, enthusiastic, energetic, and eager.  We must have a passion for Christ and show it.  Let us learn from our first-century brethren who were not insipid or tasteless, lacking in flavor and zest.  Their love for Christ, His Truth, and His church was so fervent that they were even willing to die for it in the midst of tremendous opposition.  
"Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned).  When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them,  saying, 'We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.'  But Peter and the apostles answered, 'We must obey God rather than men'"  (Acts 5:26-29).  

Their zeal makes me want to be a better Christian for Christ and His cause!  They had filled all Jerusalem with His doctrine.
"But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and attacking the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people. When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, 'These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.'  They stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things.  And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them.'"  (Acts 17:5-9).  

Without a doubt, they turned the world upside down with the Gospel.  The Lord's church began with the two edged Sword of the Spirit. They did not hesitate to use that Truth to cut to the heart of those who lived in sin or error.  They still proclaimed the Good News.  They preached repentance, salvation, and damnation.  They did not waiver or compromise the Truth about sin.  They brought the hope of salvation to a dying world lost in darkness because of sin.  They confronted sin and offered the cure.  My question is then, don't you think that what was good for them back then is good for us today?

  • Salt Increases Thirst:  
It is also true that salt generates thirst.  When we consume foods that are rich in sodium, our bodies will crave fluids all day.  It increases our thirst.  It gives us a strong desire to "take the water of life without cost."  (Revelation 22:17).  Remember Jesus' Words to the Samaritan woman at the well when He asked her to give Him a drink.
"Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”  (John 4:13-14).  

Also, notice what Jesus told the Pharisees at the feast of booths, 
"Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."'  
We must have an intense desire to thirst for Christ if indeed we are salt ourselves.

  • Salt Has Strength:  
Salt has the power to destroy certain microorganisms, such as bacteria.  It can stop the growth of weeds and grasses.  It can also kill certain insects.  By the same token, the salt in Christians can kill all of the ungodly, lawless works of the flesh and all forms of evil.   
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."  (Galatians 2:20 
"For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live."  (Romans 8:13).  

The power in our lives to kill the flesh and live in newness of life rests in the Gospel, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..."  (Romans 1:16).  If we indeed claim to be His disciples, we will surely abide in His Words.  We will feed and digest His Words.  We will live and walk in His Word.  
"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.'"  (John 8:31).  

It is only through the Word that we can be built up and be given strength.
"And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified."  (Acts 20:32).

 Apart from the Word of God, we will lose our strength rendering us weak and unable to withstand sin.  
"Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You."  (Psalm 119:11).
  • Salt Preserves or Saves:  
When salt is added to any kind of fresh meat, it acts as a preservative agent.  It delays the decay process.  There is nothing worse than decomposed meat.  It is disgusting!  The practice of salting meats to preserve them has been used for ages.  Notice that when Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, many of His listeners were familiar with fish.  They were in the fishing business.  They were well aware of the qualities of salt and how it was used to cure and preserve their fish.  This made it easier for them to understand the effects of the salty way of living.  They were to have a preserving, saving influence on those among whom they walked.  Notice that before the invention of refrigeration, salt was the only thing people had to preserve and save things.  Salt was crucial for preserving.

When men abandon salt in their lives, they start walking in sin, in the works of the flesh.  The earth is corrupted.  Sin begins to take control of their lives.  Truth has very little influence in their lives. They are seared in their conscience toward sin and the works of lawlessness.  Sin starts to rot the soul, and the hope of salvation is lost.
"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."  (Galatians 5:19-21).  

We know that the earth can decay, corrupt and rot if we as salt don't prevent it.  It is easy to see such decay in all moral values (crimes, dishonesty, insecurity, lack of integrity, immorality, indecency, lack of interest in principles of righteousness).  Our world is decaying little by little.  And though the world has advanced significantly in technology, science, reforms,  medicine, and knowledge; they still cannot stop the deterioration and corruption that exists in our society.  Thus, the only hope for this world of darkness is the salt of the earth, that is, those sincere and genuine Christians or followers of Christ.  Faithful Christians are the means that God uses to stop the forces of evil.  We Christians are here to stop all lawlessness and corruption and to hold back or prevent all decadence in our society.  How?  By our godly influence and example.  As Christians, we ought to prove ourselves to be blameless, pure and above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we appear as lights in this world.  Thus, our godly conduct and the Word of God are what makes us the salt of the earth.

To be genuine Christians, we must escape the corruption of this world, (2 Peter 1:4).  We must be godly examples so that others might escape the lawlessness that causes that corruption.  It is therefore vital to "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction."  Unfortunately, many pretend to be salt but preach a different Gospel, a false doctrine or teaching that is not Christ's.  A corrupt Gospel does not save anyone from all lawlessness or corruption.  Therefore, it is crucial to preach true and sound doctrine to preserve and save the souls that have been corrupted because of sin and false doctrine.

It is also vital to demonstrate with our good and righteous works the faith that we profess, that we might not deny Him, (Titus 1:16).  Those who are disobedient and unfit for any good work can never be the salt of the earth.  Take heed!

  • Salt Has a Destructive Power:
The kind of salt that was used in Bible times was not of the same quality as the refined salt we consume today. It was common back them for salt to lose its properties.  In Luke 14:34-35, Jesus declared, "Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Using a little bit can melt ice but using a lot can ruin things.  Too much salt can also harm or kill living organisms like grass, garden slugs. You see salt in moderate quantities was useful for the soil as a fertilizer.  But when salt faded, it was harmful to the soil as a fertilizer,  instead of useful. It was difficult if not impossible to grow vegetables.  The phrase, "It is no longer good" in Matthew 5:13, implies that it was useful and valuable, but now is no good anymore.  I think one of the things that can disturb or provoke anyone is to tell him, "you're useless" or "you're good for nothing."  Spiritually speaking, if we are not the salt of this earth, in this life, "we are good for nothing" but to be trampled under foot by men.

According to the dictionary, the manure pile (dunghill) is a place where the excrement is deposited. Salt fights against filth and uncleanliness (impurity, dirt).  But notice that salt was of no use and good for nothing when it lost its properties.  I honestly believe that these words should prick our hearts. Therefore, let us examine our heart to see if we are behaving like the salt of the earth or if we are good for nothing.  Take heed and meditate on this!

One who is striving to follow Jesus will make this world a better place in the same way that salt helps and gives flavor to food.  In Acts 2:47, the disciples were described as "praising God and adding favor with all the people."  Surely, they added something valuable and good to society.  Salt is a powerful flavoring agent.

Indeed, it is possible for salt to lose its flavor.  Why?   Because salt can become contaminated with impurities, like dirt.  Jesus is warning Christians about losing what makes them valuable before God as "salt." If he is not careful to separate himself from the harmful impurities of sin, a Christian runs the risk of becoming contaminated.  Thus, "he is good for nothing" in his service to the Lord unless he comes back to Him seeking forgiveness on God's terms.  Christians must be pure in speech, thoughts, and deeds, (Col. 4:6).  In doing this, they will have a preserving influence on godliness and righteousness as salt preserves food and prevents it from spoiling.  Like salt, each Christian must strive to remove or melt any hindrances that would cause others to stumble.  However, like salt, he may irritate some people.  (You know how irritating salty sweat can be when working in the sun).  Why?  Because so often when one stands up for Christ and lives for Him only, others will be irritated or rubbed the wrong way, though this is not his purpose.  Moreover, followers of the Lord, like salt, have the power to destroy that which is sinful whenever they confront it.  We must eradicate all sin from our lives and fight all forms of evil.  A faithful Christian should cause others to thirst for righteousness as salt causes physical thirst, (Matt. 5:6).

To be salt, we Christians must be different (distinct) from the people of the world and reflect Christ in everything we do and say. We may have great knowledge of the Scriptures, but if we show a false worldly image in our behavior, our knowledge is useless. We are no different than the ungodly. We are hypocrites and can never be the salt of the earth. God will bring His wrath on us just like on them. Take heed!

It is sad to see a Christian dress like the ungodly world, party and revel like the world, and show all the outward evidence that the world still influences him. It should be the other way around. We should be the light of the world, the salty influence that shows the world a better way to live. My beloved brethren, it is deplorable for a Christian to become a stumbling block and a cause of sin and death instead of being the salt of the earth that preserves life!! Jesus wants us to be a good and positive influence on the world and thus the preserving saltA Christian who walks like the worldly and ungodly is not walking in righteousness, but rather in darkness and lawlessness. Instead of being salty, being different, provoking others to do good, and having a significant impact on their hearts, he behaves worse than the world. His ungodly conduct actually causes others to sin, people who may not even know God yet. The Christian knows better, and that makes it worse. Instead of opposing the works of darkness and lawlessness, he participates as if he has no conscience of sin. He has forgotten that “salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  And 'if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown and trampled underfoot by the men.'"  Take heed to the Words of Christ!


CONCLUSION:

Salt is mostly good for two things:  to enhance flavor and for food preservation.  Jesus wants His followers to be  “the salt of the earth.”  What that means is that we must make this world we live in a flavorful one for God and thus preserve it. Salt has preserving power.  Jesus, our Lord, demands that we be to people what salt is to foods.  Why?  Because we are the saving and preserving force or power to this world.  The world is lost in sin.  Therefore, we must carry the Gospel (the saving force or power) to them.  Without the righteousness and holiness of God, this world is doomed, (Psalm 9:17; Prov. 14:34; Amos 9:8).  You see God spared the ancient world of righteous Noah and his family.  God could have spared Sodom and Gomorrah for only ten righteous people.  Thus, it is vital to have close contact with the salt and the meat.  You see salt that is away just a few inches from meat would do no good.  We must not isolate ourselves from the lost but rather be a godly influence on them so that we may teach them the paths of righteousness to be saved.

What the world (darkness) needs is salt, pure salt.  To be the pure salt of the earth, we must be Christians who sincerely and faithfully live for the Lord, doing His will.  Christians who steadfastly stand for the Truth and righteousness, being themselves good examples; being concerned about their influence and teaching, always doing their very best so that they might be the salt of the earth.  Sadly, many Christians have lost their saltiness or flavor because they have been polluted, contaminated and stained by the flesh, this world, (James 1:26-27; Jude 22-23).  Likewise, Christians can lose their saltiness or flavor by becoming lukewarm, watered down, wanting to partake of the fruits of darkness without rebuking them; not being zealous for the Lord.  Lukewarmness can rob us of our saltiness or flavor.

Therefore, let us always remember that for salt to be effective, we must come in contact with the Truth, abide in it, feed on it and digest it.  This is the only way we are going to preserve our lives and receive salvation.  We must take advantage of salt to have its effect on us.  It will be of no use to us if we do not use it well.  It will eventually be thrown away.

In Mark 9:50 Jesus said,
"For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

In this passage, the word "fire" makes reference to hell.  The phrase "salted with fire" is used literally in this text.  In the Bible, salt is a symbol to describe that which is preserved from decay. Thus, if one is salted with fire, then he is preserved with fire from absolute decay (i.e., he is eternally kept in a state of severe pain with no end whatsoever).  Here in this Scripture, Jesus is stressing the truth about punishment in hell for all eternity.  There will be no annihilation!  The word "everyone" in this context is assigned to those who refused to "cut off" the offending part.

In Leviticus 2:13 we read, "You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt."

The phrase, "with all your offerings you shall offer salt" in our context is parallel with Romans 12:1 which says that all Jesus' faithful followers are to be "living sacrifices."  How?  By denying the pleasures of sin and choosing to live a life according to the will of God.  Thus, we can see a contrast in this Scripture between the two future states of preservation:  heaven and hell.  Those who are living sacrifices to God will be preserved to enjoy God's love in heaven.  Everyone else that does not do the will of God will be preserved in hell to face their just punishment.

Mark 9:50 communicates a similar sentiment to Matthew 5:13.  "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men."  And although salt preserves, if any Christian does not persevere until the end, he is worthless and good for nothing, (Matt. 10:22; Rev. 2:10).  When one is the salt of the earth, he will have "peace with one another."

We are the salt of the earth when we love God's Truth and the souls of men.  When we speak the Truth in love, we can preserve life and show the flavor or beauty of our faith.  Love without Truth is blind and willing to combine with other false doctrines that suit it well.  Love without Truth compromises our firm faith.  Love without Truth ignores sin and fails to confront it.  On the other hand, Truth without love can be offensive and will turn people away from the Gospel.  Truth without love is cold and hard.  Truth without love has very little influence.  Therefore, we need both Truth and love to be of great value like salt.  So, are you the salt of the earth?  Does your life show the qualities of salt?  Or have you been contaminated with impurity like sin?  Remember the Lord's admonition"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."  (Romans 12:2).

Why not start examining your life and see if there are any impurities you need to correct?  Why not resolve to start being the salt our Lord demands that we be?  Know that to be the salt of the earth is a great privilege granted to us by the Lord.

May God bless each one of us as we strive to please Him and do His will.  May our Lord help us never to lose our salt and become tasteless in His kingdom.  May we be Christians seasoned with His salt so that we may glorify Him with our righteous and godly works.

"Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."  (Luke 14:34). 

Luci