Text:- Matthew 5:13 You are the salt of the earth;
In the first part of our studies in the Sermon on the Mount we considered the beatitudes as a catalogue of the attributes and blessings of the Christian.
The Lord now directs our attention to the affect the Christian should have on the people with whom they have contact.
The Lord says that we are to be like salt.
What is salt? Combination of a very reactive metal and an equally reactive gas. Both of which in their pure form are dangerous. But when combined are vital to life.
What are the properties of salt? The first thing that we notice about salt is that most things that it comes into contact with are in some way changed. e.g. it breaks down the layer of ice on the road or pathway. It can even break down strong metals like iron. It kills many animals and plant-life. (the dead sea!) It makes bland food pleasant to eat. It is a preservative, an antiseptic and vital for animal life.
It is also very powerful. A very small amount is needed to perform most of the mentioned tasks. A small amount poured out on ice soon clears the problem. We notice around here how quickly nails etc corrode due to atmospheric particles from the sea.
Salt is truly a universal reagent that is capable of doing many things, it is powerful but yet gentle, it can preserve life and yet kill off infections. It has a cleansing affect on open wounds and sores. Salt is vital in the world.
The Christian’s Responsibilities.
The Lord tells us that we are like salt. He says that we are the spiritual salt of the earth. We are here to make a difference to all that we contact. As salt we are to work in many different ways.
We are to be:-
We are to be a preservative just like salt rubbed into meat prevents putrefaction, so we as Christians are to act as a preservative in the world. How is the world to be prevented from getting worse? We are to bring the message of salvation that stops the rot of sin. Sin is the process that causes the decay and death of spiritual life, we need to apply the salt of the gospel to souls that need saving. Are we being salt to a perverse and guilty people?
We are to be an antiseptic in this sick world, bringing in true values that clean up the ways of people. There are open sores of bitterness and anguish, sorrow and pain, anger and hate, error and heresy, loneliness and despair etc. We are to be salt in all of these areas. You might say; our priority is to the people of God, and there are so many needs in the church that I just do not have time to be salt in the world as well. After all it is by our love extended to each other that others will know that we belong to Jesus. I am glad that the Lord did not have that attitude! There was enough work for Him among the Jews that He would never have looked beyond them. I think it is also safe to say that if that had been His attitude He would never have gone beyond His own 12 disciples. They were so complex that they needed the 3 years that He had to themselves. The Lord was our example, He was salt in every way to the people. We are to be like Him.
c) Ice Breakers
We are also to be the ice breakers of society. Not the silly jokes or games used by many in order to make friends with strangers. People are cold toward God, we have a testimony as to His grace in our lives, a testimony that warms the coldest of hearts. Look at the Lord and how He touched peoples lives, He wept at the graveside of Lazarus with the dead man’s sisters. He had a young child sit on His knee. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. All to bring glory to His Father. To warm the hearts of those who are not naturally disposed to God. All that He did was to bring sinners into a warm and loving relationship with God Almighty. We are told to likewise, to bring others to the place where their cold hearts can be dealt with.
Just as salt attacks iron we are also to be on the attack! We are to corrode the very gates of hell. Then Lord Jesus said that He is building His church and the gates of hell cannot stand in the way. We are to attack those gates with the corrosive power of the gospel. The devil hates the gospel just as much as a slug hates salt. The devil shrinks away at the power of the gospel, when we preach it , it is just like throwing a concentrated salt solution on already badly corroded iron. It breaks what is already weakened. We seem to have the impression that the gates of hell are all powerful and of almost equal strength to the power of the Lord. There is nothing further from the truth. The power of the devil is destroyed, he is not even capable to stand in our way, scripture tells us to resist the devil and he will flee. Christians we are to be salt to the devil, the active ingredient is the gospel are we taking the opportunities that we have? The Lord; our supreme example never wasted an opportunity to attack the devil; do we?
The Lord was also a sweet savour that sweetened people around Him. In Him was no deceit or guile, He was beautiful in His personality. In a world that is ruled by deceit and dishonesty He brought honesty and reality. You can imagine how a conversation would change when His presence was felt. Again I wonder how much we are like Him. How do we affect those around us? Are people comfortable to be themselves in our presence? Our very lives should convict them of their wrong attitudes and sins. Sadly I do not believe this to be the case. There seems to be no shame in bragging of evil deeds in front of us, WHY IS THAT? Our lives should be like salt that is painful on festering sores, the festering sores of open sin should smart in the presence of the Lord’s people. Bitterness of heart should be sweetened by our influence, in the same way as food is sweetened by the addition of a pinch of salt. Not because we make a song and dance of the things of which we disapprove but because Christ is seen in us.
The Lord speaks of salt that loses its savour, its saltiness, its very essence. The whole point of salt is salt!!!! Salt without saltiness is not salt at all. It is fake! It cannot be flavoured, it is useless for anything, it is to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. The person who loses their Christian identity is not really a Christian at all. We are saved for time and eternity, Jesus said “no-one can pluck you from out of my hand!” They will be thrown out and trampled under foot by men, they will be held in contempt by those who were deceived by them.
The amazing thing about salt is that it is salt, saltiness is one of its attributes it is impossible to lose its effectiveness. In this Christians we are also like salt, we always have the savour of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will always be effective when we are available to be used by Him. The trouble is that just like salt we can come in different grades of purity. We can get salt that is impure because it is still carrying the contamination of the earth from which it was extracted. It is useful to a certain extent but its uses are limited. It will for instance be useful for clearing the ice from the road and corrosion of iron but no good for your chips. It needs to go through a purification process. Christians we can be a little like this. We were contaminated by sin, saved and purified by the Lord Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection; made pure and holy by God’s grace. But then we so easily become contaminated by the sins of the world. Making us less useful but still capable of attacking the gates of hell. The problem being that our effectiveness is diluted by the impurities that get in the way!
Purified salt is useful for your chips, but that does not mean that it is useless for other tasks like breaking down ice or corroding iron. It will still do these things but others also. The more pure the salt the more universal the applications that it can have. How much like that we are, the purer we get the more useful we are. How do we become more pure? We can learn from salt yet again:- Impure salt is dissolved in the smallest amount of boiling water that is possible, making a very strong solution, any insoluble contaminants are filtered away, it is then cooled down, upon cooling the water cannot contain the amount of salt and the salt then crystallises out of solution. The excess liquid is filtered off and the now pure salt is dried and ready for use. The salt cannot do it for itself, it is performed by the chemist. Well the Lord is the One that purifies the Christian, it is done by us being absorbed into His presence where He removes the contaminants. We come into His presence in our submission to Him, reading and studying His word, learning from it and obeying its decrees. We are purified in our prayers, in our praise and in our worship. The more we look to Him the more we look like Him and the more effective we become in the world.
He is absolutely pure. With salt we can also get what is known as Spectroscopically pure, this is as pure as it is possible to get it. The Lord Jesus was absolutely pure. It is only the purest of salt that is used in the treatment of disease. It is the Purest that deals with the disease of sin. It is Christ who applies His savour on the heart of the sinner, cleansing them from the putrefaction that sin has caused. He is truly like salt in the world we are called to be like Him affecting the world with the salt of the gospel
ARE WE AFFECTING THE WORLD?
We are always an influence on others, either for good or bad! As Christians we are observed more than most, people are looking fir the smallest hint of hypocrisy so that they can use is as their excuse for their rebellion against God. Our inconsistencies become a salve to their consciences!
How do we feel about the influence we have on those who are in contact with us? I hope that we are concerned enough to be salt that moves out ready to season this sad and desperate generation.