TEEN TREE            OF LIFE

Salt and Light – Part 2

August 1, 2021

 

Before you begin, ask yourself a very important question: Do you believe that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins? If you answered yes, you will need to be sure that you are filled with The Holy Spirit. How do you do this? You name your sins to God The Father in His Son’s Name. This is called Rebound. As a Christian, you must rebound any time you sin. This is taught in 1 JOH 1:9: If we confess [name] our sins [directly to God], He [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins andto cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, if you have never believed that Jesus Christ died on The Cross for all of your sins, all you have to do is say to yourself that you believe in Him and you are saved! The Bible verse which teaches us this is ACTS 16:31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

 

As we learned last week, The Sermon on the Mount consists of the first of five sermons (teaching units) that Matthew shares from the Ministry of The Lord Jesus Christ. The main theme of His Sermon is the greater righteousness that God requires of people in a relationship with Him – a righteousness that comes through a whole heart dedicated to God.

 

The theme of the Sermon on the Mount deals with the nature of true righteousness. The Beatitudes, on which Our Lord focuses, are statements that describe the blessings that the truly righteous receive. The Beatitudes teach that people are blessed even in difficult times because they will spend eternity in Heaven. Also, we are blessed for having honorable qualities such as being meek, righteous, merciful, pure, and for being peacemakers.

 

The Beatitudes are contained in MATT 5:3-11 (New International Reader’s Version):

 

3 “Blessed are those who are spiritually needy.

    The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

 

4 Blessed are those who are sad.

    They will be comforted.

 

5 Blessed are those who are humble.

    They will be given the earth.

 

6 Blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for what is right.

    They will be filled.

 

7 Blessed are those who show mercy.

    They will be shown mercy.

 

8 Blessed are those whose hearts are pure.

    They will see God.

 

9 Blessed are those who make peace.

    They will be called children of God.

 

10 Blessed are those who suffer for doing what is right.

    The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

 

11 Blessed are you when people make fun of you and hurt you because of me. You are also blessed when they tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me.”

 

Continuing in Mathew 5, verses12-16:

 

            12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

13 You are the salt of the earth. But suppose the salt loses its saltiness. How can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything. It will be thrown out. People will walk all over it.

 

14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill can’t be hidden.

 

15 Also, people do not light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand. Then it gives light to everyone in the house.

 

16 In the same way, let your light shine so others can see it. Then they will see the good things you do. And they will bring glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

 

True righteousness is not a matter of outward conformity to a list of rules and regulations like the Scribes and Pharisees displayed. True righteousness is a matter of having a changed heart – a changed way of thinking. Each of the Beatitudes, except the last one, describes a characteristic of a person who has a changed heart. These are not characteristics that you can generate yourself. They are the results of The Holy Spirit the working in your life. They are the proof of a person being born-again, made alive in Christ, and being a true Christian.

 

The last Beatitude is the only one that doesn’t describe a characteristic. Instead, it describes the result of having the quality of all the characteristics described in the previous statements. The person who is persecuted for the sake of righteousness (vs 10) is the person that is spiritually needy, mournful, meek, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, and a Biblical peacemaker.

 

Jesus Christ is not bringing up an unrelated thought when He talks about salt and light in verses 13-16. Instead, He is continuing to describe a characteristic of those that are truly righteous. They are the salt of the earth, and they are the light of the world. In fact, the grammatical structure puts an emphasis on the fact that they’re the only ones that are these things. You could translate these verses as “You are the ONLY salt of the earth . . . you are the ONLY light of the world.” The only unresolved question is how that salt and that light are going to be used. The conclusion to the section is His command to us to use these characteristics properly.

 

Stated another way, if you are truly righteous and if you are truly among the saved, then you will give evidence of these things by having (or on your way to having) the characteristics of the Beatitudes. You will be spiritually needy, mournful over sin, meek, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, merciful, pure in heart and a Biblical peacemaker. As a result of having those qualities, the world – which does not have these qualities – will hate you and persecute you and say all sorts of evil things against you falsely because they hate Jesus Christ whom you represent and whom you are like in character. In addition, if those characteristics are yours, then you are the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world. The only question remaining is will you continue to be salty and will your light shine in such a way that other men will see it and give glory to God your Father.

 

But what does Jesus mean that the Christian is “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”? And what dangers do we face in losing our effectiveness by not being these things?

 

The Salt of the Earth

 

In our day, we have a different perspective on salt than people did when Christ walked the earth. We do use it in many of the same ways today, as they did then. And we think of salt as a common commodity and therefore do not consider it valuable. Today, we can purchase salt for only pennies a pound. But in the ancient world, it was very costly. In a period of ancient Greek history, salt was considered so valuable it was called “theon” which translates as divine. The Romans believed that nothing was of more value than salt except the sun. Roman soldiers were actually paid in salt – which is where the saying, “not worth his salt” comes from. It was considered a staple of life, along with oil and wine and was often given as a reward for good service. An Ancient Near Eastern custom still practiced among some Arabs today is that a pact of friendship is sealed with a gift of salt.

 

In Jewish culture, salt was used for many purposes. JOB 6:6 (International Children’s Bible) describes it as being used to season food: Tasteless food is not eaten without salt. There is no flavor in the white part of an egg. Salt is mentioned in EXOD 30:35 (International Children’s Bible) as an important purifying agent: You must make incense as a man who makes perfume would do. Add salt to it to keep it pure and holy.

 

COL 4:6, the apostle Paul uses the metaphor of salt seasoning speech to indicate speaking with intelligence, sensitivity, and consideration: Your speech must always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. He was saying, in effect, that speech should be flavorful to the hearers’ ears.

 

 

Salt was recognized as having medicinal value since babies were bathed in it and rubbed with it. It was also required as part of several sacrifices including cereal offerings: Put salt on all your grain offerings. Salt stands for the lasting covenant between you and your God. So do not leave it out of your grain offerings. Add salt to all your offerings. (LEV 2:13 New International Reader’s Version)

 

We learn in 2 CHRON. 13:5 (New International Reader’s Version) that the agreement between God and His people was referred to as a covenant of salt: The Lord is the God of Israel. Don’t you know that he has placed David and his sons after him on Israel’s throne forever? The Lord made a covenant of salt with David. The salt means the covenant will last for all time to come.

 

With this in mind, we can understand that whether people were Roman, Greek, or Jewish, those that were hearing Jesus say, “you are the salt of the earth” understood that He was talking about a valuable commodity.

 

{to be continued}

 

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