10-08-17 The Beatitudes.jpg


Kingdom Living

Kingdom Influence – Salt and Light

Matthew 5:13-16

November 12, 2017


We have spent five Sundays looking at the eight Beatitudes that Jesus began his famous “Sermon on the Mount” with in Matthew 5.  The Beatitudes are eight dispositions, attitudes, or temperaments of kingdom living.  Jesus tells us that as Kingdom citizens, or we could say, as born-again believers, as we begin to see these dispositions develop in our lives, we are a blessed people, a happy people and not just happy, but the source of our happiness is found in this relationship we have with God.  It is divine joy, supreme bliss, transcendent happiness, we are truly experiencing blessedness.  What are these beatitudes that we have looked at over the last five Sundays?

The Beatitudes (vv. 3-12)

3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

~ Poor in Spirit – Emptied of Self (v. 3)

This means that we are emptied of self and we are begging God to fill us.  It is a removal of pride and seeing ourselves as destitute without Christ and dependent upon God.

4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

~ Mourning – Repentant (v. 4)

This is a grief, sadness, or sorrow over sin in our lives.  It is the picture of repentance.

5 "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

~ Meek – Power Under Control (v. 5)

Meekness is having great power, but it is under control.  There is supreme bliss for the kingdom citizen when meekness is a developing disposition in their lives.

6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

~ Hunger and Thirst – Desire and Pursuit (v. 6)

Divine joy is available for the person who feeds on God’s Word and nourishes their spirit with the nutrients of God’s wisdom.

7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

~ Merciful – Withholding what is Deserved (v. 7)

When we withhold the bad that someone deserves to get, there is joy.

8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

~ Pure In Heart – A Reflection of God (v. 8)

Purity of heart is what motivates you to do the things you do.  How you process your thoughts about something.  How your desires and rationale align with God’s will for you.  Purity of heart means you put one thing above everything else in your life, your love and your relationship with the Lord becomes preeminent.

9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

~ Peacemakers – Quiet Rest in the midst of Conflict (v. 9)

As ambassadors of God’s peace, being a witness and testimony of what real peace looks like, or as reconcilers for peace with God we mediate peace attempting to draw others to God’s peace.  There is happiness in this.

10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

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

~ Persecuted – A Suffering Perspective (vv. 10-12)

Do we have the right perspective when it comes to persecution and reviling; people saying evil things against us?  Do we avoid it at all costs, or take joy in sharing in His sufferings?  Do we keep quiet or compromise what we believe to keep from offending others, or do we find joy in standing for our Jesus no matter what others say or do?

The first twelve verses give us eight attitudes, dispositions, or temperaments of a born-again believer.  The last four verses reveal the impact this kind of life has in the world.  Can I say, the effect we have or the effect these dispositions lived out in our lives will have?

The Effect (vv. 13-16)

Let’s continue at verse 13:

13 "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.

14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

~ Salt – Penetration (v. 13)

Verse 13 says we have the effect of salt.  Now I find salt to be one of the most interesting and impactful substances around.  Think about versatility of this product for a moment.  What do we use salt for?

  • Seasoning for food we eat, makes it taste better.
  •  Conditioning – skin conditioning, salt and mineral baths
  • Preservative – used to keep foods from spoiling
  •  Ice removal – melts ice in freezing conditions
  •  Health – body needs a certain amount of sodium
  •  Destruction – kills and destroys certain bacteria

And on the list could go.  I read an article that listed 60 ways we use salt around the home.  When Jesus used salt here to illustrate how our lives should impact the world we live in, He was not saying there is only one specific thing we do, but rather there are numerous ways that our lives should be an influence in our world, just like there are numerous ways we use salt.  Eight of those ways he just listed for us in the Beatitudes.

The way a Christian lives their life should have an impact like salt does.

  • Our life should create thirst in the lives of others.  The people we are around should desire to have the joy and contentment we have and be thirsty for it.
  • Our life should have a preserving effect in our culture.  I certainly believe that this is the reason America has been as good a nation as it has been in the past.  Christians have influenced the behavior of unbelievers.

But as verse 13 tells us, if the salt has lost it taste, it is not good for anything but to be trampled underfoot.  In other words, if Christians no long have an influence in this world, then what are they good for?  This is a powerful question for Christians in our day and age.

There are several characteristics of salt that I believe are very important in relating these idea of believers influencing others.

1) Salt Must Make Contact.

Just because the salt shaker is on the table, does not mean it has any influence on the vegetables on your plate.  Just because we have salt in the canister by the front door, does not mean that it will melt any ice outside the door.  Just because I have salt in my cupboard for curing a piece of pork does not mean that my meat will not spoil.

It is imperative in every situation in which you use salt that it make contact with the medium on which it is supposed to have influence.  Once contact is make, then the salt can do its action of penetrating the substance and begin its influence on that substance.

A definite problem in Christianity is that when we receive Christ as our Savior, we experience a radical transformation, we begin to grow spiritually, . . . and we begin to withdraw from the world for fear of its influence on us.  Now don’t get me wrong, this is actually a good thing to a certain extent.  New believers need to be very careful of the influences they subject themselves to.  For instance, you don’t take a recovering alcoholic and expect him to live in the bar.

But at the same time, there needs to be ways that a Christian can find an influence in our world, without falling prey to its worldliness.  Jesus never expected the salty influence of Christianity to stay in the salt shaker.  It is well and good that you are developing these eight dispositions in your life, but if you are never around unsaved people in the world, then how will it influence them.  There must be contact.

Our task as a believer is not to escape the world, but to embrace the world without embracing worldliness.  I realize that this will take some wisdom on our part, because each of us has a proclivity toward some kind sin in our lives and we need to stay clear of places or people that might be a strong temptation for us to sin.  But with godly wisdom, there are many ways we can come in contact with the people of our world without becoming prey to worldliness.  But there must be contact.

 2) Salt’s Influence is Hidden

When I put salt out on a sheet of ice, I can certainly see the salt, I can see the ice, and I can see the resulting puddle of water from its influence, but I cannot see what takes place in making that transformation.  That part is hidden to me.  I cannot see what takes place when a salted piece of pork becomes cured, but I sure do love the result of a salt cured ham.

My point is simply this.  Most of the time we never see the influence we have on other people.  We think it is hopeless and that we will never have an impact on that person.  We do good things for an unsaved neighbor, help remove snow, take over a pot of soup when they are sick, extend mercy when they have offended us, or any number of things . . . and we may never see any desire in their heart for the things of the Lord.  But we keep on being in contact with them and continue to influence them and maybe one day, that hidden influence of your relationship with them will be seen in a radical conversion to Jesus.

3) Salt is Different

Salt must be different to have an influence on another substance.  If there is no difference, there is no influence.  You can add some salt to a container of salt and nothing will change.  The same is true for you and me.  If we are not different from the world, we cannot have an influence on the world.  That is what the Beatitudes are all about.  The born-again believer is way different from the world.

What I find today is that many Christians in our world are more like the world than they are like Christ.  They talk with the same profanity, they laugh at the same crude jokes, they look at the same porn on the internet, they divorce at the same rate, they cohabit with sexual privileges in the same way outside of the marriage relationship, they hold hateful grudges in the same way, they demean and gossip about others in the same way, . . . and I could go on and on.

But the point is, salt is different.  Christians are to be different.  We do not live perfectly, but our lives should be radically different than the world we live in.  If not, where is the saltiness?   How can we be salt?  Salt is different!

4) Salt is Powerful

I don’t know about you, but I am amazed at the power of a pinch of salt.  It doesn’t have to be a big block of salt to make a big influence.  In fact, the influence is greatly diminished the larger the block.  Think about that for a moment.  I can put a large block of salt on a sheet of ice by the door and it will have some influence in a limited space.  But take salt granules and cast them out across a sheet of ice and see what happens.

How does that apply to you and me?  No matter how small we feel we are, we can make a difference in this world.  In fact, isn’t that what 2 Corinthians 4:7 says “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”  There is amazing power available in our lives, but it is not because of how gifted, well known, or powerful we are.  It is because of the power of God.  The powerful influence of our lives on others is because of the treasure within.

So, the question we must ask is, “Are we salt?”  “Are we different?”  “Are we making contact?”  Do we have the effect of salt in our world?

~ Light – Visibility (vv. 14-16)

14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

There are so many things we can take from the illustration of being light.  When Jesus says to us that we are the light of the world, it presupposes that there is darkness in the world.   The Bible is clear that darkness is the way of those who do not know God (Proverbs 4:19).  They stumble spiritually because Satan has blinded their minds and hearts (2 Corinthians 4:4).  The darkness of this world is in constant battle against the Christian (Ephesians 6:12).  Simply put, darkness in Scripture refers to all that is opposition to God.

Light on the other hand is everything about God.  His provision of salvation in Jesus, His message of love, His eternal home for believers, and all that He does.  Jesus said that He is “the light of the world” (John 8:12).  God said His Word is a “light to our path” (Psalm 119:105).  We are told to “believe in the light so that you may become children of light” referring to Jesus (John 12:26).  Light is the concept of spiritual truth versus dark being spiritual deception.

The point is that as believers, Jesus says that we are the light of the world.  As a people who have seen the truth of the Gospel and now enjoy a special relationship with God, we are to proclaim the truth of the Gospel as His lights in this dark world.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Like salt, there are a couple of characteristics that I think are important to note about light.

1) Light Dispels Darkness

I love the story Dr. Del Tackett tells in the Truth Project about opening the door of a closet that has no light.  He explains that when we are in a room filled with light and we go to a closet that we know is filled with darkness and we begin to open the closet door, darkness does not come pouring out of the closet and fill the room with darkness, no, the light from the room floods into the closet space and the closet is brightened with the light.  The light dispels the darkness.

As a Christian, we must remember that no matter how dark we think it is in this world today, our light will still shine brightly and it will not be overtaken by the darkness.  Light dispels darkness, not the other way around.

2) Light Makes Things Visible

In a dark room you may trip over a toy or run into a piece of furniture, but when there is a light everything becomes visible.  Proverbs 4:19 tells us that the wicked have no way of knowing what they are stumbling over without light.  We are to be the light that makes salvation’s victory over sin visible to the unsaved.  We are talking about our unsaved friends and neighbors understanding the truth of the Gospel, their spiritual need of salvation, and their eternal destiny.  How?  Through the light of the gospel that should be beaming from our lives.  We are to be lights to God’s truth, making it visible.

3) Light Can Be Rendered Useless

Verse 15 tells us that you don’t put a light under a basket.  Why?  Then the light is useless.  Do we put our light . . . the light of Jesus in our lives under a basket at times?  I think we do!  When we are fearful to admit to others in the world that we are a Christian, when we compromise what we believe in order to be accepted by others, when we live like the world, we cover the light of Jesus.  Anything that causes our testimony as a Christian to be diminished is a basket that is rendering our light useless.

Rather than making our light useless and hidden, verse 15 says we need to put it on a stand so that everyone can see it and it illuminates everything.  Verse 16 says that in the same way, we are to let our light shine so that others may see what?  Our good works!  In other words, others will see these Beatitudes, the way we live our lives, and they will see the magnificent change God can make in their lives.

Everything Jesus has just talked about concerning living as a Kingdom Citizen is about being salt and light.  The way we live our lives each day is either penetrating salt, brilliant light, or it is salt without saltiness and light under a basket.  Which is it for you?  Are you more like the world, or more like Christ?  What do others see in your life?

Is there contact with the unsaved?

Is your life different from the unsaved?

Do you have the penetrating effect of salt?

Does your life dispel darkness?

Do you make the glorious Gospel visible?