Christian: Are You Salt AND Light?

September 23, 2012 at 11:14 AM

Just back from a great morning worship service and we had a guest speaker who presented a wonderful and timely message on what it means to be a Christian, including the responsibilities we have not only to God in Christ, but to the lost of this world.  Let me paraphrase the message.

We live in a world of increasing antagonism toward authentic Christianity.  This is obvious, or should be to those who take their commitment to Jesus seriously.  To those who compromise who they are, they might not even notice this growing antagonism, or they will assume that those “legalistic” Christians are getting what they deserve.

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus speaks of being salt and light in a world that is “flavorless” (as far as authentic goodness is concerned) and exceedingly dark.  That darkness continues to grow and will one day consume the earth, under the dark leadership of the coming Antichrist.

As our guest speaker pointed out this morning, every known group is coming out of the closet bragging about their sexual proclivities.  The world is simply supposed to accept these individuals and their sexual state and preferences.  Those who do not are seen as “haters.”  I recently read of a woman who wants to marry her dog and is looking to homosexual groups for support.

Yet, while these people are coming out, Christians are essentially supposed to go into the closet, keeping our biblical opinions to ourselves.  We should not deign to speak against lifestyles that are in disagreement with Scripture.  We should simply shut up.  In order to facilitate this, the world has turned to name-calling.  They believe that if they can make sharing a biblical opinion about their lifestyle so heinous, then we will shut up out of fear.  Either that, or they hope to make it a crime to speak “hatred” toward another group, sending many Christians to jail.

Look at the debacle regarding Chick-fil-A.  Not long ago, Dan Cathay stood up for biblical truth and the gay community hated him for it.  They called protests at eateries.  Politicians got into the act claiming that they would do everything they could to keep a Chick-fil-A branch from opening in “their” cities.

Things died down for a while, but recently, news came out that owners of Chick-fil-A met with gay groups promising that they would no longer give their money to groups that specifically stood against homosexuality.  Allegedly, reps from Chick-fil-A had actually met with politicians and others promising this new face of Chick-fil-A.  Now, aldermen, mayors, and other politicians could breathe!  Now, gay activists began to think more highly of Chick-fil-A.

But did this really happen?  I spoke with a man at my church who has been with Chick-fil-A for 38 years and he assured me that NONE of this has taken place!  It was all made up by groups on the Left who were trying a bit of subterfuge to force Chick-fil-A reps to back pedal on their position.  They were hoping to get it into the news again.  It will likely backfire on these groups from the Left because of these lies.

Jesus calls us to be salt and light.  We are to be subtle “flavoring” for the world and obvious light.  Of course, it goes without saying that when the light shines, the darkness becomes even darker.  Think about it.  You’re outside in the dark of the night.  There is no moon, so you carry a flashlight.  If you allow, your eyes will eventually grow accustomed to the darkness and you will see a bit.

Now turn a flashlight on and notice how everything in the beam of that spotlight is shown quite clearly, yet everything that the flashlight beam does not hit – outside the sphere of light – seems to grow even darker.  It’s the nature of how light and dark work.  The light merely shines into the darkness.

It is also the same with the Christian.  As I’ve pointed out previously, when Jesus walked this earth, He was (and referred to Himself as) the true Light of the world.  His very Presence brought out the worst in people, unfortunately.

But how could it be any different?  Those who literally hate the light would certainly hate the Source of that light, not just the light itself, would they not?

So we see throughout the gospels that Jesus was often hated and even reviled because of the fact that He was (and remains) the Light of this very dark world.  As Jesus – the Light – moved through the Land, He uncovered darkness and dark works.  He met demoniacs, liars, cheaters, adulterers, thieves, tax collectors, murderers, and much more.  Most hated Him because His very Presence shined the light on their darkness.  Only those who were willing to face the truth about themselves benefited from His Presence.

For the authentic Christian, Jesus lives within through the Presence of the Holy Spirit.  Certainly demons and Satan himself are aware of this truth.  I’m sure they see – to some extent – the effects of His Presence within us in the spiritual dimension.  It is not necessarily hidden from them.  It is rather obvious to them and their vision, while it only has an effect on people living in this dimension.

So the human beings that those demons use and abuse for their master’s purposes work through those same human beings to fight against the cause of Christ as He works in and through human beings who have salvation and who are true Christ followers.  Just as Jesus was mainly hated during His earthly life, so to should we expect to receive much the same treatment in our life as He received in His because He lives within us through the Holy Spirit.

Getting back to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5, we learn about salt and light.  Salt is often used as a preserving agent.  In Jesus’ day, there was no refrigeration.  Without pure salt, meat and other foods would have spoiled very quickly.  We do not experience that same problem because of refrigeration, though meats do eventually spoil even in our day.  Without salt in Jesus’ day, meats would not have lasted much more than a day.

In Roman times, salt was so valuable that it was even used as money in some instances.  Without salt, there would have been no way to keep meat “fresh” over even a short period of time.  Of course, if the salt had become mixed with other natural elements, the salt would become degraded and would not work at all.  Not only would it cease to preserve, but it would not flavor food the way pure salt does.

It is the same with the authentic Christian.  Jesus says we are salt.  In essence, He was speaking to Jews and the nation of Israel here by telling them that they as a nation had been raised up for a specific purpose and that purpose was redemption.  Ultimately, the same concept extends to true Christians as well.  While the Church was not created for redemption, it was certainly created as a result of it.  Our job as Christians then is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ into the world that is fully dark.  In order to do this effectively, like pure salt, we must remain without compromise.

If we are truly salt to a world in dire need of redemption, then the world will know Christians by our love, by our living, and by how we do business.  The problem of course, is the world’s definition of love, which has become very skewed by Hollywood, romance novels, and people’s misconceptions about the truth of Scripture.

A perfect example of this is a true Christian’s response to the gay agenda.  No authentic Christian hates gay people.  Hatred doesn’t even enter the picture at all.  In fact, the reason authentic Christians speak against homosexuality (as well as many other sinful conditions of the world) is solely because we want to see all people – including gays – come to know the Lord.

If we did not speak up, saying that the lifestyle of homosexuality is particularly abhorrent to the Lord (not the person, but the lifestyle itself), gay people might come to the erroneous conclusion that they are not involved in anything that God hates.  That would likely keep them from hearing and understand the gospel.

But in speaking up, Christians are often labeled “bigots,” or “haters.”  This has obviously caught on to the point that anyone who dares to even suggest that homosexuality is sin according to Scripture is attacked as being someone who hates other people and obviously, God’s love is not in them.

So then, should Christians stop speaking out regarding homosexuality?  Of course not.  Simply because the world believes that Christians are haters because of their biblical view of this very emotional subject does not mean they are correct.

Many people during Jesus’ time fully believed He was possessed and in the end, a blasphemer, which is the charge that put Him on the cross.  Was He?  He was neither and being accused of these things did not stop Him from living a life that brought glory to the Father.

Jesus was pure salt as He walked this earth.  Christians are to endeavor to live exactly as Jesus lived, counting the cost of following Him.  He was hated.  So we will be hated.  He loved, so we should love, not as the world loves, but as God loves, which the world will often understand as hate.

Again though, if the authentic Christian is pure salt, then the world will know us by our love, by the way we live, and by how we do business.  Though they will often vehemently disagree with us and even want to kill us at times, they will not be able to fault us for our consistency.

By understanding that we – authentic Christians – are salt, we understand that we will have a subtle influence in the world.  This influence will be used by God for good or evil.  Some will come to Him because of the need that our “salt” helps them see, while others will continue to reject Him because of our “salt” that causes them to hate Him even more.

By also understanding that we are light, we will be conspicuous to a world that lives in darkness.  We will stand out and that very fact will make people at times, very uncomfortable about their own lifestyles.  Some will see us and the Holy Spirit will be able to use the light from our lives to bring them to their knees in repentance and submission.  Those who succumb this way to the Holy Spirit do so because inwardly, they love the truth.

Some will see our lives and develop an abject, misplaced and unreasonable hatred toward us.  Why?  Because those individuals do not love the truth (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:10).  This is not to say they will always hate the truth.  God may certainly use us to help them come to terms with truth so that He can save them from eternal punishment.  This is completely up to Him.

It is clear from Scripture that Jesus is the true Light, not only of this world, but of all Creation.  We – authentic Christians – are His reflections.  Just as the moon has no light of its own, but merely reflects the light from the sun, so too, do all authentic Christians reflect the Light of Jesus, the Son.  This is the way it works.  We have no real life of our own and any light we do have is solely due to the fact that Jesus lives within us via the Holy Spirit.  His is the Light we reflect.

In Matthew 5, Jesus also points out – factually – that salt that has lost its flavor is good for nothing, except to be cast out and trodden underfoot.  It’s kind of like using salt to melt the ice on an icy walkway.  Even mostly flavorless salt will do that, but it won’t flavor your food.

Jesus is saying that the authentic Christian who has “lost his flavor” is an ineffective Christian.  He is not referring to salvation here at all.  He is simply referring to our effectiveness in the world.  This can happen very easily with any Christian who stops submitting himself to Jesus in order for His purposes to be accomplished.  It happens when the Christian decides to stop living for Christ and starts living for Self.  Most of the time, God will not allow this to continue for too long a period and if it does, He always has the option of taking someone out of this life and into the next as He did with some of the Corinthians believers, who fell asleep before their time (1 Corinthians 11:30), or got sick.

A Christian who stops living for Christ loses his “saltiness” and because of that, immediately becomes ineffective for Christ because he has squelched his testimony to the world.  Jesus also speaks about this in John 15 when He refers to Himself as the Vine and His followers as the branches.  Those branches that stop producing fruit are good for nothing except to be gathered and burned up.  Paul must have been thinking about this in his letter to the Corinthians when he spoke of how each person produces wood, hay, or stubble, vs. gold, silver, and bronze (cf. 1 Corinthians 3).

The person who produces the wood, hay, and stubble will see everything burned up by the fires of purification, though he himself will remain saved.  So as Christians, we have the duty and opportunity to be salt and light to a world that has neither.  That is our calling.

Someone has stated, “If the faith that saved you has not changed you, then it did not save you.”

Jesus said we would know His followers by their fruit.  All a person has to do is look back over their life from the time they believe they became a Christian.  Has their life changed for the better?  Are they now more in line with the truth of Scripture and the character of Jesus than they were before they were a Christian?

We can and should judge ourselves against the biblical truth regarding our salvation.  We should be salt and light and we need to understand that this comes from within, when we submit ourselves to God for His purposes because the Holy Spirit lives within.  That is how it is created; by the Holy Spirit, from within and shows itself on the outside where it is readily seen by the world.

As far as I know, Christianity is the only “religion” that does this.  No other system, if you will, changes a person from the inside out.  All other systems claim to change a person from the outside and then may wind up filtering to the inside.  That’s because all systems other than Christianity are systems that people “put on,” much like a coat.  Christianity is the only one in which God is said to actually live inside a person, helping that individual change into the character of Jesus Christ from the inside out.

I was talking to a Muslim the other day.  He assured me that the Qur’an is far more truthful than the Bible.  We went back and forth with various verses – both from the Qur’an and the Bible.  We could have done that all day.

I finally simply said to him that what he really needed to look at was what Muhammad did specifically for him and then compare that with what Jesus did for him.  I pointed out that Muhammad had done nothing for him and neither had Allah.  In fact, Allah obviously needed and expected him to do things for him (Allah).

I told him that Jesus died on a cross, offering Himself as a pure sacrifice for that man’s sins.  Why?  Because no matter how “good” that man thinks he is, he has still fallen short of God’s glory.  Muhammad was not getting him closer.  Allah does nothing, except tell him how to live, but gives him no power or ability to live the way he allegedly expects people to live.

I also pointed out that Allah offers no guarantees of any kind to him.  He will not find out what his eternal destination is until after he dies.  He receives no guarantee in this life.

Jesus provides the guarantees.  He not only offered His life as a propitiation and full payment for us because of our shortcomings and sins, but He offers us the guarantee that by receiving Him through faith, we receive eternal life now.  The eternal life that Jesus provides now is not dependent upon us or on whether or not we sin after we receive His salvation.  It is an irrevocable guarantee bestowed upon each authentic Christian.  An authentic Christian cannot be “unborn,” and neither will the Holy Spirit leave a person after He indwells them.  Jesus said He would never leave or forsake us.  We cannot “kick Him out.”  We cannot get rid of Him.

Obviously, the authentic Christian endeavors to not sin by growing in dependence upon the indwelling Holy Spirit and His enabling.  Not so the professing Christian who has no ability or empowerment to live a life that pleases God.  It’s all pretend, unfortunately.

The truth of the matter is that no authentic Christian will become sinless in this life.  The most that we can experience is a greater passage of time between sins.  For those alleged Christians who continue to live any way they want to live, they may well need to verify whether or not they have actually received His salvation in the first place.  Salvation should cause tremendous change in a person’s life over time.  The Presence of the Holy Spirit (salvation, as defined by entering into a relationship with Jesus made possibly by the Holy Spirit) will not sit idly by while the Christian sees absolutely no change in his life.  It cannot happen.  That person is made new – he is a new creation – and is given a completely new direction from that point onward.

Christian, if you can honestly look back over your life since the time you said you received salvation and you see no real change, maybe you never received authentic salvation at all.  In that case, you are certainly not salt or light.  You are still you, dead in your sins and trespasses.  You can help no one see the light because the Light is not in you.

All true Christians are salt and light.  We can always live our lives better.  We can always endeavor to submit to Jesus’ Lordship at every turn.  This is what allows us to become far more effective as salt for the world and reflecting His Light.

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