2 Cor 2:11
Matt. 5; 13
If you will remember we started out looking at the different ways the devil seeks to get the advantage over us as Christians. We saw that the devil gains the advantage over Christians through one of his devices, like discouragement, discontentment, compromise, delaying, and expediency. I hope you won’t look at these difficult times ever the same, because I believe that’s where the devil gets us!
So I want to end this series by thinking about what the devil is really trying to get at. I believe the devil doesn’t want us discouraged just for the sake of being discouraged, no. The devil doesn’t want us discontent just for the sake of being discontent, no. I think the reason why the devil tries like he does, is because our influence as Christians scares him.
Your influence as a Christian.
You may not have thought of yourself as a great influence for God, but you are. You may not think that you are, but God thinks so. And by the amount of effort the devil uses to stop you we can say that he thinks you have something worthy of his attention.
That something is your influence, which if used for the bad will bring all those around you to your low level and maybe even lower. But if it is harnessed for the good and godly; well only heaven itself will be able to reveal just how far your influence has went out and touched others!
If there is anyone that knows the value of our influence it is the Saviour. It is because of him he have any influence for the good at all! Jesus had a lot to say about one’s influence, so let’s start there.
When Jesus spoke of influence he spoke using the idea of salt. That might sound a little funny, but as I looked through the whole bible I found that there wasn’t any thing funny about it, in fact Jesus was using an Old Testament idea and was just expanding it, building upon it as we shall see.
The various names God gives His children in the Bible. (Some are: sheep, brethren, little ones, etc.) When Jesus gives us the name of "salt", He is reminding us that we have the opportunity and the responsibility to be an influence in the world. It is interesting that these verses should follow the Beatitudes. In the Beatitudes, Jesus gives some qualities that ought to be present in every citizen in the Kingdom. When we are possessed of these characteristics, we will be a positive influence and we will make a difference in the world around us. When we are living out the standards of the Lord Jesus in our lives, we will be like salt and like light.
Tonight, I would like to zero in on the idea of our being called "salt” because of our influence. In this one verse, Jesus makes three statements that need to be considered and understood by every child of God this evening. Let's take the time to look together at them as we consider the thought Ye Are the Salt of the Earth.
I. A DESCRIPTION TO ANALYZE
People in general do not realize the importance of salt in maintaining the life and health of their bodies.
An exact percentage of it is always present in our bloodstream, and any great deviation from this amount can result in sickness and even death.
Salt is a sustainer of other life, too. For this reason sea water will support many more organisms than fresh water. As a preservative, it retards spoilage. Also it is a splendid condiment, adding zest and savor to our food.
Salt held a place of great importance in the primitive and simple society of the ancient Israelites. Job tells us that salt was used from the oldest times to flavor food (Job 6:6). Ancient man sacrificed to God food he found pleasant, so salt was included among these offerings (Ezek 43:24). By biblical times, salt had become linked with health, hospitality, purity, and durability. Ezekiel tells us that in ancient times the Israelites rubbed newborn children with salt (Ezek. 16:4).
Later religious rites emphasized the cleansing property of salt. Salt came to stand for the most sacred and binding of obligations. God said of His covenant with the Israelites, "It is a covenant of salt for ever" (Num. 18:19). Second Chronicles relates that' 'the Lord God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt" (2 Chron. 13:5).
We are called salt because of:
A. Our Preserving Influence
Salt wards off rot and decay! It is rubbed into meat in an effort to preserve it. Sodom and Gomorrah - Gen. 19. They could have been saved by the preserving influence of just 10 righteous men. So it is in America today! I am convinced that the presence and the prayers of "salty" Christians has done more to preserve this nation than anything else we could name. It is the righteousness of God's children that made America great and it is what keeps this country from being judged today, Pro 14:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
B. Our Penetrating Influence - Salt will penetrate and infiltrate whatever it touches. It is an aggressive substance. The early church - Acts 8:1, 4; Acts 17:6. I believe that we have been called by the Lord to be an active force in the world around us. The church should be a militant army charging the very gates of Hell, Matt. 16:18.
C. Our Purifying Influence - (Ill. Salt has remarkable cleansing Influence.)
1. 2 Kings 2:19-22 - Elisha cleansed the waters at Jericho with salt. In ancient times, newborn babies were washed in salt to cleanse their bodies and to give firmness to their skin, Eze. 16:4. Salt in a wound can cleanse the area. Often, Christians have a purifying effect on the world around them. They ought to behave differently when the child of God walks up. Don't be offended if they stop talking when you come around. Just thank God that you are acting as a purifying force in the world around you.) (Ill. Every meat offering was to be made with salt - Lev. 2:13. So it is with our lives. We are to offer our lives as an offering tot he Lord, Rom. 12:1-2. When we do, it proves that we are worth our salt!)
D. Our Pleasing Influence - (Bringing out the best. Salt blends and adds flavor to food. In fact, there are some foods that are better off not eaten, if there is no salt!) So too, the Christian should flavor the world around him. As salt, we are to so live our lives that we bring out the best in those around us. That is what Jesus did time and again, and that what you and I are supposed to be doing for His glory! (Ill. Phil. 1:27)
E. Our Poisoning Influence - (Ill. Salt kills some things! Ever poured salt on a slug? Slugs and salt do not mix! Salt poured on a lawn will kill the grass. Too much salt is not good for your blood pressure.) (Ill. Abimelech, in Judges 9:45, took a city and the sowed the city with salt to prevent the ground from being used to grow crops. He killed the fields with salt.) By the same token, when true Christianity is sowed into the lives, homes and communities of the world, some things will be put to death. We can make an impact on our world by the very fact that Christianity is pure poison to sin. When Jesus comes into a life, drinking, cussing, fighting, hating, killing, drugging, loose living, etcetera, are all put to death in the name of Jesus - 2 Cor. 5:17.)
F. Our Promoting Influence - (Ill. Salt creates a thirst for water in those who are exposed to it!) As salt, the Christian has the wonderful opportunity to promote a thirst for Jesus in the world. Remember what the Lord told us? He said that out of our bellies would flow rivers of living water - John 7:37-38. When we live as Christians should live. When we take the call of Jesus seriously and live right, look right, act right, talk right, worship right, dress right, etc. Then we have the Influence to create a thirst for Jesus in the hearts of those around us. When that happens, we can point men to Jesus and share with them the water of life. Sadly, most Christians do not promote thirst, but ridicule instead. Too often, we live substandard immoral lives and the world sees it and says, "Why should I receive Jesus? I live just as good as that crowd down at the church!" Fact is, they are often right! Let's so live that we ever prove them wrong. Our lives must be above reproach if we are to create a thirst for God in the world around us!
We must never give anyone cause to say, "If that is a Christian, then I never want to be one." Instead, our lives ought to motivate people to say, "That is what I want my life to be."
G. Our Proven Influence - (Ill. Salt changes nearly everything it touches. Ill. Food, ice, etc.) (Ill. We are called to be thermostats and not thermometers in the world around us. We are to be the instruments that God can use to implement change in a wicked world. When genuine, New Testament Christianity touches this sinful, wicked world, there will be change of some variety. We just need to be sure that we are changing the world and not the other way around! (Ill. The modern mentality, "We have to be like the world to win the world." We'll win more if we are like Jesus!
I. A Description To Analyze
II. A DANGER TO AVOID
A. Salt was a very valuable in the ancient world.
So valuable, in fact, that the Roman Legions were often paid their wages in salt. This payment was called the "salarium." the English term salary, which formerly represented a soldier's money allowance for salt, was derived from salarium, the Latin term referring to the salt allotment that was issued to soldiers serving in the Roman army.2 That’s where the expression, "Not worth his salt" comes from!
B. It was possible for salt in that day to lose its flavor.
The salt used then was far different from that which we see today. Our salt is a chemical compound called chloride of sodium or sodium chloride. The salt used in the ancient world was either mined from the salt cliffs along the Dead Sea, which were 7 miles long and several hundred feet high, or it was evaporated from the waters of the Dead Sea. Either way, it was always mixed with mineral or vegetable matter. When this substance was exposed to the elements or when it touched the earth, the salt lost its salty taste. Even the surface salt that was dug from the cliffs was discarded because exposure to he light rendered it tasteless. This tasteless salt also lost all the qualities that made it so valuable and sought after to begin with.
C. It is possible for Christians to loose their saltiness as well.
This happens to us when we, just like salt in ancient times, come into too close contact with the world. When get to be more like the world than we are like the Lord, then we have lost that thing that sets us apart and makes us valuable to the Lord's Kingdom work. Too often, we allow our wells to get filled with junk!
The Event in Gen. 26:15-18. When we allow our wells to be filled with the world's junk than we are practically useless to the Lord and His Kingdom work!
I. A Description To Analyze
II. A Danger To Avoid
III. A DESTINY TO ABHOR
A. In ancient times, when salt lost its savor, it was then taken out and cast into the footpaths. It was used much as gravel is in our day. Its only purpose then was to kill out the weeds that might grow in the road, and for me to walk on to keep their sandals out of the mud. Literally, it was to be trodden under the foot of men.
B. Every Christian in this room needs to understand that when we lose our saltiness (our influence) and when we cease to function as salt in the world, then we too have become good for nothing, and while we cannot lose our salvation, we can most certainly lose our usefulness, our influence for the Lord and to His work. When this happens, we have become something to be trodden upon and treated with contempt! When we are living for the Lord, men may not like us, but there is often a certain respect for the stand we take and for the testimony that we possess. When we allow our influence to become tainted by sin and the world, then men will walk upon our testimony and we become absolutely useless to the Lord as a vessel of witness.
C. I do not know about you, but I do not want to wind up being cast out as a vessel by the Lord. I would like for my life to be useful to Him. I would like for Him to be able to use my life to bring others to Himself. I really would like to be a blessing and a light for the Lord. I believe that every child of God in this auditorium wants to be a salty Christian for the glory of God.
Paul knew that the potential always existed for him to be a castaway - 1 Cor. 9:27. I see that potential in my life as well, and I do not want that. How about you?
Closing: As you consider your life this evening, can you honestly say that your life is like salt in the world? Is your influence what it ought to be? Is your influence less that what it has been? There is a tremendous need for every Child of God to be all that God wants them to be in these days. The devil wants to ruin your influence for God. We have seen enough falsehood, hypocrisy and weak living to do us, and the world, a lifetime. We need to be about the business of purifying, preserving, penetrating, pleasing and promoting so that the Lord can use our lives and our testimonies for His glory. God help us to be salty Christians. Guard your influence, don’t be carried away with just living that you lose that valuable thing called influence.
Parents you need to protect your influence over your kids. A bad example in front of them, a bitter relative, a bad habit indulged in can undermine your influence that you have for God! Don’t let it happen!
 Tenney, Merrill C. The bible Almanac, pg 222
2 "Salt (compound)."Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 2001. © 1993-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.