Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV)

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.

  1. Not a collection of aphorisms
    1. You are the salt of the earth. (Matt 5:13)
    2. Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt (Gen 19:26)
    3. Go and do likewise. (Luke 10:37)
  2. This passage is connected to what just came before.
    1. The Beatitudes tell us what it is to be in the Kingdom.
    2. Matt 5:10-12 tells us that we are blessed when the world hates us and says all manner of things against us.
    3. Matt 5:13-16 is how we respond to the world.
  3. The world is in decay and in darkness
    1. We are the salt.
    2. We are the light.
    3. Christ uses the plural form of you. The Church is the salt and light.
    4. Without us, Christians, the world has no salt and the world has no light.
    5. We are it for the world.
    6. The world is under the illusion that things are getting better.
    7. Back in 1978, Time Magazine reported that young people thought that the reason why the world was bad was because of the evils of their parent’s generation.
    8. Mankind is not evil because of evil systems but the systems are evil because they are inhabited by men and women who are under the bondage to sin and death.
    9. The Church of those redeemed in Christ are salt and light to the world.
  4. How are we salt?
    1. Salt was valuable.
    2. You can’t live without it.
    3. Roman soldiers were paid in salt.
      1. A bad soldier was “not worth his salt:.
    4. Purity?
    5. Taste and zest?
    6. Antiseptic or irritant? (newborns rubbed in salt)
    7. Preservative
      1. Faithful presence
      2. Restraint
  • Longsuffering of the Lord
    “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, ESV)
  1. How is salt ruined?
    1. The verb “lost its taste” can be translated as “become tasteless” or “become insipid” or ruined.
    2. Salt at that time was not always pure NaCl but could become alkaline in flavor.
    3. Salt is invisible but it preserves.
    4. But if it becomes “gross” then you can’t put it in a manure pile so it is just thrown into the street.
    5. How can we become insipid or useless:
      1. Become just like the world around us.
      2. Do we turn to Twitter or Facebook or Cable News when the Church is persecuted.
  • Or do we pray?
  1. Do we answer evil with blessing?
  2. Do we remain meek in the face of the prideful?
  3. Do we witness the love of Christ?
  • Do we still love our neighbors who hate the Church?
  • Do we sill serve regardless of the cost?
  1. Does our worship reflect hope in Christ in the face of despair?
  2. Does our prayer reflect trust in God instead of a trust that science will work us out of a pandemic and an economic calamity?
  3. Or do we just become like the world and turn away from Christ.
  1. How are we the light of the world?
    1. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” (John 1:4-9, ESV)
    2. ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”” (John 3:16-21, ESV)
    3. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (John 8:12, ESV)
    4. “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:5-10, ESV)}
    5. We are in the light if we are in Christ.
    6. Jesus says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit” while Johnteaches that those who are in the light recognize that they are sinners.
    7. Jesus says: “Blessed are those who mourn” while John teaches that those who are in the light repent of their sins.
    8. Jesus says: “Blessed are the meek” while John teaches us that those who are in the light have forgotten their pride and know they need to be forgiven.
    9. Jesus says: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” while John teaches that those in the light have fellowship with God.
  2. How do we manifest the light?
    1. If we are the light then it cannot be hidden.
    2. It is against the nature of light to be unseen int the darkness.
    3. The darkness fears the light.
    4. To manifest the light we must first know what it is to be in Christ
    5. The Christian life is not a call to retreat into the monasteryHow did Christians ever get to the point where they hid from the word?

       

    6. “How did the absence of justification lead to dysfunction in medieval spirituality? Catholics believed that they were justified in the process of being sanctified. Since sanctification is never perfect and always in peril during our lifetime, they were imperfectly assured of their salvation. Serious believers could cure this uneasiness by martyrdom, or by the bloodless martyrdom of ascetic spirituality.Sanctification, bearing an unnatural weight because it was expected to pacify the believer’s conscience, was a subject of extraordinary concern. But the ascetic method of sanctification was by amputation, not by healing. If the believer is having trouble with sex, give up sexual relations. If he or she is having difficulty with covetousness, give up private property. If he or she is tempted by power, give up independence. The monastery and the nunnery are sanctification machines that guarantee the surest victory over the sinful use of money, sex and power.”

      – Richard F. Lovelace, EVANGELICAL SPIRITUALITY: A CHURCH HISTORIAN’S PERSPECTIVE, JETS 31/1 (March 1998)

    7. Faith alone unites us to a dying a rising Savior.
    8. We are justified in Christ.
    9. We are united to Christ and are just in God’s sight.
    10. Christ unites sinners to Himself and sanctifies them.
    11. We are corrupt but Christ has united us to Him and makes us holy by His Spirit.
    12. He has broken the power of sin and death.
    13. He has made us righteous in Him and we will be declared righteous on the Last Day.
    14. But He is also making us righteous in Him as He sanctifies us.
  3. This transformative work cannot be hidden
    1. What Christ is doing will have its affect in those who are in Christ.
    2. The Beatitudes are a shorthand for the type of loving character of those being transformed as they shine in the world.
    3. The law is necessary to restrain sin but it also trains us to love.
    4. If we are living out the character traits that Christ produces in us then there is no law that governs the character of love. It just shines in the darkness.
    5. Blessed are the merciful
      1. In Christ, we can be merciful to those who “don’t deserve it”
      2. We can give of our time and treasure.
  • We can care for the downtrodden
  1. We can give to those who ask.
  2. We can visit those in prisons as we are meek and know we are wretched as the rest.
  3. We can clothe the naked.
  • We can shelter the homeless.
  1. Blessed are the Pure in Heart
    1. We can turn from pornography because it breaks our heart that women are enslaved and degraded.
    2. We can turn from coarse jesting
  • We can refuse to join in when others speak evil of others.
  1. We can refuse to gossip
  2. We can refuse to participate in conspriacies or other things that harm the reputation of others.
  1. Blessed are the Peacemakers
    1. We can seek to make peace with our relatives with whom we have argued or have hurt us
    2. We can seek to bring people together
  • We can treat our political opponents as those created in the image of God.
  1. We can refuse to play into the world’s categories of cancelling each other out.
  2. We can stop seeking our own and seek the welfare of others.
  1. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake
    1. We can pray for Christians who are persecuted.
    2. We can care about injustice and speak out against injustice.
  • We can be willing to be persecuted when we speak out against evil.
  1. We can be willing to be reviled by the world for the sake of the Gospel.
  2. We can be willing to lose all we have for the pearl of great price.
  1. The more we are sanctified by Christ, the more we will reflect His light into the world
  2. The goal is not to revile but to shine the light of Christ. 

Two concluding thoughts:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:1-10, ESV)

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,” (2 Timothy 2:24-25, ESV)

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