SALT AND LIGHT






Don't we all agree that we live in a time of hate and meanness. The whole world seems to be angry and nasty. The love of many has grown cold, just as Jesus said it would. A question we could ask ourselves is, have we as Christians lost our flavor. We are supposed to be salt and light to this dying, decaying world. Are we? Let’s study.

I will be using the New King James Bible and Blue Letter Bible’s Outline of Biblical Usage, Strong’s Definition and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon for references.

The first mention of salt in the Bible is in Genesis 14: 3: “All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea).” We have studied this significant chapter before. This is the chapter that tells us about Abram going to rescue Lot in Sodom when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah were going to war against each other. The Hebrew word translated salt in this verse is melach and is defined in Strong’s as “properly, powder, i.e. (specifically) salt (as easily pulverized and dissolved):—salt (-pit).

This word melach is from the root malach and is defined in Strong’s as “properly, to rub to pieces or pulverize; intransitively, to disappear as dust; also to salt whether internally (to season with salt) or externally (to rub with salt): —x at all, salt, season, temper together, vanish away. (Emphasis mine).

The Blue Letter Bible defines it as following in the Outline of Biblical Usage:

I. To tear away, dissipate
     A. (Niphal) to be dispersed, be dissipated

II.  To salt, season
     A. (Qal) to salt, season
     B. (Pual) to be salted
     C. (Hophal) to be rubbed or washed with salt

I’m always intrigued and amazed at the jewels we can find when we dig deep into God’s Word. There’s always a pay-off when looking at the words in the original language. What stood out to me here is in the root word malach that I emphasized in bold, above, “to rub to pieces or pulverize; to disappear as dust.” When we study the words of Jesus in Matthew, Mark and Luke, this definition will really take on more significance. Jesus spoke to His disciples many times that in order to find their lives, they must lose them, that we must die to ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. What we just read above, ”to rub to pieces or pulverize; intransitively, to disappear as dust,” seems to compliment Jesus’ words. We’ll look at this closer in a moment.

There are other passages in the Old Testament that refer to salt covenants. The first one is found in Leviticus 2: 13: “You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from you grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt.”

Numbers 18: 19: “All the holy contributions that the people of Israel present to the LORD I give to you, and to your sons and daughters with you, as a perpetual due. It is a covenant of salt forever before the LORD for you and for your offspring with you.” God promised to provide for the Levitical priests through the sacrifices of the people. He called this promise a “salt covenant.”

2 Chronicles 13:5: “Ought you not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?” This is referring to a strong, legally binding covenant that God gave Israel to David and his sons forever.

From ancient times salt has been used as a preservative, to make food taste better and last longer. Even the word “salary” comes from an ancient word meaning “salt-money”, referring to Roman soldiers’ allowances for the purchase of salt. Someone who earns his pay is still said to be “worth his salt.”

With that, let’s look at what Jesus taught about being salt and light. The first mention in the New Testament is found in Matthew 5, which is the chapter beginning with the Beatitudes, Jesus’ first sermon instructing how to be happy and live a life that is pleasing to God. Matthew 5: 13-16: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned: It is then good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The next passage that Jesus mentions salt is in Mark 9. The chapter begins with the details of the Transfiguration. Afterwards, Jesus tells His disciples to tell no one the things they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. The disciples don’t seem to understand what He was talking about. Then Jesus and the disciples are confronted with a great multitude and scribes disputing with them. One in the crowd brings his son forward who has a mute spirit that the disciples had not been able to cast out. The father asks Jesus if He can do anything, to have compassion on them and help them. Jesus says to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” The father famously cries out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Jesus then casts out the deaf and dumb spirit out of the boy. The disciples question Jesus why they weren’t able to cast it out and He tells them that this kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting. Jesus goes on to foretell His death to His disciples, but they don’t understand and are afraid to ask. They then go to Capernaum and when they go into the house, He asks them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?” But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest.

Mark 9: 35-37: “Jesus then sits down and calls the twelve and says, ‘If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’ Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, ‘Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.’”

Then John tells Jesus that someone who does not follow them is casting out demons in Jesus’ name, but they forbade him because he does not follow them. Jesus tells them not to forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in His name can soon afterward speak evil of Him. Jesus goes on to exhort them about causing little ones to stumble and things that cause us to sin. He then talks a good bit about hell. Serious stuff.

All of this context is very important to this study of salt and light. We have a heavy responsibility as His disciples to know what being His disciple requires. It’s interesting that even after the disciples witnessed the Transfiguration, they were talking about who among them was the greatest. Jesus explains what true greatness is and then goes on to explain essentially how important everything we say and do is, so as not to be a stumbling block. After He talks about hell, He ends that discourse with this, “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” Mark 9: 49-50. Dying to ourselves can feel like being rubbed to pieces or pulverized. Sometimes, in order to not be a stumbling block to worldly, fleshy people, it will feel like we are crushed into dust. But this is a necessity to becoming salt and light. In this selfie culture, where everyone seems to have a “me first” attitude, it is more important than ever for us to make sure we’re not a stumbling block to others. It’s easy to get caught up in that pervasive mind set. The only self concern we should have is self awareness of how our actions and words are influencing others. Paul tells us in Colossians 4: 5-6: “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

The third passage is found in Luke 14 after Jesus gives the parable of the great supper and then teaches about the cost of discipleship. Luke 14: 26-35: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is till a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Wow. So much here. First of all, this is for everyone who has ears. Just as Jesus admonished those who have ears to hear about the four soils and what the Spirit says to the seven churches in Revelation, He instructs us here about what it takes to be His disciple. We cannot have anything we love more than Him. No mother or father or child or anybody can be loved more or even as much. We have to count the cost and know that we can finish. We have to forsake all and be in for the long haul. This means that believers have to be willing to pay the price and to identify daily with His sufferings. We have to die to ourselves daily. There’s also the aspect of abiding, found in John 15 and elsewhere, which is crucial to the crucified life. This, then, becomes our testimony. This is how we become salt and light to this dying world. Let’s look further at some of the words in these passages

The Greek word for salt is halas.

Outline of Biblical Usage:
I.    Salt with which food is seasoned and sacrifices are sprinkled

II.  Those kinds of saline matter used to fertilise arable land

III.  Salt is a symbol of lasting concord, because it protects food from putrefaction and preserves it
       unchanged. Accordingly, in the solemn ratification of compacts, this is a practice that
       continues to this day in some cultures, partaking of salt together.

IV.  Wisdom and grace exhibited in speech

Strong’s Definitions: salt; figuratively, prudence:—salt..

Scholars have explained that in the same way that saline matter has been used to fertilize arable land, so can we influence mankind (likened to arable land) by our life of devotion to God.

The Greek word for flavor, or lost its savor in KJV is moraino:

Outline for Biblical Usage:
I.   To be foolish, to act foolishly
       A.  To make foolish
             I. to prove a person or a thing foolish

       B.  To make flat and tasteless
             I. of salt that has lost its strength and flavour

Strong’s Definitions: To become insipid, figuratively, to make (passively, act) as a simpleton:—become fool, make foolish, lose savour.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon gives one definition as “to make flat and tasteless”.

It is from the root moros:
I.   Foolish
II.  Impious, godless

Strong’s Definition: dull or stupid (as if shut up), i.e. heedless, (morally) blockhead, (apparently) absurd:—fool(-ish), X -ishness).

This concept of acting foolishly or being foolish is found in the following scriptures:

Romans 1: 22: “Professing to be wise, they became fools.”

Isaiah 19: 11: “Surely the princes of Zoan are fools; Pharaoh’s wise counselors give counsel. How do you say to Pharaoh, “I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings?”

Jeremiah 10: 14: “Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge; every metalsmith is put to shame by an image; for his molded image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.”

2 Samuel 24: 10: “And David’s heart condemned him after he had murdered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done, but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”

1 Corinthians 1: 20: “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made the foolish the wisdom of this world?”

Isaiah 44: 25: “Who frustrates the signs of the babblers, and drives diviners mad; who turns wise men backward and makes their knowledge foolishness.

We can’t afford to allow ourselves to be foolish, to act foolishly, to speak foolishly, to damage our testimony, especially in these last days when Christians are portrayed in a very unfavorable light. Much of what the world thinks of us we have brought on ourselves, for just such things. We have allowed ourselves to bite and devour our fellow Christians. We have said one thing and done another. We have cast our pearls before swine, in that we have thrown Scripture out in inappropriate ways, alienating instead of creating savor. We must be knowledgeable, wise and discerning in order to be salt and light. We must purpose to conduct our lives in such a way so as not to be hypocritical.

The next word to look at is the Greek word for good found in Matthew 5: 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” The Greek word is ischyo:

Outline for Biblical Usage:
I.  To be strong
     A.  To be strong in the body, to be robust, to be in sound health.

II. to have power
      A.  To have power as shown by extraordinary deeds
            I. to exert, wield power, to have strength to overcome
      B.  To be a force; avail
      C.  To be serviceable
      D.  To be able, can

The Greek word for nothing is oudeis:

Strong’s Definition: not even one (man, woman or thing), i.e. none, nobody, nothing.

The Greek word for thrown out or cast is ballo:

Outline for Biblical Usage:
I.  To throw or let go of a thing without caring where it falls
     A.  To scatter, to throw, cast into
     B.  To give over to one’s care uncertain about the result
     C.  Of fluids
           i. to pour, pour into of rivers
          ii. to pour out

 II. to put into insert

The Greek word for trodden is katapateo:

Outline for Biblical Usage:
I.    To tread down, trample under foot, to trample on

II.   Metaph. To treat with rudeness and insult
       A.  To spurn, treat with insulting neglect.

When Jesus says, “You are the light of the world” the Greek word for light is phos and comes from the word phao which means “to shine or make manifest, especially by rays; luminousness (in the widest application, natural or artificial, abstract or concrete, literal or figurative):—fire, light.

We are the light of the world. We are illuminated by the Holy Spirit living inside of us. We are to let that light so shine before men, so that they will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. We aren’t light because of what we do, we are light because of who we are in Christ and His Spirit living inside us. The Holy Spirit leads us to do the works that He designed for us before the foundation of the world, and those works are then seen by men and our Father in heaven is glorified.

Another thought in regard to Luke 14 when Jesus admonished in verses 28 -30, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” This is a key point. Paul spoke repeatedly about endurance, perseverance, finishing. We must be in this for the long haul. All in. Let’s not give any reason for mockery.

And then, finally, there’s a contrast of salt between a passage in the Old Testament and that of the salt and light Jesus taught. Jesus referred to it in Luke 17 when the disciples asked Him about the kingdom of God. He proceeded to tell them about the kingdom of God and the days that were to follow leading to the day when the Son of Man is revealed. He told us to remember Lot’s wife. We all know that Lot and his wife and daughters lived in the wicked city of Sodom and was what we refer to as a carnal Christian. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, but He had to remove Lot first. But Lot’s wife loved the life she had in Sodom and was not willing to leave it behind. She loved her life and lost it. She became a pillar of salt.  I would say this salt was good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot. A very sad and tragic commentary.  Equally as sad is too much salt.  Salt is amazing, but when not properly applied, only makes conditions harsher.  We've all tasted food that is inedible, due to too much salt...what could have been delicious has to be thrown out, because its good for nothing.  Something to remember as we approach unbelievers. 

The way to live this life of dying to ourselves and living for Him is to recognize Colossians 3: 1-6: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."  Also, it's a moment by moment thing where we present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, to be transformed by the renewing of our minds according to Romans 12: 1-2.  (Emphasis mine).

Salt and light. Salt makes us thirsty for water, makes things savory, preserves. Light shows the way. Let’s let our lives make people thirsty for the Living water, be so savory that people want to know more, and preserve the truths of God and show people the way to Him.







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  1. Truly appreciate your blogs. Look forward to.reading more.

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