You Are the Salt of the Earth



Dr. John Hoole        - November 15 & 22, 2015





Last week we concluded our study of the eight Beatitudes mentioned in Matthew 5:3-12.  In the verses that follow, I still believe we are in the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount.


Matthew 5:13-16 NKJV


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.

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

15  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.

16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.


In these four verses the Lord summarizes the function of believers in the world.  If you were to reduce to one word what our function is as mentioned in these verses it would be Influence.  Whoever lives according to the Beatitudes is going to function in the world as salt and light.  Christian character consciously or unconsciously affects other people for better or for worse.


I have mentioned this story before, but I think it is worth repeating here.


            Woodrow Wilson told the story of being in a barbershop one time.


He said, “I was sitting in a barber chair when I became aware that a powerful personality had entered the room.  A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself to have his hair cut and sat in the chair next to me.  Every word the man uttered, though it was not in the least didactic, showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him.  And before I got through with what was being done to me I was aware I had attended awn evangelistic service, because Mr. D. L. Moody was in that chair.  I purposely lingered in the room after he had left and noted the singular affect that his visit had brought upon the barber shop.  They talked in undertones.  They did not know his name, but they knew something had elevated their thoughts, and I felt that I left that place as I should have left a place of worship.”


Many years ago Elihu Burrit (19th century) wrote:


“No human being can come into this world without increasing or diminishing the sum total of human happiness, not only of the present but of every subsequent age of humanity.  No one can detach himself from this connection.  There is no sequestered spot in the universe, no dark niche along the disc of nonexistence to which he can retreat from his relationship with others, where he can withdraw the influence of his existence upon the moral destiny of the world.  Everywhere his presence or absence will be felt.  Everywhere he will have companions who will be better or worse because of him.  It is an old saying, and one of the fearful and fathomless statements of import, that we are forming characters for eternity.  Forming characters?  Whose?  Our own or others?  Both.  And in that momentous fact lies the peril and responsibility of our existence.  Who is sufficient for the thought?  Thousands of my fellow beings will yearly enter eternity with characters differing from those they would have carried thither had I never lived.  The sunlight of that world will reveal my finger marks in their primary formations and in their successive strata of thought and life.”


In Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus talks about the influence of His people on the world for God and for good.  In Christ’s high priestly prayer, in John 17, 15-16, 18, Jesus said to His Father, “I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world……As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”


In 1 John 2:15, the apostle wrote: “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.”


Christ’s kingdom people are not to reflect the world, but they are to influence the world, they are to be in it but not of it.  When we live the life of the Beatitudes, some people will respond favorably and be saved, whereas others will ridicule and persecute us.  In the words of Paul, we will manifest…


     “But thanks be to God that always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifests in us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Christ in every place.  For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NASB)


In either case our lives have profound effects, and even persecution is not to alter our function in the world.


1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV) describes us this way:


9   But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;


The figures of salt and light emphasize different characteristics of influence, but their basic purpose is the same.  They will both be studied from the aspects of the presupposition of the world’s corruption and darkness.


The world needs salt because it is corrupt and it needs light because it is dark in the world.


            G. Campbell Morgan said:


“Jesus, looking out over the multitudes of His day saw the corruption, the disintegration of life at every point, its breakup, its spoliation; and because of His love of the multitudes, He knew the things that they needed most was salt in order that the corruption should be arrested.  He saw them also wrapped in gloom, sitting in darkness, groping amidst mists and fogs.  He knew that they needed, above everything else … light” (The Gospel According to Matthew; Revell, 1929, p. 46)




No more ice cubes, freezers or refrigerators.  No more frozen meats or vegetables.  No more quick meals or frozen desserts.             No place to keep chocolate ice cream.  Nor more stocking up the freezer with hamburger specials.  Where would we be without the refrigeration beside the preservation of foods?  Would we have any blood banks?  How would they be able to store the blood?  Refrigeration is important in medicine and chemicals.  It is an invaluable aid to science.  No air-conditioning in your cars or homes.  We depend so much every day on refrigeration.  Refrigeration has become the modern preservative.  It keeps so many things from spoiling.


I would like to say that in the spiritual realm, we Christians are the refrigerators of the world.




Either in the Mediterranean Sea or the Sea of Galilee. Now think of Israel with its over 80º temperature for more than half the year.  How could fish caught in the Sea of Galilee be taken to Jerusalem, a 2-day journey, without deteriorating?


The only way fish and meat could be kept was to place it between two solid layers of salt.  This was the only way to transport meat long distance to get them to market and keep it from spoiling.  In the same way we depend on the advantages of refrigeration in our society, so in those Bible days they depended on salt.  Salt was a precious commodity.  Salt is physiologically, absolutely necessary for human life, almost equal to the importance of water.  But, unlike water, in ancient times, the mineral sources of salt were limited.  Salt was quite literally worth its weight in gold.


In Britain, the suffix “–wich” is found in many of the cities, such as Norwich, Leftwich, Sandwich.  That suffix in old Anglo-Saxon means, “Salt” or “Salt-Pit.”  You would find them along trade routes, because salt was important for those traveling and also as a commodity to sell to others along the trade route.


The ancient town of Solnitsata, in Bulgaria, is argued by some to be the oldest city in Europe.  The name, Solnitsata, means Salt Works, and the city was built around salt production facilities.  As the city of Rome began to grow in ancient times, roads were built to make transportation of salt to the capital city easier.


Salt and light are commodities that we, today, take for granted.  But in the ancient world they were greatly valued.  The Roman soldiers were given their salt rations and would revolt if those rations were changed.  The word “Sailor” come from the same word as salt.  In fact, an experienced sailor is called an “old salt.”  And a person who saves his money is said to “salt it away.”


Our English word “Salary” taken from Latin “Solarium,”  literally means “salt money.”  The Anglo-French, SALARIE, or old French, SALAIRE are words meaning payment or wages.  In Japanese, a SALARIMAN, is used of a “male salaried worker.”  The next time you say, “that man is not worth his salt,” you are reminding yourself of the value that people put on salt back in those days.  When you say that one must “take that with a grain of salt,” (in Latin, cum grano salis) you are saying it should be taken with a bit of skepticism, or non-literally.  But if a person is called, “The Salt of the Earth,” it means he or she is a decent, dependable person.  If you are superstitious, you throw salt over your left shoulder to give yourself good luck.  Then there is the superstition of spilled salt, which is used to indicate treachery and lies.  The origin of this is taken from Leonardo de Vinci’s Last Supper.  You will see in the painting that the elbow of Judah Iscariot has been knocked over.


Salt was the most commonly used seasoning in the ancient world.  Some people’s favorite verse is Job 6:6“Can anything that is tasteless be eaten without salt?”




       1.  Salt is used for       a)         seasoning food.   Job 6:6

                                         b)         seasoning sacrifices   Lev. 2:13;  Eze. 43:24

                                         c)         ratifying covenants  Num. 18:19;  2 Chron. 13:5

                                         d)         strengthening new-born infants    Ezekiel 16:4

                                         e)         seasoning incense     Exodus 30:35

       2.  Partaking of another person’s salt was a bond of friendship.  Ezra 4:14.

3.  Salt is found           a)  in pits.      Joshua 11:8; Zeph. 2:9.

b)  in springs.     James 3:12.

c)  near the Dead Sea.   Num. 34:12; Deut. 3:17.

4.  The Valley of Salt was used to celebrate victories.   2Sa 8:13; 2Ki 14:7; 1Ch 18:12.

5.  The Dead Sea is often called the “Salt Sea”    Josh. 15:5; Deut. 3:17

6.  Miracles connected with salt:

a)  Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt  Gen. 19:26.

b)  Elisha healed bad water with salt     1Kings 2:21.

       7.  Salt is illustrative       a)   of saints.      Matt. 5:13.

b)  of grace in the heart.   Mark 9:50.

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.

c)  of wisdom in speech.  Col. 4:6.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.


Incidentally, the Dead Sea is never called by that name in the Bible.  That designation began during the second century.  In the Bible, it is called the Salt Sea, as mentioned above.  It is also called the sea of the plain”in Deuteronomy 3:17.  In Ezekiel 47:18 and Joel 2:20, it is called the East Sea.  The Arabs call it Bahr Lut, meaning, the Sea of Lot.


During Bible times, salt could either be mined in the rock formations or obtained by letting salt water evaporate from pans.  The Phoenicians obtained quantities of salt from the Mediterranean Sea by evaporation in salt-pans.  The Israelites had access to an unlimited supply of salt along the shores of the Dead Sea (see Zephaniah 2:9).  In a place called the hill of salt, a 15-square-mile elevated place along the SW corner of the Dead Sea, there were enormous supplies of salt.  It is this area that is traditionally associated with the fate of Lot’s wife (Genesis 29:23).


Jesus really had a way with words.  Even when He spoke in parables, or stories, it was not in some general abstract kind of way.  His parables were very pointed and specific.  Jesus had a penetrating impact on the people of His day with His words and through what He did.  Some were amazed at Him   (Matthew 7:28-29).  Some were appalled by Him (John 6:41, 42;  7:12).


But, regardless of their response to Him, everyone was aware He had been among them.  He influenced those who were around Him.  And He passed this task on to His disciples and to each succeeding generation


The call to influence people around us is one of the first things Jesus taught.  That is the real message of Matthew 5:13, when He says “you are the salt of the earth.”


Now that He has just given 8 major qualities (the Beatitudes) He expects to see in His followers He immediately says, in effect, “don’t practice those qualities behind closed doors.”  It wasn’t the rich, the great, the successful, the politicians, the economists, the educators, the scientists, the spacemen, the entertainers, the sports figures….or even the minister but you who know how to live the life of the beatitudes – YOU will salt the earth.


You, who are spiritually poor, humble, merciful, peacemakers, persecuted and purified, who mourn for your own and the world’s sin, whose greatest desire is for God, it is YOU who are the salt of the earth.  And whatever your occupation, wherever you are, YOU are to salt the earth.


We are responsible to live out our Christianity where God has placed us to behave distinctively as Christians where we are.  Salt all alone is nothing.  Salt that is left forever in the salt shaker is useless.  For salt to be useful, it must make contact.  It is only useful when it is applied to your eggs, or French fries, or meat and potatoes.


Jesus does not invite us to become hermits, but Christians IN the world --- not of it, but IN it.  When salt makes contact, it imparts its saltiness to the object.  It gives of itself, flavoring and preserving.  The salt (that’s us) and the earth (that’s the rest of the world) cannot be divorced.  You and I are the salt of the earth.


Fish which have been caught must be taken to market packed in salt.  No one would think of carrying a basket of fish in one hand and the salt in the other.  But how often do we carry our business life in one hand and our faith in the other.  The salt of the earth is only useful when it loses itself in the world.  Only then will it find itself.




1.   Body of Christ                            Eph. 1:22-23               Col. 1:24

2.   Bride of Christ                            Rev. 21:9

3.   Flock of God                             1 Peter 5:2

4.   God’s Building                           1 Cor. 3:9

5.   Lamb’s Bride                              Eph. 5:22-23

6.   Spiritual House                           1 Pet. 2:5


There are a number of terms that describe the Church or the body of Christians in the New Testament.  None so graphically describe the church’s influence and work as those found in our text.  None detail so well the impact and force of Christians in the world as do “salt” and “light.”


I find it interesting that when God called Abraham, He made two great promises to him.  CAN YOU TELL ME THE TWO MAJOR PROMISES GOD MADE TO ABRAHAM?


              1.         “I will bless thee”

              2.         “You shall be a blessing”


I see an exact parallel early in the Sermon on the Mount.  In the Beatitudes, the Lord has given us the qualities to develop within the result of which is - He will bless us greatly.  And now, in the salt and light descriptors of his people, we see how we are to be a blessing to the world in which we live.  Here is a mandate for Christians to influence the world.  The Beatitudes are not to be lived in isolation or only among fellow believers, but everywhere we go.  God’s only witness are His children, and the world has no other way of knowing of Him except through the testimony of what we are.


We see this echoed in the writings of Paul as well.


2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV


3   Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

4   who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.


We have all been comforted by the Lord during very difficult times.  We need to pass that on to others.  We are blessed to be a blessing.


The second beatitude speaks of being comforted when we mourn.  Now He follows the beatitudes with instructions for his followers to get out among the people and give comfort and mercy and peace.


Before we get into what it means to be the Salt of the Earth……let me make a couple of observations.  Jesus isn’t asking for volunteers here.  He is saying, “Whether you want to be or not, you ARE salt.”  This means that God has a plan for each one of us to fulfill.  Each of us is to function as salt in the little piece of geography to which He has called us -- our neighborhood, the office, or wherever we are.


Jesus did not say we are to BECOME salt, but we ARE salt.  The Father has called us, and the whole world is to be salted by us.  Everything:  commerce, industry, education, politics, culture, - the whole works, is to come into contact with our salt.  The world will have to consider Christianity and its influence on every field.  What an enormous responsibility is given to the Church.




                        1.         It preserves

                        2.         It purifies/destroys germs

                        3.         It enhances taste

                        4.         It creates thirst.



Salt is Necessary

An important aspect of this whole concept of being salt is that the world around us needs Christians to be salt even though the world may disagree.


Just because we Christians are forgiven and on our way to heaven, does not mean that’s all there is for us while here!  Our role isn’t to sit back and wait for the next bus or airplane going to heaven to pick us up.  God knows how critically important we are to our world.  If we are to fulfill our God-given role as salt, we can never settle down to a mundane existence.  Salt is desperately needed.


Let me illustrate.  When I was in the military, we were put through maneuvers and went through survival training on several occasions.  It didn’t matter whether it was the heat of a Texas desert, or in the middle of winter in the Sierra Madre Mountains at 8-10,000 feet elevation, where the only mode of transportation was walking on snow shoes one thing was common to both situations – you were issued salt tablets - because of the potential of its depletion in our bodies.


In the Middle East, salt is one of the most precious commodities available.  Life functions require salt.  Cassiodorus rightly said, “mankind can live without gold…..but not without Salt.”  Salt is the very sustenance of life itself, and in Jesus’ day as now, salt was vital and pivotal in the lifestyle of the people.


1.         Salt Preserves




One of the principal functions of salt is to preserve and to act as an antiseptic.  Take, for instance, a piece of meat.  WHAT CAUSES MEAT TO DETERIORATE AND SPOIL?  Isn’t it caused by germs?


There are certain germs on the surface of the meat -- maybe the germs are in the substance, having been derived from the animal or from the atmosphere.  And because of these germs, there is the danger of its become putrid.


The function of the salt which is rubbed into that meat is to preserve it against those bacterial agencies that will cause it to spoil.  And so it is to be with the Christian.  I would like you to think about this about salt.  Note that salt doesn’t make something good.  Salt can only keep something from becoming bad.  Likewise, we cannot make someone good – only God can do that.  But we can be used of God to keep things from going bad.


Salt holds back decay.  There are two substances mentioned in the Bible that are small, but are very important.  I am talking about salt and yeast or leaven.  Salt and leaven picture opposite forces in the world.  Salt is an antiseptic, it holds back decay.  Leaven, or yeast, is actually a mold, and in the Bible it often represents evil or sin.


Earlier, I mentioned that God instructed the Israelites to include salt in each of their sacrifices.  Let me again read a couple of verses where that is stipulated.


Leviticus 2:13 NKJV


13             And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt.


Notice this verse makes reference to a “Covenant of Salt.”  We will probably deal with that later.


Ezekiel 43:24-25 NKJV


24             When you offer them before the Lord, the priests shall throw salt on them, and they will offer them up as a burnt offering to the Lord.

25             Every day for seven days you shall prepare a goat for a sin offering; they shall also prepare a young bull and a ram from the flock, both without blemish.


So salt was required in sacrifices.  But God also stipulated that there would be no leaven in the sacrifices.


Leviticus 2:11 NKJV


11             No grain offering which you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey in any offering to the Lord made by fire.


Exodus 34:25 NKJV


25             You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leaven, nor shall the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover be left until morning.


Whenever leaven is used in the Bible, 22 times in the Old Testament and 17 times in the New, it always, or at least almost always, represents sin or evil.  Unleavened bread in the Old Testament often points forward to Jesus Christ, who is the Bread of Life, without sin.


As salt was an indispensable ingredient in all sacrifices acceptable to God, so must we become salt by the Holy Spirit in offering ourselves as a living sacrifice to God.  In calling us the “salt of the earth”, Christ was saying, for one thing, that you and I are vital to the world around us.  We can truly say, though not with any sense of pride in ourselves, that “if this little piece of geography is to survive as God intended, if the people in it are to survive, it actually needs me to live as salt.”  The saltiness of the Christian is necessary for the world’s survival.


I’d like to suggest today that the world is suffering from a case of spiritual AIDS.  AIDS is a breakdown of the immune system.  It is where the immune system loses the ability to fight back.  God has provided an immune system in society.  It is called the Church, the people of God.  We are the ones who God has placed in history to act as His divine repellent against the effects of sin and unrighteousness in the world.  That is why when the church is raptured, all hell will break loose because there will be no restraint in society.  The people of God will not be present.  Little does the world system realize that it is the presence of God’s people that prevents its impending collapse and ultimate judgment.


I know that Lot is mentioned in Hebrews 11 as one of the “heroes of faith.”  But when I read all the Old Testament says about him, I find him anything but a dedicated believer.


Why was Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed?  Was it destroyed because they had become full of immorality?  I believe they had become fully immoral, with very little, if anything, to commend them for.  But I am not sure that is why God destroyed the cities.  Could it be that they were destroyed because Abraham could not find 10 righteous people living there?  God told Abraham he would not destroy them if he could find ten.


We know from 2 Peter 2:6-8 that Lot was a righteous man.  But his righteous soul had become vexed with the unrighteousness of Sodom and Gomorrah.  And because of that, He couldn’t even save his own family.  His two sons-in-law laughed when he told them to get out of Dodge.


Had lot won his family – 2 daughters, 2 sons-in-law, his wife and himself, that’d be 6.  Had each of them won one more person to the Lord, that would have been 12.  Had there been 10 righteous people acting as salt in that society, Sodom and Gomorrah would quite possibly be the map today.  It was the absence of the people of God that rendered God to say, “I cannot salvage these two cities.”


Yet, the presence of Lot in Sodom made it impossible for God to judge that city.  And as soon as he left Sodom, it meant immediate condemnation of the city.  One day God will judge this present world system, but He must call His own out of it before that judgment can fall.  Meanwhile, our responsibility is to exert all the power we can to prevent decay and to win people to Christ.


When the world around us seems bent on its own destruction, or indifferent to its own danger, we Christians are to stand up and be counted, not for the sake of being different – but to be the “salt” that preserves and purifies.  We are to be the world’s “early warning system.”  We live by a different set of principles……and the world around us must know this.


To the people of Bible days, salt was primarily a preservative vital to their way of life.  We mentioned earlier that packing meat and fish in between layers of salt was the only way to get these products to market.  Salt arrested corruption – it kept the fish fresh and edible.  We Christians today are to arrest the corruption in our society.  Jesus sees the world today as a rotting mass of sin and He has put Christians in the world to hold back the decay.


Paul was aware of the problem of spiritual and social corruption in his world when he wrote,  “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18).


You might ask, “What has that to do with salt?”  It’s found in that word “perishing.”  “Perishing” aptly describes the spiritual condition of society in the world today.  The same word used in the original Greek for “perishing” is also used for “lost.”


People around us are lost, victims of a disease known as sin, which causes their lostness and corruption.  Jesus has called for his followers to be the salt that would halt that condition.  If the corruption is not arrested, those who are now in the process of perishing, will one day finally, ultimately, and irrevocably perish for all eternity.  We have been called to reverse this process and impart abundant life in place of death and decay.


We Christians are placed in the middle of this perishing, corrupt society to do what we can to halt the corruption, to stem the tide of godlessness all around us.  The fact that the world is decaying should not encourage the Christian to isolate or insulate themselves, or to stand on the sidelines and wait for the great collapse.  The contrast between Jonah and Jesus illustrates the point.  Jonah sat outside the city and hoped that judgment would fall.  But Jesus looked upon the city and wept over it because judgment was inevitable.


Abraham knew how corrupt Sodom was, yet he prayed that the city might be spared.  Paul knew how blind Israel was, yet he was willing to be accursed that Israel might be saved.  Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon both acted as divine salt in the midst of a corrupt society, and God used them.  Their ministries may not have prevented the ultimate collapse of the nations, but those men did stand for God and leave the nations without excuse.


Living as salt does not mean that we must live like the world in order to influence the world.  Abraham, separated from Sodom, actually had more influence on the city than did Lot, who was living in Sodom.  And Abraham did more good for the city.  When the kings captured Lot and the rest of the citizens, it was Abraham who rescued them.  By risking his life to save them, Abraham gave them more witnesses in one night than Lot had given them in years.  And when Abraham refused to accept the offered rewards from the king of Sodom, he witnessed to the whole city that his faith was in the true God.  Lot, immersed in the activities of the sinful city, had no influence upon his own family.  Yet Abraham, the friend of God, exerted a powerful influence as he interceded for the Lost.


Take a look at the end of Romans, chapter one.  The apostle Paul paints a grim picture of what happens when society suppresses the truth it knows by their inherent nature.  It deteriorates.  Its values and standards decline until it become utterly corrupt.  Paul, very pointedly, says that when men reject what they know of God, God will give them up to their own distorted notions and perverted passions.


Now Christians are set in secular society by God to hinder this process.  God intends us to penetrate the world.  Christian salt has no business remaining snugly in elegant little ecclesiastical salt cellars.  Our place is to be rubbed into the secular community, as salt is rubbed into meat, to stop it from going bad.


And when society does go bad, we Christians tend to throw up our hands in pious horror and we reproach the non-Christian world.  But should we not rather scold ourselves?


One can hardly blame unsalted meat for going bad.  The fact of the matter is, it can do nothing else.  The real question to ask is:  where’s the salt?  You and I are the means God can use to arrest the corruption in the world around us.  When we do we are functioning as salt.


2.         Salt enhances flavor




First of all, let me state that based on the context of this verse, this might be the primary reason Christ likens us to salt.  That context is found in the last phrase of verse 13.  He calls his followers “salt” and then says that if they lose their flavor, they are good for nothing.


Salt has the ability to give flavor to that which is otherwise bland.  Job mentioned this ability of salt.  Job asked the question “Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there any flavor in the white of an egg?” (Job 6:6)


Have you ever eaten anything that had not been salted to your taste?  Flat and unexciting, wasn’t it?




1.       By having a condemning air about us.

              2.         By living as though we are not really enjoying life.

              3.         By being too serious about everything


I’m afraid that’s the way many of us Christians come through to people around us.  It’s what Jesus was referring to in Luke 14:34-35 when he said, “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.”  How often does the world see us as something other than a flavor enhancer?


I went out on the Internet and found a couple of quotes:


            Oliver Wendell Holmes:


          “I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like an undertaker.”


            Robert Louis Stevenson:


                                    “I have been to church today, and am not depressed.”


Are we guilty of portraying a picture of Christianity that takes the vitality out of life?  As the salt of the earth, we are to enhance life, not destroy it.


Most of you are familiar with John 10:10, (KJV) which states:


10   The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.


Jesus wants us to pass on this abundant and joyful life to others.



I John 5:3-4 (NKJV) adds:


3   For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not burdensome.

4   For whatever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.


                                    We are overcomers - not defeated.


It is a blessing to be a Christian, not a curse.  It is the way to get the most out of life, not the least.  And God wants us to share this story with the rest of humanity.  And we Christians have no business being boring.  Our function is to add flavor and excitement to other people’s lives.


3.         Salt creates thirst


In 1965 the soft drink company Pepsi Cola purchase a potato chip company called Frito-Lay.  Why would a soft drink company buy a potato chip company?  Potato chips make you thirsty.  Why do those potato chips like Frito’s and Dorito’s and others make you thirsty?  They are SALTY – and salt makes you thirsty.


Jesus understood this simple yet profound principle.  If we are being the salt of the earth, then we are making people thirsty for water.  And who has that water that will quench their thirst?


John 4:10 NKJV


10             Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."


They say that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.  You can if you put salt in his mouth.  We, as salt, must create a thirst for God in other people.  This is the work of every Christian - to create a desire for God in men, and to bring that desire to the surface.




A good place to start is with ourselves.  First, salt must be in us.


Colossians 4:6 NKJV


6   Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.


We need to be so salty as disciples that it makes lost men and women everywhere as for a glass and we become the pitcher for them.  Then, we can help quench their thirst with Jesus, the living water.


Salt makes people thirsty.  If we are truly the salt of the earth, people will see in us what they are seeking for themselves and will want to take hold of it.  The lost may not agree with our theology, or even our way of life, but if we are acting as salt, they will see in us qualities that they lack and like to possess.  The more we are like Jesus, the more sinners will be attracted by our life and witness as we are the salt of the earth.


Again, Matthew 5:13   (NKJV) reads:


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.


This brings us to the “but” of our verse: “You are the salt of the earth, BUT if the salt loses its saltiness,…”  Here Jesus is getting around to the importance of fulfilling our function as salt.




Earlier in our lesson, I mentioned how Paul, in Romans, chapter one, tells what happens when people turn from the truth of God and how we, as salt, are to retard the corruption and deterioration in our society.


The possibility that the salt may lose its savor was hinted at by Paul in Romans 1:22.  Let’s take a look at it.


Romans 1:18-32 NKJV


18             For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

19             because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

20             For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

21             because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

22             Professing to be wise, they became fools,

23             and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

24             Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,

25             who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26             For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.

27             Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

28             And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

29             being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,

30             backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31             undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;

32             who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.


There doesn’t seem to be anything mentioned about salt here does there?  Let’s take a closer look at verses 21 & 22.



Romans 1:21-22 NKJV


21             because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

22             Professing to be wise, they became fools,


Still don’t see anything about salt?


salt of the earth 


Let’s look even closer.




It’s found in the translations of the Greek word “Moraino” (mo rah’ ee no).  To allow yourself to lose your flavor is to become a fool.  The same exact word is used in these two places.  In Galilee, where Jesus lived at this time, people would cut corners and use a cheap grade of salt for packing fish.  Once it had lost its saltiness it was really useless.


If it were spread on the ground, nothing would grow. If it was thrown in the water, it just made the water dirty.  The savorless salt was not good for anything.


Jesus is saying, “don’t play the fool and lose your edge as salt.”  “If you are not careful, salt of the earth, your preserving and cleansing power, your distinctiveness, your very reason for being will be diminished.”  That would be very foolish indeed.


HOW CAN SALT LOSE ITS FLAVOR (its Tang, if you will)?


The Christian is not yet perfect; there is still that old nature within that can cause him to sin.  One of the greatest challenges we face as Christians is having contact with sinners without being contaminated by sin.  Jesus Christ was the friend of publicans and sinners, yet He was “holy, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26).  There was contact without contamination;  There was true separation without insulation or isolation.  Only the Spirit of God can keep us from losing our flavor as we seek to minister to the lost


First there is friendship with the world (James 4:4),  and then we are spotted by the world (see James 1:27).  This leads to a love for the world (1 John 2:15) and then conformity to the world (Romans 12:2).  By then, the salt has lost its flavor and is good for nothing and has indeed become very foolish.


Rather, we should take to heart the admonition to……


1 Timothy 4:14-16 NKJV


15             Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.

16             Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.


And again,


     “But thou, O man of God, flee these thing (cf. Vs 10); and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” (1 Timothy 6:11).


Neither we nor the world can afford for us to lose our saltiness.