By Diane Caston
Sermon on the Mount
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the]earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus has shown God’s transforming power. The principles He teaches, and the behaviors, can only be accomplished through a close relationship with Him. The things He teaches here are not natural to us; they are supernatural and require a power that comes from above. In the next verses He turns directly to the disciples and starts with ‘you’, throughout the remainder of this sermon Jesus uses the word ‘you’ or ‘your’ 171 times. If the beatitudes truly become part of our lives think how we would affect the world around us! What is your place in the world, your purpose?
Matt 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 thrown out and 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.
Here we see the Lord uses two metaphors, Salt and Light.
Salt is a preservative. It indicates pureness, holiness. The opposite of salt would be leaven, a corrupting substance. Lev 2:13, tells us every offering was seasoned with salt. There was no refrigeration in ancient times, so salt would be rubbed into meat to make it last longer. An additional purpose of salt is for flavoring. You are the flavor in the world to preserve the world from corruption. Scientists have learned that without salt the cells in your body will not function properly. Salt regulates the hydration of your cells and eliminates toxins. Salt is essential to life. In this picture Jesus is teaching that what He has done in our lives will preserve our lives, our relationships, our community.
Mk 9:49-50 “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.”
If you live godly, if you are living according to the Beatitudes, you are going to be meek and merciful, and bring peace to your current situations. These be-attitudes will keep you alive spiritually, you and others around you. Before you become salt in the world, you must let the Lord change you. This will keep you spiritually alive in the church and in the nation. Let the Lord, who is pure salt, change you.
Salt has always been an important part of history. Wars have been fought over salt. The value of salt was sometimes more than that of gold. The first thing the Union Army did in the Civil war was to take the salt works in the south, so the Southern Army couldn’t salt their food! Salt was essential to preserving food for the troops to be able to eat and have victory. The Union army was partially paid in salt. Salt is the origin of the word salary. Salt has been a powerful element throughout history.
We need to let God build godly character in us. First, we must have the sense of being poverty stricken, that there is nothing good in me. I must mourn for my sins before God. That is how I receive from Him; He makes me meek before others. He makes me hunger and thirst for righteousness.
He makes me grow and mature. We will seek what He wants us to seek. He will make me merciful toward others, allowing relationships to grow. For sinners to get along with sinners, we must be merciful, pure of heart, peacemakers, willing to do what He wants us to do in this world. To be an influence on people closest to us, we need to be godly women that will protect them from the corruption around them. (Momma Bears) Then we can be salt by what we say and how we say it.
Col. 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Our speech should be tactful and kind, speech that builds up. We certainly don’t want to be too salty. Are you a gossiper, condemner, are you harsh, hyper critical? That kind of speech is the opposite of the salt Jesus is referring to. If we lose our flavor, we become useless, good only to be thrown away.
James 1:26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.
We don’t want to be useless, like old salt. We may not think we are offensive, but when this kind of speech comes your way, you realize it. Instead, we stand for what is true against corruption all around us. This reveals the life of God in us. Salt keeps those around you from going in a direction of corruption in your family, church and community.
The decline of our nation is a revelation of where the church is at today. Haven’t we seen this displayed in the liberal ideas being promoted in our churches today? The church at large is not fulfilling its place as salt and light in the world. Many churches are afraid to speak up, afraid to address the darkness that is encroaching in every area of life.Prov 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
Our national debt declares this nation is in servitude to other nations. We see it behind the scenes. It is robbing our children and grandchildren’s futures Only truly righteous people can influence a nation. We need another Great awakening. We can educate ourselves unto fatness, but without action nothing will change in our world. Faith without works is dead. If were not salt, we are good for nothing. Salt that loses its flavor is thrown out to kill weeds. He was using an image that they would understand We must fulfill our purpose not just be observers.
Mark 9:50, 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.”
Salt makes us thirsty. Have salt in ourselves. Be thirsty for the things of God. Fulfill the purpose God made you for.
Rev. 3:15-20 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me.
The Lord doesn’t want lukewarm followers. This is the opposite of someone living by the beatitudes. Fortunately, spiritual transformation can happen at any time. Acknowledge your need and come to Him. Jesus was expelled from the synagogue. He didn’t just go along with the program. He spoke truth and was salt. Some respond to the call, others are repelled by it.
John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
The stinging words of Jesus become salt to us. We must be salt.
The second illustration is very different from salt , the light of the world. Light exposes evil. It enables something good to happen. We can’t just be a preservative. We must make something happen. Both are essential. We don’t just resist and preserve. We illuminate, reveal, educate and give knowledge to overcome the darkness.
Luke 8:17 For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. One day everything will be revealed. We do not want to be ashamed when we stand before the Lord.
John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus was leaving the world, and he called us to be the light of the world. You fulfill your purpose when you are light. Like a light switch, you turn on the light.
Jn 1:5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. Darkness can never overcome light. We complain, ‘the church is messed up; the world is messed up. I am responsible. I am supposed to be the light. How? First, we must come to the light. Then His light will emanate from us.
John 3:20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. If you have watched any news since Roe was overturned, you can see clearly that pro-choice abortion advocates hate the light. Light exposes their evil deeds. Then they like writhing devils display their hate for righteousness and truth. It is disturbing!
Conversely, for those who come to the light, light gives life.Jn. 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” Life will radiates out of you and others will notice.
Rom. 13:12 The night is far spent; the day is at hand. Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Cast off the works of darkness; come to the light. Put on the armor of light. It is a powerful weapon. It drives the darkness out.
Faithfully speak God’s message.John 5:33 & 35 You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. John bore witness to the truth. He was a burning and shining lamp. Speak up and bear witness. You must tell people why you are a light. I’m sorry, but I don’t like the saying ‘preach the gospel, if necessary, use words’. We are sent to speak the words of Jesus. How will they hear without a preacher?
Speak the word in love. When you expose evil you are going to be persecuted. Respond in a loving way. Be tactful, gentle, direct, and firm. Explain why you don’t live in darkness anymore. Explain how it was destroying your life.
Eph 5:8-11 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. We were once darkness, now we are light in the Lord. Expose the works of darkness in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. When we have the right attitude and action this is what is acceptable.
1 Jn 2:10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
Phil 2:12-15 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
When we do things without murmuring and complaining, speaking to others in love, not pointing out others’ faults, and not arguing, we will be different. People will notice, and we will have our opportunity to tell them why.
Today there is a lot of talk about being influencers. Social media is full of people trying to make a living influencing people. This is the kind of influencer God wants us to be, the kind that seasons others lives, draws them to Jesus, the kind that preserves by leading others away from sin, the kind that shines the light in the darkness to reveal the evil of this dark world and light the path to a God of love. God has called each one of us for His unique purpose. He has put us in the lives of others to help them see the way.
We know we are living in the last days. It is evident around us that things are not going well. Our eyes are on the skies and our hearts desire His return, but His command to us was in the parable of the talents:
Luke 19:20 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy (do business) until I come.
When we were saved, over 50 years ago now, I didn’t think I would have the baby I was carrying then before we went to heaven. That was our second child. Since then, we had two more children, 13 grandchildren, and are now waiting on #5 great grandchild. We do not know when the Lord will return, so we need to be about His business.
Seeing that we just celebrated our nation’s birthday yesterday, it is a good time to remember the blessings God has given us in this country. We have been massively fortunate to have been born here. The scripture says to whom much is given, much is required, but sadly the church has been complacent. We have been complacent! Our country is going to hell. We need to strengthen the things that remain. We need to each be on our knees asking the Lord where we can be salt and light. In the public schools? School board meetings? Foster care? Volunteering at a pregnancy center? Helping in a thrift store that supports recovering women? Circulating anti-trafficking information? Working elections? Making phone calls? The list could go on and on.
Proverbs 24:11 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. Seek the Lord to find your place to be salt and light in your situation in this generation and at this time!