Summary: Jesus commands that his followers have an effective influence on their worlds.

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How to Be an Effective Influence

Matthew 5:13-16


A. John Donne said: “No man is an island.”

B. Andrew Murray’s holy and pure life was reflected in his children and grandchildren. Said of him, “Five of his six sons became ministers of the gospel and four of his daughters became minister’s wives. Ten grandsons became ministers and thirteen grandchildren became missionaries.”

C. Elihu Burrit 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.”

D. We make an influence.

1. Don’t have a choice in the matter.

2. Whether we are popular or unknown is irrelevant.

E. Influence can be good or bad.

1. Living for Christ makes a good influence.

2. Inconsistency and complacency are bad influences.

F. Christians have an awesome responsibility.

1. Our actions could determine someone’s response to the gospel.

2. Must influence but not reflect the lifestyle of the unsaved.

3. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in them.” (I John 2:15)

G. We carry the message of life.

1. Don’t reflect the world.

2. Permeate the world as salt does food.

3. Reflect Christ in our words and actions.


A. Command to influence presupposes some things.

1. There is something wrong with the world system.

2. There is something wrong with others.

B. Our world needs salt and light.

1. It needs salt because it is corrupted with wickedness.

2. It needs light because it is overrun by the darkness of sin.

3. Condition will get worse; “evil persons and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (II Timothy 3:13)

C. Story told to John MacArthur by college student.

1. Professor taught that marriage was declining.

2. Reason: man was evolving to a higher level.

3. Marriage was only needed at the lower level.

4. Marriage was falling off “just as his prehensile tail had done millions of years ago.”

5. We don’t have to look far to see the evil in our world. Sept. 11, 2001 was a good example.

D. Our advancements don’t negate our sinful nature.

1. They often lead to disobedience to God.

2. Increase in technology and knowledge but used in wicked ways.

3. More knowledge can bring more wickedness.

E. Noah’s time.

1. Wickedness was so great God couldn’t stand it.

2. Sent a flood: “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only on evil all the time.” (Genesis 6:5)

3. Not long after, Sodom and Gomorrah became wicked and were destroyed with fire and brimstone.

4. David recognized his sinful nature: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)

F. Humanity is sinking not evolving to a higher level of goodness.

1. People are affected by sin and contribute to the problem.

2. So the world needs salt and light.

G. Communism was and is based on the supposed goodness of the individual.

1. Creating the right circumstances will let that goodness rise to the top.

2. All will work for the good of the other.

3. All will have what they need.

4. Class distinctions will disappear as well as rivalries.

5. Sounds good but won’t work because it is based on the wrong premise the humanity is inherently good.


A. Be salt and light.

1. Not a matter of whether we are or not.

2. How effective are we being?

3. “You are the only salt of the earth, and you are the only light of the world.”

B. Gives us a tremendous responsibility.

1. Salt can kill, enhance and preserve (Rock salt can kill grass. Table salt is good on food and can be used to preserve meat).

2. Christians are separate from the world but also be a part of it.

3. We are the only hope of the world.

C. But we often let others influence us.

1. World gets in the church.

2. Church needs to get in the world.

D. Not asked to do this alone.

1. Not individual grains of salt or rays of light.

2. Collective influence, join hands.

3. Influence must be different from what it influences.

E. Salt important in the ancient world.

1. Romans were often paid in salt.

2. Used as a mark of friendship.

3. Used in the binding of a covenant.

F. What did Jesus mean?

1. Live pure lives?

2. Add an attractiveness to the gospel?

3. Sting the lost with the gospel like in an open wound?

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