Summary: In the sermon on the mount, Jesus reveals what needs to be the character of those who follow Him, how that character will influence the world, and how it need play out in their lives.
The Salt And The Light
Reading: Matthew 5:13-16
This morning we continue a sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount. This series of messages, titled “Jesus began to preach,” encompasses all of Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7, the longest uninterrupted teaching by Jesus in all the Gospels.
Jesus’ words to His disciples begin at Matthew 5:1 and continue through to Matthew 7:28, providing clear teachings of what is expected from a disciple of Jesus and in this series we will examine these expectations and consider how they are to apply to our daily walk in Christ. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus reveals what needs to be the character of those who follow Him, how that character will influence the world, and how it need play out in their lives.
Last Lord's day we began with the lessons given to the blessed found in Matthew 5:3-10. This lesson addresses the heart of those who would be His disciples, illustrating the characteristics of those who are blessed of God, that is, those who are approved and favored of God. And we see right away that the blessed of God stand apart from those of this world. The blessed of God are not the powerful, or popular, or most successful as the world judges such things. The blessed of God are those characterized by a poverty of spirit, they are humble and contrite before God and sorrowfully seek His grace and His mercy. The blessed of God do not have to be reminded or cajoled to attend worship services, to study the scriptures, to pray in and for all things as they hunger and thirst after righteousness. They are the meek and the merciful, they are the pure in heart and the peacemakers. And they will be persecuted but in this the blessed of God may rejoice.
This is to be us, transformed by the grace of God through our knowledge of Jesus Christ, restored and reconciled to our Father in Heaven. This is to be our heart, leading us to humble ourselves, confess our sins, and pursue His righteousness knowing that in this way we are the blessed of God.
And with such a heart Jesus now tells us the function of the blessed in the world. Read Matthew 5:13-16
I. We Will Influence The World
A. Our function in the world boils down to a single word: influence
1. In Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus talks about the influence of His people on the world for God and for good.
a. John 17:15-16, 18 In His prayer 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.”
b. 1 John 2:15 John wrote, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.”
c. The blessed of God are not to reflect the world but they are to influence the world; they are to be in it but not of it.
2. When we live the life of the blessed of God some people will respond favorably and be saved, others will ridicule and persecute us.
a. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 In the words of Paul, we will manifest “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”
b. The Beatitudes are not to be lived in isolation or only among fellow believers, but everywhere we go. God’s only witnesses are His children, and the world has no other way of knowing of Him except through the testimony of what we are.
c. Whatever the outcome our mandate is emphatic, we are the salt of the earth, we are the light of the world.
II. We Are The Salt Of The Earth
A. In the time of Jesus the purpose of salt was to flavor and to preserve.
1. Sin brought death and decay to the world and to all mankind. The scriptures detail the decaying effect of sin over and over.
a. Before the flood in Genesis 6, after the flood in Genesis 8. The Psalms and the Prophets proclaim the lost state of man again and again. When Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus he reminds them that before Jesus they (and we) were dead in their trespasses.
2. Sin brings decay and corruption to the world but the presence of the blessed of God will preserve and refresh the world.