Sun, Jul 15, 2001

"YOU ARE...!" MATTHEW 5:13-16

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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"YOU ARE...!"
MATTHEW 5:13-16

Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 5 as we look at the characteristics of a believer, what comes out of their lives, the impact they have on those around them. And keep in mind that Matthew is presenting Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets spoke of.

Thus, in Matthew chapter 1 we are given the genealogy of the King. In Matthew chapter 2 we see the worship of the King. In Matthew chapter 3 we saw John the Baptist prepare the way for the King and to announce or herald His coming. And in Matthew chapter 4 we saw the temptation of the King by Satan.

And now, in Matthew chapter 5 we see the manifesto or the constitution of the King for His kingdom. And in the first several verses we see the salvation of a person who is poor in spirit, recognizing his sinful condition with no self-remedy. That leads to a mourning over his sins as the person repents of their sin and comes to the Lord. Now, after they are saved, that flesh, that out of control nature, is now meek or under the control of God. It speaks of a wild horse that is broken, power under control! And there then is a hunger and thirst to know God and to do what God desires. And a person who is in love with God has a merciful, a forgiving heart towards others. And that peace that God has given to them, can be given to others. The result of this, the way the world will respond to a person who is in love with the Lord, is they will persecute you for what you believe!

It is out of that, the attitude of the saved found in verses 3-12, that we move to the action of the saved, from verses 13 on. Now before we get into our text this morning, listen to this true story:

Years ago the communist government in China commissioned an author to write a biography of Hudson Taylor with the purpose of distorting the facts and presenting him in a bad light. They wanted to discredit the name of this consecrated missionary of the gospel. As the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor’s saintly character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his life, he laid aside his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Savior.

Whether we realize it or not, our example leaves an impression on others...

- Jack Williams, Phoenix Gazette

Also, Dr. John Geddie went to Aneityum in 1848 and worked there for God for 24 years. On the tablet erected to his memory these words are inscribed:

When he landed, in 1848, there were no Christians. When he left, in 1872, there were no heathen.

As Christians we are to have a impact on the society we live in, on the people that are around us. And please understand that this comes out of the way we live, we don’t have to fight but we must BE or show that our faith is real, it is the uncompromising way we live in a ungodly world. With that said, let’s read through our text this morning and then we will expound on these two illustrations on what the Christian is to BE, and see what the Lord has for us.

MATTHEW 5:13-16

In this section of Scripture the Lord is speaking of our influence in this world. You see, if you apply these things to your life, the beatitudes, you will be salt and light! You see, Christian character will affect people for better or for worse, we do have an affect on people! First of all we are going to look at the Christian as salt and then as light and see then how we are doing with our influence, our living, how it is affecting people.

One thing I want you to notice is that Jesus says "YOU are the salt of the earth" and "Youare the light of the world." He is not talking to the multitudes, but to His disciples, believers. We are to BE salt, and we are to BE light. We are to influence the world for good! And as small a number of people as they were, Jesus said they are salt and they are light and they will impact the world - and they did!


Jesus used salt here because it was an illustration that the people could easily recognize and pick up on. The salt they used was gathered down by the Dead Sea or from small lakes that would dry up in the heat of summer on the edge of the Syrian desert. Now understand that this salt was not pure, like the salt we use today. It was contaminated with impurities like magnesia, lime, vegetable remains, and-so-on. And out of those various compounds, the salt or sodium chloride, was the most soluble and it washed out the easiest. Thus, you can still have this white substance that looks very much like salt, but it did not taste nor act like salt, and thus, it was good for nothing. They would basically use it to throw down on the roads to be trampled under foot and keep the growth of vegetation down on the roads.

Now the first thing that salt does is it preserves or retards decay. You see, they had no refrigeration in those days, so when a animal was killed, a heavy layer of salt was placed over the meat to kill any surface bacteria and prevent the meat from rotting.

Outside of Christ man is rotting in sin and so is this world. But as Christians, as salt, we are to have a preserving effect on the society we live in. Paul, in II Thessalonians tells us, "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way." II Thessalonians 2:7. He is speaking of the Holy Spirit working in the life of the believer having a preserving force in this world, and that will continue on until the Lord comes and takes His bride, the church home.

As we stand up for the things of God it should help point people in the right direction. But, as you look at this nation in which some 80% of the people call themselves Christians, if you can believe that number, we are not doing what we are called to do, be salt! We are seeing all kinds of immorality on the increase, pornography growing, and instead of going out and coming in contact with others, we try to toss our salt out hoping it will hit someone, and that is foolish. The salt needed to be rubbed into the meat and we must rub elbows, touch lives for our salt to affect others!

Another thing that salt does is it makes you thirsty. Have you ever had something that was really salty and then go and drink several glasses of water because the salt made you so thirsty? That is the idea here. Are you so in love with Jesus, is He such a part of your life, that as others see you they are thirsty to drink what you have - JESUS? That is what should happen! Too often people look at our lives and they see it as being sour and they don’t want to drink what we have. If that is you, then that is not Jesus. I am not saying that every person you come in contact with will come to Jesus, but are we making people thirsty to know Jesus or are they turned off by our sour and bitter lives?

Lastly, salt has healing properties to it, and I also see that in a Christians life. A person who is hurting you can show them the love of Jesus. Now, when salt comes in contact with a wound, it does burn, it does sting, it does hurt, but that is needed to awaken the person and to show them their need for the healing touch of Jesus.

Man continues to rot like dead meat, but as salt we are to preserve, we are to make them thirsty for Jesus, we are to bring the healing of Jesus to them. But, salt can lose its flavor and become good for nothing. You see, for the Christian to be effective, he must retain his Christ-likeness! If we become assimilated into the world, hang around the unsaved a majority of our time, we are going to become contaminated by the impurities of the world, we will lose our influence!

It is as Dr. Lloyd-Jones says: "The glory of the gospel is that when the church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first." But, if we are not, we do become ineffective and useless, as A.B. Bruce points out, "But what a down come, from being saviors of society to supplying materials for footpaths!"

And instead of complaining how evil this world has become, how bad people are, we as Christians should be on our knees praying, as the Lord said in II Chronicles 7:14, "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." You see, it does begin with us, we are the salt of the earth!


Obviously back then, as today, light is very important. You needed it to light your homes, guide you in your travels. And thus, you would not hide your light but you would let it shine so you can see and it could also help others, to guide them.

And once again Jesus tells us that "You [alone] are the light of the world." Christians are to let their light shine or should I say the light of Jesus shine upon them and thus, we as Christians are reflecting the light of Jesus just as the sun shines upon the moon and what we really see is the light of the sun reflected off the moon and back to us. It is as Paul said in II Corinthians 4:6, "For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Thus, as people see our light shine, they are seeing a reflection of Jesus!

Light, in a sense, when it is shining, brings about change. Thus, as we shine forth Jesus we see a couple of things happen. First of all light exposes darkness, people become aware of their condition, the sin they are in. Now this can cause them to repent and come to Jesus or flee for their lives, to try and run away from the light because they don’t want their sin exposed, they want to continue to do it.

It is as Jesus said in John 3:16-21, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." The choice is theirs, they can come to the light, Jesus, or run from Him!

The second thing that light does is it guides people. Psalm 119:105 says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." As we share the truths of God from the Word of God, it gives people direction, it helps them to see where they are going, what they need to do. Think of a lighthouse on a rough and rocky seacoast. As the ships come in at night, it is the lighthouse, its light, that keeps them from destruction upon the rocks, just as Christians help warn people of the destruction that is coming upon those who are outside of Christ, the destruction of their lives, the destruction of their souls!

Remember that nursery rhyme that goes:

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!

What are you reflecting in your life? Is it the nature of Jesus or the nature of the world, the works of the flesh instead of the fruit of the spirit? Whatever you are spending your time with is what is going to be reflected in your life. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, spending time with the Lord, his face radiated God! And that too will happen as you spend time with the Lord!

Too often we look for an easy solution to being light, and there is none. It isn’t like going to a tanning salon, or using that fake sun tan lotion to make it look like you have been in the sun a long time. The only solution is you need to spend time in the Son, not "sun" but "Son" if you want His nature to shine through you.

Think about our society today, and the world, and the darkness that is in it. People today are very religious but they don’t know the Lord but are into a spirituality that is moving them away from the true God. And what happens in a room when just a small light is turned on? The darkness flees, it is gone. We need to let our light shine so that the darkness will be exposed, it will dissipate instead of hiding our light under a basket or being ashamed to stand up for what we believe, standing up for righteousness!

And the result of being light is that our heavenly Father is glorified, not us! Look at the life of Jesus, all the things that He did, and the result of what He did, what He said, is that people glorified God! What about you? What happens as you step out into the world? Our light should shine in such a way that God gets the glory, that people worship God, are drawn to Him and not to us. It is as Paul said in Philippians 2:14-16, "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, holding fast the word of life..." May our light shine brightly and direct people to Jesus!

Another illustration of what is to flow from our lives is given to us in II Corinthians 2:14-16, where Paul says "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?"

You can’t buy this fragrance. You can’t work to obtain this fragrance. All you can do is come in contact with Jesus and that fragrance will rub off onto you, the fragrance of Jesus will permeate your life. And that fragrance will bring people to life, life in Jesus if they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It will also bring people to death if they reject Jesus as Lord and Savior. And the thing you must ask yourself is "Who have you been in contact with?" You see, if it is not Jesus, if your fellowship with Him has been on the lean side, the fragrance that will come from your life will not be Jesus, but the world, and it will not smell good. Now you may be offended by that, and that is good. That means you are trying to justify your non-fellowship with the Lord, and you think things are going just fine for you. Let me ask you this, when was the last time you bit someone’s head off? When was the last time you were mad? Are you angry or bitter towards someone? Is your patience on the thin side? Are you having a hard time tolerating someone? Is forgiveness not part of your lifestyle? That is not the nature of Jesus and you need to return to Him, spend time with Him so that His fragrance may once again flow in you and through you!

When I was in Junior High there was this aftershave and cologne called Brute and I use to soak myself in it. I think my body order would have been better to smell than all that Brute I poured onto myself! If you are not smelling good this morning you need to jump into Jesus, have your life consumed with Him once again, because the more you are in contact with Jesus the more you are going to smell like Him, the more the fragrance of Jesus will flow from your life. And I will tell you this, if you love Him, you will want to spend time with Him!

On this portion of Scripture in Matthew chapter 5, listen to what John MacArthur has to say:

When what we do causes people to be attracted to us rather than to God, to see our human character rather than His divine character, we can be sure that what they see is not His light.

It is said of Robert Murray McCheyne, a godly Scottish minister of the last century, that his face carried such a hallowed expression that people were known to fall on their knees and accept Jesus Christ as Savior when they looked at him. Others were so attracted by the self-giving beauty and holiness of his life that they found his Master irresistible.

It was also said of the French pietist Francois Fenelon that his communion with God was such that his face shined with divine radiance. A religious skeptic who was compelled to spend the night in an inn with Fenelon, hurried away the next morning, saying, "If I spend another night with that man I’ll be a Christian in spite of myself."

That is the kind of salt and light God wants His kingdom people to be.

- The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Matthew 1-7, p 247

On the other end of the spectrum, listen to this tragic story:

In the late 1800's, a young boy was growing up in a very strict Jewish home where the Shabbat, the Sabbath, was honored and where all of the rituals of Judaism were followed.

One day, his family moved to a town in which there was no synagogue. In fact, there were hardly any Jewish people at all, which prompted his father to say, "From now on, we are Lutherans. We will go to the Lutheran church and participate in Lutheran services." This teen-age boy said, "But Dad, we’re Jews." His dad answered, "Son, it’s time you learn that to get by in business, you have to make some compromises."

This young man, who grew up embittered towards his father for turning his back on Judaism and playing a game for business, would later leave Germany for London, where he would study prolifically and where he would write these words: "Religion is the opiate of the masses." His name, of course, was Karl Marx.

- Jon Courson, Matthew Vol. One Ch. 1-13, pp. 113-114

We do have a choice to make, what kind of influence do we want to make to our children, our neighbors, our communities, this nation and the world? I pray that it is one that has a positive influence, the influence of Jesus that can transform a persons life. That is what it is all about, and it is not an impossible task. All we must do is surrender to the Lord and spend time with Him, and by His Spirit we too can be salt and light in a world that badly needs it. Let me leave you with this thought,

My life shall touch a dozen lives before this day is done;
Leave countless marks for good or ill, ere sets the evening sun.
This is the wish I always wish, the prayer I always pray:
Lord, may my life help other lives it touches by the way.

As Jesus said, "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." Matthew 5:13-16. May we not forget that, for you are salt and you are light and you are to impact this earth, this world for Jesus!

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