Although Jesus uses the metaphors of “salt” and “light” to refer to the position of all believers, some—by their lifestyle choices—become unsalty and hide their light. In other words, they become carnal. In Part 1 we discussed the possibility of carnality, or fleshliness, in the life of a believer. In this second article we will examine the disastrous consequences of carnality, using the analogy of salt.
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men (Matthew 5:13-14).
Putting it plainly, carnal Christians are unsalty Christians, and that implies their spiritual condition is useless—“good for nothing”—fit only to be cast out! That is quite strong, but we must remember Who said it.
However, it is important to point out that Jesus is not speaking of the Christian’s spiritual position, for anyone who has been justified in his spirit can never be cast out positionally (John 6:37), for he is a child of God. The born again believer has passed from death unto life and is, therefore, eternally secure. Jesus refers to all Christians as “salt,” despite their spiritual condition.
Nevertheless, Jesus is referring to the spiritual condition, the state of the soul after salvation, which is either spiritual or carnal. Jesus views carnality as ineffectiveness, and that will affect one’s verdict at the Judgment Seat.
Indeed, those children of God that Jesus deems unfaithful at the Judgment Seat will be “cast out” from His millennial presence. Is this any different than Jesus “vomiting” lukewarm Christians out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16)? Presumably, that is just another way of illustrating the negative verdict some will receive at the Judgment Seat. They will receive no reward and will not rule with Him in the Kingdom. Given the seriousness of this prospect, we need to understand and take heed to the “salt” metaphor.
How does salt—sodium chloride—lose its saltiness? The primary way is by becoming diluted in water. The greater the dilution, the more salt loses its saltiness. I am convinced there is a beautiful spiritual illustration in this. When you begin loving the world and the flesh, your fellowship with Christ becomes diluted. Your union or bond with Christ is never broken—that is positional and unconditional—however, your friendship with the world puts you at hostility with God in the realm of fellowship. James 4:4 is an indictment to worldly Christians:
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
When you unite with the world, and begin living for your flesh, you drift away from the Lord, but your relationship with Him is never broken. You always remain a child of God. Yet friendship with the world causes drifting in your relationship with the Lord, and that results in dilution. Befriending the world causes a Christian to lose his savor, his saltiness, with respect to the world.
When salt is diluted, it is not beneficial, and loses its effectiveness. However, when salt is “salty,” it is greatly beneficial. It is the opposite of leaven, which causes fermentation and corruption to other things around it.
We know salt enhances flavor, when added moderately to food, and it is a preservative to keep meat from spoiling. In what sense are Christians the salt of the earth? In the sense that we add flavor to this world—the love of Christ and a Christian worldview. We also serve as a preservative in culture, opposing sin and corruption by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God’s design for us as His children is that we function as salt in this present world. We do that by living the Christ-life—demonstrating His mercy, His justice, His grace, His compassion, His holy hatred of sin, His power and glory, etc., to the world around us.
In the parallel passage in Mark 9:49-50, Jesus adds a peculiar dimension to this matter of a salty life:
For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it?
Verse 49 is an obvious reference to the Old Testament sacrificial practice of adding salt to the meat offerings.
And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt (Lev. 2:13).
Salt was considered pleasing to God and was to be offered with all the meat offerings. Leaven, a type of sin, was never to be offered.
Ye shall burn no leaven…in any offering of the Lord made by fire (Lev. 2:11).
By using the metaphor of salt in the context of Mark 9, however, Jesus is demonstrating another application for the New Testament Christian.
You, as a Christian, are to be a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God. When you are a salty Christian, God is pleased. Your holy lifestyle is like salt added to the sacrifice of your life. When you are unsalty, it is as if leaven is at work in your life and you become as leaven in the world, actually promoting the agenda of the evil one.
One day, the soul of every Christian will be “seasoned with salt”—i.e., the salt of fire—at the Judgment Seat. The fire will reveal your works of gold, silver and precious stones, and it will consume your wood, hay and stubble.
In other words, the “salt” (fire) at the Judgment Seat will expose how “salty” your life was while on earth. If deemed “salty” enough by Jesus, you will hear “well done” and be given an inheritance in the millennium. If not, you will hear “thou wicked and slothful servant” and be appointed a portion with the faithless as a mere subject.
Take note of what Jesus thinks about unsalty Christians. He says they have “lost their savour.” In the Greek it is the idea of playing the part of a fool. Christians that have become carnal are living foolishly. According to Jesus, their spiritual condition is good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.
They are like the five foolish virgins who did not have an extra supply of oil (Matt. 25). Their verdict: “I know you not.”
They are like the invited guest who showed up for the wedding festivities without the appropriate wedding garment (Matt. 22). His verdict: “bind him and cast him into the darkness outside.”
They are like the rich fool who lost everything he gained on earth and had nothing to show at the Judgment Seat (Luke 12). His verdict: “thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.”
They are like the unprofitable servant who squandered his talents (Matt. 25). His verdict: “thou wicked and slothful servant; take away his reward.”
They are like the unfaithful household servant who was not ready for his Lord’s return (Luke 12). His verdict: “appoint him a portion with the faithless.”
The cause of unsaltiness is contamination—by the world and the flesh—resulting in carnality. The consequence of unsaltiness is quite serious: millennial disinheritance.
May the Lord find us faithful, living as salty saints.