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"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?..." Matthew 5:13.
Jesus described the Christian as being like salt. Salt is an important ingredient, which does three things:
- Salt adds flavour (Job 6:6)
- Salt preserves (Mark 9:50)
- Salt makes people thirsty (Colossians 4:6)
How we live in the world is very important to the Lord (Colossians 1:10). Through Christ we have not only been saved. Through Christ, we have also joined ourselves to God's purpose (Romans 8:28). We are able to be salt to the world because:
We are not of the world
"They are not of the world, even as I am not of it" John 17:16.
Jesus Himself confessed that He was not of this world (John 18:36) and we are encouraged to make exactly the same confession (read 1 Timothy 6:12-14; John 17:14).
"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" Galatians 6:14 (see 2 Peter 1:4; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-16; Romans 12:2).
We are in the world
"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one" John 17:15 (see also verse 11).
We are to be in the world but not of it. We are not called to physically separate ourselves from the people of the world (1 Corinthians 5:9-10) but to be separate in heart and mind (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1). It is only when we have a clear sense of identity apart from the system of this world that our presence can truly be felt in the world (Philippians 3:17-20).
"As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world" John 17:18 (see also 1 John 4:17; 1 Peter 2:11-12).
In order to live in the world, we must recognise the world's system for what it is - under the control of Satan (1 John 5:19; Galatians 3:22). Satan is called "the prince of this world" (John 14:30; Matthew 4:8-9; Ephesians 2:1-3) and Jesus came to destroy His tyranny over people's lives (1 John 3:8). He did this once and for all at the Cross (Colossians 2:15), but each person personally needs to experience the victory of the Cross. Satan, however, seeks to entrench his control over people through:
- Fear (Romans 8:15; Hebrews 2:14-15)
- Injustice (Isaiah 10:1-2; Amos 5:12-15)
- Poverty (Luke 4:18; Psalm 140:12)
- Love of money (1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 13:5; Ecclesiastes 5:10)
- Demonic torment (Matthew 8:16; 10:1,8)
- Sickness (Luke 13:11-13,16; Acts 10:38)
- Death (2 Timothy 1:10; Hebrews 2:9,14; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26;55-56).
God has declared war against Satan's rule of this world (John 12:31) and we are called to play a part in this war (Romans 16:20; Acts 26:18). We must always remember that "the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
"'...but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the Lord" Jeremiah 9:24 (see also 22:15-16; Isaiah 59:1-17; 61:8; Zechariah 7:9-12).
God is a God of justice (Isaiah 61:8). He hates the injustice He sees in the world (Psalm 94:1-10; Jeremiah 23:23-24). But the answer is not man's sense of justice, but God's justice through Christ.
"Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory" Matthew 12:18-19 (see also Isaiah 11:2-4; Luke 11:42; John 9:39).
True justice can only be found under the Lordship of Christ. But if we belong to Christ, then Christ's priority of justice will be expressed through our lives.
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" Isaiah 58:6-7 (read also verse 8).
The Weapons of Our Warfare
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds" 2 Corinthians 10:3-4.
The weapons of the world
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" Ephesians 6:12.
The world uses many different weapons to fight injustice - weapons of politics and economics. But these are not the weapons we are to use. This is because we are not fighting people but spiritual powers. These powers were bound at the Cross. We are now called to plunder their goods.
"Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house" Matthew 12:29.
The weapons of righteousness
"Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance...and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left" 2 Corinthians 6:4,6.
The weapons we have been given are the weapons of the Gospel. It is the Gospel which is the power of God (Romans 1:16). Through prayer, witness and our lives, we administer the Gospel out into the world around us. Through the Gospel, we can now participate in the justice of God and become "instruments of righteousness" in the hands of the Lord (Romans 6:13). As the salt of the earth, we play an active role - not just in introducing people to eternal life but also to abundant life!
"Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil" Ephesians 5:15-16.
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