How can salt become unsalty? That’s something I’ve been wondering a long time.
We’ve been working our way through the beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount, and looking at all the characteristics of the people who were blessed, that is the people who are on the road to eternal life, and asking ourselves the question, Am I among the blessed? Which is another way of saying am I amongst the saved? Am I amongst those who have been touched by the Holy Spirit and then transformed.
Remember, this is a sermon. The Sermon on the Mount where Jesus spoke to His disciples. He went up on a mountain. The disciples came to Him and He spoke to them there. This was not a general sermon, an evangelistic sermon. This was to the people who had already decided to follow Him, and they were already experiencing life as it were in the kingdom of God because they were following the king of kings, and it makes a difference in their life.
The Holy Spirit’s working in them, and all the blessings that come with making a decision to follow Jesus. All right. He continues right after the beatitudes with this analogy comparing his disciples to salt. It raises the question I’ve had for a very, very long time … Not that it’s kept me up at night, but I have wondered about it … In Matthew chapter five, in verse number 13, Jesus tells those blessed disciples you are the salt of the earth. Well, obviously He’s not talking about that we’re literally salt, or NACL. I think that’s the chemical formula for salt. You are not literally salt, but there’s something similar between you and salt. What is that? Well, maybe we’ll get a clue if we keep on reading, but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?
It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by man. In their day, they must have used salt in some sense that in an impure state that it could lose its saltiness. We know that it’s impossible for salt to become unsalty and to lose its salty taste. If it doesn’t taste like salt, it’s not salt. I have mentioned this very mystery in a previous Little Lesson. One of my dear friends from Colorado, which is a pretty nice place to live, named Patty sent me a little note from her study bible. I love study bibles, and I love theologians, but sometimes, like I’ve said, there’s no fog like theological fog. Let me tell you. Theologians are the fog givers, I’m telling you. Here’s some clarification from a study bible that my friend Patty had.
It says in the ancient world, salt was often used as a catalyst for burning fuel such as cattle dung. I’ve seen that all over the world in the poor parts of the world, where people collect cattle dung that’s dried out and then they use it for fuel because it’s dried out and it burns. Say you’re in the ancient world, they put some salt on it, or something salty. Not pure salt, but salt substance on it as a catalyst that is to make it easier to light it on fire to get it burning. It said the salt of the time was impure. Obviously, because if salt becomes unsalty that means the true salt of that substance that you’re calling salt has leeched out and what you’ve got left is not salt. Then, it could lose its strength over time becoming useless.
That’s a little bit of an explanation that helps clarify that, I guess, a little bit. We could make those same assumptions, right, from reading exactly what Jesus said. In His day, whatever they were calling salt, it obviously wasn’t pure salt and that substance that had salt in it could lose its saltiness if the actual salt we know was leeched out so it wasn’t salt anymore. The point though Jesus is saying is that if you have salt, you have saltiness. If salt loses its saltiness, it’s not good for using as salt any longer because there’s no salt actually there. He intimates, I think, quite clearly that it is possible for His disciples, who are the salt, to become unsalty. Why would He bring it up? Why would He broach the subject? If it was impossible, why would there be a warning against it? It is possible, and if you say otherwise, you’re contradicting Jesus Christ.
Don’t feel bad, but actually do feel bad because you shouldn’t contradict Jesus Christ. Jesus warned that the salt of his disciples could become unsalty, and therefore, tasteless and therefore useless. It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. That’s a warning to keep being salty. That is salt is salty. That’s what characterizes salt. If you put a little bit of salt on the tip of your finger, and you like it, and it doesn’t taste like salt, guess what? It’s not salt. You got an imposter. You don’t have salt. If what you think is salt doesn’t taste like salt, it doesn’t have the salt in it, and in Jesus’s day they’re using it as a catalyst to light dried animal dung for fires, it doesn’t work as a catalyst because there’s no salt there so we just toss it out.
What Jesus is saying is you, my disciples, could become useless and tossed out because you lose what distinctively makes you mine. My disciples. What? All the characteristics of the blessed that we’ve just been reading about in the beatitudes. Your mercifulness, your gentleness, the purity of your heart. All those characteristics of the blessed, let’s face it. We’re not holy robots. We can yield to the flesh or the world, or the devil. You have a free will. God never transformed that. You could go back like a pig to its mud if you want. Who wants to? Not me. Be warned because Jesus is warning us because He loves us. Don’t think that salvation is like a tattoo, as some preachers tell us. No, no, no, no. I heard a guy say, “It’s like a tattoo. Even if you regret it after you got it, you’re stuck with it. That’s how it is with salvation.” What?
Is that what Jesus was teaching here when He told his disciples to remain salty, or else they’ll be useless and cast out? I don’t think so. All right, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been a delight. God bless you.