top of page
  • Writer's pictureBrian O'Kelly

68 – Salt, Light and the Law

2)      We’ve spent several weeks on the Beatitudes. Now we begin a section where Jesus begins to expand on the concepts presented in the Beatitudes. So today we will look at the next 9 verses of Chapter 5 starting in verse 11 and going through verse 20.

3)      Another word on Persecution

a.       11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

b.       This is an extension of the 8th Beatitude which we covered last week. In case you missed that I recommend you go back and check out the episode on Persecution, that’s #67 and there is a link to that episode in the podcast notes. So for that reason, I won’t dig deep into that here but here are couple of foundational reference verses.

                                                             i.      1 Pet.4:13-14 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

                                                             ii.      Matt.5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,


iii.      1 John 3:11-13 For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.

                                                           iv.      Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

4)      Believers Are Salt and Light

a.       13 “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.

                                                              i.      Salt was obtained by work. It was typically obtained by evaporating water from the Dead Sea or the Mediterranean. But Jesus says “salt of the earth”. Salt of the earth would be obtained by mining natural sodium deposits. It was a little bit of work to obtain this salt. It’s also true that this salt was part of the earth. For the Christian it is a little bit of work for us to follow Jesus and imitate him. We also are part of the broader spectrum of humanity.

                                                             ii.      Salt is a preservative. The Christian is also a preservative. In the same way that salt maintains the integrity of meat or other foodstuffs, we are to help maintain the integrity of the society around us.

                                                           iii.      Salt make things palatable. It makes things taste better.

1.       Much of the life of this world is unpalatable but we give hope.

2.       If we are not making life more flavorful for people we are not doing the Lord’s will.

b.       14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

                                                               i.      This is metaphorical language. In a world that is characterized by darkness, we as believers are to light up the place.

                                                             ii.      Have you ever noticed how much more powerful light is than darkness? You can go into a very large space, like a fully darkened warehouse or gymnasium and with even a match or the flashlight on your phone, you can have enough light to see quite a bit. Light pierces the darkness. I enjoy hiking and have done several night hikes. It’s amazing how far into the forest you can see with a good headlamp. Darkness has no equivalent power. You can’t carry a “flashdark” that projects darkness, only a flashlight that projects light. Jesus is using this concept of illumination in the reference to a city on a hill. It can be seen from a great distant at night because of the light in it.

1.        John 1:4-5  4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

2.       John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

3.       Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.

                                                           iii.      Our Christianity should be visible at a distance and more easily visible up close.

                                                           iv.      Usually in a dark situation, it’s whoever has the light that leads others. Leading others means exercising influence on them. We as Christians have the light. In darkness it’s hard to tell where the path is and which way to turn. This results in stumbling, missteps and sometimes going the wrong direction. We used to lead in every arena of life in the west. Christianity was the dominant force shaping western civilization and it’s decline of late has meant that collective society is now stumbling, lost and without a sense of which way to turn. We have lost the influence we had on society around us. This is how we find our countries and leaders offering so many confused and sinful views.

                                                             v.      We are supposed to stand out. To show the way and to be a guide and inspiration for others.

                                                           vi.      Jesus says that we are to let our good works be the shining of the light. We are to take action in all that we do to point people toward God.

                                                          vii.      Two flashlights are more effective than one, especially when pointed in the same direction. We are to collectively as Christians be pointed toward God and the collective gathered light is more powerful than any individual light alone. In the political arena here in the US, Ronald Reagan invoked the “city on a hill” as a metaphor for the influence of America on the world. His VP in his acceptance of the Republican nomination in 1988 expressed this as a thousand points of light, saying: “I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good.”

                                                        viii.      It’s not enough to simply proclaim goodness, we need to embody goodness through action.

                                                            ix.      In James chapter 2 and verses 14-18 we find this: 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

                                                             x.      James is not advocating a works righteousness, but rather he is indicating that good works are the natural outgrowth of faith in God and he’s saying that if you don’t have good works, you may not have the faith that you claim.

                                                            xi.      There are a couple of important deceptions that have invaded the church today.

1.       The first of these is that in rejecting a works righteousness, the concept of earning your salvation, that works are not necessary to the life of the believer.

2.       The second is that being part of the donor class is sufficient. If you give money to your church or to another charity, it’s enough. Some people in supporting a Crisis Pregnancy Center or a missionary or the homeless shelter think that they have done their part.

3.       When you combine these two concepts you have Christians who think that they need do nothing more than write a check to fulfill the command of Jesus to let their good works shine in a way that people can see the Jesus in them. In other words, you can write a check to these organizations and yet no one who sees you will see this good work.

4.      Ephesians 2:8-9 are the famous verses about being saved through faith, not works: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

5.      This is true, we are not saved by our works, but please consider the next verse, verse 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

6.      Titus 1:15-16 when speaking of the work of elders to rebuke those who are teaching false doctrines “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

7.      Titus 3:14 And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.

8.      Colossians 1:10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God,

9.      2 Tim 3:17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

                                                          xii.      If we are to be light in the world, we are to do it through our works, not through our words. This is a call to action.

5)      Christ Fulfills the Law

a.       17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

b.       I did three episodes on this topic alone. Episodes 52, 53 and 54 that you can find at the website, which explored the topic of whether Christians should keep the law. There is a link in the show notes and in the show description for this.

c.       This was a deep dive into this topic including an exploration of the modern Torah Observance movement. This is a movement that says based on these verses that the Christian today should keep the law. I’m not going to get deep into that topic here but I will share some of the foundational verses that indicate that what Jesus meant here by fulfilling the law and why I don’t believe that he is telling Christians to live under the law.

                                                               i.      The law was given to Israel, not the Gentiles or the Church

1.       Gen.17:10-11 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.

2.       Ex 31:16-17 Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ ”

                                                             ii.      The early church didn’t impose the law on converted Gentiles

1.       Acts 21:25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.” 

                                                           iii.      The law was a type and a shadow

1.       Heb 10:1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 

2.       Col.2:16-17 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 

                                                           iv.      All things are lawful:

1.       1 Cor.6:12-13 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

                                                             v.      There is a new covenant that has replaced the old covenant:

1.       Jer.31:31-34  “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, [h]though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

2.       Luke 22:20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

                                                           vi.      The New renders the old obsolete:

1.       Heb.8:13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

2.       Rom.7:1-4 Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? 2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. 4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

                                                          vii.      A new priesthood: Heb.7:12 For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law.

                                                        viii.      The law is fulfilled in Christian living:

1.       Gal.5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

2.       James 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well;

3.       Rom.13:8-10  Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

4.      Gal.6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ

5.       Matt.7:12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

6)      Murder Begins in the Heart

a.       21 “You have heard that it was said to those [d]of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother [e]without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’[f] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, [g]‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of [h]hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

7)      Adultery in the Heart

a.       27 “You have heard that it was said [i]to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to [j]sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to [k]sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

8)      Marriage Is Sacred and Binding

a.       31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except [l]sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

9)      Jesus Forbids Oaths

a.       33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of [m]old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let [n]your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

10)   Go the Second Mile

a.       38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

11)   Love Your Enemies

a.       43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 [o]But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your [p]brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the [q]tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.


bottom of page