What Does It Mean to Be Salt and Light?


When it came to communicating truths about the kingdom of God, Jesus had His work cut out for Him. His time was spent traveling the Judean countryside teaching complicated and abstract truths to simple and largely uneducated people.

This is why He taught in parables so often. These basic stories were easy to understand, remember, and pass on. And when Jesus wasn’t using parables, He often taught in metaphors and similes because they were effective at communicating ideas that would have been more difficult to convey.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus shocks His listeners with the Beatitudes and then launches into the metaphor of salt and light to help his listeners understand how they’re called to interact with the world.

Let’s examine the implications of the image of salt and light.

The salt of the earth

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot (Matthew 5:13).

When we think of salt, we tend to think of a fairly cheap spice that we keep on the table next to our pepper. If we recall our high school science, we might remember it as the compound sodium chloride.

But that’s not how the crowd around Jesus would have thought about salt. They would have recognized its two major properties:

  1. Preservation
  2. Flavor

No one in the first century had freezers, so if you wanted to preserve meat, it had to be cured, and this was done by drying and salting it. Jesus seemed to be telling them that they were to help preserve the world where they lived.

But they were also instructed to give it flavor. Salt naturally enhances taste by intensifying certain flavors and decreasing others. Salt has the unique ability to make sweet things seem sweeter and diminish the impact of naturally bitter things.

Jesus seemed to be saying that those who were in step with God would make the world a more enjoyable place by enhancing and communicating God’s goodness. And, as Jesus pointed out, if His followers were to lose their saltiness, they would no longer be effective at protecting and amplifying God’s goodness in the world.

Light of the world

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14–16).

We have an understanding of light that first-century Jews didn’t. For instance, we know that it’s because of light that we can see the entire spectrum of colors. We know that sunlight provides the energy needed to sustain life on earth and gives us critical vitamin D.

But because most of us have never lived without electric light, we miss Jesus’ main point. When we walk into a dark room, we flick a switch and the room is bathed in light. But that wasn’t the case for the people Jesus addressed. They lit their homes at night with small oil lamps.

The picture of someone lighting a lamp and then putting it under a clay pot would have been humorous to this crowd. The only reason to light a lamp was so you could see, and just like Jesus suggested, you would place that lamp in a place where it could give off as much light as possible.

The implication was clear. Our faithfulness should be evident to all. The behavior of God’s people should be a light that draws others to it. Outsiders should be drawn to praise God when they see our good deeds.

The evidence of the faithful

The metaphors of salt and light specifically addressed the impact faithfulness should have in the world. It should illuminate and preserve. Like both salt and light, our relationship with God should have an obvious impact on everyone who comes in contact with it. Jesus isn’t just calling us to be devoted, He’s encouraging us to have an influence everywhere we go.


GOD HELPS US TO RESIST THE DEVIL – 1 Corinthians 10:12-14 | Mission Venture  Ministries

How an Eskimo kills a wolf. (He will repeatedly coat the blade in blood, allowing it to freeze, until the blade is covered. Then, he will place the knife in the snow and as the wolf licks the blood, his tongue is numbed, and his hunger is fueled. The wolf will lick the knife, cut his own tongue, and eventually bleed himself to death out of his own lusts.) Satan uses the same tactic to defeat God’s children. He knows that he can never have your soul, but he also knows if he can cause us to succumb to temptation, then we will become powerless and useless as Christians.

 Salvation is not a barrier to temptation! On the contrary, Satan is more likely to attack the Christian than the unbeliever. After all, he already has the lost. However, temptation, while it cannot be avoided, can be overcome! While it is hard to endure temptation can be used to help us grow in Jesus. I believe every believer needs and wants to know how to turn temptation into triumph.

 When temptation arises, men usually respond in one of three ways. The primary method for dealing with the temptation is to simply give in to it. Many people live by an “If it feels good, do it,” mentality. They live like animals, doing everything they can to gratify the flesh. Nearly all lost people live like this, but sadly, so do many Christians! Others struggle against temptation daily.

They spend all their time-fighting temptation in their own strength.  They fight and fail over and over because no one can overcome his evil nature alone.  If we could defeat the power of sin on our own strength, then it would have been pointless for Jesus to die for us. This type of person hates what he does, but he goes on doing it because they do not have the power to stop.

 Finally, there are those who overcome temptation through the power of Jesus Christ. They turn their temptations into triumphs. That may sound like wishful thinking to many of you, but I want you to know that you can win over temptation. It is possible to live in victory. There are a few things that you need to know to be able to do this. Let’s think together on this thought, “How To Tame Temptation.”

                          THE SUBJECT OF TEMPTATION  (Who is affected?)

All humans are subject to temptation. Best to the least)  Jesus, Peter, David, etc!) We are daily assaulted with a wide range of temptations.  (List some!) We all have one area where we are particularly susceptible. It is not a sin to be tempted. Jesus – Heb. 4:15)  Sin enters the picture when temptation is surrendered to. Our greatest danger is to think we have arrived at a place where we are above sinning, v. 12; Pro. 16:18.  When our pride tells us that we cannot fall, then we are headed for a huge one!  Pride in this area just tempts the devil!

Why doesn’t God just kill the devil and remove the attraction for sin? If that were to happen, then you and I would lose the ability to be overcomers in Jesus. Without opposition, there is no victory! God has not called us to a life of ease, but to one of victory. A victory that we cannot enjoy until we have faced evil and overcome it.


 “Common” – Do not think your temptations are so great, they are just like the ones we all face. They are just common, run-of-the-mill, garden variety temptations. We all get the same ones from the same sources. 1John 2:16;  Eve – Gen. There are three primary sources of temptation: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Let’s look at these three sources and how they attack us.

The World – In the Bible, the word for word means “system or order.” The Bible speaks of this system called the world and says that it is evil. 1 John 2:15; James 4:4)  It is possible for believers to become so worldly that they fail to stand out for the Lord.  We are to be different and distinct. We are not to allow the world to force us into its mold, Rom. 12:1-2; Matt. 5:13-16 Thermostat and thermometer) The world’s idea of beauty – 1 Pet. 3:3. God’s Idea is the inward beauty of the soul untouched and unspoiled by the taint of the world.

The Flesh – Born into every one of us, from the most innocent child to the godliest adult, is a bent in our nature. There is a leaning toward sin. We inherited this from our first father, Adam.  It is called “old Nature.” There is a civil war in the heart of every saved person here today – Gal.5:17! ) When we fail, we try to blame our sin on the devil. Yes, he tempts us and points us toward sin, but we are responsible for the final decision. V.13. If Satan were gone, we would still sin – Millenium – Rev. 2:27.

The Devil – His main objective, as far as you are concerned, is to cause you to fall so that God is dishonored and you become useless to the Kingdom’s work of God. He knows every weakness you have and he exploits them trying to get you to sin.  He tells you how great sin will be, that you will get by with it, that you even deserve it, but he hates you and he is plotting your defeat.  He loves to point at fallen saints and laugh before God as he stands accusing us of evil. Don’t give him the satisfaction!


Man is made in the image of the triune God.  Man is a triune being, he possesses body, soul, and spirit. When you are tempted, it will always be in one of these three areas.  We need to understand this principle and understand the areas that will come under attack if we are going to overcome our temptations. The Soul – This is the word used to describe the you that lives inside your body.  It speaks of your mind, your will, and your emotions. The world is the primary tempter of the soul.  The world says to the soul, “You need more, you can have more!”  The world always appeals to the ego or pride. A worldly person is one who is given over to the pleasures of the world. Lot – Gen. 13:10-12 – Lot looked, leaned, lived, and lost in the world.)

The flesh, referring to the “old nature” always attacks the body. We are tempted to laziness, lust, overindulgence, sexual sin, etc.  These are temptations of the flesh! David with Bathsheba – 2 Sam. 11) The spirit is the primary arena for a satanic attack. If the soul is our self-consciousness, then the spirit is our God-consciousness. Our spirit is what sets us apart from the animals. Man alone can know God! It is in the spirit that we can know God. 

The spirit is the realm of worship, John 4:24, and it is our spirit that worships and communicates with God. Satan hates this communion and the wars against the spirit in an effort to cut off our fellowship with God.  He places doubts in our minds to distract us. He places false doctrine there to turn us away from the truth. Satan attacks the spirit. In Peter’s denial of Jesus, the temptation was directed at the spirit. He isn’t under an ego attack, or under sexual assault, he was caused to doubt the truth.)

                          THE SUBDUING OF TEMPTATION (What)

 There are three words to remember when facing temptation: Flight, Faith, Fight. To Overcome The Flesh We Need Flight – The key to defeating fleshly temptations is to flee from them. 1Cor. 6:18 – “flee fornication”; 1 Cor. 10:14 – “flee idolatry”; 2 Tim. 2:22 – “flee youthful lusts”)  You cannot expose yourself to fleshly temptation and expect to walk away untouched – Pro. 6:27 – Situations to avoid!) Joseph and Potipher’s wife – Gen. 39:12) to Overcome The World We Need Faith – Faith that Jesus will take care of us when we willingly give up the attachment to worldly things. If we are loving the world, we are not loving God – 1 John 2:15; James 4:4.

If you really want victory over the world, then love Jesus more than you love it – Heb. 12:2. It is our faith in Him that offers us the victory – 1 John 5:4. To Overcome The Devil We Must Fight – If we stand up to him and fight, he will flee – James 4:7. You cannot run away from him, but you can drive him away from you. You must face him in the power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  He doesn’t fear you, but he trembles before the blood of the Lamb!  Fight Satan and he will flee! Eph. 4:27; 1 Pet. 58.

I don’t know what temptations you may be dealing with within your life. However, I do know that if you are breathing, you are battling! Our greatest resource in the face of temptation is a close relationship with Jesus Christ. My counsel to you is that you bring your need to Him. Whatever, the need, the trial, or the temptation and lay it down before the Lord and expect Him to help. He has promised us grace during temptation. Why not take Him up on the offer today?