Dying The Death (Honor Your Father and Mother)

Dying The Death
Robert Wurtz II

But he (Jesus) answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” (Matthew 15:3–8 KJV)

Our passage describes one of the behaviors of people who draw near to God with their lips, but their heart is far from Him. They do a lot of talking or singing, but it is all empty words from God’s perspective. In fact, Jesus takes it another step and calls them hypocrites. Why? Because they travel the deadly path of king Saul of Israel—believing that “drawing near unto Him with their mouth, and honouring Him with their lips” is more acceptable than simple obedience to His clearly revealed word. Jesus said, “their heart is far from me.” Unlike king David, a man after God’s own heart; these people that Jesus called hypocrites did not share God’s heart in matters most important to Him. This is a very sobering thing to contemplate. 


Former U.S. President Harry S. Truman once said that ” a man who cannot be faithful to his wife cannot be trusted anywhere. ” Truman had a profound sense of obligation to his family—beginning with his parents and extending to his wife and daughter. If a person is not faithful in these relationships—where can they be faithful? 

Long before Truman coined his famous line that has no doubt dogged a few presidents since, Jesus revealed in Matthew 15:3-8 a highly instructive understanding of the will of God concerning treatment of family—particularly parents. It contains both a positive and a negative commandment from the Old Covenant. Honor thy father and mother is the positive commandment. Do not curse your father or mother is the negative commandment. Both of these contain a modifier related to the duration of a person’s physical existence. In other words, if you honor your parents God will add to your years; if you dishonor them you deserve the death penalty. 

Sadly, many youth have grown up thinking it’s “cool” to disrespect and even curse their parents. This is the spirit of Antichrist running rampant in the land. In fact, as recently as August, 2014 radio.com published a list of “9 songs to hate your parents to.” They must have worked hard widdling down to 9 because that number wouldn’t even get you started in the Rock and Roll genre alone. However, from God’s perspective, a person who does not have the good sense to honor their parents doesn’t belong on the earth. He has another place reserved for them. From the punk rocker who wanted to “break his mamas back” to the white rapper who was “cleaning out his closet” — all they were really doing is digging their own graves.  

Worse Than an Unbeliever

Contrary to certain opinions, disrespect of parents is an ancient phenomena; it didn’t begin with the rebellious youth culture of the 50s and 60s and beyond. In fact, during the ministry of Jesus a person could defraud their parents of necessary resources and call it “spiritual.” If a Jew declared their property (money, etc.) that should have went for the support of their mother and father to be “corban” they were sanctifying it to God (as it were) and didn’t have to give it to them. Grown children were doing this so they didn’t have to give their needy parents any assistance at all. How awful it is that they tried to be “spiritual” by giving it to the ministry! God didn’t want it. In fact, He detested it. Such hypocritical actions are abominable to Him. For a Christian to do such things they are clearly denying the faith and are worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8). These are the type of unloving—heartless people that Jesus had to address. 


In order to shirk their responsibility to honor their parents, the religious teachers came up with a clever way of giving the parents honor to God instead. And just as there are unfaithful spouses, there are unfaithful children. That is to say, they take the love that belongs to the one and they give it to another. Truman said in effect that, “a man who cheats on his wife is capable of anything.” This witness is generally true. I would take it a step more and say that a person who does not honor their parents worse than that. Perhaps this is why God declared the death penalty for the crime of speaking evil (flagrant dishonor) and shortened life for passive dishonor? 

I recall many years ago an elderly woman dying in the I.C.U at the local hospital. I arrived with a few brothers and sisters to be with the family. To our surprise, only one of several children had shown up, a son. His mother could die at any second her breathing and heart rate were so low. The son’s dear mother flat lined (died) while he was out for a smoke break. I’ll never forget the sound of his shoes striking the floor as he was running down the hospital hall.   

When we held the memorial service, many in the family showed up in Gothic dress. Come to find out they were apparently involved in witchcraft and devil worship. It was the most awkward funeral I ever performed or attended. They were a godless motley looking crew, but I still preached Christ. Then suddenly it made sense to me. No wonder they none came to the hospital while she was dying. Many similar stories can be told of children telling medical staff to call them when their parent is dead and not until then. 

This may be the behavior of infidels, but what about Christians? I use these horrific experiences as my context when I read Paul’s words, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Timothy 5:8) You mean to tell me that for a Christian to dishonor his parents it is worse than being an infidel or atheist? That’s right. Jesus used the word “hypocrite” … perhaps they may be characterized as “hypochristians.” It’s bad for an infidel to mistreat parents; but for a Christian to do it stupefies the mind. 

Accessories to the Crime

There are many ways a child (young or old) can fulfill the commandment to express honor to their parents (supposing the parents are still living). The trouble is, there are generally a host of demon inspired people around that will encourage the child not to do it or will act as accessories to their rebellion. The rabbis were “accessories” to these type of sins because they actually allowed the mere saying of this word “corban” by an unfaithful son to prevent the use of needed resources for the support of father or mother. “They not only justified such a son’s trickery, but held that he was prohibited from using it for father or mother, but he might use it for himself.” (A.T. Robertson) The rabbis signed off on the transgression, but God did not. In fact, God doesn’t rejects the resources, time, honor, that He has declared belongs to our parents. To go the next step and consume them upon our own lust is utterly detestable and despicable.

What do you suppose will be God’s attitude towards the rabbis who “enabled” these children to dishonor their parents? These were men who were called to be instructors of the foolish and teachers of babes, and yet they are contributing to the delinquency of sinners. If the epistle of James is any indicator they will endure a stricter judgment. They should have been encouraging the people to keep the commandment of God—not break it. In modern times there are people who would not dare speak evil of their own parents, but will encourage someone else to dishonor their own parents. Perhaps someone should ask; why would you encourage me to dishonor my parents when you won’t dishonor your own? Such persons are your enemy and not your friend. Anyone with sense will always encourage you to honor your parents. 

Mean Mouthing Parents  

The word for “cursing” parents does not mean “cussing” or “pronouncing a spell” as is often assumed. It simply means “to speak evil of them.” Although few people are afraid to do it in the 21st century, “Die the death” was the Old Covenant penalty for those who speak evil of their parents. Given the fact that Jesus repeated it we can argue that it is still God’s estimate of the behavior. In fact, the penalty is a perpetual expression of God’s estimate of mistreatment of parents. Simply put, God said that those who speak evil of their parents deserve to be put to death. The penalty should be regarded as God’s settled attitude towards those that would stoop to disrespect their parents. 

For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 

It is interesting that Jesus connects cursing the parents with the use of “corban.” This is insightful. You don’t have to literally speak evil of the parent to be in violation of the precept; all you have to do is dishonor them by your actions. Notice there are no exceptions given. Some people think they can sidestep a precept if they have a valid excuse. But you will find none. God never gives a variance to those who would passively dishonor or even dare to speak evil of their parents. Nobody can vote to set aside this rule. God expects us to honor our parents so long as they live. 

You Shall Be Perfect (Christian Perfection)

You Shall Be Perfect
Robert Wurtz II

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, 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. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:44–48 NKJV)

Our passage is a powerful revelation that the basis upon which God expresses love for all people is His own nature–not the behavior of the recipient. Verse 44 clearly shows that God loves (expressively) people who curse Him, hate Him, and spitefully use Him. The Greek word translated “spitefully use” can be translated revile, or falsely accuse. These are the type of things that God tolerates and yet continues to express love by providing the necessary elements for human life. On this basic level of expressing love God does not discriminate between people who are friendly with Him and others who hate Him. He provides sun and rain on the just and the unjust. This “perfect love” is an active and verifiable concern for all people everywhere, regardless of their relationship to Him.

Jesus then adds, And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? The word for greet literally signifies “to draw to oneself;” hence, “to greet, salute, welcome,” as the ordinary meaning.(Vines) It could be translated embrace. In street language we would say that God is not snooty. He doesn’t look down a long nose with contempt for people that are beneath Him. He is compassionate and desires to reconcile with all people. 

Born of God

Jesus stated plainly, Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. This is a simple statement of fact. It is not necessarily a command. At the time it was a future reality. When the cross event was complete and the New Covenant instituted, people who believe, repent, and receive the Holy Spirit shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. If a person does not come into this “perfect love” then they are not born of God. This is the plain teaching of John in his first epistle. It sounds scathing to our sensitive ears, but he wrote plainly:

“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20 KJV)

On the contrary, if we are born of God we have the nature of God. We will imitate God and demonstrate that we are His children (v. 45) by our actions. We will display a family likeness to God by our behavior. This is more than dead religion, it is a transformation of the person from a child of the Devil to a child of God. In the beginning God said, “let us make man in our image and likeness.” This purpose has not changed; it is God’s design: to bring many sons unto glory and to perfect them in such a way that Jesus would not be ashamed to call them brethren. (Hebrews 2:10-11) Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. “The Greek work teleios (“perfect”) means “having attained the end/purpose.” Since human beings were made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), they are “perfect” when they demonstrate in their lives those characteristics that reflect the nature of God.” (Robert H. Mounce, NIBC on Matthew 5:44-48) This is not done by trial and error; but by new birth.

Excuses and Imperfection

Our passage is one of a long list that labels standard fallen behaviors for what they are—characteristics of the wrong father. Jesus called the religious leaders “hypocrites” because he wanted them to know what they were. We have to come to reality and face it for what it is. He told the people that they were of their father the devil and the desires of their father they do. (John 8:44) This is the natural progression of life; things behave and exhibit characteristics after their own kind. 

Sometimes people will excuse their rude, unloving, uncompassionate behavior on their ethnicity (I’m Irish, I’m  German, Native American Indian, et al.), but this does not fly with God. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? Jesus used tax-collectors as a reference because they were in reputation for being the lowest of the low—traitors of the Jewish People. They took hard-earned money from the Jews, kept some back, and gave the rest to the Romans. (Luke 3:12-13) Many Jews (especially the Zealots) would rather kill one as look at them. Nevertheless, even a tax-collector knows how to love people they want to love; but what good is that? If that’s all we are doing we can rest assured that from God’s perspective we are no better than the “lowest of the low” in our culture and society. 

The solution is for the “Irish, German, Native American Indian, and every other ethnicity and cultural heritage on earth” to be born from above. In other words, no matter where on earth we are from we are born “of our father the Devil” and doing his hateful and uncompassionate deeds. That will not change in one trillion years until a person is born again of the Holy Spirit. God’s will is that we all 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. This is the prime litmus test. Is a person born again? How do they love? Like a tax-collector or like Jesus? If we are the real deal, Jesus words mark the answer: you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. It will be our nature. 

Understanding Hypocrites

Understanding Hypocrites
Robert Wurtz II

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

Our passage above and others similar to it deserve our undivided attention. Reason being is that Jesus uses a word that is considered His strongest of all to denounce certain people and their actions. The word I’m referring to is “hypocrite.” In fact, Jesus tells us plainly that the final sentence (executed judgment) for being a hypocrite is to be cut in two and sent where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24:51). We know this place as hell. The English word hypocrite is translated from an old Greek noun that means actor, interpreter, and one who personates another. Jesus uses it of people who are forever doing something to look “pious” (godly), while they are inwardly full of dead men’s bones. They can’t give without “sounding the trumpet” or pray without making a show of it (just for starters). 

The late renowned Greek scholar A.T. Robertson stated that “‘hypocrite’ (hoi hupokritai) is the hardest word that Jesus has for any class of people and he employs it for these ‘pious pretenders who pose as perfect.’ They have received their reward (apechousin ton misthon autoœn). This verb is common in the papyri for receiving a receipt, ‘they have their receipt in full,’ all the reward that they will get, this public notoriety. ‘They can sign the receipt of their reward'” (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 229). So Light from the Ancient East, pp. 110f. Apocheœ means “receipt.” (Quoted in Word Pictures on Matthew 6:2) 

Our passage in Matthew 7:3-5 adds to our understanding of a hypocrite as a person who gazes upon the faults of others, while overlooking greater faults of their own. They emphasize other peoples’ faults and sins in order to minimize the seriousness of the sins they have committed. A hypocrite is the type of person who would cast the first stone—knowing they have done similar or worse things. How can they do this; you  ask? They devise clever ways of making exceptions for their own sins. Generally, this is along the lines of “my sin was many years ago” or “God forgave me of my sins.” In other words, God forgives their sins, but not other peoples. They may not say this directly, but this is what their attitude boils down to. Hypocrites keep good records of other peoples’ sins, so they can use them later to their advantage. Spiritual people have not forgotten that they were once purged from their own sins and as a result add to their faith virtue, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity (2 Peter 1:7-9). Not hypocrites. They have “publican love” — a love that loves who they want to love and shuns all the rest (Matthew 5:46). 


Blinded By Sin

Why would Jesus speak about hypocrites no less than twenty times in the Gospels? Why would He seem to hit them so hard? Why would He use the strongest of terms to denounce them? Clearly, it is because they are the most evil people around. People who are supposed to represent God are looked upon by others as examples. Some people will never read a Bible—all they read is the lives of Christians. Take it a step more and consider Christian leaders. God is holding them to a higher standard. What should we expect if they turn around and play the hypocrite? No doubt all the verses on the topic in the Gospels will apply to them as well.   

Everyone has had something in their eye and knows how painful it is. On three separate occasions throughout my life, I have had metal removed from my eye by a doctor. Few things are more painful than having a foreign object scraping against your eyeball. I suppose God designed us that way. We need to be able to see clearly, so we need our eyes in tip-top shape. This is why it hurts so bad when something is in there. Our natural response is to get that thing out of there! Now! Not later; right this second! We can’t have our eyes destroyed by foreign objects. Nevertheless, imagine the doctor entering the room with a small beam (pencil), medium beam (broom stick), or a large beam (floor joist) protruding from their eyes. If such were the case, it would undoubtedly blind their eyes. How are they going to help me fix my eye when they are completely blind? This is common sense. 

Obviously, this passage is intended to be metaphorical, but we can easily see the difficulty here. A person with a speck in their eye may be rubbing it or flushing it with water, but a person with a beam ought to be screaming in pain. But they are not. How can this be? They apparently don’t see or feel it. In other words, everyone can see the hypocrites issues but the hypocrite. This is very sobering. Notice Jesus’ words, “First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly…” A hypocrite is in no shape to help anyone. They are in 100X worse condition than the people they are criticizing or “trying to help.”

Right Response to Hypocrisy

If we fit this picture, our first step is to take our focus off of others and get it on ourselves. Allow God’s Word to do its work and acknowledge that we have a plank in our own eye (if so be that we have one). Acknowledge that it is there in the strongest of terms. We can’t use strong terms for other peoples’ sins — use euphemisms for ours and avoid the charge of hypocrisy. We have to call it what it is and repent. What good is it to go on focusing on somebody else? Perhaps even while reading this you may be thinking, “I know someone that does that!” If so, you are already falling into the trap. We need to ask ourselves if the passage applies to us. As if we locked ourselves in a room alone with God and Matthew 7:3-5, we need to let God do a work in us. We need to allow Him to turn our attention back upon our own spiritual condition. Not our enemy; not our rivals, but me. 

False Evidence of Spirit Baptism

False Evidence of Spirit Baptism
Robert Wurtz II

“For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” (2 Corinthians 11:4 NKJV)

“Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:20 NKJV)

Other than gross carnality, the Corinthians had a reputation, in the words of Paul, for suffering fools gladly. (2 Cor. 11:19) They would put up with someone preaching a “different” Jesus and a “different gospel” and do so literally with pleasure. They seemed to enjoy being abused and taken advantage of. They had no respect for a minister like Paul who refused to receive money from them or lord it over them. It may seem shameful and absurd to us, but Paul had to spend a chapter demonstrating his “qualifications” (for lack of a better word) for the authenticity of his ministry, because pretenders were working at destroying his influence. More than pretenders, these people were agents of Satan who had “transformed” themselves into someone the people would accept as “spiritual.” There is always a genuine and a counterfeit; we have to know the difference. The Corinthian criteria for authenticity in ministry was wildly off and they were paying a heavy price for it.  

Sandwiched in the middle of 2 Cor. 11:4 is this little statement that I wish to focus on, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received. This comes to us as a shock–insomuch that some commentators try to shift the remark to a rhetorical statement. But that does not make sense given the fact that it’s set in the middle of “another Jesus” and “another gospel.” Indeed, many apologists will laud the notion of another gospel or another Jesus, but they just can’t bring themselves to believe that a person could actually receive another spirit other than the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, we have to face reality. 

A Modern “2 Corinthians 11” Experience 

In modern times when fools are gladly received, and ears yearn to be tickled, there is a “Jesus” who is preached that exists to meet all our needs. He waits on our beckoning call and wants to bless us abundantly, make us healthy, exalt us in popularity, and give us the dream life. If you don’t believe so just listen to all the “prophetic words” that come to people about how he wants to bless us and make us great. Never mind the fact that we live in one of the darkest moral cultures in human history, this “Jesus” and “spirit” says all is well- peace, peace (Jer. 6:14, 8:11). He serves us, we don’t serve him. We worship him so he will give us more stuff and be inclined to give us what we ask for in our prayers. We strike up the band and we can feel him come in the room. In fact, we control him, he doesn’t control us. We switch on the electric instruments and he comes a running. 

The way we receive him is by hearing the good news that he died for our sins and we don’t have to go to hell now. In fact, he wants heaven on earth for us. We can repeat a five second prayer and he will come in to us and give us salvation and blessing. No matter how bad we are, we can start where we are and try “Jesus” out for a trial period. If he doesn’t bless us and straighten our life out, so we are told, we can change our mind (such is sometimes the sales pitch). It gets even better, we go to heaven when we die and receive a mansion and all kinds of rewards and stuff. We are queens and not widows and we will see no sorrow. (Revelation 18:7) 

We now come to the “receive the spirit” part. After hearing this “wonderful message” about how God wants to bless us, make our life better, and take us to heaven when we die its time to receive this spirit. But before we move on we need to ask some questions. Does this “wonderful message” sound even remotely like a biblical Gospel message? Does God really exist to bless man and make him happy (in this life and the one to come)? Was God created for our pleasure? (Rev. 4:11) Does this message sound like John the Baptist or Paul? (Luke 3:7; Acts 17:30-31) What happened to repentance and fruits worthy of repentance–a message Paul preached everywhere he went? (Acts 26:19-21) What about conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment to come? (John 16:8) What about taking up our cross? (Luke 14:26ff) 

So they have the “another Jesus” and the “another Gospel” now they need to receive “another spirit.” This spirit even comes with counterfeit manifestations! However, since we don’t have genuine repentance and faith to prepare the person for the real Holy Spirit, there needs to be a substitute, “weirdness.” That’s right, instead of repenting, the folks just weird-out, however long it takes, until they “receive” something and utter a few unintelligible words. This phenomena, perhaps the easiest of all for Satan to counterfeit, is trusted with absolute certainty. Then the minister or helper will declare, “you got it! You got the Holy Ghost!” Now the person is enabled to speak in tongues, prophesy and discern spirits! (at least they have been duped into thinking they can). The report says __ number of people were “saved” and __ number of people “received the Holy Spirit.” But what Jesus, Gospel, and Spirit were received? We need to ask this difficult question in an age of rife falsehood and compromise. 

No Change and No Fruit

What happens? The people walk out the doors of the church and act as crazy and carnal as ever. Nevertheless, because of some weird manifestations and acts of emotionalism, they believe they are both saved and spiritual. Never mind the fact that love, joy, peace, gentleness, etc. are as absent as ever and there is no real desire to truly conform to the image of Christ. The same old “publican” type of love prevails (love who you want to and despise the rest). They may even believe they can hear from God. After all, they apparently did “receive a different spirit which you have not received” in the words of Paul.

“For you put up with fools gladly, since you yourselves are wise! For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face.” (2 Corinthians 11:19–20 NKJV)

The Corinthians gladly received ministers whom Paul referred to as “fools.” No doubt there were people who actually believed that this type of thing was the right path or as we sometimes call “the old paths.” It is not. The old paths is the faith that was once delivered to the Saints that we are supposed to be contending for–not some weird rendition of it that came along in the 20th century. Repentance and holiness are almost shunned topics in many Pentecostal and Charismatic circles. Again, there are genuine and conterfeits so we have to ask, “How could anything a minister says be legit if they ignore half the Gospel message?” If half the Gospel is missing from their message there is likely to also be a different spirit to receive. 

When a person truly repents, believes and receives the Holy Spirit they become children of God and behave like it. They don’t spiritually animate when the band is playing and then default into a carnal mind in public. They are always salt and light. They are to always be walking in the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is normative. What did Jesus say? You will know them by manifestations? Quite the contrary. “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:20 NKJV) Any lesser thing is a fraud and counterfeit at best and demonic at worst. 



Salt Losing its Saltines (Salt has Lost its Savor)

Salt Losing its Saltiness
Robert Wurtz II

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 KJV)

Everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another. (Mark 9:49–50 NKJV)

In Lev. 2:13 God commanded that all grain (meat in KJV) offerings be sprinkled with salt before offering them. This example and many others along different lines illustrate the importance of salt for daily life, worship, and its use as a symbol in covenant relationships. “The salt referred to in verse Mark 9:50 is probably the humility and dedication that is reinforced by trial and testing. If the believer loses this salt he or she is not easily renewed (v. 50a), but by maintaining this salt, Jesus’ followers can more easily be at peace with one another (v. 50b). The simple purity of dedication to Jesus that does not seek its own advantage enables one to be a servant to fellow disciples, and thus promotes peace.” (Larry W. Hurtado, Mark, New International bible Commentary 18 vols.; Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989, 156.)

Jesus told the disciples, Ye are the salt of the earth […]” In other words, God designed His people to be living expressions of right relationships before this present evil world. In John 13:35 Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” If we have love for one another, we will be pure examples of how relationships are supposed to work–examples of how God intended human beings to treat one another. If we don’t we have become good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men (Matthew 5:13b). 

It is interesting to note that in Revelation 2 the Ephesisians “left” their first love; but in Matthew 5 we are warned of “losing” our saltiness. The rabbis used salt as a symbol of wisdom; hence, the Greek word for “lost its saltiness” actually means to become foolish, insipid, or dull. The renowned late Greek scholar Marvin Vincent said the word means to play the fool. Our Lord refers here to the familiar fact of salt losing its pungency and becoming useless. Dr. Thompson (“The Land and the Book”) cites the following case: “A merchant of Sidon, having farmed of the government the revenue from the importation of salt, brought over a great quantity from the marshes of Cyprus — enough, in fact, to supply the whole province for many years. This he had transferred to the mountains, to cheat the government out of some small percentage of duty. Sixty-five houses were rented and filled with salt. Such houses have merely earthen floors, and the salt next the ground was in a few years entirely spoiled. I saw large quantities of it literally thrown into the road to be trodden under foot of men and beasts. It was ‘good for nothing.’ (Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament)

Foolishness, ambition, and greed, are merely three things that can cause salt to lose its savour. In a figure, these are the very things that destroy Christians ability to fulfill God’s design for His people to be living expressions of right relationships before this present evil world. When we behave like the world, treat people as would an unbeliever, conduct our business like greedy–insensitive sinners, we become worse than the world. Why? Because the world needs to see the thing God designed, but their expectations are dashed. 

I sometimes think of passages like Matthew 5:13 and losing our savour and becoming good for nothing. Others stinging verses like 1 Cor. 5:1 where the Corinthian fornicators were doing things that sinners don’t even do. Then there is 1 Tim. 5:8 where Christians who refuse to properly love their needy family members by meeting their needs have denied the faith and are worse than infidels. Or the Ephesian church whose fiery love had almost gone out–to the point that Jesus was near to removing their dark and dying lamp stand. Why not? Who needs a darkened lamp stand to stumble over in an already darkened world? Perhaps Laodicea is the worst. Jesus said to them, Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit thee out of my mouth.(Revelation 3:16 YNG) How much worse can it get that backslidden believers would be likened to spittle or vomit? 

These are the things that happen when believers play the fool. They stop behaving like Christians ought and become a law unto themselves–operating by their own rules. What diabolical influence would give a group of Christians the notion that they can behave and do things that are worse than the world? It is shameful. Jesus warned over and over about the importance of loving every one and treating people the way we would want to be treated. This is how relationships are supposed to work. There is hardly a week goes by that I don’t have to answer a report for how rude a so-called Christian is acting in public to people who work in the public. Pick up the salt shaker at their favorite eating spot, act out, and wist not that they have lost their savour. It’s a disgrace. What happens to them? Jesus asked, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” 

Imagine being trodden under foot and then saying to yourself, “this is God’s will for me!” But it’s exactly what happens. People lose their savour–begin treating people worse than they could expect from sinners, and then when they lose friendships, relationships, congregational members, et. al. they blame the Devil or even God. This is why it is essential to understand that the word “lost its savor” literally means “to play the fool.” 

Nabal (a man whose name means “fool”) is a case study on “playing the fool.” He was an irrational alcoholic who was nearly killed by David and his mighty men for his folly. Nabal’s servant’s perspective is insightful, “For evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he (Nabal) is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to him.” (1 Samuel 25:17 KJV) This is a prime key to playing the fool; you won’t listen to people who have sense. Nabal’s wife took it a step more when she rode out to meet David to beg for mercy; Please, let not my lord regard this scoundrel Nabal. For as his name is, so is he: Nabal is his name, and folly is with him! (1 Samuel 25:25 NKJV)

In other words David was being asked to do what everyone around Nabal does, “overlook him.” This is how he has lived to the age he has because so many people in his life took his meanness, tolerated his rudeness and irrationality–overlooking it for one reason or another. Now, his wife Abigail is begging David, the man of God, to overlook him once more. David did overlook him, but God did not. We read, “But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died. And when David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the LORD, that hath pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal, and hath kept his servant from evil: for the LORD hath returned the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head.” (1 Samuel 25:37–39 KJV)

Men may overlook it; Christians may overlook it; family members may overlook it and make excuses for it; but God does not. Eventually the salt that loses its savour will be trod under foot (as salt), removed like a cold dark lamp stand, or spit out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus. As surely as God dealt with Nabal, he will deal with the ones that people continually have to overlook because of their folly — especially those who name the name of Christ.   


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