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.   


Run For Your Soul! (Flirting with the Devil Revisited)

Run For Your Soul!
(Flirting with the Devil Revisited)
Robert Wurtz II

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

Our passage is a reference back to the Old Testament where God commanded Israel to enter the Promised Land and commence throwing down all the altars and idols, even driving out the Cananites from the land. We read this sobering passage, “And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.” (Leviticus 18:25) God is saying that these people were as vomit. They were as that thing that would enter your belly to kill you, but as a natural God-given response your system heaves out the deadly contents before it has a chance to do the job. The land had vomited the people out for their evil, but according to Judges 2:1-20 the people of God refused to utterly throw down the alters and drive out this people. Instead they began to fellowship with them.

Unequally Yoked

Samson used a phrase in Judges 14:18 that comes front and center; … “If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.” (Judges 14:18) The story is common so we will not visit it in detail, but Samson had given a riddle to the Philistines and his wife was privy to it. She told the Philistines the secret and Samson expressed this betrayal as the Philistines “plowing with his heifer.” The problem is that Samson should not have been plowing with her himself! Why? Because God warned the people of God over and over not to become romantically involved with the Philistines because they will draw the people of God to their false idols and gods. He had been “unequally yoked” with this woman and it was he in fact that was “plowing with the wrong heifer”. But Samson loved to yoke up with such figures as her and he will eventually give in to Delilah that will ultimately divulge not the secret of his riddle, but the secret of his power.

The Bosom of a Stranger

The longer I live the more I believe that every child should memorize the book of Proverbs. It is loaded with practical wisdom. If a young man or woman would simply heed the advice, they would save themselves untold pain and suffering. Samson could have used Proverbs, for sure. Consider this passage:

My son, pay attention to my wisdom; Lend your ear to my understanding, That you may preserve discretion, And your lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, And her mouth is smoother than oil; But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, Her steps lay hold of hell.
(Proverbs 5:1-5 NKJV)

The Delilah’s of the world have one thing in common: they hunt for the precious life of the unsuspecting. They use their eyes to flirt, their words to flatter, and their bodies to seduce. The result? Unimagined and unforeseen destruction. I don’t typically quote the paraphrase version of the Bible, but listen to the next verses from Proverbs 5 in the CEV:

My son, listen to me and do everything I say. Stay away from a bad woman! Don’t even go near the door of her house. You will lose your self-respect and end up in debt to some cruel person for the rest of your life. Strangers will get your money and everything else you have worked for. (Proverbs 5:7-10 CEV)

This is the Bible in street language. The Delilah’s of this world will rob you of your hard earned reputation for being a good man (or woman). Nobody recovers from scandal unscathed. The only real solution is prevention. However, Sampson could have stopped when he was laying in this woman’s lap over and over again. Let’s not kid ourselves. He liked to lay his head in her lap, gazing into her eyes as would a babe it’s mother. she was real good at mothering him… right into the hands of the Philistines. God’s solution? Drink water from your own cistern. That is to say, if your going to lay your head down, make sure its in the lap of a God-fearing wife and not a stranger. That’s the most vulnerable position a man can be in and it had best be in the lap of one who can be trusted. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger?

An Invitation to Satan

Satan does not pass up invitations. If you flirt with him, he say “yes” every single time. He doesn’t discriminate, he wants to “plow” with every soul he possibly can. 

We communicate our intentions by who and what we identify ourselves with. Birds of a feather flock together. My late grandmother used to say, “Tell me who your friends are… and I’ll tell you who you are.” If you hang around people that tend to fornicate and adulterate you will soon fornicate and adulterate. 

People who are identifying themselves a certain way to communicate their intentions. Who is a fool? People telegraph their intentions by the way they carry themselves. If they are flirting, seducing and flattering they are walking in the path of destruction. Don’t make excuses for them. Because if you do, you will make excuses for yourself when you do the very same things. solution/ Avoid them. 

Symptoms of Destruction

The question most people ask about these type things is, “what’s wrong with it?” What’s wrong with Samson fooling around with a Philistine? What’s wrong with a little flirting now and then? What’s wrong with Delilah dressing seductively and flattering with her honey filled lips? She may have said, “You people are just jealous of me! You wish you were as attractive as I am!” That’s and age-old cover for whoredom. You can’t market yourself like a prostitute and then pretend your innocent. It’s too late, Delilah. We blew your cover. The cat is already out of the bag. 

What’s wrong with a little risque or suggestive? Nothing at all if you want to identify with sinners. When a person carries themselves seductively they might as well have a sign on them, “open for business.” Everybody knows it and it is foolery to go along with their pretensions. We know what your doing! But what did Paul say? What communion hath light with darkness? Some people seem to almost get a high off of flirting with sin. They bring all manor of compromise into their lives and then have the nerve to blame God when their lives are destroyed and their family is demon possessed. The devil knows where he is welcome; all he has to do is look at you and see what you are identifying yourself with. It’s too late to play dumb once your life is ruined.

Run For Your Soul

We live in a time like unto Sodom and Gomorrah. People will fragrantly identify themselves with Satan and darkness and then wipe their mouth as if they have done nothing wrong. They are only fooling themselves. The devil knows when he is welcome some place. The devil can take a hint. His song is as the old tune goes, “Just give me some kind of sign girl (boy)…” and he’ll come a running. It’s too late once the enemy gets a foothold in your mind and he wins you over to his cause. By the time you start justifying all these things you are already under his delusion. If you are involved in these things, flee even now! Run for your soul! Not as Lot’s wife who turned back to see one last time, but turn and run while there is still hope and you are still reachable.

Bound Together By Love

Bound Together By Love
Robert Wurtz II 

 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV)

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14 ESV)

“Two or more things cannot be held together without a third; they must have a bond of union. And the fairest bond is that which most completely fuses and is fused into the things which are bound.” (“Timaeus,” 31 quoted in Vincent) In Colossians 2:2 Paul speaks of the hearts of believers being “knit together” in love. If the love of God has been poured out into my heart and your heart we are fully capable of being bound together in perfect love. But we have this command to “put on” that refers back to Colossians 3:12-13 that we must touch on first. Our picture in one sense is that of layer upon layer of garments. In fact, the Greek word for “put on” means to “sink down into” like a garment. As God’s holy, chosen and beloved people we are to sink down into:

1. a compassionate heart +
2. kindness +
3. humbleness of mind +
4. gentleness +
5. restraint of passion (especially anger)/patience +
6. bearing with one another +
7. Forgiving each other as Christ forgave us

The binding garment

Our passage in Colossians 3:14 begins with the phrase, “And above all these…”. This is the final binding garment (as it were) that will anchor and tether all of these other attributes. “Above all” is a phrase that escalates love to the highest level of importance. The “these” that he is speaking of is the list in Colossians 3:13-14. As we look at this passage let us settle this once and for all in our minds. The subject of love is not secondary, or even primary, it is at the very top of our religion and faith. A thousand subjects may be spoken on within any given day withing the Body of Christ, but none excel past this one. We must settle ourselves and come to terms with this fact. We need to introspectively search our own hearts. Why? Because without the love of God, given to us through the life of God, our gatherings are nothing more than a glorified club or association.

The Binding Power of Love 

Our next phrase is “which binds everything together….” The picture here is that of a girdle that binds together all other aspects of the clothing. It was a foundational connective garment. like an over garment, love is to be “put on” over the top of everything in Colossians 2:18 in order to hold it all together. Within the range of meaning in this concept is another picture of the binding power of tendons and other connective tissues within the body. These hold the various members together as a functional unit. This is how a knee functions or an elbow. Love is that binding force that brings cohesion to all things within the body. Without love, everything within the body of Christ becomes disjointed and dissimulated.

A torn ligament or a herniated area

Our passage is a powerful picture of the essential binding force (love) necessary for the body to function. Any area of the body where love is not being rightly expressed is a place “not holding” itself together. Colossians 2:19 explains that Christ, the Head, has to be held. He has to be given His rightful place as the head and held there. (See Ephesians 4:16) If we allow Jesus Christ, the Head, to become disjointed because we are not moving in love for Him and will allow other ‘loves’ to become the head and rule our lives. Moreover, every member of the body is important and each one needs to be “held in place” by the power of love. Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians:

But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (1 Corinthians 12:20-22)

 God set the members in the Body of Christ as He sees fit, but Paul tells us that love is essential to the functionality of all of those members. Non-love is to the body as a torn ligament or a herniated abdominal wall. It is a weak spot. In fact, if non-love is not dealt with soon, certain members of the Body may become disconnected or even rejected by others members of the Body. This is a particular concern in a time when scripture tells us that because iniquity shall abound, the love of many will wax cold. There is no replacement for water and there is no replacement for love.

 As we mentioned in our previous article Herod and Pilate were made friends and brought into unity, not because they loved each other, but by placing their hands on a common enemy and destroying Him. When love is not present to maintain cohesion and unity, then something will have to be substituted. Love can hold all things together in unity, but non-love can only sacrifice a victim to mend a fence and maintain connectivity.

Real life = real love

Jesus came into the world that we might have life and have it more abundantly. This is the very life of God that He pours out into us when we genuinely receive the Spirit. This is the life that empowers us to love. What does it profit to speak in tongues if we cannot love? The song writer speaks of “pouring our love on Christ”, but He has called us to also pour our holy love on one another in a binding unity.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14 ESV) What things? Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (Colossians 3:12-13 ESV) Love binds this list together and holds it in place. It holds each of us together in place. What are we trying to substitute for this love? It will never do. We need it above all these other things, and that is quite a list. May God quicken our minds to this reality and show us how utterly determined He is to bind us together in love. 

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