SALT COVENANT – SALTY CHRISTIANS
by doug stringer
Salt is an essential micronutrient for our bodies. Many of our internal chemical processes are dependent upon the presence of adequate amounts of salt. Without a proper intake of salt, many of our body’s functions would be thrown into utter disarray. Our muscles would start cramping, and our ligaments and tendons would become brittle and lose their elasticity and strength. Eventually our bodies would begin to overheat and totally shut down due to a breakdown in our natural cooling process through perspiration.
These are just a few of the adverse reactions likely to occur in our bodies because of a lack of salt. Fortunately, God has provided salts in all types of edible plant and animal food sources, so there is seldom any worry about not getting enough salt. Yet, it is important for us to see how salt is a fundamental building block of our physical makeup.
Throughout the centuries, salt has been used to preserve food and provide flavor. It has also been used in medicinal ways, as a disinfectant. Jesus spoke of salt in connection with its ability to preserve, flavor, and disinfect the surrounding culture.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It s then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)
In these verses, Jesus uses two primary word pictures to illustrate His desire for us to influence and impact our world: Salt & Light. We’ve often heard the saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” This is true, but you can give the horse salt and make him thirsty.
Like salt, our lives should create a spiritual thirst in those around us. Our godly lifestyles should also serve as preservatives and healing agents in an evil society. Our words should serve to melt cold hearts and tenderize hearts that have hardened.
DEAD SEA CHRISTIANS
In the ancient world, salt had commercial value as a preservative or condiment. The primary source of salt was the area southwest of the Dead Sea. However, the impure salt from this area was susceptible to deterioration, and the salt residue often became flavorless and worthless crystals.
The Dead Sea is also known as the Salt Sea. It receives water from the Jordan River, yet has no outlet. By constantly accumulating salt sediment from the erosion of mineral in the rocks along the riverbed, the salinity of the sea has become so high that it is hostile to most plant and animal life. The sea has literally become “Dead”, and so it is aptly named the “Dead Sea”.
There is a sobering lesson for us here. A Christian who takes in the blessings of God but never passes them on to others will eventually become stagnant and lifeless. His selfish lifestyle, like the Dead Sea, is antithetical to spiritual life. Yes, God wants to bless His people–but He does so because He wants us to be a blessing to others (Genesis 12:2).
While the salty Dead Sea was lifeless, the exact opposite should be true of “Salty Christians”. This is the context of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-16. When we allow the Lord to work through us as He teaches in the Beatitudes, we bring life and light to the world around us. But our “salt” must be pure. If it loses its purity and its flavor, it becomes good for nothing. If it loses its potency, it is unable to serve as a flavorer, preservative, healing agent, or tenderizer. This is no minor issue! Jesus warns us in Mark 9:49-50a:
“For 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?”
Without salt, our good deeds or sacrifices lose their value and become worthless. We who profess Christ must have a passion for Him that is greater than our desire for anything else. We need a consecrated life that allows Him to purge us–by fire and salt–of the destructive influences in our hearts. His Presence should rise in us in such a powerful way that the world takes notice.
THE COVENANT OF SALT
Jesus continues, “Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another” (Mark 9:50b). This calls attention to the use of salt in covenant making. Not only is salt an effective preservative, but the scriptures also use it as a picture of our unending covenant with God and with each other. This is referred to as a “Covenant of Salt” in Numbers 18:19 & 2 Chronicles 13:5.
Salt, being a preservative, also helps prevent decay. Jesus, through His work on the Cross, sealed an everlasting covenant with us. He has salted us with a perpetual and lasting covenant that shall keep us from the decay of sin. Our body may one day suffer decay, but our soul never will (Psalm 16:10). Jesus Himself is our “preservative”. Jesus, the salt of the covenant, came to give life and flavor to our lives.
The covenant of salt is not just a mystical theory, but rather should be reflected as a daily reality in the lives of God’s people. This has practical ramifications, such as Paul’s admonition in Colossians 4:5-6 that Christians are to “season” their talk and their actions with “salt”:
“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
These verses are a wonderful follow-up on Jesus’ teaching that we are to be the salt of the earth. They are also a direct New Testament reflection of the Grain Offering described in Leviticus 2:13. When we offer ourselves as grain offerings in pure service, we are to offer ourselves with “salt”. In everything we we say and do in Jesus’ name should be as a demonstration of resurrection life.
So, in both the Old and New Testaments, God instructs us to be the salt of the earth. He warns us not to lose our potency, but to season everything we do, say or think with His supernatural life. Salty Christians, infused with the life of Christ, cannot help but display fruitful lives of service. Christ in us is the only hope for preserving and revitalizing a dull and lifeless world (Colossians 1:27).
Numbers 18:19 and 2 Chronicles 13:5 teach that salt is vitally related to the concept of covenant. In ancient times, whenever two sat down to share a covenant meal, they would always season their food with salt. This shaking of covenant salt over the meal was the event that activated, or gave life to, the covenant being established. Adding salt was the final act of consummation of the covenant. Likewise, to “activate” our covenant with God, we trust Him to infuse us with His life. The salt of covenant points to the Cross as perpetual sign of God’s eternal love, sealed by Christ’s shed blood.
On the Cross, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. He also provided this His death and resurrection a covenant life. Romans 5:10 expressly teaches that, although we are reconciled to God through the death of His Son, we are saved through His Life! What life? His resurrection life! The power that raised Jesus from the grave is the same spiritual force that is available to give us life today! (Romans 8:9-11)
How can so many professing Christians and churches be spiritually dead today, when such overwhelming power is available to us in the Holy Spirit? Some are merely ignorant of the provisions offered in the new covenant. Incorrect theology has led many to expect a mediocre and powerless life. Others, through sin, have missed the benefits of the covenant and dilute their saltiness.
Some believers live in bitterness and defeat, not realizing that their covenant God offers them healing. In 2 Kings 2:19-22, Elisha employed salt as a type of the resurrection power and healing virtue available in the covenant. As salt was cast into the foul, bitter waters, a miraculous “healing” occurred and the land was no longer barren. Touched by resurrection power, the waters of death became waters of life. Jesus, who is the salt of the covenant, is also the resurrection and the life (John 11:25-26).
Jesus is our true salt of the covenant. He saves us, heals us, preserves us, tenderizes our hearts, gives flavor to our very existence, and gives us a thirst for things of the Spirit, which He alone can quench for us.
Through Christ, may we be Salty Christians. May our saltiness make others thirsty, so they may find life, healing and freedom.
(This article was extrapolated from the book, “Born To Die..that we may live” by doug stringer & published 2006)