Being Biblical Salt & Light Is Not A Call by Jesus to Political Activism

By Brannon S. Howse

 If you want to be salt and light, then be poor in spirit. Acknowledge your spiritual bankruptcy. Be someone who has mourned over your own depravity. Have godly sorrow that produces repentance unto salvation. Hunger and thirst for righteousness—God’s standard, His Word. Become a person of compassion, full of grace and Christian service. If you want to be salt and light, then be pure in heart, a believer sanctified through ongoing faithfulness and obedience to God’s Word. Be a peacemaker by preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God, the Gospel of peace. Take a look at how your life lines up with the Beatitudes taught by Jesus in Matthew 5. 

Many within the Religious Right tell you that you need to be salt and light and therefore you need support them and join them in their political activism, culture war and Christian activism. Yet, that is not at all the Biblical meaning of salt and light as taught by Jesus in Matthew 5. 

When you are salt and light, what are you like? You take on the characteristics of salt:


Salt purifies. You can clean out a wound by washing it in saltwater. The purifying is what makes salt in a wound sting. The Church, too, should sting the consciences of unbelievers. 

Salt makes a person thirsty. Saltiness motivates people to seek water. Spiritually, that means to hunger and thirst for righteousness. 

Salt is a preservative. You put it on meat to keep it from rotting. Likewise, Christians can be a preservative within the culture. A culture is simply a group of people living their lives in a common environment. So the “culture war” is a spiritual sample of the fruit from within a culture. It’s a symptom of the spiritual condition of that nation, land, or people. So when Christians act as they’re called to, they can stop—or at least slow down—the rot. A corollary to the preserving value of salt and light to a culture is that the presence of Christians in a nation can delay or delete God’s judgment on that nation. It can cause God to show mercy by not levying divine judgment or “giving them over” to hopelessness (Romans 1:28). Because of the presence of Christians, He may choose to give more grace to a nation. History shows, though, that eventually judgment becomes absolutely necessary, and Christians are subject to it along with everyone else. Yet the judgment is not against them but against the nation and its turning from God. Judgment also provides an opportunity for Christians to offer an “object lesson”: If you think national judgment is bad, imagine how bad eternal judgment will be. 


Salt and light are reminders that the moral law is written on the heart and mind of every person. Romans 1, 2, and 3 explains that no one has an excuse on the Day of Judgment because the moral law—what God expects—is written inside each of us. That’s why people everywhere know murder is wrong, lying is wrong, rape is wrong, adultery is wrong. The conscience tells them so. And we, by preaching the Gospel and living the Christian life, should sting the consciences of unbelievers. 

Our saltiness is so important that Jesus offers a warning to us in Matthew 5:13: “But if the salt shall lose its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

In his study Bible, John MacArthur makes a poignant observation about this verse. He points out that “pure salt cannot lose its flavor or effectiveness.” So what does that imply? It suggests that pure Christians, true Christians, those who are living the Christian life according to God’s standard—reflected here in The Beatitudes—cannot lose their flavor or effectiveness. Isn’t that fascinating? 

MacArthur goes on to explain something Jesus and the people of His time knew that most of us do not: 

[quote] Pure salt cannot lose its flavor or effectiveness, but the salt that is common in the Dead Sea area, where Jesus was teaching, is contaminated with gypsum, other minerals, and may have a flat taste or be ineffective as a preservative. Such mineral salts were useful for little more than keeping footpaths free of vegetation. [end quote]


In other words, some salt really is useless for its intended purpose. First century Jews knew bad salt was good only to be thrown onto the paths or trails to keep down the weeds, and, by analogy, a false Christian can lose his or her flavor and become worthless. True Christians, however, will never lose their effectiveness. They walk in faithfulness and obedience, living according to The Beatitudes found in Matthew 5. 


Copyright 2015 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative. 

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