Matthew 5:13-16

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

THE SIMILITUDES

INTRODUCTION:

 

Some have stated that all we have to do is live by the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, and we’ll be all right. Now, it would be wonderful if everyone would live by the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, yet no one except Christ has ever done this. This is because everyone except Christ has (or has had) an old sin nature.

 

Both the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount tell us about God’s expectations for people. They both show us that no one is good enough for God. They both show us that everyone is a sinner who needs to be saved. They both require perfection.

 

Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

 

The problem is not with the Law or with the Sermon on the Mount. The problem is with sin in the human heart. We cannot keep the Law, and we cannot keep the Sermon on the Mount.

 

Some believe that the Sermon on the Mount is an exposition of the Ten Commandments. No, they are similar; yet, they are different.

 

Some go to the opposite extreme and say that the Sermon on the Mount has nothing to do with present-day Christians. They believe that the Sermon on the Mount only gives the principles under which people will live in the Millennium. However, just as nine of the Ten Commandments are taught in the New Testament, so, much that is taught in the Sermon on the Mount is also taught elsewhere in the Bible. Furthermore, we happen to believe the truth of II Timothy 3:16-17 .

 

II Timothy 3:16-17 – (16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

 

The Sermon on the Mount is intended for all believers. It was preached to the disciples according to verse 1. It is a description of the character required to enter the kingdom and not just a code of ethics. It provides guidelines which are to be true of all believers everywhere. Therefore, don’t discount or disregard the Sermon on the Mount. It has something to say to believers today, and we surely need to heed it.

 

The beatitudes comprise verses 3-12. We have already looked at them. In this message, we move on to the similitudes which comprise verses 13-16.

 

Whereas the beatitudes suggest that believers are blessed, the similitudes suggest what believers are like or are similar to.

We see the first similitude–

    I.     YE ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH – 5:13

 

Matthew 5:13 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.

 

In verse 13 believers are said to be the salt of the earth, but salt which has lost its savor is of no use to anyone.

 

Ye is you (plural) and is emphatic. It refers to believers and suggests that collectively they are the salt of the earth. Of course, what is true of all believers collectively is likewise true of all believers individually. It also implies that unbelievers are not the salt of the earth.

 

Are indicates an existing condition, and its mood indicates that this is something which is definitely true. It does not say, You are supposed to be the salt of the earth; nor does it say, You shall become the salt of the earth.

 

What believers are is the salt of the earth, which speaks of the spiritual qualities of genuine disciples.

 

Salt is used as a seasoning, and a little bit goes a long way. As the salt of the earth, the believer who is living for the Lord flavors those around him. By being a godly person, he has an influence on the society in which he lives.

 

Salt is also used as a preservative to keep meat from spoiling. Likewise believers who are living for the Lord preserve the corruption of those around them.

 

Salt may also sting. Have you ever had a sore on one of your lips and eaten something salty like a salty potato chip? It stings, doesn’t it? Similarly, without trying, those who are living for the Lord may offend those around them who are not living for the Lord.

 

But introduces a conditional statement which is in mild contrast to ye are the salt of the earth. The structure of the condition indicates that no assumption is made regarding its truthfulness. It may or may not be true.

 

The condition is if the salt have lost his savour. If this condition is true, then its conclusion will also be true.

 

The conclusion of the conditional statement is wherewith shall it be salted?

 

If the salt have lost his savour means if the salt becomes tasteless or if the salt becomes insipid. It suggests that the salt has lost its effectiveness.

 

Believers maintain their effectiveness by being what the beatitudes demand, which is another way of saying by being Christlike. Its emphasis is on being what they are supposed to be rather than on their doing things.

 

Being Christlike is accomplished in believers by their being completely surrendered to Christ, by seriously studying their Bibles, by submitting their hearts and minds to its teachings, by obeying their Bibles, by praying, by confessing sin, and by faithfully attending a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching local church where the Word of God is faithfully and accurately taught. Attending entertainment centers which pass themselves off as churches or attending churches which never get beyond John 3:16 will not do. They will not produce Christlikeness.

 

Wherewith? is with what?

 

Shall it be salted suggests, With what will the salt be made salty again? This implies that salt which has become tasteless will not be able to be made salty again.

 

As a consequence, it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

 

It is thenceforth good for nothing means it is no longer good for anything. For nothing has been placed in a position of emphasis in the Greek text, which reads literally, For nothing it is good any longer.

 

But is if not or except.

 

To be cast out and trodden under foot of men indicates what salt which is tasteless is good for.

 

To be cast out means to be thrown outside, and its tense indicates a one-time action.

 

(To be) trodden under foot of men means to be trodden under foot by men, where men is the generic term for humanity and includes females as well as males. It implies to be trodden under peoples’ feet. It suggests to be walked on.

Next, we see the second similitude–

  II.     YE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD – 5:13-16

 

Matthew 5:14-16 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

 

In verse 14 believers are said to be the light of the world and are to be seen.

 

Ye is you (plural), and again it is emphatic. It refers to believers and suggests that collectively they are the light of the world. Of course, what is true of all believers collectively is likewise true of all believers individually. It also implies that unbelievers are not the light of the world.

 

Are indicates an existing condition, and its mood indicates that this is something which is definitely true. It does not say, You are supposed to be; nor does it say, You shall become.

 

The light of the world means that believers provide spiritual illumination for unsaved people living in a sin-darkened world. Believers do this by being Christlike. In John 8:12 Jesus stated,

 

John 8:12 . . . I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

 

The Apostle John also wrote regarding Jesus being the light of the world in John 3:18-21 ,

 

John 3:18-21 – (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (19) And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (21) But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

 

John also wrote in I John 1:5-7 ,

 

I John 1:5-7 – (5) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (6) If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

 

Christ dwells in believers; and as they live Christlike lives, His light provides illumination for people who live in a sin-darkened world. As they tell others of the salvation Christ offers, their Christlike lives demonstrate that what they are saying is true and has worked in their lives. However, people who are claiming to be saved but not living as they should are sending a mixed message which obscures the truth of the gospel.

 

A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

 

A city that is set on a hill is used to illustrate believers as the light of the world.

 

A general truth which is characteristic of every city that has been built on a hill or on a mountain is that it is conspicuous.

 

That is set means lying, if lying, or if it is lying. A city lying on a hill cannot be hidden or a city if lying on a hill cannot be hidden.

 

On a hill suggests on (the top of) a hill (or mountain).

 

Cannot be hid is is not able to be hidden, and its tense indicates that this is always true. It is an ongoing inability. Hiding a city sitting on the top of a hill is something which is never able to be done.

 

Likewise believers who are living for the Lord will stand out in a world filled with unbelievers. They will be conspicuous without even trying to be conspicuous.

 

Matthew 5:15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.

 

Verse 15 indicates that people do not typically light a light in order to hide it but in order to give light to those in the house.

 

Neither do men is and they do not or nor do they. No word appears in the Greek text for men. It is a general phrase introducing something people in general do not do.

 

People do not light a candle, and put it under a bushel.

 

Although they will light a candle, i.e. light a lamp, they will not put it [i.e. set the lamp or place the lamp] under a bushel [i.e. under a peck measure, a container used for measuring grain] in order to hide it or to prevent its light from being seen or from being helpful. If they don’t want the light to be shown or to be used, they will not bother to light the lamp.

 

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to put it under a bushel.

 

Rather than putting or setting a lighted lamp under a container which would conceal its light, they put it on a candlestick, i.e. on the lampstand, where its light will be useful.

 

And it [i.e. the lamp which has been lit] giveth light [i.e. it shines, shines forth, or shines out] unto all that are in the house. It provides illumination for everyone in the house.

 

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

 

In verse 16 believers are instructed to be a light to men so that men may observe their good works and glorify God the Father.

 

Let your light so shine before men is a command which believers must obey. It is not optional, nor is it merely a suggestion.

 

So suggests thus or in this manner, i.e. as the light of a city which is located on top of a mountain or high hill or as the light which has been set on a lampstand.

 

Shine is the same word translated giveth light in the previous verse. Let your light so shine suggests let your lamp so give light or your lamp must give light.

 

Your is plural and light is singular, which suggests that the light for all believers is the same. It is speaking collectively of all believers. Believers as a whole are to let their light shine or give light.

 

Before men suggests before human beings or before people, particularly before unsaved people.

 

Men is the generic term for human beings and includes females as well as males. They will let their light shine by living godly lives in the presence of unbelievers.

 

The reason they should let their light shine where it may be seen is that they [i.e. people, especially unsaved people] may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

 

That suggests in order that or for the purpose that.

 

They refers to men, particularly to unsaved people.

 

May see your good works, which suggests may observe, may notice, or may catch sight of your good works, is the first of two reasons the light of believers is to be shown before men.

 

The second reason is that they may glorify your Father which is in heaven, which suggests in order that they may enhance God the Father’s reputation in that they may praise Him, honor Him, or extol Him. The only way they are really going to do this is if they themselves receive the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord of their lives.

 

Which is in heaven suggests that the dwelling place of God the Father is regarded as being in heaven. Of course, He is omnipresent.

CONCLUSION:

 

Are you really saved and on your way to heaven?

 

What saves you is believing that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, died on the cross paying for your sins, that He was buried, and that He was raised from the dead on the 3rd day in order to show that God had accepted His sacrifice of Himself for you.

 

Are you living for the Lord so that you are able to be said to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world?

 

The way you live for the Lord is by studying the Bible, submitting your heart and mind to its teaching, and doing what it says.

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