19. Sermon on the Mount 4

“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. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 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. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

“The beauty of holiness” is the visible expression of God’s likeness in the believer’s life (Psalm 29:2). So many think that pure religion should be personal and not to be expressed, shared or spoken of in polite company, but such a notion comes from Satan rather than the Spirit of God. Our faith in Christ must be manifested and proclaimed so that the unsaved might call upon the name of the Lord. We are “the light of the world” drawing the lost to Christ.

Christianity is a Social Religion
To make Christianity a mere personal religion is to nullify its power. It is a religion that must be shared with the world. By ‘social’ we do not mean that Christianity should be compromised to make it palatable to the world, but that it must be presented so that the lost can see the light and be freed from sin. To grow, the Christian church has to communicate its beliefs to all men.

A branch of Christian practice is “good works.” A believer ought to take every opportunity to do all the good he can, and thus affect the lives of those who do not as yet know Christ. This does not mean that we should interact with good men only, but we must do so to all regardless of their spiritual and moral standing. We must acquaint ourselves with the lost; otherwise we are of little use as believers. Paul says to those who would cut themselves off from the world, “Ye needs go out of the world” (1 Corinthians 5:10), in other words, ‘You might as well be dead.’ Nevertheless, it does not follow that we should be intimate with the unsaved, for in doing so many have fallen from grace and allowed sinners to transform them. 

We cannot completely be separate from sinners, else how would we be “the salt of the earth”? Our holy character, words and works should influence others to come to Christ for salvation. In another sense, we should be a check to the corruption evident in society. This cannot be accomplished if we lock our faith in our hearts. To hide it is to make it completely useless. No wonder Christianity is in such a dire state today! Therefore, we are called to bear fruit … “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:2). If we claim to know Christ as Saviour then we have the responsibility to tell others the good news and to live as saints in a fallen world.

It is not possible to conceal true Christianity
Can we not just live clean, moral lives without actually sharing our faith with the lost? If the truth offends the unsaved, is it not better to keep it to ourselves? What earthly good is that form of religion that does not promote Christ? As long as true faith abides in the heart, it is impossible to conceal it. To hide it is contrary to its Great Author. We are the “light of the world. A city that is set on a hill [that] cannot be hid.” It is a fact, our godly character and personal holiness will make us as conspicuous in society as the sun in the heavens. You may be a shy person, but there can be no fear about sharing your faith in Christ. Even the most timid of believers should walk in holiness, be zealous, and be noticed as a lover of God and men.

It is because the world loves “darkness rather than light,” and “because their deeds [are] evil” that they will not come to Christ (John 3:19). Our labour to “overcome evil with good” makes us extremely visible to the lost (Romans 12:21). This is the reason why many believers are singled out for persecution and ridicule. So, it is impossible to keep true Christianity hidden, unless of course we are backsliders and reprobates. Christians are as a “light that shineth in a dark place” (2 Peter 2:19), that guides a few poor sheep out of spiritual darkness unto the way of peace.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” is the Lord’s will for every believer (Matthew 5:16). If we conceal it we will harm both ourselves and those whom the Lord is willing to save (2 Peter 3:9). If we refuse, then we will forego our reward in Heaven. The world must see our good works, our faith and our love for God. Some will respond to such a display of true Christianity and turn to Christ. They will go on to glorify our Heavenly Father. Are we ashamed to own our Lord? Are we willing to proclaim His name to this generation? Are we willing to live like believers? Our “labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

3 February 1747