“Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another” (Mark 9:50)

Have_salt_in_yourselvesThe background of this statement begins in verse 33. The disciples had been disputing with each other as to who was the greatest of them. The Lord countered their pride by telling them that the greatest is the one who will serve all, including a small child. Small children were particularly counted as nothing in those days. Then, in verses 38-41, the disciples wanted to stop the work of another for the Lord “because he was not following us.” Again, pride and exclusivity blinded them. The Lord gave them a lesson on letting others serve the Lord without our direct interference. In verses 42-48, Jesus is trying to help his disciples see the great importance of self-judgment upon our own sins, in order to avoid judgment from God.

Verse 49 states: “For everyone will be salted with fire.” Fire in the context, and often in the Bible, signifies judgment from God. Indeed, God is going to judge all men, believers and unbelievers. Believers will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, not for eternal salvation, but for recompense according to works, both good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10). Christ is going to judge the living and dead (2 Tim. 4:1). All dead unbelievers will appear before the great white throne and be judged, resulting in an eternal torment pictured by “the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:11-15).

“Salt is good.” (v. 50). Salt counters the corruption and the decay of living things. It preserves the freshness and goodness of life. So, the salt of self-judgment, the topic of this passage, is shown to be exceedingly important and effective for a Christian life that is fresh, living and free from sin and self. If we lose the desire for and discipline of self-judgment upon our pride, our self-indulgence and our sins, then we lose the savor of Christ’s life emanating from us. We become “unsalty.” “Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.” The disciples had not been at peace with their fellow disciples in this scene. They were arguing about who was the best and who deserved to be recognized as number one. They were attempting to stop the service of others because it did not follow their way. The solution of the Lord Jesus for these squabbles was very direct: “Have salt in yourselves – judge your own pride, your own sins, your own short-comings – and be at peace with one another.” When we judge ourselves, then we can be open to receive, appreciate and serve others. We are at peace with our fellow believers.

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The sincere faith within you

For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” 2 Tim. 1:5

What an interesting thought is brought out by Paul here. “A sincere faith” can dwell in us. It seems to note a real and living faith within the believer, giving them confidence and trust in God, and affecting their living and service.

The Amplified Version reads: “I am calling up memories of your sincere and unqualified faith [the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness, a faith] which first lived permanently in the (heart of) your grandmother Lois and our mother Eunice and now, I am [fully] persuaded, (dwells) in you also.”

What we desire is a real and living faith, not a feigned one. Some may “go to church” with a feigned faith, acting outwardly as though they are walking in belief. These may be false brethren, coming into a Christian assembly, but they may also be believers who have gotten away from the presence of the living God. The letter to the Hebrew believers warns of this (Heb. 3:7, 8, 12).

So, what steps can we take as believers so that our faith can be alive in us, dwelling in us? Let me suggest some things from Scripture:

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6)

Did you ever notice that faith is connected not only to believing God, but also to coming to Him and seeking Him? To have a living faith means being in contact with a living God. For this, we must take the step of seeking after Him with our heart. Yet, how can we come to a holy God as those with sin still dwelling within us, and as those who still do commit acts of sin?

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 11:19-22)

We can only have confidence to enter into God’s presence by believing in Jesus’ blood as the sole ground of our acceptance before God. We can never trust in our successes, and we should never shrink back from God because of our failures. Instead, we should have confidence to come to God Himself because of the way He has made for us – the blood of Jesus. Let us place our faith entirely in His blood to give us a legitimate, God-recognized and accepted entrance into His holy place. And, we must believefully trust – that Jesus is now our great priest, standing in our behalf in the presence of God, our Advocate with the Father for all of our sins (1 John 2:1-2).

Lastly, according to this passage in Hebrews, our full assurance of faith is conditioned upon our hearts being sprinkled with His blood from an evil conscience. This means we must pay attention to the speaking of our conscience and have a sincere confession to God of any act of sin (1 Jn. 1:9). Indeed, those who do not take care of their conscience are in danger of suffering shipwreck in regard to their faith (1 Tim. 1:19)! A further condition is having “our bodies washed with pure water.” This simply pictures an outward cleansing from actions of sin that matches the inward cleansing of our heart sprinkled by the blood. Such an outward cleansing is our genuine forsaking of the sins which have ensnared us, by the power of the Spirit of God. (Pr. 28:13).

Then, there is the food of faith, the word of God:

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Rom. 10:7)

The more time we spend reading and meditating upon God’s word, in conjunction with our other steps to a living faith, the more our faith will be strengthened to dwell in us in a living way.

Finally, we must act in obedience to what God is working in us for our faith to stay living:

“Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” (Jas. 1:21-22)

“Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (Jas. 2:17)

Immediately after Paul noted his confidence that faith dwelt in Timothy, Paul urged Timothy to stir up – to fan into flame – the gift of God within him, so that his spirit would be empowered by the fresh power of God within. So we too must always be taking steps to keep our faith alive, working within our spirits and our hearts.

So, let us today truly seek after God Himself! Let us believe that we can come to Him in full assurance of faith, trusting in Jesus’ blood as our sole ground of entrance into the holy presence of God. Let us be sure to apply that blood to our own heart, cleansing our hearts from an evil and tainted conscience through the sincere confession of our sins. Let us have an attitude and practice of forsaking sin by God’s power. Let us spend time in His word, feeding upon it to strengthen our faith. And let us look to God with a heart desiring to obey, by His power, all that He would speak to us. Let us be doers of the word, not hearers only. If we practice these things, our faith will be living – it will dwell within us as a reality.

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