Mark 9:49
These verses have been the subject of much controversy. They are obscure and difficult'; but the context is of great assistance, and a uniform interpretation of the term "salted" in the first and second clauses of ver. 50 will do much to remove the hindrances in the way of construing them together. Manuscript authority is not strong enough to compel the rejection of either clause, although our revisers have omitted the latter. Everything turns upon the sense given to "salted." It is evidently "purified," "preserved from corruption," in the second clause. So ought it to be understood in the first. "Consumed "is a sense implied in the sense "purified," and secondary to it. The whole emphasis of the passage is thus in favor of Christian purification. Again, the second clause of ver. 50 does not appear to have been quoted merely in confirmatory or illustrative allusion, but as a statement of the consequence which will flow from the first; the conjunction having a slightly illative force.

I. HOW SPIRITUAL PURITY IS PRODUCED AND SUSTAINED, 1, "With fire:" a figurative term, relating itself to the fire that is not quenched of the preceding passage, and the description of the baptism of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:11, 12). "Even when manifested in its most awful forms, it is still true that they who 'walk righteously and speak uprightly' may dwell with 'everlasting burnings" (Plumptre). "Thy God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24); and that to the evil in his people, as well as that out of which they are taken. This may refer

(1) to the general spiritual experience of the child of God as subject to the influences of the Holy Spirit;

(2) to Divine chastisement;

(3) to "the spirit to which our Savior refers in vers. 43-48, the spirit that parts, for righteousness sake, with a hand, a foot, an eye (Morison). It is an alternative fire," "which indeed scorches the sensibility to agony, but which in the end consumes only what is bad, and leaves the soul freed from those moral combustibles on which the penal fire of Gehenna could feed." "He is preserved from corruption, and consequent everlasting destruction, by the fire of unsparing self-sacrifice (ibid.).

2. This is the universal experience of true. Christians. Because it is essential to the Divine life in the soul, if indeed it be not rather identical with it. Have we endured this scourging," without which no son is received by our Father? Is this our spirit? Herein we can examine ourselves.

II. ITS INFLUENCE. It affects:

1. Christians

(1) individually;

(2) collectively. Have suit in yourselves, and be at peace one with another. Purity of aim and spirit will obviate misunderstandings, and allay bitternesses between true believers.

2. Their sacrifices. It is in a sense the spirit of Christ's sacrifice communicated to theirs. As it was a law of the Levitical code that "every sacrifice should be salted with salt," so it is a law of the spiritual life, fulfilled through the spirit of self-sacrifice communicated to the particular act and object of sacrifice. This applies to the whole outcome and expression of the spiritual life of the children of God, their thought, word, action, as well as to their gifts to the cause of Christ.

3. The general life of the world. "Ye are the salt of the earth." An indirect and incomplete, but still a positive blessing to the world of the unconverted. For this constant renewals of grace are required, from a source independent of ourselves. Watchfulness, prayer, ceaseless self-sacrifice in the spirit of Christ. - M.







For everyone shall he salted with fire.
The Lord's people are represented as being themselves offered up to Him, as His spiritual sacrifices, both by Isaiah and St. Paul. It was a custom ordained of God in the Levitical code (Leviticus 2:13) that "Every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt." Collecting, then, the points to which we have adverted, we have seen that believers are represented as the Lord's sacrifices: that His sacrifices were anciently purified by the typical salt; that the object of the salt, or grace, is to preserve them from the corruption of the worm of indwelling sin and the fire of ultimate judgment; and that in the whole chamber of imagery is inculcated the duty of sacrificing the lusts of the flesh in order to our being edified in the spirit, and promoting the edification of others. We recognize in the text a force and a beauty not discernible to the superficial student, in the declaration of the gracious effect of those sanctifying trials and mortifications in which all believers have their share; "for everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt." Let us, therefore, consider the teaching of the Spirit in this text to imply, first, an awful denunciation on the man of unmortified lusts — "Every" such "one shall be salted with fire;" secondly, the gracious result of fleshly mortification — "every sacrifice shall be salted with salt;" that is, every believer who "presents his body a living sacrifice," "shall be salted with salt" — that is, not with fire to consume, but with salt to preserve. This is the contrast: on the one hand penal destruction; on the other, gracious preservation.

I. THE CAREER OF UNFORTIFIED LUST ENTAILS A FEARFUL PENALTY. This declaration of Scripture is continually receiving fearful illustrations in the premonitory dealings of Providence. Days of indulgence are succeeded by nights of pain; a youth of profligacy, if not prematurely cut short, entails a feeble, diseased, and miserable old age. Sin receives judgment by installments; the salting fire of the Divine displeasure falls upon the wretched sinner, in many a striking instance, even in this life, presenting, like the shock before the earthquake, prelusive warning of the catastrophe about to follow. It is admitted that the expression in the text is figurative. But the figures of Scripture never exaggerate the facts of reality. The lost, unransomed soul, exposed to the searching and protracted agonies of a fire that salts, that is, perpetuates the anguish of its miserable victims, exhibits the torments of the unbelieving in a broad glare of horror, as if the letters were illuminated by the reflection of "the lake that burneth."

II. THE GRACIOUS EFFECTS OF FLESHLY MORTIFICATION. The believer is to be also salted, but with constraining love, with preserving grace, with sanctifying trial. The grace of mortification is that to the soul which salt is to the body; it preserves it from putrefaction, and renders it savoury. Inferences:

1. That there is in every believer some lust to be subdued — for "every sacrifice shall be salted with salt." We do not apply salt except to those things which have a natural tendency to corruption. If believers must have "salt in themselves," it follows that there is in them the principle of corruption. One man is attacked through the medium of his ambition; the lust of secular distinction desolates his heart of all piety. Another man is drawn aside by his avarice. Another man is seduced by his animal lusts, and the unchecked vagrancy of the eye. Another man is tempted through the medium of temper, and his ebullitions of frightful rage shock the ears of his household. Another man is led astray by his pride. Lastly, the figure suggests the doctrine, that the spiritual health of the believer is to be promoted and attained by fleshly mortification. It is by this means that the soul is to be clarified from sin and preserved in grace.

(J. B. Owen, M. A.)

Every man that lives in the world must be a sacrifice to God. The wicked are a sacrifice to God's justice; but the godly are a sacrifice dedicated and offered to Him, that they may be capable of His mercy. The first are a sacrifice against their wills, but the godly are a free-will offering, a sacrifice not taken but offered. The grace of mortification is very necessary for all those who are devoted to God.

I. THAT THE TRUE NOTION OF A CHRISTIAN IS THAT HE IS A SACRIFICE, OR A THANK OFFERING TO GOD (Romans 12:1). Under the law, beasts were offered to God, but in the gospel men are offered to Him; not as beasts were, to be destroyed, slain, and burnt in the fire, but to be preserved for God's use and service. In offering anything to God, two things were of consideration.

1. There is a separation of ourselves from a common use. The beast was separated from the flock or herd for this special purpose (2 Corinthians 5:15).

2. There is a dedicating ourselves to God, to serve, please, honour, and glorify Him.We must be sincere in this —

1. Because the truth of our dedication will be known by our use; many give up themselves to God, but in the use of themselves there is no such matter; they carry it as though their tongues were their own (Psalm 12:4).

2. Because God will one day call us to account.

3. Because we are under the eye and inspection of God.

II. THAT THE GRACE OF MORTIFICATION IS THE TRUE SALT WHEREWITH THIS OFFERING AND SACRIFICE SHOULD BE SEASONED.

1. Salt preserves flesh from putrefaction by consuming that superfluous and excrementitious moisture, which otherwise would soon corrupt: and so the salt of the covenant doth prevent and subdue those lusts which would cause us to deal unfaithfully with God. Alas! meat is not so apt to be tainted as we are to be corrupted and weakened in our resolutions to God, without the mortifying grace of the Spirit.

2. Salt hath an acrimony, and doth macerate things and pierce into them; and so the grace of mortification is painful and troublesome to the carnal nature. We either must suffer the pains of hell or the pains of mortification; we must be salted with fire or salted with salt. It is better to pass to heaven with difficulty and austerity, than to avoid these difficulties and run into sin, and so be in danger of eternal fire. The strictness of Christianity is nothing so grievous as the punishment of sin.

3. Salt makes things savoury, so grace makes us savoury, which may be interpreted with respect either to God or man. We must be seasoned by the grace of Christ, and so become acceptable in the sight of God; the more we are salted and mortified, the more we shall do good to others.

III. THERE IS A NECESSITY OF THIS SALT IN ALL THOSE THAT HAVE ENTERED INTO COVENANT WITH GOD AND HAVE DEDICATED AND DEVOTED THEMSELVES TO HIM.

1. By our covenant vow we are bound to the strictest duties, and that upon the highest penalties. The duty to which we are bound is very strict.

2. The abundance of sin that yet remains in us, and the marvellous activity of it in our souls. We cannot get rid of this cursed inmate till our tabernacle be dissolved, and this house of clay tumbled into the dust, Well, then, since sin is not nullified, it must be mortified.

3. Consider the sad consequences of letting sin alone, both either as to further sin or punishment. If lust be not mortified, it grows outrageous. Sins prove mortal if they be not mortified. The unmortified person spares the sin and destroys his own soul; the sin lives, but he dies. Now to make application.

I. For the reproof of those that cannot abide to hear of mortification. The unwillingness and impatience of this doctrine may arise from several causes.

1. From sottish atheism and unbelief.

2. It may come from libertinism. And these harden their hearts in sinning by a mistaking the gospel.(1) Some vainly imagine as if God by Jesus Christ were made more reconcilable to sin, that it needs not so much to be stood upon, nor need we to be so exact, to keep such ado to mortify, and subdue the inclinations that lead to it. They altogether run to the comforts of the gospel and neglect the duties thereof. Christ died for sinners, therefore we need not to be troubled about it.(2) Another sort think such discourses may be well spared among a company of believers, and they need not this watchfulness and holy care, especially against grievous sins; that they have such good command of themselves that they can keep within compass well enough.(3) A third sort are such as think believers are not to be scared with threatenings, but only oiled with grace.

3. It may arise from another cause, the passionateness of carnal affections. There is no hope; it is an evil and I must bear it. Consider the doleful condition of those that indulge their carnal affections; and that either threatened by God, or executed upon the wicked.(1) Consider it as it is threatened by God. If God threaten so great a misery, it is for our profit, that we may take heed and escape it. There is mercy in the severest threatenings, that we may avoid the bait when we see the hook, that we may digest the strictness of a holy life, rather than venture upon such dreadful evils.(2) Consider which trouble is most intolerable — to be salted with salt, or to be salted with fire; with unpleasing mortification, or the pains of hell; the trouble of physic, or the danger of a mortal disease. Surely to preserve the life of the body, men will endure the bitterest pill, take the most loathsome potion. Better be macerated by repentance, than broken in hell by torments. Which is worse, discipline or execution? Here the question is put: you must be troubled first or last. Would you have a sorrow mixed with love and hope, or else mixed with desperation? Would you have a drop or an ocean? Would you have your souls cured or tormented? Would you have trouble in the short moment of this life, or have it eternal in the world to come?

(J. Manton, D. D.)

The first expression demanding our attention is "salt." Salt is an object of external nature, endued with certain properties. It possesses the property of penetration into the masses of animal matter, to which it shall be applied in sufficient abundance and with sufficient perseverance; and it possesses the property of extending a preserving savour as it pervades the mass. Here is the basis of its suitability to represent Christ's church on the earth, a characteristic of the population of this fallen world is, moral corruption. The men of this world, even those who are most advanced in morals and in respectability amongst their fellows, are nevertheless described in the Word of God as being corrupt according to their deceitful lusts and defilements. Selfishness, ostentation, envy, jealousy, taint their boasted morals; and as surely as a mass of animal matter left to its natural tendencies in our atmosphere would proceed from one degree of corruption to another, until it reached the putrefaction of dissolution, so surely would the population of this world, left to its own natural tendency, make progress from one degree of moral corruption to another, until they all reached the putrefaction of damnation. Christ's church is the salt of the earth; it is the Lord's preserve and the Lord's preservative. This brings us to the next word here, which is "fire." Fire is another object of external nature possessing certain properties. It possesses the properties of penetrating and melting, and separating the dross from the pure ore; and so in this respect it becomes suitable as an emblem of sanctified affliction, which separates a man from the common and downward course of a heedless and worldly population, and causes him to pause and meditate, and take himself to task, and look around and look before him, and to fall upon his knees and cry to God to have mercy upon him. I have said sanctified affliction; because affliction itself, considered apart from the special use made of it by the Spirit of God, has no such power over a man's character. "The sorrow of this world worketh death;" mere trouble considered in its natural operation upon man, however it may subdue him for a season, however it may make him pause in his course, does not change him. But this is not all, the Lord says in our text. "Everyone" — not every Christian only, but — "everyone shall be salted with fire." This leads us to remark, that fire possesses other properties, the power of consuming the stubble and all the rubbish; and it is thereby suitable to express those tremendous judgments, which shall overwhelm the adversaries at the second glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus, when, as the apostle sublimely tells us, "The Lord shall be revealed from heaven in flames of fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power." Every ungodly man shall, as it were, be salted with fire — shall be seasoned with fire — rendered inconsumable in the fire that burneth — preserved in burning. Salted with fire! This is a tremendous saying, a dreadful thought. Immortalized in endurance! preserved from burning out! Salted with fire! Well, well might He call upon them to cut off right hands, pluck out right eyes, to separate themselves from the dearest lust, from the most fostered and cherished indulgence, rather than be cast into that eternal fire. But how shall this exhortation be obeyed? There is no native power in man, whereby he can rescue himself from what he loves. He must love something; and except he be supplied with something better to love, he must go on to follow what he now loves. It is only the power of something he loves better, that can separate him from what he loves well. What can induce him to part with his sin, which is as precious to his corrupt heart as his eyes are to the enjoyment of his body? What can induce him to do it? Everyone then, both he that believeth and he that believeth not, shall be salted with fire. He that believeth shall be purified by affliction, and he that believeth not shall be immortalized in the endurance of agony. "And every sacrifice shall be salted with fire." Here is another figure, not derived from external nature, but derived from the Mosaic ritual — a sacrifice. A sacrifice is an offering devoted to God. Hence a sacrifice is suitable to represent a member of Christ's Church. He is not separated from the common actions and lawful actions of the world, for that would be to take him out of the world; but he is separated from the common state of mind in which those actions are performed. Instead of withdrawing from the duties of life, it engages him in them for conscience' sake, as well as for convenience or reputation or gum. It makes every action of his life religious; it invests the very drudgeries of the lowest grade of life with a sanctity, as being done in the service of God. So then, a believer becomes a sacrifice, and so the Apostle Paul having enlarged upon the glorious blessings of the gospel, whereby men are so separated, improves the statement thus: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service; and be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." All the sacrifices of the Jewish ritual were seasoned with salt. In the second chapter of the book of Leviticus and at the thirteenth verse you will find the commandment, "And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thy offerings thou shalt offer salt." "Every sacrifice," every true believer, "shall be salted with salt." Now what is the force of this expression, "salted with salt"? We have seen that to be salted with fire signifies to be personally purified; to be salted with salt signifies to be made relatively a blessing. The Christian is salted with fire for his own personal purification, and he is salted with salt for his extended usefulness among others. "He shall be blessed and he shall be a blessing," as was said of the father of the faithful, Abraham. We inherit this blessing of Abraham, to be salted with fire and to be salted with salt. To this our Lord clearly refers, when He calls His church "the salt of the earth."

(H. McNeile, M. A.)

? — Let the eye look upon no evil thing, and it has become a sacrifice; let the tongue speak nothing filthy, and it has become an offering; let thy hand do no lawless deed, and it has become a whole burnt offering. Or, rather, this is not enough, but we must have good works also. Let the hand do alms, the mouth bless them that curse one; and the hearing find leisure evermore for the lections of Scripture. For sacrifice allows of no unclean thing. Sacrifice is a first fruit of the other actions. Let us then from our hands, and feet, and mouth, and all other members yield a first fruit. . unto God.

( Chrysostom.)

Christ is not, in either of these terms (salted, fire), referring to the literal realities. It is salting and fire, metaphorically viewed, of which He speaks. Among the various uses of salt, two are popularly outstanding — seasoning and preserving from corruption. The reference here is to the latter. In hot countries, in particular, killed meat hastens to a tainted condition, and could not be preserved from spoiling, for any appreciable length of time, were it not for salting. It is on this antiseptic property of salt that Christ's representation is founded. Every one of His disciples shall be preserved from corruption by fire. The fire referred to, however, is not penal, like the inextinguishable fire of Gehenna. It is intentionally purificatory, But, though not penal, it is painful. It scorches, and pierces to the quick. What, then, is this fire? It is the unsparing spirit of self-sacrifice — the spirit that parts, for righteousness' sake, with a hand, a foot, an eye. Every disciple of Christ is preserved from corruption, and consequent everlasting destruction, by unsparing self-sacrifice.

(J. Morison, D. D.)

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