God so graciously conveys to us heavenly truth through the use of natural The natural things of this world are a picture-perfect reflection of the spiritual. elements that are so very familiar to us. By doing so, the “infinite” enlightens the “finite.”
Salt: There are an abundant number of symbols found in the Bible. One of the reasons is that the Bible was written in the East. Eastern language in particularly picturesque. People there drew from natural objects reflections of spiritual truths.
Jesus’ illustrations are often related to many of the ordinary things in life. When reading His parables, we see that He drew from His thirty years of living a simple, everyday life among the humble people in Nazareth.
Jesus was familiar with salt and its use in food and sacrifices. “Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings,” (Leviticus 2: 13). In the Old Testament, newly born children were rubbed with salt (Ezekiel 16:4). Fish, meat and fruit were pickled in it and Israel entered into “the Covenant of Salt.” “Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the Lord I give to you and your daughters as your perpetual share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord for both you and your offspring,” (Numbers 18: 19). “Don’t you know that the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt? (2 Chronicles 13: 5).
Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, used salt as the substance that gives longevity to food which otherwise would spoil. Also, if the food lost its flavor it would be irreplaceable because there was no substitute for salt. Jesus knew exactly what He was talking about when He used “salt” as a figure of speech to express the influence that a Christian’s spirituality has in a corrupt world.
From earliest times salt has been recognized as one of the most important elements in the seasoning and delectableness of food. Just as salt seasons the food we eat and preserves it from going bad, so the Holy Spirit seasons our spiritual food. Concerning His Church, Jesus emphatically states, “You are the salt of the earth.”
Everyone who has been born again by the Holy Spirit of God is to be used by Him to preserve the earth from corruption, freshen, sweeten and season its tediousness.
The Bible presents humankind as being entirely corrupt, however, there were always those who, as the salt of the earth, worked hard to impede such corruption. Noah walked with God and tried to warn the people of the coming Flood. But there was so much wickedness during that time, Noah’s holy character could not preserve anyone, with the exception of his own family.
Christians are the salt of the earth, because the Spirit indwelling us is holy and always seeks to preserve us from fatal lifelessness. The Spirit seeks rather to impart savor and spiciness to our lives and character. We are to be used to apprehend the decay around us. Our saltiness is Spirit-created spirituality. If we lose our saltiness we are basically “good for nothing.” Living a vital Christian life is the only “salt of the earth,” and if it is lost….what else can take its place?
Christians can lose their saltiness, or their spirituality provided by the Holy Spirit, by participating in too much worldliness. If we are to be used to impede corruption, then we must be free from any residue of it. “Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you,’” (2 Corinthians 6:17). Davis in his Bible Dictionary says that, “The impure salt of Syria, when exposed to rain or sun, or stored in damp houses, is apt to lose its taste and become useless.” As Christians, “may our conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how to answer everyone,” (Colossians 4: 6). Christians must keep themselves free from all things that are unsavory and unpalatable! Rather, we must keep diligently to all things virtuous so that we can help keep others from evil.
Oil: In Bible times oil was used to anoint various things. It is also a beautiful symbol of the manifold ministry of the Holy Spirit. Oil is associated with those who were sick. “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord,” (James 5: 14). It is only the Holy Spirit that can heal our broken and bruised hearts.
Oil was also associated with food. “If you bring a grain offering baked in an over, it is to consist of the finest flour: either thick loaves made without yeast and with olive oil mixed in or thin loaves made without yeast and brushed with olive oil. If your grain offering is prepared on a griddle, it is to be made of the finest flour mixed with oil, and without yeast,” (Leviticus 2: 4, 5). Jesus Christ is the fine flour and the Holy Spirit is the oil. Jesus’ statement, “I, by the Spirit of God,” reveals how the two were merged together.
Another use of oil was for illumination. “Olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense,” (Exodus 25: 6). Pure olive oil was provided for the lamps in the sanctuary. “Holy oil alone continually lit the temple, where God was worshiped and where the person and work of Christ were wholly symbolized,” says Rene’ Pache. “In the same way, the Holy Spirit illuminates and glorifies Jesus Christ before our eyes. It is He who gives us understanding of heavenly truths and enables us to worship in spirit and in truth,” (Exodus 27: 20, 21; John 16: 14; Philippians 3: 3).
Jesus called His disciples lights, or lamps. The indwelling Holy Spirit, as oil, enabled them to shine and effectively witness during dark days. Light comes from within, in the same way that the Holy Spirit provides spiritual illumination. Such illumination is not to be confused with what men have referred to as “the light of reason.” This “light of reason” can actually keep men in darkness as far as spiritual truth is concerned. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path,” (Psalm 119: 105).
There is one last feature regarding the use of oil. Oil was poured over blood to sanctify the lepers and the priests in biblical times. “Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. So he consecrated Aaron and his garments and his sons and their garments,” (Leviticus 8: 30). “The priest is to put some of the oil remaining in his palm on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering,” (Leviticus 14: 14). Blood and oil!
Blood and oil symbolize how we, as Christians, are delivered from our “spiritual disease” by the blood of the Cross. Then, as priests and priestesses, we are sanctified by the oil, or power, of the Holy Spirit. “Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,” (Romans 8: 2, 3). May the Oil of the Holy Spirit remove all tension from our lives and permeate and refresh every part.
Seed: The very first symbolic use of the term seed which is taken from the area of plants and flowers is in connection with Satan and the prophesied Savior. “And I will put enmity between….your seed and her seed,” said God to Satan (Genesis 3: 14). Jesus came as the seed of the woman; the Seed implanted within Mary by the Holy Spirit when He overshadowed her. “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus,” (Luke 1: 31). “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ,” (Galatians 3: 16). The Scripture which reveals Christ is also equated to seed. Peter refers to it as “incorruptible seed.” “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God,” (1 Peter 1: 23).
John’s use of the word seed can be confusing to many. “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God,” (1 John 3: 9). Although we are Christians, born of God, we know without any doubt that we do commit sin. There has been some erroneous teaching pertaining to this verse of Scripture.
Even though Christians are God’s children, they still have a dual nature. The discord between the two natures is apparent in the two laws mentioned by Paul the apostle; the law of God and the law of sin. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin,” (Romans 7: 15 – 25). In addition, Paul further speaks of “the law of the Spirit of life” within his being that delivers him from “the law of sin and death.” “Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death,” (Romans 8: 2).
At the exact moment of regeneration, the Holy Spirit enters the repentant, believing sinner and becomes his or her “seed.” He now is the Source of life and imparts life to the child of God who was dead in trespasses and sin and makes him or her partaker of the divine nature. “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires,” (2 Peter 1: 4).
The Spirit is the “divine” seed. He is holy and cannot sin. But alongside Him, as the Seed, is the seed of the serpent, the root, the origin of the satanic spirit and the satanic nature. When as Christians, we are born again by the Spirit of God, our old nature, did not cease existing. It co-exists with the new nature and will do so until our death or translation. It is only then that the glorious transformation into our Lord’s holy and sinless nature will be ours.
What John teaches is not that the children of God do not commit acts of sin but that they do not lapse into sinners and practice sin. The Holy Spirit abides or dwells in the Christian as a source of feeling and impulse. He touches all actions and breathes on life’s issues and concerns. When the God-planted Seed of the Holy Spirit spreads its branches throughout the Christian’s nature, why would the Christian have a desire to sin? Rather, may Christians be found assisting the Seed to reach full potential in their lives so they may walk in all of the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.