The Antiseptic Influence

The Antiseptic Influence

An antiseptic is defined by the dictionary as “a substance that destroys or inhibits the growth or action of microorganisms (such as bacteria) especially in or on living tissue” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). This medicinal substance is vital when trying to reduce the threat of infection, sepsis, or putrefaction on a person’s open wound, such as during a surgery. Today, we have a variety of antiseptics such as mouthwash, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide, which can be readily purchased at a local drug store; but this was not the case in archaic times. The annals of history reveal that one of the reasons salt was valued so highly by those ancient civilizations was precisely because it was commonly used as a natural antiseptic to prevent meat from spoiling. Old Egyptian and Greek societies are recorded in history to have been among the first to discover salt’s ability to effectively help clean and sterilize wounds. This is because salt is known to be a bacteriostat (an agent that inhibits bacteria from multiplying, without destruction) that through osmosis will dehydrate certain kinds of bacteria provoking the enzymes that fuel it to malfunction and ultimately collapse. Ergo, by warding off the increase of the bacteria that eventually rots meat, salt prolongs it’s “life” by keeping the meat fresh. It was salt’s capability to preserve things that made it a very precious item to own in the ancient world. It is also one of the primary reasons the Master declared, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13a). Every diligent student of Holy Writ understands that Jesus was establishing the important contribution of the Church’s godly influence on the surrounding community (cf. Acts 2:44-47, 5:12-16). It is undeniable that the light of the Christian pierces through the cloak of corruption when he has “cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:12b-14). However, the salt-curing process takes place when our holy influences brings the sinner out of spiritual death, into the everlasting life found in Jesus (cf. Ephesians 2:1-7, 5:8-14). The metaphor of being the salt of the earth is clearly revealed in the Lord’s commandment of spreading the seed of the Gospel to all of mankind (cf. Matthew 28:19- 20, 1 st Thessalonians 1:2-10). Yet, it is interesting that the Savior’s application of salt is often mistakenly understood to be limited only to the preservation of lost souls, and not to those who have already been saved as well. It is valuable to remember that the Great Commission assigned by the glorious King states, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). It is wise not to ignore that this heavenly task is not complete after a person puts on Christ through baptism since He Himself ordains that the spiritual newborn must now be taught how to live righteously. Following the purpose that being identified by the Lord as “the salt of the earth” is for preservation, it is wise to have a better understanding of how the salt-curing process works. The first thing that needs to be understood is that it is not a “one and done” procedure. If a piece of meat is seasoned with salt and then left inside the refrigerator, the meat will spoil because it was not properly cured. In order for the salting process to work efficiently, the meat must be allowed to sit in salt for approximately five days. However when this course begins, the person curing the meat must be careful that too much salt is not applied to it on the first day, or else it will rot due to the rapid change of  environment. The same is true for a newborn Christian “for everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14, cf. 1 st Corinthians 3:1-3). Expecting a new Christian to exhibit a mature spiritual life immediately is both unfair and naive. It is imperative to keep in mind that after obeying the Gospel through baptism, an entire way of living is required to begin undergoing change for the new obedient child of God (cf. Romans 12:1- 2, Ephesians 4:17-29). The Bible’s description of a new Christian being a newborn illustrates the reality that true transformation is progressive and not immediate. Therefore, pushing a new convert too hard can be discouraging and could potentially spoil that being’s salvation. This is why the Lord ordered that those who become new disciples of Jesus, must be taught to “observe all things” as commanded by Him. Teaching, training, and exhorting are essential to the proper development of a Christian’s faith, but it must be done so in a spirit of meekness, understanding, and patience. Once more, using too much salt in the beginning will cause the meat to rot. Following the first day of salting, one must wash off the old salt, and cover it in new salt once more and this time allow it to marinate for about two days. This part of the process brings to mind the apostle John’s loving words that say, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 st John 2:1- 2). The inspired apostle John was aware that man will stumble on his walk toward the eternal abode. Although it is his original desire that his inspired doctrine be preventative in the life of the Christian, notice that he understood that there are times when one will fall back into old habits. The apostle is in no way justifying sin, but rather explaining that it is always possible to recover from a spiritual fall with the correct attitude; one of true repentance (cf. 2nd Corinthians 7:9-11). This Scripture braces the truth that the transformation of a person from ungodliness to godliness is a daily, progressive one (cf. Luke 9:23-26). The apostle Paul corroborates this as well by boldly proclaiming “I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily” (1 st Corinthians 15:31, cf. Colossians 3:1-7). On the fourth day of saltcuring the meat, the unabsorbed salt is brushed off it and a final layer of new salt is applied, leaving the meat to sit in it overnight where afterward the protein of the salt will bond to it, completing the salting process. The Hebrew penman instructs that we are to “exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). The daily study of God’s Word is undoubtedly how one preserves his soul from being corrupted by sinful thoughts and urges. However, we comply with the task of being the salt of this earth by teaching one another from God’s inspired Truth as well (cf. Ephesians 4:11-16, 5:15-21). Irrefutably, this was how the Church in the first century was able to be preserved from the intimidating influence of her opponents, remaining the antiseptic for this sick and dying world (cf. Acts 5:41-42).


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