Have you ever heard of the saying, “something smells fishy?” When you hear it you know it is not the smell of fish but that something is wrong or out of character. The word “smell” is really speaking of a “sense” of something else. This figurative way of speaking is found in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 which says – “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things”? So let us take a close at this passage and discover how we are to be a fragrance for Christ.
The Apostle Paul starts off with a praise of being thankful. “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ.” This is important to know because since his last letter to the Church of Corinth several false teachers had come and spread their wrong teachings like they had to follow the law to remain a Christian. Praise many times will come in the hard times. For it is there that we experience the presence and power of God to overcome the discouragements of life. As we experience His grace to “see” what He is teaching us we can be always be thankful in overcoming or triumph in Christ.
When Paul uses the word triumph he is calling to remembrance what would happen in Rome “Whenever the Romans won a major military victory they would celebrate with a spectacular parade. The commanding general would lead the procession in a magnificent chariot, followed by his soldiers, musicians, and other officials. Then soldiers would lead the defeated enemies through the city in chains. As a part of the celebration, the Romans would burn fragrances on altars, filling the entire city with a pleasant aroma. Even those who could not witness the triumphal procession could hear the victory music and smell the pleasing incense. Everyone would know that their army had been victorious. The special fragrance came to symbolize victory to anyone who smelled it.” (From Experiencing God Day by Day, by Henry Blackaby, August 12th.)
This illustration also helps us to understand the word fragrance. For as people were anywhere near the triumph parade they knew their armies had been successful. Which leads us into the next phrase in our passage. This is to me the most important lesson I want to share with you - and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. Our lives, words, actions, attitudes and demeanor should demonstrate the Lord Jesus Christ to the world we live in. It is easy then to understand why Jesus said in John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." All Christians are continually to be a fragrance of love, forgiveness, caring, helpfulness and sharing God’s words of wisdom and comfort. We can do this because we have Christ through the Holy Spirit living in and through us. Our part is to be totally surrendered to His will that we may live before Him and the watching world around us. How do we know His will? Know His Word. There are a lot of people today that think they know God and what He wants in their lives but have no basis for their knowledge. They follow the dictates of their heart or what they want to believe is true.
The next phrase of our lesson is - For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. What God uses is His followers to give off a fragrance or sense of who He really is. Many will follow that sense when they understand how much He loves them and what He has already done to bring them to salvation. Someone once said, “We (Christians) are the only Bible some will ever read.” How careful we must be then. Truly this is life and death for eternity situation. How clear the next phrase is then - To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. Who we are means everything to those who watch us to know if God is real, especially where they will spend their eternity.
The last sentence asks a tremendous important question - And who is sufficient for these things? Easy to answer but impossible to do in our own strength and abilities. We cannot be sufficient in ourselves. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we be sufficient. Only when we are totally surrendered to God’s will for our lives and filled or controlled by His Spirit can we be the life giving fragrance this world must have to be able to come to God. To be that surrendered we must first love Him completely. Matt 22:37-40 - 37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
So I ask you who read this blog is your fragrance bringing others to Christ or keeping them away?