July 1, 2013
II Corinthians 2:14-16
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
How much do men and women spend on deodorant products? According to a new report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., “The global market for deodorants is forecast to reach $12.6 billion by the year 2015.” That’s a lot of bucks to try to eliminate body odor, commonly referred to as BO! People don’t want to ‘offend’, and so they buy all sorts of products to smell manly or womanly!
Do you know Christians are supposed to give off an odor? And that odor is God-designed to smell wonderful to some and terrible to others! Paul talks about it in II Corinthians 2:14-16:
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 to death; and to the
other the aroma of life to life. And who is sufficient for these things?
The aroma or fragrance of Christ: I call it GO – Gospel Odor – instead of BO! So did Jesus give off an odor? I’m sure He did at times, because He was fully human as well as fully divine. And BO is a common human dilemma! But Paul says it is not His body that gives off the aroma, it is “…the fragrance of His knowledge…”! To some, the knowledge of Jesus Christ stinks worse than a road-kill skunk! But to others, it is the most pleasing fragrance there is! What makes the difference?
First, let me opine what Paul may have had in mind when he wrote about “…the fragrance of His knowledge….” Being a pious Jew, and often worshiping in Jerusalem before the temple was destroyed by the Romans and the system of sacrifices was ended in 70 AD, the apostle had many times experienced the odor of sacrificial lambs, goats, cattle and birds being consumed by fire on the brazen altar. For most people the smell of roasting meat is a pleasant odor that starts the mouth to water. But for those who hated the Jewish way of life that was built around the temple and its sacrifices, the smell of such offerings aroused disgust and hatred. Such was the mind-set of Antiochus Epiphanes, ruler of the Seleucid Empire from 175 to 164 BC. In 167 BC, he attacked Jerusalem in retaliation for a revolt attempting to reinstall orthodox Judaism. He killed many Jews and put in place a decree that pious Jews were to stop worshiping God and offering sacrifices honoring the Lord. Antiochus Epiphanes went so far as to order the temple and altar to be profaned by dedicating it all to Zeus. Swine – and other abominations according to the Jewish religion – were offered on the altar. So to the faithful Jew, the correct offerings were a pleasing fragrance. To the Seleucid king, the odor was abominable!
What does the “…the fragrance of His knowledge…” of Jesus Christ smell like? To those who have accepted Him as Savior and Lord of their lives – or to those prepared by the Holy Spirit to be open to receiving the gospel – such fragrance smells of the sweetness of heaven! The heavenly odor draws such people closer to the Lord with every waft of sweetness.
But to “…those who are perishing…” – those who have refused His salvation purchased at the high cost of Jesus’ own life – “…the fragrance of His knowledge…” stinks of death and destruction! And it is not the eternal death and destruction of hell which unbelievers are smelling. It is what they perceive to be the death and destruction of their precious way of life to which they cling – even though such a lifestyle brings them ruination! (Compare the manifestations of the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:19 through 23).
Is it any wonder that some love the fragrance of GO (Gospel Odor) and some hate it? And if you are living in submission to the Lord so that His life is manifested through you by the power of the Holy Spirit, then you will be producing more and more “…the fragrance of His knowledge….” May we be odoriferous for our Lord!
Oh, and one more thought: ‘GO’ is also the command Jesus gives to every Christian in Matthew 28:19 and 20:
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.
So GO! And stink for Jesus Christ!