They say that the sense of smell has the greatest potential to arouse a variety of emotions. Note how the smell of freshly cut grass or bacon frying can make us nostalgic for childhood memories. Or certain smells denote certain places or experiences (hospitals, funeral homes, schools)
Psychologists tell us that the sense of smell plays an important rule in human sexuality. No wonder that perfume companies spend billions of dollars trying to create and mix ingredients to produce fragrances that will be sold to enhance one's image or create mystery of attraction.
It's quite natural therefore that the Bible uses the experience of smell to create certain image and teach certain lessons.
- In Genesis 8:21, after the great flood had cleansed the earth of sin Noah offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God and the Bible says that the Lord "smelled the soothing aroma, denoting that the violence and sin were replaced by peace an righteousness.
- In Philippians 4:18 Paul uses this imaging as well calling the gift sent him by the church, "a fragrant aroma", again suggesting that their gift was like a sweet smelling thing - pleasant to experience.
- In Ephesians 5 Paul uses this same analogy of smell to describe two things:
1. How pleasing the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf was to God.
1Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
- Ephesians 5:1-2
Jesus' life, death, resurrection was like a fragrant smell to god.
2. How pleasing the life of one who imitates Christ is to God.
Our life, death, resurrection was like a fragrant aroma to God. I believe that being pleasing to God is very important to us, so this morning I'd like to share with you some of the ingredients necessary to create the aroma of Christ that is so pleasing to our God.
In Ephesians chapter 5 and 6 Paul describes four of these ingredients:
Ingredient #1 - Purity
In verses 3-14 Paul describes the first essential ingredient in order to produce the aroma of Christ in our lives - personal purity. Purity means cleanliness, the absence of any foreign matter in the ingredient.
Paul lists the type of things that need to be removed from our lives in order for them to be pure.
3But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
- Ephesians 5:3-6
- Improper sexual activity including lasciviousness (pornography/voyeurism)
- Greed (never having enough - materialism)
- Swearing, dirty stories, bad language, nasty and derogatory remarks
- Lewd behavior and speech (Howard Stern and the talk show that parade sexual freaks etc.)
He reminds them that it is for this kind of impurity that God punishes people - make no mistake, don't let anyone tell you otherwise, God will punish for these sins. (vs. 7-14)
In these verses he encourages Christians not only to avoid such behavior but not to tolerate it in others and to expose it as evil to the world.Christians not only have a right to denounce what is immoral and impure in this world, they have a responsibility to do so as well.
Ingredient #2 - Spirituality
The second ingredient necessary to produce the aroma of Christ is spirituality.
15Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,16making the most of your time, because the days are evil.17So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;20always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;21and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
- Ephesians 5:15-21
Here Paul compares the feature of worldly, godless living to a spiritual lifestyle. In the life without reference to God or spiritual things men are careless in their ways, don't seek after spiritual wisdom, fail to recognize that the time is short and the judgment is coming. Their greatest pleasure is to waste their life and time with parties, pleasure, and drunkenness is the favorite state of mind. But the follower of Christ is spiritual in nature and purpose.
He/She is filled with the spirit and because of this has wisdom and knowledge of things that come from above not just below. The time is not wasted on foolish activities but invested in spirit filled things like praise, prayer, and thanksgiving. The fellowship and relationship is not in lust or competition like in the world but in humility and submission which is of the Spirit.
Some complain that the church activities are cutting into their life, limiting what they can do. They don't realize that church activity is real life and the rest of our hobbies here on earth is just temporary. There's no Football in Heaven. We will have better things to do and we will be better people at that time.
Ingredient #3 - An Ordered Life
22Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
- Ephesians 5:22-24
1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), 3so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.
4Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
5Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6not by way of eye service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.
9And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
- Ephesians 6:1-9
One cannot produce the aroma of Christ without an orderly life. Paul describes the proper order of the 6 main relationships in one's life.
- Wives need to be in submission to their husbands.
- Husbands need to love their wives.
- Children need to obey their parents.
- Parents need to lead their children tenderly.
- Employees need to be honest and profitable to their employers.
- Employers need to be fair with their employees.
The presence of Christ is easily seen by the orderliness in our lives and Christ requires this especially in the everyday affairs of life as we deal with family and work. - His presence must be recognizable in our everyday family and work life - just in church.
An orderly life is a greater witness for Christianity than being at church on Sunday morning because unbelievers don't come to church - but they see you in your marriage, the way you treat your family and how you are at work.
Ingredient #4 - Perseverance
The final ingredient to produce the aroma of Christ perseverance - In chapter 6 verses 10-20 Paul describes what perseverance is:
Being strong in the Lord - vs. 10
Not wavering in where you stand, what you believe. Others have no doubt about your commitment. You exude faith, confidence, the willingness to do right, say right, think right. The bible and prayer and the Holy Spirit cannot help the one who doesn't read or go to God in prayer or submit to the Holy Spirit - use it or lose it!
Being wise in the Lord - vs. 12
In order to finish the battle, the war, you need to know who the enemy is and his way of fighting. It's not about "not having sex until you're married," "not getting drunk," "all the allurements in the world." It's not about those things - it's about Satan using these and other things to draw us away from Jesus Christ and eternal life.
The "war" is not against drugs, it's against Satan and to defeat Satan and his schemes we must persevere in faith, prayer, the gospel etc. -It's not about what you avoid, it's about what you do.
Christ persevered through immense trials and attacks by Satan and those who wish to create the aroma of Christ before God must also have the ingredient of perseverance in their lives.
What aroma is your life producing before God? Is it the aroma of sexual sin, words, thoughts and activity that is unclean? (nothing wrong with sex in the proper context - but is your sexual activity proper?) Is it worldliness - like Esau a man so unspiritual he traded his birthright for a plate of stew? Do you smell like the world because you've traded your Christianity for the few earthly pleasures the world has to offer, worldly music, activities, etc?
Is the aroma one of chaos and confusion? A person at odds with everyone - family, friends.The smell of laziness or dishonesty?
Perhaps it's the smell of fear. You can smell when someone's afraid. Afraid of being judged because you've not remained faithful to Jesus. I encourage all of us to cultivate the ingredients that will create the aroma of Christ in our lives that not only God can smell, but others can as well.
Four ingredients to produce the beautiful aroma of Jesus Christ
- Purity of thought, speech and action.
- Making spirituality the priority.
- Orderly living at home and work.
- Perseverance in the faith - not just avoiding
Satan's attack but gaining on the offensive through evangelism, teaching, prayer, faithfulness to church, and service. It's not too late to dispose of the stench of the old sinful life and begin preparing a new mixture of ingredients that will come before God smelling sweetly and acceptable in Christ Jesus. If you wish to take on this new aroma come and bathe in the pure waters of baptism and wash away your sins or cleanse your conscience by being restored through prayer.