2 Corinthians 2:14 is the bible verse that I chose to put at the top of this blog. I discovered this verse in a new way when I went on my first missions trip last February when I was looking for a verse to put on a friends birthday card. Since then I have become fascinated with the apostle Paul, who wrote these words. He was one of the worlds greatest missionaries who gave us 10 of the new testament books in the bible. Embarking on my own missionary journey I now read these books in an entirely new way!
2 Corinthians 2:12 – 16
12. Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit because I did not find Titus, my brother, but taking my leave of them I departed for Macedonia.
14 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. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 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?
This letter was written by the apostle Paul from somewhere in Macedonia. In verses 12 and 13 he is talking about his travels and his distress about not having run into his Christian brother Titus in Troas. What was he in such distress about? Paul actually wrote a total of 4 letters to the church in Corinth. He needed to address doctrinal errors and ethical problems developing in the church. There was also a problem with immorality that the church was looking the other way and refusing to deal with. The first and third letters Paul sent are not in existence today and they were stern disciplinary letters. The letter we refer to as 1st Corinthians is actually his second letter. And the book of 2nd Corinthians is his 4th letter. The 3rd letter Paul wrote was delivered to the church by Titus. Paul finally met up with Titus in Macedonia and received the good news about the condition of the church as a result of his letters and a little bad news about a small band that was still opposing his instruction. This letter of 2nd Corinthians is actually the 4th letter Paul wrote to them in response to this news from Titus.
In verses 14 through 16 The Apostle Paul goes on to talk about his travels to the various churches using a parade image based on the Roman victory procession in which the enemy’s prisoners were forced to march as a reward for the conquering General. In the image he is giving here we are the prisoners of Christ and the conquering General is God!
Why are we compared to enemies of God? The bible tells us in Romans 5:10 “For when WE were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His son, much more, having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life.”
So we can see clearly in this statement here WE were the enemies of God before we accepted forgiveness through Christ and received Him as our Lord and Savior. Now He has captured our hearts and is leading us in a triumphal parade so others can see and hear about His goodness and His love and salvation through Jesus Christ.
We learn there are other enemies of God in Colossians 2:15 – “Having disarmed principalities and powers He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it”. These principalities and powers are fallen angels who follow satan, who often work through people and are in a war against God to try and prevent people from receiving the free gift of forgiveness and salvation through Christ and a restored relationship to God.
Paul was formerly an enemy of God, used by satan and he persecuted Christians in his day until one day he was knocked off his horse and made completely blind and at this point in his life he met Jesus and became a fierce believer of the Lord. He went on to give us so many great letters in the new testament and even gave His life to the cause. All of us were enemies of God before we received Christ as our Lord and Savior. Some of us are still at war with Him. I was at war with Him until I was 45 years old. At that time I quietly gave Him my life in a small church in Pennsylvania and I have never regretted that decision for one second ever since.
Don’t ever forget as Christians we are in a war! We are in a battle for souls and we have an enemy that does not want us to succeed – but the One in us is so much greater than the enemy in this world!
Let’s talk a little bit about the aroma images in last verses.
In the Old Testament animal sacrifices were offered up as a sweet aroma to God to atone for sin. We have many examples of that beginning in Genesis Chapter 8:21 when Noah, having left the ark, offered up 2 of every clean animal and it says it was a sweet aroma to the Lord. And He promised Noah that He would never again destroy every living thing as He had done in the great flood.
And then we come to the New Testament where we read about Jesus Christ who willingly endured the cross as the ultimate living sacrifice for the sins of all people making animal sacrifice no longer necessary as it tells us in Hebrews 9:12 “Not with the blood of goats and calves but with His own blood He entered the most Holy place once for ALL having obtained eternal redemption.”
Think about it – we have ETERNAL redemption – Now that is something amazing and great to have a parade about! What victory, what triumph – death can no longer hold those of us who are IN Christ’s parade! We’ve been taken captive and rescued from certain death and eternal separation from God and now we are can be used by Him as soldiers marching in His army helping to rescue others who would hear and turn and follow the Lord.
God desires that we give to Him the sacrifice of allowing Him to use our lives as a sacrifice, living Holy lives as Christians spreading the scent of Christ wherever we go. Paul tells us in Romans 12:1
“I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God which is your reasonable service. It doesn’t say here your extraordinary service – it says reasonable service! This is the very least He expects of us!
To God this aroma is sweet and to those who receive the message of Christ and are being saved it is the aroma of life but to those who reject God and the message of Christ it is an awful death stench. Paul used this example to point out the difference in those in Corinth that received the corrective word and desired to change and grow in Christ and those who continued to oppose him and not follow the ways of the Lord.
What does this aroma smell like? Ephesians 5: 1&2 “Therefore be imitators of God dear children and walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, as an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.” So we see this aroma is LOVE!
What a miracle it is for God to allow us to be the vessel of the Holy Spirit to carry the perfume of the love of Christ into the lives of those the Lord would lead us to.
Are you willing to be a living vessel for Christ spreading the fragrance of His love for us where ever He has placed you? In your home, with your family, in your work place, in the supermarket, or maybe even in a foreign land? Even at the risk of rejection from some of those who may be close to you? Are you willing to take a stand and share your faith to keep someone from spending an eternity separated from God?
He is calling you – Come join the parade! If you haven’t done so yet welcome Christ Jesus into your life to day – completely surrender your life to Him – Allow Him to use you as His vessel. You will never do anything in your life as rewarding or exciting or fulfilling as being a living, loving sacrifice for Christ! A sweet smelling aroma to God!