Friday, March 12, 2021

How We Smell to God

"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people." (Ephesians 5:3)

As Paul continues giving practical advice for life in the new community, he says that we are to live a life of love, just as Jesus loved us (Ephesians 5:1). He says that Jesus’ true love and sacrifice was a fragrant aroma to God. This takes us back to the sacrifices of the Old Testament. The roasting flesh of lambs, oxen, and birds is repeatedly called a “sweet smell” in Leviticus, and we all know what it is like to come into a house and smell a roast in the oven. Also, the altar of incense continually sent up a fragrant smell to God. As we walk sacrificially in union with Christ, we are also a sweet smell to the Father.

On the other hand, we can become a bad stench in God’s nostrils. If you walk into a room with a bad smell, your immediate impulse is to turn around and go out of the room. So it is when God smells our stench. The entrails and other filthy parts of the animals were washed off and carried away before the animal was put on the altar for God.

Paul says that sexual immorality stinks in God’s nostrils. It may be acceptable in modern secular society, and in modern “antinomian” churches, to engage in premarital sex, homosexual acts, and even so-called “loving adultery,” but God detests this kind of behavior. God hates pornography.

Other activities that stink to God are impurity, greed, obscenity, coarse pointless talk, and vicious humor. Paul once again points to the cure for these habits when he says that the nasty tongue should be retrained by worship. We should engage in the sacrifice of thanksgiving, which is a sweet aroma to God.

Paul knew that the time would come when heretics would teach that God does not really care about these matters. We see today in the “mainline” churches that many teachers and leaders seek to justify homosexuality, adultery, and other sexual immorality. Paul says that God’s wrath has come upon them already, and that such men have no inheritance in the kingdom of God. We are not to be partners with them (v. 7), and this is why most God-fearing pastors and teachers have abandoned such degenerate churches.

How does your behavior smell to God? One thing about smells is that they are invisible. People may not be able to see some of the things you do, but God smells them. Make sure today and this weekend that you are looking to Christ alone to be your sweet aroma before God.