Today there are many Bibles with special study notes. The most famous is the Scofield Reference Bible. But in recent years there have been dozens of Bibles that highlight different perspectives and theological slants, ones like the Thompson Chain, Ryrie, Life Application, and many others.
I have joked that if I ever did a specialty Bible, I would do "The Scratch and Sniff Bible." Imagine a Bible that had pads that you could scratch and it would give off the smell of what you were reading. Think of it, you would be reading about the bullock sacrifices in Leviticus, you could scratch the pad and it would smell like barbeque beef. Or you could be reading of the woman who anointed Jesus with perfume in Mark 14:3-9 and scratch the pad to get a whiff of Chanel No. 5. When you read about the Lake of Fire in Revelation, you could scratch the pad and it would smell like sulfur. So far, for obvious reasons, I have not had any takers on my idea.
Seriously, the Bible has a lot to say about the sense of smell. 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 puts it this way: "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life."
First, what does the fragrance of Christ smell like?
The fragrance of Christ is a sweet smell.
It comes from the Fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23) " ... love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." The closer people live to Christ the more that they emanate the "fruity" aroma of God's Spirit. They don't lose perspective or despair in the face of adversity. They treat others with selflessness and kind-heartedness. When a person is yielding to Christ, there is an inherent calmness and serenity in the midst of a messed-up world. Sure, these "sweet" people see the problems of this present world. But they still have optimism, faith, joy because they strive to be Christ-like and they live with hope! No wonder they smell sweet!
The fragrance of Christ is a breath smell.
Have you ever been around somebody who has constant bad breath? Halitosis can be caused by diet of garlic, onions, and other foods. Bad breath can be due to tooth decay or some internal disease. On the spiritual level, the fragrance of Christ is a sweetness of the tongue. It says words that help, heal, and encourage. Their vocabulary is sweet and not profane. People with the scent of the Savior are so close to Jesus that many of the topics of their conversation are about Him.
So, if your spiritual breath is bad, you need to examine your life for sin and then confess it and repent. If you want your spiritual breath to be sweet, draw upon the breath of God. The old hymn by Edwin Hatch puts it this way:
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.
When every breath you take is from Him, the smell of your breath will have the fragrance of God's love. So breathe deeply from the breath of God. Draw upon His power. Let Him direct every detail of your life. It won't be long before people will smell the sweetness of God on you and will "glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
The fragrance of Christ is a lifestyle smell.
A friend of mine was in airport in Seoul, Korea. Kimchee is one of the national foods in Korea. When he walked down the jetway, the pungent smell of kimchee was in the air. You could smell the Korean lifestyle.
Well, when a person is walking with Christ, one can smell the unmistakable aroma of the Christian lifestyle. You can tell that they have been with Jesus because you can see it in the way they order their lives. They live Christian ways of life in their marriage, in their kids, in their possessions, in their relationships, in their pastimes, and in every detail of their life. You can smell Christ in their heart, their words, and their behavior.
Francis Frangipane wrote: "Jesus lived for God alone; God was enough for Him. Thus, even in its simplicity and moment-to-moment faithfulness, Christ's life was an unending fragrance, a perfect offering of incomparable love to God." If that is how Jesus lived, a fully-devoted follower of Christ needs live like Him!
So, let God take over your lifestyle and you will start to smell so much sweeter. Then, your family, your spouse, your friends, your co-workers, your fellow-students, and everyone you meet will smell "the fragrance of Christ" too.
The fragrance of Christ is a clothing smell.
When I was growing up in the Midwest, there was a woman in our town that the kids called "the moth ball lady." She must have kept her clothes in a closet that was saturated with those small balls of chemical pesticide and deodorant. We could smell her from 20 feet away!
Galatians (3:27) speaks of the Christian life as when you "have clothed yourselves with Christ." Ephesians (4:24) uses the clothing metaphor when it tells us to "put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
Just as a wool sweater or a leather jacket has a certain smell, people who are "clothed with Christ" give off a scent that tells that they keep their lives in His closet. How you handle conflict, disappointment, sickness, injustice, mean people, and life itself has a distinct smell. Can people smell Jesus on your clothes?
The fragrance of Christ is a noticeable smell.
Ego, pride, materialism, power-hunger, and evil smell sour. They are smells of a carnal life. By contrast, the smell of humility, self-denial, and faith are so distinctive and sweet.
The religious cults try to counterfeit the fragrance of Christ. Many worldly and carnal people try to fake the fragrance of Christ. The knock-offs and fakers might fool people but it won't fool God. He knows whether the fragrance of Christ on you is real or not. God wants us to radiate the love of Christ and exude the joy of the Lord. He wants the world to immediately recognize the aroma of someone who is totally surrendered to God!
That brings me to the second question: how to get the fragrance of Christ?
Here are some things you should consider.
To smell good, you have to take the initial bath
. You have to accept Christ as Savior and Lord. Isaiah 1:16-17 says: "wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!" To approach a holy God, He requires that we confess and leave our sin to receive His grace by faith. Proverbs 13:5:
"The righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves."
Sin is a disgusting odor in the nostrils of God. God will forgive your sin and redeem your life but you have to choose to leave your stinking sin and live for Him completely!
To smell good, you have to stay away from things that stink
. Things that stink are often things that are dead and decaying. We take on the smell of what we have around us. Imagine what the Prodigal Son smelled like after slopping with the pigs in Luke 15:15. When you live in the word, you start to smell like the world. So, stay away from the things, amusements, values, and influences of this decaying world. The psalmist prayed: "Turn my eyes away from worthless things..." (Psalm 119:37). Make that your prayer commitment to God and then live for God!
To smell good, you have to open the windows.
Opening your life to freshness comes when you open up your life to God. Be transparent and open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Stop using excuses and facades to cover up your carnality. Let the breezes of God blow freely through your life. Let God open up your life to live in faithfulness and obedience to His will.
As I have read the book of Leviticus in recent years, I have been noticing a phrase that is repeated many times. Whenever Leviticus talks about sacrifices and offerings, it uses the phrase, "an aroma pleasing to the LORD." When a Christian is obedient to God's Word and God's will, there is sweet fragrance that drifts off that person's life to God. You might pray the prayer of Charles Billingsley: "Fresh anointing cover me with a balm of purity. Make me a bouquet of honesty. I will hold Your name up high. By the way I live my life, let me be the fragrance of Christ."
To smell good, you have to be careful what odors you let in.
Churches have a fragrance. Sometimes it is the stench of arrogance. You can smell their anger, legalism, and their hostility to others outside of their group. This is the stench of carnality and conflict. It is sad when a church smells just like the world with their egos, priorities, attitudes, and words. This reflects poorly on our Lord Jesus. So, we have to be vigilant!
People can smell whether a church has been with Jesus. You can tell by how we treat each other, how they deal with conflict, how we react when wronged, how we behave when we don't get their way, and how we forgive. They can smell
"the fragrance of our kindnesses, our faithfulness, and our worship." We need to vigilant to protect
"the fragrance of Christ" on our church campus and in our community, being careful that our motives and hearts right!
To smell good, you have to keep checking how you smell and take baths.
People with the fragrance of Christ, are always monitoring their lives and walk. It was the saintly Apostle Paul who looked at his life and prayed: "O wretched man that I am ..." (Romans 7:24). Paul was always making sure that he was right with God.
When I was in high school, there was a guy who never took showers. He just splashed on more after-shave. The smell of his cologne was so strong it made your eyes water. There are people whose lives stink with sin, who just splash on good works and more religious language, never confessing and never repenting. We can't live that way! To be truly fragrant Christians we must seek God in confession and repentance.
The great preacher, F.B. Meyer asked: "Is my life fragrant of Jesus? Do I remind the Father of the blessed Lord? Does He detect Jesus in my walk and speech? Is there in me the sweet savor of that daily burnt offering, that delight in God's will, that holy joy in suffering for His glory, that absorption in His purposes that made the life of the Son of Man so well pleasing to God?"
Keep checking your life. Move closer to the Lord every day. Use 1 John 1:9, the Holy Soap of the Bible, to get God's continued cleansing. Find the joy of your salvation!
When there are roses in the room, the fragrance fills the room. When Christ is Lord of one's life, we give off His sweet smell. Each day, people get a whiff of our speech, behavior, attitudes, values, facial expressions, and much more. The sweet fragrance of Christ cannot be manufactured. You get it when you spend time with Jesus and His sweet fragrance rubs off and fills you. I want people to smell Christ on me, on each of you, and on our church. You too?
Patrick Odum wrote: "When we noisily celebrate what God has already done, while waiting with anticipation for what He will do, the heady fragrance of the kingdom of God disperses the noxious, choking odors of the world's preoccupation with now and more."
Another key way of having "the fragrance of Christ" is faithful and weekly attending public worship.