Two Kinds of Odors

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 leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?

2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Smell is one of our five senses and with it we can distinguish a wide range of odors. Smells are nice and others are not. In the spirit world we are much more familiar with two other senses: sight and hearing. Thus we have heard of our spiritual eyes or our spiritual ears. In 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 we are talking about what we might call the spiritual nose of God, which is able to distinguish those who are saved from those who are lost.

Although there are thousands of different odors in the world, scientists have determined that human smell is capable of distinguishing ten different types of odors. The ten types of scents are: Fragrant or floral; Woody or resinous, suitable for wood or resin; Fruit, excluding citrus fruits; chemical; Mentholated or refreshing, such as mint/pepper; Sweet; Burned or smoked, like popcorn; Citric or lemon; Rotten or nasty; and acrid or rancid. Of these odors, the first eight go from pleasant to neutral, the last two are unpleasant.

The spiritual nose of God distinguishes a pleasant odor from one who is not. The sacrifices that were pleasing to God in the Old Testament, He perceived them as a pleasant odor. An example is Genesis 8:20-21, Then Noah built an altar to the Lord. He took some of every kind of clean animal and every kind of clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. When the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, He said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, even though man’s inclination is evil from his youth. And I will never again strike down every living thing as I have done.

Just as this sacrifice of Noah after the flood was perceived by God as a pleasing aroma, so were the sacrifices He commanded His people when they offered animals in atonement for the sins of Israel. But when the sacrifice did not please God, the smell was not pleasing to Him. We see what Leviticus 26:31 says, I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas. Straying from the path of God is equivalent to convert a floral smell into rotten.

Of all the sacrifices, the best smell for the spiritual nose of God was Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. Ephesians 5:2 says, And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. When we decide to believe in Jesus and surrender our life to Him, we are impregnated with the fragrant aroma that God perceives because now we smell Christ, we smell eternal life, we smell salvation, and we smell the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.

But when we decide to seek our salvation according to our own criteria and reject the Son of God, the spiritual nose of God perceives in us a rotten odor, a smell of death, a rotten, pungent, stale smell. It is the smell of perpetual doom, it is the smell of sulfur from the lake of fire. Let the divine nose smells the best fragrance in us. God bless you.


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