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What's That Smell?

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INTRO:

Tonight we will be in . What’s that smell?
When I was a kid I played a lot of sports. One I played soccer for a short bit. I played football, basketball, baseball. Pretty much whatever was available to me I would do.
One year during our basketball season I happened to land on the weakest team in the league. We were the Dragons…not very fierce though. We were in our last game of the season and had lost every game so far. Not the greatest season I’ve been a part of. In our final game we were playing close. The clock only had a few seconds left and the other team just scored leaving us down by 1. Our team was throwing the ball in…They were guarding all of our guys to try and keep the ball from being in bounded and then taken down to score.
I don’t remember if it was intentional, or just stupidity, but I ran to the far end of the court where our goal was. So while the man passing the ball in, and all our people were being fiercely guarded, I was all by myself. The guy passing the ball in saw me and hurled the ball to me.
As I that happened, there was a lot of pressure. It felt like a life or death kind of thing. If I caught the ball and made the shot we’d win the game. Not only that, it would be our first and only win of the season. At that point, that was our biggest goal. Just a win!! If I missed, we lost the game and everyone hates me, calls me names, and makes fun of me. I will no longer have any friends. I’ll never get a girlfriend. Never be married. Never have kids. Pressure!!
As the ball sailed to me I caught it. Yes! Step one accomplished. I turned toward the goal, shot it off the square in the back, watched it bounce, hit the front edge of the rim, and then go through the hoop. WOOO! We won the game. It was exciting. I was happy. Things hinged on me and I was able to deliver.
So now I stand here before you with a wife and kids. So glad I made that shot!
One of the great things about our church is the diversity we find in it. We have lots of different people. Some grew up with some money, some didn’t. Some in a city, or a town, a ranch, maybe a farm. We have people in our church from various states, Japan, Mexico. Even those of us who grew up in the same region of the state will have differences. My wife and I definitely have those.
How many of you have ever eaten menudo?I really enjoy it. For those of you who don’t know what it is, I’m not going to tell you, just go and try it and see if you like it.
As a kid I remember walking into some of my aunts how and smelling it cooking. Or showing up to family gathering and there’d be a big pot cooking, or maybe just sitting out for dinner. I smell the stuff and I think…mmmm, that’s going to be a good meal. I enjoy it. Morgan on the other hand, she smells it and wants to run away. She’ll have nothing to do with it. She’s tried it multiple times, but just can’t get past it. So, if someone ever brings me any, I get it all to myself!!
To the two of us, it represents something completely different. To me I look forward to a good meal and associate with pleasant memories. To Morgan it is a foul stench, an unpleasant flavor, and an unbearable texture.
Our faith has the same affect on people as well.

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? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

The Sweet Aroma of Victory

The passage starts with a picture of triumphant march. Romans would often have a victory parade for an officer who led their army to a great victory. This was a huge ordeal. People would build scaffolding to stand on. They were lined up along the streets. There was cheering, and feasting, and lots of celebration!
During the parade you would see the commander on a golden chariot surrounded by his men. People admiring their heroes. The spoils of the battle would often be displayed. Gold, silver, fine clothing and things of that sort. It was great!
The enemy captives were also shackled and marched in the parade. People were able to see them, and jeer at them, and scream for their death. That was something they would see eventually .
During this parade the temples were burning incense to their God’s, and to the Roman heroes. Priest were involved in the parade who would burn incense along the way.
The smell of incense on the route was the smell of victory to the roman onlookers. They knew by the smell that victory was experienced. The smell of victory was sweet to the roman citizens.
To the captives in the parade, the smell meant eminent death. At the ends of these parades the captives were killed, or fought in the Colosseum for entertainment. It wasn’t good.
The smell did not mean the same to all.
This is a picture of the Gospel. Christ’s power over Satan, sin, and death. Christ came and lived the perfect life we can’t. We struggle with living right everyday. We fail time and time again. Jesus didn’t though. He lived perfectly. Then, He died on the cross, rose 3 days later. He has achieved victory.
The fragrance spoken of is knowledge of Christ. It’s the Gospel. That is spread through us! 15 says we are the fragrance of Christ to those who are saved and those who are dying.
To those who believe we find joy! We’ve experienced the victory through Christ!
In the triumphal march, the soldier being honored got to have his sons march behind him. His family experienced the victory with Him.
In our lives, we experience victory through because of Christ. I’ve seen people have victory over a nasty tongue. Saying mean and bitter things. That was through Christ. Victory over anger. Through Christ. Drugs, sex, greed, lying, violence, and the list goes on and on. The victory comes through Jesus. We celebrate that victory together because we know the good that comes from Christ. We’ve experienced the sweet smell of victory. So we celebrate together.
To the unbeliever, the experience is different. When people encounter God, they are brought to the realization that they are doomed. Just like the captives in the march. The smell is death. When presented with the truth of who God is, what He’s done, what his standards are, one is left knowing that death is deserved. It’s dread. For some it can turn to anger and denial.
When I was 8 years old I experienced some dread. Contrary to what many of you may think or believe I was a relatively good kid. I was respectful of adults. I made good grades. I bathed regularly. I was polite and followed instruction well. I was what kids may have refereed to as a goody-goody, or a goody-two-shoes. Regardless of all of that, I remember being faced with the truth of who God was at that age. That Sunday morning I saw myself for what I was also. Helpless, imperfect, and doomed. My stomach was knotted up. I was nervous, scared, and wanted some help. I knew I wanted to follow Jesus. I knew I didn’t want to go to Hell. I knew I could do none of it by myself. So, I talked to Mrs. Sue Evans that morning and learned how I could follow Jesus and be saved from the defeat sin had already brought me.
Even though I was only 8, I knew what that death smelled like. Fortunately, that wasn’t the only option. Praise God someone told me.
That is where we come in. We hold the keys to the sweet smell victory. Of life and of death.

The Aroma of Life

The Keys to V

15 and 16 essentially say you have a life or death faith. What we live and share means life or death. Whoa!
That’s overwhelming isn’t it? It overwhelmed Paul too! He says at the end of 16, “Who is sufficient for these things!?” Who can do this? Who has this power or ability. Not me! Not you! I don’t have the power to save someone’s soul. You don’t have the power to save someone’s soul. I can’t! We can’t! Who can do that?
He answers this question in the next chapter in verse 5. He says our sufficiency is from God. Our victory is from Him. Our ability is from Him.
So, what do we do with what we’ve got?
You tell people what you have. People around us are headed for an eternity it Hell. They headed for death. We should call their attention to where life is.
If you see somebody out walking, and they’re not really paying attention. They're on their phone or daydreaming and heading across the street. They don’t realize it, but there is a car coming from the side. What do you do? You tell them “Look out! There’s a car coming!” If you said nothing that would be terrible wouldn’t it?
We do that with our faith on a regular basis. We don’t share the option of life. We just sit back quietly and do our own thing. Why?
Another reason to tell someone is the fact that Jesus said to. He told christian’s to go out and preach. That is to proclaim truth. Go preach to people. Make disciples. Baptize them. Teach them how to be Christians.
We are commanded to share our faith. You are commanded by Jesus to tell people about Him! So…tell them. He’s the choice for life.
We live it. 17 reads

17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

People were exploiting the gospel for the soul purpose of making money. The problem wasn’t being paid for preaching the word of God. That’s good. The purpose was not to lead people to God. The word was not being preached for God’s glory. It was being preached for money.

17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

These people lived one life and spoke of another. They were hypocrites. They didn’t walk the talk.
Paul said they weren’t doing that. They were being sincere in their life for Christ. They didn’t just say it, but did it.
We should follow that example. Live it out. That’s simple. People watch you. They observe you. Even little things that you do can move people to make decisions in what they do.
A small example is this. The other day I drove up to the house at the same time as Morgan and the Kids. We were going to get in the car and go to Sonic together and get a drink. When I got out of the truck I was wearing my sunglasses. Gideon saw me, and then said to Morgan, “Can we go in the house and get my sunglasses?” She didn’t say a word to him about them. I didn’ say a thing. He saw me and thought, I was those too! We are watched in all sorts of ways. While that decision had no real baring on life, it still triggered something in Gideon when he saw me.
Make sure when people observe your actions in life, they see Christ as motivation for those actions. Not money! Not pride. Not satisfaction. Show them the path toward Jesus.
It’s a big responsibility, but we have help from God in it. He is sufficient for the task.

Conclusion

As a believer you are living in victory. You are experiencing that triumphal parade. As a believer we are along the streets celebrating the battle won. We smell the aroma of victory that the temples and the priests put in the air. We experience the joy in it. We’re like the sons of the commander walking behind the chariot enjoying strength of our father.
We are also like them in the fact that we see those who have lost. We see those who are shackled and left defeated in sin with death awaiting them.
The difference is, we can show them a way to life. We can lead them away from the bitter stench of sin and death and to the sweet smell of victory in Jesus Christ. The question is, what are you doing? From here on out, what will you do?
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