2 Corinthians 2:15-16
“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?”
As a child I spent a great deal of time, perhaps a little too much, watching cartoons. I remember seeing, on more than one occasion, a scene where a character smelled the fragrance of a home-baked pie. The smell would lift him in the air and carry him to the window sill of the farmer’s house where the delicacy sat. Regardless of the danger posed by the farmer, he would attempt to steal the pie. While I am quite certain Paul did not see the same cartoon, he is reminding the Corinthians of the effect their lives can have of drawing others to Christ. He refers to our lives as being like a fragrant aroma that will lead other people to Jesus. Notice he refers to us as being two different aromas, to two different groups of people. If we follow his word order, he seems to be suggesting, to the Christian, the one who is being saved, we are the smell of death, while to the unsaved, we are the smell of life.
Jesus spoke of abundant life being a byproduct of a relationship with Him. He spoke of torrents of living water, and of bearing the fruit of the Spirit. All of this flows from the life of the Christian who is abiding in Christ. Not only providing the Christian with abundant life, but it is also designed to lure others to Jesus. The more time you spend growing in your relationship with Jesus, the greater effect you will have in leading others to Christ.
Paul also spoke of the fragrance of death. Death has at least two smells. One is the rotting smell of decay, a horrendous smell. The other is the fragrant smell that comes off the grill. In Old Testament times, the children of Israel were required to offer multiple sacrifices to the Lord. Part of the purpose, was to offer a sweet aroma to the Lord. The smell of burning flesh is a sweet aroma in heaven and a wonderful smell on earth. Have you ever been driving home, smelled someone grilling, and hoped that the smell was coming from your house?
Paul mentioned being led in triumph by the Lord. The idea is not only that of God leading him into victory, but Christ having victory over Paul. In ancient times, when a general was conquered, he would be laid at the feet of his conqueror, who would put his foot on his neck. We will have the greatest effect on others when Christ has conquered us. When we choose, like Paul, to lay our lives down and pick up Christ, a sweet aroma will fill the air and lead others to do the same. How often have you heard the testimony of another Christian, who speaks of putting aside sin and self, to live for Christ and others, and you were encouraged to go deeper in your relationship with Jesus? That is the fragrance of death leading to death.
Paul wrote that he dies daily, and always carries about in his body, the dying of Christ. He said he was crucified with Christ, and now lives for Christ. If we want to have an increased impact on others for the kingdom of heaven, it is time that we surrender all to Christ, and abide in Him.