The Stench of Sin
Never have the words terror and violence held greater meaning than in this present world. Several million persons have died a violent death in recent years. The darker the day, the greater is the opportunity for believers to be a living testimony. In the days before the flood the continuous wickedness of man caused a stench to arise to God. “The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence” (Gen 6:13). The Lord Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man” (Luke 17:26). One evidence of this is the decision of the eight Federal Judges in Alabama to suspend Chief Justice Roy Moore and to remove the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building.
The Sweet Savor of Christ
There is a tremendous contrast between the spirit of the age and the Spirit of Christ that should be seen in us. “For we are unto God, a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish” (2 Cor 2:15). The order in this verse is so clear that we might miss it. The “sweet savor of Christ” is first of all “unto God”, but then it extends to others.
The sweet fragrance that ascended to God from His beloved Son is a very frequent subject in Scripture. The expression, “a sweet savor unto the Lord” is found 24 times in the first four books of the Bible. In the Levitical sacrifices: the burnt offering, meal offering and peace offerings ascended to God as a “a sweet smelling savor.” All of the preciousness of these offerings is summed up in Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.”
The Source of the Sweetness
Isaiah 11:2 reads, “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” There is an alternative reading of verse 3, “And shall make him of sweet fragrance in the fear of the Lord.”
Psalm 45 has seven beautiful features of the Person of our Lord: the fairness of His Person (v 2); the fullness of His majesty (v 3); the fact of His meekness (v 4); the fitness of His reign (v 6); the fragrance of His garments (v 8); the favor of His company (v 15); the forever of His memorial (v 17). Verse 8 is very precious, “All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces…” These fragrances all come from a tree and are produced through crushing. How can we miss Calvary in this?
Myrrh was used in the priest’s anointing oil. It was in the gift of the wise men. Nicodemus used it in the burial of the Lord. This precious fragrance was first of all for God. If we had been crushed under His wrath, there would have been nothing but a stench arise to His throne, but the crushing of the Lord Jesus resulted in the sweetest fragrance that could ever reach God. The bitterness of the myrrh was for Christ alone, the fragrance of the myrrh is first of all for God and then for us to enjoy.
The Spread of the Sweetness
If we “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us,” then we will be “unto God a sweet savor of Christ.” This should be our first desire: that a sweet fragrance of Christ should ascend to God from us. Only then can we be “a sweet savor of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish” (2 Cor 2:15).