Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? (II Cor. 2:14-16, NASB)
ALL sin, even the not so obvious, outward sin, still stinks. And the fact is, ALL sin leads to death, whether we can smell it or not (Romans 5:12, James 1:14-15).
It’s easy to distinguish the stinky-ness of sin when lives are shattered like the lives of the men, women, and children lined up at the rescue mission for a free meal and a hot cup of coffee on a cold November day. Family and close friends can smell the acrid odor caused by addiction and a life of sin. However, when there is no physical evidence glaring at us filling our nostrils, we don’t realize how much sin reeks!
Just as the recent TV commercial describes it, we’ve become “nose-blind.” Our spiritual olfactory system has malfunctioned, so we walk through our neighborhoods, down the aisles of our churches, through the crowds in the mall, or among the tired moms and dads buying groceries at the end of a busy workday, and we fail to notice the stench of spiritual sickness, filth, and death.
Why is it that our sense of spiritual smell is so defective? The Bible reveals to us that detecting the putrefying scent of sin beyond the physical, requires a heightened spiritual sense, acquired only through the practice of the spiritual disciplines, pursuing “the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7), and seeking after wisdom. Recognizing sin in our own lives, our own families and our own churches, in our neighborhoods and nation, requires knowing and understanding what God has to say about sin and its consequences. It means learning to recognize the aroma of spiritual death hovering over those who are running toward death. These dear people are victims of the evil one, deceived by their own desires, and headed straight toward hell itself. We must have our “senses trained to discern good and evil,” as the writer of Hebrews states (5:14).
Unless we are trained to detect such odor and to respond boldly, people are going die, not just physically, as we see so often by the opioid epidemic killing our nation’s children. People are going to die spiritually and be eternally separated from God, lost for eternity in hell and darkness, by merely ignoring God and pursuing their own way! It is our responsibility to warn them, to “hold them back” as the Old Testament sages recorded in Proverbs 24:11. We cannot save them ourselves. We can only point them to Jesus “who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue (them) from this present evil age” (Gal. 1:4)! But which of us is adequate for such a task?
The answer is this: Christ has redeemed us to be “blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16). It is not of ourselves but “God who is at work in (us)” (Phil. 2:13). We find our adequacy in Christ Who has “equipped us for every good work” (II Tim. 3:17) and will supply all that we need to accomplish His purpose (Phil. 4:19).
Kim Olachea has been a pastor’s wife for 35 years in NC, GA, and NJ. In 2017, she launched a new ministry for pastor’s wives, Pastor’s Wives, EveryDay Lives, and is the founder of ProverbWise, her writing and speaking ministry to encourage the body of Christ, the church, to walk in wisdom, living out the Gospel in the world. She is an entrepreneur and member of the North American Leadership Team for ABWE. She is actively involved with the soul care team component of ABWE – NA to serve pastors, church planters, and missionary families. Kim and her husband, Joe, currently serve at Lakes Community Chapel in Medford, NJ, where they have been for nearly 17 years. They have five adult children and seven beautiful, practically-perfect grandchildren.