By Paco Villalpando
Of the 5 senses that God has given us, one of my favorites is the sense of smell. This powerful sense keeps us from consuming foods that could make us sick, attracts us to people, and also keeps us away from things that are not good for us. I especially love this sense early in the morning when I turn on my Keurig and start that first cup of coffee. The pleasing scent that rises out of that steaming cup lifts me up and gives me wings (okay, so not literally).
Ephesians 5:2 says, “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was confined by the parameters of time and location in regards to the worship of God. Sacrifices and offerings were designated to certain days and weeks of the Jewish calendar. These were done for the atoning of sins and also as a way of worshipping and giving thanks to God. The sacrifices and offerings had to be presented to the high priests. Animal sacrifices were laid on the altar where they would be consumed by fire, and the aroma would rise up to God; when the sacrifice was acceptable, it was a pleasing scent to Him. On the flip side, when a person presented a defective animal and it was laid on the altar, its burnt smell was a displeasing scent before God. Worship therefore, through sacrifice and offerings, became an aroma and scent that rose up to God.
In Romans 12:1 we read, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Thanks to Jesus, through His giving up His life on the cross and through His resurrection, we now have complete atonement for our sins and forgiveness through His blood. We no longer have to animals to the altar to cover our sins; He has conquered sin once and for all.
However, the idea of worship through sacrifice and offerings is still very present to the believer. Romans 12:1 shows us that we are to present our bodies as “living sacrifices” which is how we worship the Father. This offering up of ourselves is a denial to the desires of our flesh and human nature. In church, we teach that worship is a lifestyle, not just the style of songs that we play. Worship is living in obedience and self-denial for someone that is greater than us: Christ. When we live for ourselves and seek to satisfy all our fleshly desires, we are bowing down and giving in to our sinful humanity. We worship ourselves. God cannot look at this in an approving way: it is a displeasing scent to Him.
When we offer up our lives on the altar and live in obedience, we are engaging in true and genuine spiritual worship. That aroma rises up to the Father in the same way that Christ became a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. This understanding helps us to be aware that wherever we go, we are dispelling a spiritual scent—whether it’s pleasing or displeasing to God. Living a life in the Spirit and producing the fruit of the Spirit make a believer’s life fragrant.
All of us believers are invited to offer up our lives and engage in spiritual worship of God. As we live by denying ourselves, we become a pleasing and fragrant offering to God; and it also serves as a method of evangelism since God “…uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14).