Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What is YOUR Aroma Before the Lord?

What is YOUR Aroma Before the Lord?
By Rev. Greg Schermerhorn, October 17, 2012

Ephesians 5:1–2 (NKJV)
1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Romans 12:1–2 (NKJV)
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I’m going to start this article by asking you a question:
How are you living your life?  In light of the Scripture passages I started the article with, Ephesians 5:1-2 and Romans 12:1-2:
Have you considered your aroma before the Lord? You know, the aroma of your heart.
·        Is it the pleasant, sweet smelling aroma of an offering? 
·        Is it the stench of unconfessed sin in your life?

I know it’s a pointed question, a sharp question, but sometimes Scripture demands a response from us.  The writer of Hebrews said:
Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

God’s Word is absolutely true, inspired, inerrant, and infallible.  It is living and powerful because it is God’s Word. As such, it has the power to convict on its own without man’s intervention. If you have any doubts, just listen to some of the testimonies given to us by the Gideons of men and women who have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  For them just reading the Bible so convicted them of their need for salvation that God directed them to the passages they needed without human intervention.  As a two edged sword, the Bible cuts both ways, away from you and back towards you.  In other words, Scripture has the power to ward off the devil and his demons, as well as the power to convict you of your own sins.
Praise God that we have a Savior that has paid the price for our sins once and for all time.  He has overcome the world, He has overcome sin, He has overcome death, and He is seated at God the Father’s right hand interceding for us even now.  Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, all of our sins.  All the sins we have committed in the past, and all of them that we will ever commit.  There will never need to be another sacrifice to pay for anyone’s sins ever again.  His one death on the cross, His one burial, and His one resurrection from the dead are sufficient for all mankind for all time.
Hebrews 7:26–27 (NKJV)
26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

The Apostle Paul spent a lot of time breaking down the theological details of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection for his readers in the first eleven chapters of the book of Romans.  Now, he ties it all together in these first two verses of chapter 12. He starts verse one not by saying “I command you, brethren” but by saying, “I beseech you, brethren.” While Paul had apostolic authority, he wanted the motivation for his urging to be love because of what God had done for mankind. Paul wanted his readers to understand that they didn't need to serve Christ in order to receive his mercy because they had already received it.
Romans 5:17 (NLT)
17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.

Paul urged his readers to present their bodies as a living sacrifice that was holy and acceptable to God. With this request, Paul was drawing on imagery that his readers would understand. For us, we will have to take ourselves back 2000 years ago to understand that same imagery of the sacrifice.

To have a sacrifice would require a priest. It would also require something to be sacrificed. In the Jewish context, there were sin offerings, peace offerings, love offerings, goodwill offerings, and so on. These offerings could have been animals, grains, wines, and such depending upon the purpose of the offering. All of the items being sacrificed would have to have been first-fruits and unblemished. The last major component is that they would have to be freely given to the Lord.

Now, when we look back at verse one, Paul's language makes more sense to us today. Words do have meaning, so we need to take care to study them in their proper context. Paul urgently requested that his Christian brothers and sisters present themselves as living sacrifices. His request that they willingly offer themselves and become a living sacrifice was a reasonable act of worship because God had been so gracious and merciful to them. They were also to present themselves in a manner that was holy and acceptable. 

They could do this through the office of the priesthood of the believer.  All of us who are saved are a part of Christ's royal priesthood. This is not to be confused with Aaron’s priestly line.
1 Peter 2:5 (NKJV)
5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We all can come boldly before the throne of grace because of what Jesus did for us. It's not because of who we are, what we know, where we go to church, what we have given money to, or any other activity or deed. We can only come before God's holy throne because of the shed blood of Jesus. Remember the veil was torn at the Holy of Holies in the Temple when Jesus died on the cross.

Warren Wiersbe said, “As priests, we are to present ‘spiritual sacrifices’ to God.  The first sacrifice He wants each day is our body, mind, and will in total surrender to Him.” [1]
Hebrews 13:15–16 (NKJV)
15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

As a New Testament living sacrifice, we’re not just ritually holy like an Old Testament sacrifice. If you're saved, you are truly holy because you're covered by the blood of the lamb, Jesus, the sinless Son of God.  When God the Father looks at you, He can’t see your past sins.  He only sees that you have been covered by the blood of His Son and that you are forgiven and covered by His grace.  In fact, you can look at it like this, you were once “dead” in sin, but now you are alive in Christ and living in your eternal life.

The true attitude of worship is giving our all to God. When we present our bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God, we are presenting our all. When we present the all of our being as a living sacrifice; our time, our talent, and our treasure will follow where our heart has already gone.  It’s been said that the Christian who fails in life is the one who has first failed at the altar, refusing to surrender completely to Christ.[2]

Paul continues in verse two by admonishing his readers not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. This is also an interesting passage. Every Christian is either a conformer, living for and like the world, or as a transformer, daily becoming more like Christ.[3]Paul doesn't want believers to be conformed or molded to the image of the world.  He doesn’t want us carried away by the beliefs, the philosophies, the methodologies, and the strategies of the corrupt world in which we live.
1 Corinthians 3:18–19 (ESV)
18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,”

1 Corinthians 1:25–28 (NLT)
25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.

Paul's goal for us is the same as God's goal for us. It is transformation through the renewing of our minds.  The consistent and deliberate act of the renewing of the mind of the believer is an act of submission to the will of God. This process begins at the moment of salvation and it continues as long as you maintain a growing relationship with the Lord. So what does that mean? It means that to maintain a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, you must feed yourself by reading your Bible daily, you must pray consistently, and you must surrender your will to God daily, if not even hour by hour and minute by minute. 

As you consistently submit yourself to God and seek to do His will, you will continue to grow more spiritually mature, your mind is constantly renewed, and you will be continually spiritually energized because you are becoming more Christ-like. You will also come to a point that you realize that God's will, God's desires, God's motives, and God's values are really what are best for you in the way you live your life because His way is complete.
2 Corinthians 4:16 (NKJV)
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

One should take notice that transformation is a process. It's not something that happens instantaneously. While it starts at the moment of salvation, transformation will continue for a lifetime. Transformation is the process of becoming Christ-like. It is a process that will never be complete because you'll never be fully Christ. You can only be like Christ, but you want be as much like Christ is you can be! This is part of spiritual maturity. Roy Zuck compared this process to metamorphosis. You know about metamorphosis, it’s the process of a caterpillar forming a cocoon and transforming into a butterfly. Transformation is a process that works from the inside out. It's also a process that has no shortcuts. Feeding yourself daily with Scripture, prayer, and obedience to the Lord are keys to the renewing of your mind and the transformation process so that you can grow more spiritually mature.
The final part of verse two is a benefit of being transformed by the renewing of your mind. By feeding yourself a steady diet of Scripture, by praying consistently, and by being in submission to God's will, you now have the tools to be able to prove what is good and acceptable and within that perfect will of God. The idea here is that the renewed mind can discover and put into action the will of God.

So, you may be asking, “How can I know the will of God?” That's an excellent question. I promise you there's no secret formula, and there’s no 3 or 5 point plan that will lay it all out for you. However, what I can promise you is this:  that by doing four things, you can develop a relationship with the Lord that will help you to understand His will in most situations. These four things are not earth shattering tasks.  They are four simple and humble tasks that will help you to know God and grow through the renewing of your mind.  You might want to write them down.

Number 1:  Read Scripture daily, consistently, and systematically. This will make you familiar with God's word so you know what it says:  His judgments, His blessings, His love, His mercy, and His grace. In other words, read all of it. Take delight in God's word.
Psalm 119:16 (NKJV)
16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.

Number 2:  Memorize key verses and passages. Hide God's word in your heart. It will help you defeat the devil and turn away from temptation.
            Psalm 119:11 (NKJV)
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

Number 3:  Pray daily and pray consistently.  Develop a prayer relationship with the Father. And don't just do all the talking. Sometimes you just need to unload and then listen for God’s response.
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (NKJV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Number 4:  Test all things. By this point, you should be reading Scripture, memorizing Scripture, and praying consistently.  Test and verify everything against Scripture. When you're unsure what Scripture means, use a parallel Scripture passage to interpret the one you're unsure of. There are no contradictions in the word of God. God will never lead you to violate Scripture and Scripture will never lead you to violate God's will.
1 Thessalonians 5:19–22 (NKJV)
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

These four disciplines will help you to discern God's will in most situations. Remember, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Neither God, nor His word, ever contradict each other. If that ever happens, then you know that whatever the issue is, it's not from Him.
Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

So what can we take away from this study? Are we living our lives as a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God? Is God pleased with the aroma of our heart? Does it have the pleasant aroma of a living sacrifice that is being lived out to honor and glorify Him? Or does it have the stench of unconfessed sin upon it?  They are tough questions that we need to answer after an honest evaluation.  If you need to confess sin, do it and resolve to become a living sacrifice.  If you don’t know Jesus as Lord, then now is the time of salvation. 

Developing a personal relationship with Jesus is as easy as A-B-C:
A-Admit you are a sinner.  Repent and turn away from your sin.
Acts 3:19 (NKJV)
19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

B-Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and receive God’s gift of forgiveness from sin.
Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

C-Confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior.
Romans 10:9–10, 13 (NKJV)
9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992), 400.
[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992), 399.
[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992), 399.