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A Sweet Smelling Savor, part 1
This week I would like us to take a look at Ephesians 4:17-32. Specifically we are going to be looking at and trying to understand what it is to be a sweet smelling savor unto the Lord. But just before we get to those verses I want us to take a few moments and recall a couple of issues in the verses prior to these.
It’s been a while ago: but do you remember what I taught concerning the triumphal entry Jesus made into His Father’s presence? Ephesians 4:8 “When He ascended on high, He led captives in His train and gave gifts to men.” In that study, we compared Christ’s triumphal march to how earthly kings marched through the streets with their captors in chains following them. The victorious leader would throw gifts to those in the audience. When Christ ascended on high, He too led captives, but not in chains: the captive He led were now free from bondage, and He too gave gifts to men. The difference being that the gifts Jesus gave were to the former captives. Then the gifted ones (the former slaves to sin), were to use their gifts to further the Kingdom of God. This addresses how we serve the Lord – with our gifts, building upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets.
Isn’t that an interesting thing to think about? It would be similar to our ticker-tape parades. In the Old Testament times, and actually in much of the early New Testament times, when the victorious leader would return they had fanfare with people on the sidelines cheering him on, his prisoners humbly walking behind him while he is throwing gifts to the audience from the spoils of those he had conquered.
There is one other issue regarding these triumphal entries and that is incense. “The highest honor that could be bestowed on a Roman citizen or magistrate was the triumphal procession in which a victorious general passed from the gate of the city to the capitol. The streets were strewn with flowers, and the altars smoked with incense” (From The New Unger's Bible Dictionary). Not only did the earthly victor strut throughout the city leading his captives and giving gifts to men, but also in the procession there were those who would carry vessels of incense. The incense being diffused everywhere spoke of the victory of the leader. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
Now let’s go back to Ephesians chapter 4. Ephesians 4:10 “He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.” "In order to fill the whole universe" - Some commentaries state that this means that Christ is the fountain from where all blessings flow, referring primarily to the gifts He dispensed. I believe it also applies to the issue of incense. He ascended in order to fill the whole universe with His aroma, as we shall later see from the Song of Solomon. 2 Corinthians 2:15 states, “… we are the aroma of Christ…” and we spread that aroma through our life style.
Now we are finally going to get to the second half of Ephesians 4. Ephesians 4:17 “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.” This addresses’ our life style. The first thing we have to do is change our thinking. We must no longer live as the Gentiles did, in the futility of their thinking.
Ephesians 4:18-19 “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”
In the first part of this chapter Paul dealt with how we serve Christ through our giftings, now he is dealing with how we emulate Christ through our lifestyle. Ephesians 4:29-32 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Do you see that? Our lifestyles are to spread the aroma of Christ throughout this world.
It seems as though Paul is making a transition in his own mind of how he sees himself. In the first half of this chapter he sees himself in the procession of Christ’s triumphal entry as one of the captives, set free from sin, and yet a prisoner of the Lord. He begins this chapter by stating that he is a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is in full view as a demonstration of the greatness of the victory of Christ.
Medication: A Merry Heart
A mom was driving her five year old son to McDonald’s one day and they passed a car accident. Whenever the Mom saw something terrible like that, she would always say a prayer for those who might be hurt, so she pointed and said to her son, “We should pray.”
From the back seat she heard his earnest request: “Please, God, don’t let those cars block the entrance to McDonald’s.”
St Mark’s Community Church, Janesville
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
Today’s readings: Matthew 9 – 10