What does it mean to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere?
The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the CORINTHIANS – Chapter 2
1 For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you.
2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained?
3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all.
4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. – 2 Corinthians 2:1-4
The true love that feels pain when the one you love is hurting even if that hurt is because of their behaviour. Paul did not want to add to the pain the Corinthians were experiencing. He was moved to tears because of the love he had for them. May the Lord give us the heart of flesh that is moved with compassion. Jesus wept when the people he loved did not trust Him and have faith that He knew best. When Martha blamed Him for her brother’s death even though she believed Hw could have raised Lazarus from the dead. When Jesus looked a Jerusalem.
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it,
42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side
44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” – Luke 19:41-44
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! – Luke 13:34
Lord give us your heart today. May we be filled with mercy and compassion.
5 Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure-not to put it too severely-to all of you.
6 For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough,
7 so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
8 So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. – 2 Corinthians 2:5-8
Paul is echoing the reap what you sow principle.
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. – Galatians 6:7-8
Is someone in the church had caused Paul pain then that person has caused himself and the church pain. The church should discipline the person but with a heart of love and reconciliation. Condemning a person could lead to the person being “overwhelmed with sorrow”. The heart of the Lord is to restore us to Fellowship to reconcile us to Himself that we might be one with Him and receive all the blessings He wants to shower on us. Everything should be done by love, in love and for the love of Christ.
9 For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything.
10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ,
11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. – 2 Corinthians 2:9-11
Interesting that Paul has the right to test a church. Last night Tim spoke of challenging churches as he travels and asked us some searching questions. Why did Jesus come? To do the will of the Father? Why did Jesus do many works? Do we do the Father’s work?
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. John 5:30 (KJV)
Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” – John 6:29
37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me;
38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” – John 10:37-38
21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” – Luke 10:21-22
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. – John 8:42
What is God’s will? That we love Him with all our heart and love our brothers as ourselves. That we forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us. (Seven times seventy we forgive the same sin in one day!!!) That we expose the lies of Satan and reveal the Truth in the person of Jesus.
12 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord,
13 my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia. – 2 Corinthians 2:12-13
This raises the issue of objective and subjective leadings of God through the Holy Spirit. Paul has become aware of and open door which he believed was an opportunity the Lord had provided. However, Paul was aware how important Fellowship and the body of Christ is and he did not feel led to “go it alone”. So objectively an door of opportunity was opened but subjectively Paul did not have peace. Which rules in our lives? Objective or subjective? Well some say to know the Lord’s will you need 1) a personal direction from Him 2) that is confirmed by the body of Christ through prayer and fellowship and 3) the peace of God resting in our hearts on the issue. A threefold chord, not easily broken. Paul did not have peace so he held back from ministering and moved on to Macedonia. So looks like it is a mix of objective and subjective, which makes sense, seeing God has created both for His purposes.
14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,
16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? – 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
When the Lord leads us on a triumphant procession the heavens and the earth will see His redemptive glory manifest. We will be the eternal proof that Christ conquered death. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords will head the procession at His second coming when every one will see He is Lord. And with Him will be the captives He set free and have eternal life in Him. We will be the sweet smelling savour of life and love. But to those who have rejected the Son of God there will be a great fear, a fragrance of death. Even now as we manifest the Kingdom of God on the earth people will either perceive us as a sweet fragrance of hope or a sour fragrance of condemnation and death because they would rather believe Satan’s lies. In the Roman triumph parade the incense they burnt gave of a wonderful fragrance that the watching crowd would enjoy but for the captured prisoners is was the fragrance of death as they were being led to their execution. One fragrance two perceptions. One Jesus, one Lord, Saviour and Judge. The Gospel is the message of salvation to some and the message of condemnation to those who reject it.
For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. – 2 Corinthians 2:17
What does it mean to peddle God’s word? Well we have an example in Simon. He had come to believe in Jesus but when he saw people receiving the Holy Spirit his response was:
18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money,
19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 8:18-19
the Apostles were offended by Simon’s attitude and he repented. We can not sell the free gift of God but sadly many ministries are “cash cows” with more emphases on raising money than raising the dead, to life in Christ. We are to be sincere. Paul described Timothy as having sincere faith:
5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,
7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:5-7
We are commissioned by God to declare the Gospel with sincerity and Paul reminded Timothy that we do not have a spirit of fear but of power, love and self-control so we can speak in the sight of God, who knows us intimately, as we declare Christ to a fallen world.
1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. – Psalm 139:1-14
If God knows us so well we have no choice but to be sincere about His calling on our lives and to do His will.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.