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Daily Distinctives, April 25, 2015 (Eau de Vie)

April 25, 2015

Daily Reading:

[2Co 2:14 NKJV]
Now thanks [be] to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

[2Co 2:15 NKJV]
For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

[2Co 2:16 NKJV]
To the one [we are] the aroma of death [leading] to death, and to the other the aroma of life [leading] to life. And who [is] sufficient for these things?

[2Co 2:17 NKJV]
For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

Daily Distinctive:

When I was younger I read on the side of one my dad’s bottles of aftershave the words, “Eau de toilette,” and so I asked my dad what it meant. My dad spoke French as a part of his Marine Corps training during the Vietnam War where he served as an interpreter and interrogator for the Corps. I figured if anyone knew what it meant he would. I thought he was joking when he said, “It literally means ‘toilet water’.” I discovered that this was not joke, but the actual literal translation; however, the meaning is not literal in the sense that it does not come from a toilet, but rather, in the sense that it deals with hygiene and cleanliness. That is how my mind works. I will read something in the Bible and it will trigger an odd memory like the one I just shared. But it got me to thinking. In light of this passage would I¬†be toilet water or something more pure in the nostrils of the LORD? Would I be “Eau de toilette”¬†to God, because I have been washed by “Eau de Vie” (water of life)? And so from this starting point I set out to offer my time of devotion to the LORD to understand His WORD and how it applies to my own walk. Again, thank you for joining me. I hope you will be equally blessed by my journey.

[2Co 2:14 NKJV]
Now thanks [be] to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.

This verse gives me the confidence that when I am walking according to the will of God, I will never lack victory. I can always be thankful to God, for the LORD will have His perfect will in me as He works in me to sanctify me that He might use me as a vessel of honor to bring glory to Himself. The picture here is that of a parade. I have read that in Roman times the victorious armies of Rome would enter the city in a proud procession led by the general who would enter the city on a white steed wearing a special suit of armor that displayed the regalia of a conqueror. It was during this procession that incense would be burned to the Roman gods to honor them for aiding in the Roman victory.

Having grown up under two religious denominations in my home, neither of which were practiced with any true consistency, I got to see some pretty interesting things. My mother was raised Pentecostal and my father chose the denomination of my Great Grandfather who was Greek Orthodox. I didn’t know whether to genuflect or run down the isles of the church speaking in tongues! But I do remember going to the Greek Cathedral on Greek Easter and seeing the services. The priest would walk down the isle with this orb full of smoking incense and wave it to the left and the right in a motion that reminded me of a yo-yo on a string. The smell was pleasant, I do remember that. But this is what I picture when I read this verse. As believers we are like the incense that fills the place with a sweet smelling fragrance. When we share the WORD of God with others we are imparting the knowledge of the One whom by men must be saved.

[2Co 2:15 NKJV]
For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

Now this is an interesting verse because it clearly states we are to God the fragrance of Christ. When I¬†think of incense the first thing that comes to my mind is Smyrna. Seeing that Ancient Smyrna’s chief export was myrrh, which is a fragrant substance that comes from a thorny bush which was used to make incense, it would be fitting for the purpose of analogy. When we consider that Smyrna, in the letters to the churches in Revelation, was the church that was persecuted, and the fact that to get myrrh the thorny bush would have to be wounded to produce the sap that was cultivated from it, and the fact that it is quite possible that the thorns twisted into the crown that was placed on Jesus’ head could very well have come from this plant, this symbolism is quite fitting for this verse. After all, Christ suffered, was bruised for our transgressions and it is His atoning work that brings us into communion and fellowship with God. And because of Christ we are to God the fragrance of Christ.

Notice too that it says we are this fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved as well as to those who are perishing. Now some commentary’s suggest that to the victorious army, that I alluded to earlier would welcome the fragrant smell of the victory incense, but to the conquered who were led into the city in chains to be executed or enslaved, the same smell that meant victory to the victor was the smell of defeat and oppression to the captives. Still, in my opinion, I believe that the wisdom of God which we preach to those who are being saved, is like a sweet aroma; whereas, to those who deny the WORD of God and hear our preaching, to them, it is a foul smell. It is the same aroma, but it is perceived differently depending on who is receiving it.

[2Co 2:16 NKJV]
To the one [we are] the aroma of death [leading] to death, and to the other the aroma of life [leading] to life. And who [is] sufficient for these things?

Since we are to God the fragrance of Christ, when we preach His WORD to those who are perishing they cannot deny that our words point to their death. Not physical death, but spiritual death. Our message is clear, we speak what we have heard from the LORD¬†who says, “I am the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). This means that apart from Christ we have no hope or eternal security. When we deny Christ we deny the way, the truth, and the life. We will all live forever. Those who chose Christ and submit to the LORD will inherit eternal life in His presence. This is the hope of heaven in the resurrection. To those who deny Christ, they will inherit spiritual death, they will live in eternity apart from Christ this is the penalty for the unrepentant soul in the resurrection. And so to one, the WORD of God that we preach is life, to another, death.

And truly, who is sufficient for these things? The fact that I am even privileged to share the WORD of God from the perspective of a man who has been saved is so very humbling. I see my insufficiency and am all the more amazed that God would allow me to be a vessel worthy of dispensing the fragrance of God’s WORD. I know that Christ is my sufficiency and so it is Christ in me that makes me sufficient, and I think that is what Paul is saying here. I believe Paul understood what it truly meant to be a sinner saved by grace and by that very same grace made to be an instrument in the hands of the LORD to disseminate His WORD to all.

[2Co 2:17 NKJV]
For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

There are many today who I feel are merely peddling the WORD of God. This means that they are selling it. They are not sharing the WORD of God so that by it men might come to know the LORD, surrender, repent and be saved. They are prostituting the WORD for their own gain. Paul draws the line of demarkation here to differentiate those who hold the WORD of God with great fear or reverence from those who pervert the Scriptures for selfish profit.

Those who are authentic in their presentation of the Scriptures are sincere. This word “sincerity” ¬†is a derivative of Greek word, “eilikrinńďs” which literally translates “without wax.” To understand the meaning we must view the word in light of the historical context. In the day in age which Paul lived many people made their livings selling statues. Occasionally a piece of a statue would break off and the merchant would use wax to seal the peace back on (they didn’t have superglue back then). But for the merchant who was above board in his dealings with the public, he would stamp the word, “eilikrinńďs” on the statue to verify the integrity of the statue being wax free or unbroken. This is what the believer does who shares the WORD of God with an honest heart, to glorify God and not seek personal gain. He or she presents the truth of God’s WORD in sincerity under the watchful eye of God. This sends shivers up and down my spine. To know that even now, as I share the WORD of God, my proclamation of God’s WORD is under the scrutiny of the WORD Himself. No pressure right? And this is why I believe that James says, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). When we teach the WORD of God we are accountable for what we teach. It is God who bears witness to the motives behind what we do.

And so we should present the WORD with great care and diligence, seeking to preserve the integrity of the WORD of God and not malign the Scriptures either by ignorance or neglect, and certainly not for selfish gain. When we seek to honor God and handle His WORD with care we are a sweet aroma to the LORD. There is no greater satisfaction for me than to know that I am being made into a pleasant aroma for the Father. But I know that in order to extract the incense I too must be willing to suffer and be broken, just as Jesus,¬†who set the example, was willing and able. Apart from Christ I can’t even suffer right. My suffering is in vain if I am not suffering for the sake of Jesus. Anyone can suffer, but to suffer well, we must produce suffer with Christ, being conformed into His image by our fellowship in His suffering. Only then can we truly be sweet fragrance of God. We must drink¬†from the “Eau de Vie” in order to become the “Eau de toilette.”

Daily Muse:

There were many types of offerings mentioned in the Bible during the days of the Old Testament sacrificial system. One of the offerings was an incense offering. I read this article from the Christian Courier that was a great read. I would encourage you to check it out for yourself. What I thought was most interesting is that the smoke of the incense was viewed as a typology of our prayers to God. And so in light of this it is fitting that we should offer up our prayers along with our sacrifice to the LORD.

Daily Prayer:

LORD, I feel the urgency more and more each day to share Your WORD. This world seems to be falling apart all around us. I feel like we are, indeed, living in the last days. I know that each successive generation has felt the same urgency, but like labor pains of birth, it would appear that the “contractions” are coming more regularly and shorter in the time between each convulsive pain. LORD I pray that You would make and end to my season of preparation, if it be Your will, and send me to do that which You have purposed in me before the foundations of the world. You know my heart LORD, and You know that I don’t want to do anything apart from You, but I have this desire to push. I can’t explain it, but You know what I am talking about. LORD I pray that desire is from You and not from my flesh. LORD use me how You see fit. Give me confidence where I need confidence and caution where I must exercise caution. Don’t allow my fear and trepidation to inhibit my ability to be used by You. I thank You LORD for all You have given me and that is more than I could ever dream possible. Still, LORD, I know You have a mission and a plan for my life and I desire to not only walk in it, but to run! Be glorified in me LORD. Give Your servant the desires of his heart to honor You and share Your WORD to those who need it most. As for me, let me grow in my relationship with You daily as I study Your WORD and reflect on the Wisdom You have given me through it. Your WORD is so very precious and I am truly lost without it. I love You LORD because You love me. You are the WORD and I can’t live without You. Bless Your servant LORD. It is in Your name that I pray. ¬† -Amen

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