2 Corinthians 2:15-16 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
As followers of Christ, we represent the Lord whether for good or for bad. What we say and do can have an impact on the faith of other people because we’re agents of God, and for some, the only thing they’ll know of the gospel. But truth be told, sometimes when we’re at our best, that is, most rightly representing Jesus, people will hate us. Some people will hate us, not because of something we did wrong, but because of something right in us. Some people are repelled by the aroma of Christ.
Some will experience the gospel message through us and turn to God, others will sense the gospel message in us and turn away. The thing is, it’s not our job to make sure that every person gets just the right scent, it’s our job to represent Christ in all we say and do. Some people will be turned off from this, and there’s nothing we can do about it. We do none of this on our own. The responsibility of being a representation of Christ is huge and we just aren’t sufficient in our own strength to carry that out. The Holy Spirit works in us to make sure that those who will turn to Him see what they need to see.
Romans 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Let’s recap: Every single one of us has sinned. We’re all guilty before a perfect God and have no chance at perfection. But there’s a hero to this story. There’s a Redeemer who sets us free from the condemnation that’s owed to us. We have been forgiven if we’ve put our trust in Christ Jesus.
The work of Jesus Christ on the cross accomplished what you and I could never achieved for ourselves. Under the Law, we could never reach the expectations of a holy God who requires perfection. The Law is restrictive, Christ is freeing. We’ve been freed from sin and empowered to obey, but we’ll still never make it to the perfection the Law requires. We’re still human. God knew we would never live up to the Law. It’s why He sent His Son to fulfill the Law that we might be freed from it’s bondage. Now it serves as a reminder that we need Him every single day.
We all have that choice to make. Just because we have been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean we live effective lives. We have to choose each day to listen to God’s voice as He directs us. The only way to truly be effective for God’s purposes is to set aside the many pleasures this world has to offer for the sake of doing what we’re called to do. Love. You want to please God? Love. You want to do what’s right? Love. Freedom from the Law is freedom to walk in love, and in doing so to fulfill the Law.
Submission to God means seeking first what He wants. The truth that isn’t always communicated in the church environment is that following Jesus is hard. It’s not all about how you can get what you want and live like there’s not a care in the world. There are struggles and battles to be faced. The good news is, He knows better than we do what’s good for us anyway.
God’s children live differently than the rest of the world. We’re not concerned with the things that burden the lost. We’re able to walk in a godly confidence because we know that the Lord is all-powerful and He is good. When you surrender your life over to Jesus Christ. God takes what was once dead and makes it alive (Ephesians 2:5). If you are His, He’s brought you to life because now it’s no longer you who live, but Christ in you (Galatians 2:20).
In case it hasn’t been clear: It’s only God who gives life to our mortal bodies. We’re incapable of living on our own. Without Him we’re the walking dead, going through the motions but not really living. With Him there’s no end to the possibilities.
Romans 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
To be caught up in worldly things is to be ineffective as a follower of Jesus Christ. We can’t serve two masters, though many have tried. The simple truth is that our allegiances can’t be split between the flesh and the Spirit. To live life as a Christian, we have to walk with the Spirit.
If anyone knew about worldly pleasures, it was Paul’s audience in Rome. A church of relatively new believers (Christianity hadn’t been around long!), they were essentially in the capitol of the world. Rome had so many things to offer to distract the Christians from their calling as disciples. They had to choose whether they wanted to live like the Romans (When in Rome…) or life the lives God had in mind for them.
We all have that choice to make. Just because we have been saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean we live effective lives. We have to choose each day to listen to God’s voice as He directs us. We have to choose to read His Word so we know more about His nature and His will. We have to take the time to pray so that we can hear from Him and speak to Him. We have to have intentional relationships with others and we have to put aside some of our own desires for the sake of reaching people. All of these choices require us to deny the other things calling out to us.
Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
What comes next? Sanctification is the process by which God prepares us to be in His presence, but there is a moment in time at which that process is completed – death. This seems a morbid topic to speak of, but death is part of the sanctification process for a Christian, not punishment. Though we die because of sin, death is a positive thing for the believer.
Our experience of death completes our union with Christ. He died and to be like Him we must also die. He conquered death and therefore when we experience death we become closer to Him and begin the final aspect of salvation – glorification. We leave this body and join the Lord in our real home (2 Corinthians 5:8), where there will be no more sorrow and no more tears (Revelation 21:4). We’ll become who we were really meant to be, in the bodies we were really meant to have. And we’ll never know death again.