We've all had embarrassing aromas, where a foul whiff of gas escapes from us, like a stink bomb in an elevator. Or perhaps we haven't bathed in awhile. Or maybe we forgot deodorant. Or our breath is like an old tennis shoe, and fellow players back away from us.
Since smells cause attraction or aversion among the people we hope to impress, what causes believers who profess God to become fetid smoke in His Nostrils?
Other than our unclean, before-Christ selves, consider a few possibilities:
1) Pride. Starting with Satan and throughout God's Word, the effects or pride are painfully clear. When the church exalts anyone but Christ, the exalted one must not accept it, trust it, act it, or relish man's applause. A whiff of pride can enchant its wearers.*
2) Hypocrisy. Is an atheist more pleasing to God than a hypocritical believer? Yes, because sincerity is crucial and he isn't misrepresenting God. Because phony saints give Christ a bad rep, religious fraud is abhorrent to Him. Hypocrisy is a short-term perfume.**
3) Sin. Because unrepentant sin leads to death, the practice of sin (without repentance) is like living with an infected wound. At first, the unpleasant smell is subtle. As it spreads, the stench becomes worse and worse. Sin has an increasingly strong odor.***
4) Backsliding. To know the Truth and turn away from Him is a determined act of rebellion. Turning away from God and toward sin starts with seemingly small compromises. But bad steps can lead into a death-trap, and death is not a positive fragrance****.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Only in the robe of righteousness can you please the Nose of your Maker.
To Be Continued...
* Pride: 'You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God... You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you... Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground' (Ezekiel 28:12-13, 14-15, 17).
** Hypocrisy: 'Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness' (Matthew 23:25-28).
*** Sin: 'What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man' (Mark 7:20-23).
**** Backsliding: 'If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred Command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: 'A dog returns to its vomit,' and, 'A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud' ' (2 Peter 2:20-22)
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Self-Examination series.