Diffusing the Aroma of Christ 

Hope for Today (English)
Hope for Today (English)
Diffusing the Aroma of Christ 

II Cor. 2:12-17 

Welcome to another lesson from II Corinthians. We are so glad you joined us. Our title today is Diffusing the Aroma of Christ, and it is taken from II Cor 2. Here is Pastor J Mark for today’s teaching.  

“Essential oils” are almost as old as human history. These oils are compounds that are derived or extracted from plants, especially herbs, and then they’re mixed with a carrier oil to make them usable. Today, essential oils are used in aromatherapy or applied directly to the skin.  

One way to use essential oils is in a diffuser. Diffusers spread tiny, microscopic oil droplets into the air where they can be inhaled. Studies have shown that “Inhaling the aromas from essential oils can stimulate areas of your limbic system. That’s a part of your brain that affects emotions, behaviors, sense of smell, and long-term memory.” The limbic system also plays a role in controlling breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.  

The Scriptures talk about you and me as followers of Christ being diffusers of His fragrance or aroma. And that’s what we want to explore in our study today, “Diffusing the Aroma of Christ.” Our text is Second Corinthians 2:12 to 17.  

12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, a door was opened to me by the Lord,  

13 I had no rest in my spirit because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia. 

14 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. 

15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.  

16 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?  

17 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. 

This Scripture reveals to us the SETTINGS in which we’re called to diffuse the aroma of Christ.  

The First SETTING (in which we diffuse the aroma of Christ) is,  

In Anxious Expectation 

The apostle Paul was committed to Jesus. He was willing to endure any hardship or struggle, even to the point of death. He also cared deeply for the people in the church at Corinth. But as a human, he became tired, annoyed, frustrated, and discouraged. 

As our text opens, we find him in a state of anxiety. He is in Troas and has an open door of ministry before him. You would think he would be overjoyed to walk through that door, but he wasn’t. He did begin ministry in Troas, but he was so overcome by anxiety about what was happening in Corinth, that he left for Macedonia in search of Titus.  

  We may think of Paul as super-spiritual, perhaps even superhuman, but he wasn’t. James says of the prophet Elijah, “he was a man with a nature just like ours…” So was Paul. In this case, he allowed his anxiety to get the best of him. And we’ll learn that his anxiety was unnecessary.  

When my wife, Joyce, was diagnosed with cancer we were deeply concerned. But we had confidence that God knew about this before we did, and we wanted Him to be glorified in our response. We wanted the aroma of Christ to be diffused from our lives. Joyce, especially, touched many people through this experience through her cheerful attitude and her trust in God. And she continues to do that as she praises God for her recovery and good health.  

How do you deal with pressures and concerns in life? Do you allow your anxiety to distract you from the work at hand, constraining the aroma of Christ? Or are you able to spread that aroma even in anxious expectation?   

Another SETTING (in which we diffuse the aroma of Christ) is,  

In Joyful Celebration 

Verse fourteen shows the potential for dramatic change in our emotions. From anxiousness, restlessness of spirit, and despair to exuberant joy and gratitude. What made the difference? Paul received a good report from Titus about the Believers in Corinth. That report transformed his whole outlook.   

Despite all Paul’s worry and stress, God’s work was continuing at Corinth. I believe that’s the motivation for this outburst of praise. It sprang from Paul’s deep-seated conviction that God’s work in and through him, regardless of the appearance of a setback, was proceeding triumphantly. Jesus Christ is continuing to advance His work. He is building His church, and the gates of hell are not prevailing against it. You and I need to remember that too!   

I like the way the English Standard Version translates verse fourteen. “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.” 

Paul’s readers would’ve immediately understood the word picture he was drawing. They were familiar with a Roman victory parade. The victorious general returning from war, entered the city in a special chariot. He was preceded by the captives and spoils taken in the war. He was followed by his troops shouting “Triumph!” as they proceeded along the sacred way to the Capitol. As the procession made its way through the streets, the priests of Jupiter carried burning censers, leaving fragrant clouds of incense to float over the throng of spectators.  

On occasions like this, temples were all thrown open, garlands of flowers decorated every shrine, and incense smoked on every altar. The victor and his adoring followers were greeted with clouds of fragrant perfume.  

Paul describes himself and us as trophies of the Redeemer’s conquest. But we haven’t been conquered by force, we’ve been conquered by love. As God leads His prisoners of war in a victory parade, He spreads the knowledge of Christ everywhere through them. In Roman processions, the prisoners were dejected and bitter, but those conquered by Christ’s love were not dejected, but jubilant! So, from Paul’s lips comes overflowing thanksgiving to God. 

Today, it is through you and me, our character, and our work that God diffuses the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere!  

Wherever you go, people should experience the aroma of Christ. Are you courteous and friendly, with a ready smile for those you meet? How you respond to an irritating neighbor or a disgruntled family member should spread the fragrance of Jesus. Can you ignore rudeness or disrespect and still respond as Jesus would? These things spread the aroma of Jesus to a world that so desperately needs Him.  

But not everyone will respond positively to the aroma of Christ. To some, we become an odor of “death leading to death.” I understand this to mean from the death of Christ, that the apostles preached in the gospel, to the eternal death of those who reject it.  

Others respond positively to the fragrance of Christ, and they receive life. “Life leading to life” means from the resurrection of Christ that is preached in the gospel, to the eternal life of those who believe. Their life will be transformed, and the aroma of Christ will spread further. 

Is your life diffusing the aroma of Christ in a joyful celebration? Or are you like the conquered Roman captives, dejected, hopeless, and forlorn? To be a genuine Christ-follower requires full surrender, but He promised us that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.  

The Final SETTING (in which we diffuse the aroma of Christ) is,  

In Sincere Proclamation 

In verse sixteen, Paul asks, “Who is sufficient for these things?” None of us, in ourselves, are sufficient. But someone must proclaim the Gospel and God has called you and me, despite our imperfections, to take up the task.  

In verse seventeen Paul writes “We are not like those who are ‘peddlers’ of God’s Word…” The imagery here is of wine dealers who were notoriously corrupt in their business dealings. They added water to the wine to increase the amount they could sell. Or they would mix new wine with old wine, and then sell it as old wine at a higher price.  

Paul accuses the false teachers at Corinth of doing similar things with the Gospel, diluting it, or twisting it for the sake of popularity or financial gain. He reminds his readers that “we,” the apostles, are unlike that.  

Today, there is pressure to make the Gospel more appealing to both Believers and unbelievers and to dilute the hard sayings of Jesus. To preach a gospel that requires nothing of those who profess to follow Jesus. To change the aroma of Christ.   

Some promote the Gospel as an escape from eternal punishment but require no corresponding life change. No “denying oneself, taking up the cross, and following.” Others, preach a view of God as a benevolent grandfather handing out an unlimited supply of candy to his grandchildren with no thought for their long-term health or wellbeing. I fear that many who embrace these diluted forms of the Gospel will realize too late that they’ve embraced a false gospel that leads only to death.  

Paul was commissioned by God, he was responsible to God, and he was empowered by Christ. We don’t have the visibility or position like the apostle Paul, but we have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We have a responsibility to spread the aroma of Christ through the sincere proclamation of His truth.  

Are you diffusing the aroma of Christ to those around you? Are you allowing your anxieties to hinder the spread of that aroma? Are you diffusing the aroma of Christ in a joyful celebration? Is your life spreading the fragrance of Christ throughout your sphere of influence?  

And finally, are you diffusing the aroma of Christ in your sincere proclamation of the Gospel? Are you and I, like the apostle Paul, “not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes?” May God enable us by His grace to diffuse the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.  

Thanks, J Mark for these good lessons from II Corinthians chapter 2. You have given us good things to think about, I like and appreciate how your teaching is so practical. Here are several points that stood out to me. We all know what it is like to be anxious. Not all of us have had cancer, like J Mark’s wife Joyce, but can we trust Christ through our experiences? Whatever it is that is causing you fear or anxiety, can you trust God?  

I hope that each of us has had joyful celebrations. When we experience good times do we take Christ with us? He is not God just when life is difficult, He is with us always and we must always lift Him up. Then the third area was also very practical. When we teach and share Christ we must share truthfully. No twisting the word or teaching Christ so we benefit. The Bible has harsh words for people who do this. Thanks again J Mark for this practical teaching.   

If you would like a copy of today’s teaching just let us know, and we will get it to you in any form you would like, just contact us, and ask for it by title. You can contact us via our website heraldsofhope.org. On our website, you can find other similar teaching, so please look around while you are there. Again, the website is heraldsofhope.org. Another way to contact us is via email, our email is [email protected]. You can also write to us; a pencil and paper don’t need electricity or data. Our address is Hope for Today, Box 3 Breezewood, Pennsylvania 15533. We would love to hear from you.   

 Thanks again for joining us. Lord willing next week we will be together for another lesson from II Corinthians. I leave you with Paul’s parting words from this book, “Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”  

*This episode is an exposition by J. Otis Yoder, re-recorded by J. Mark Horst, with an opening and closing by Arlin Horst.

Receive Weekly Encouragement

Sign-up to get a sermon straight to your inbox on a weekly basis!