Summary: A sermon on the fragrance of Christ based on 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (Outline adapted from Sermon Central Contributor Wayner Burnett; some information and illustrations taken from Criswell Legacy Web Site, W. A. Criswell)

Sermon for 6/27/2004

What’s That Smell?

2 Corinthians 2:14-16


Aromatherapy means "treatment using scents". It is a treatment of caring for the body with pleasant smelling oils. The essential oils are added to the bath or massaged into the skin, inhaled directly or diffused to scent an entire room. Aromatherapy is used for the relief of pain, care for the skin, alleviate tension and fatigue and invigorate the entire body. It has been said that certain scents can help with the body’s digestion, respiratory, circulatory and excretory systems. Certain aromas can help to alleviate pain and reduce bruising. Some scents can help with arthritis and with common muscle pain. Some smells can relieve headaches and ease depression and even help to improve memory. All of this has not been evaluated.

It is known that odors we smell have a significant impact on how we feel. In dealing with patients who have lost the sense of smell, doctors have found that a life without fragrance can lead to high incidence of psychiatric problems such as anxiety and depression. We have the capability to distinguish 10,000 different smells. It is believed that smells enter through cilia (the fine hairs lining the nose) to the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls our moods, emotions, memory and learning. Researchers have tried odor experiments only in the work place. According to the publication Communication Briefings, one Japanese firm reports that air scented with lavender cut keypunching errors by 21 %. Jasmine-scented air dropped errors by 33 % and lemon in the air was even better- this cut errors by 54 %. Lavender reduces stress. Jasmine relaxes. Lemon stimulates. Odors do make a difference.


A. People are concerned about how they smell. Should be because in the first 4 minutes people evaluate us on how we smell. That memory sticks with us. American’s spend money each year on perfumes and colognes in an effort to smell good. From the neck down, there are deodorants, special soaps, body splashes and powders.

B. Why do some groups burn incense before, during and after worship services. It sets the mood and with those smells it has programmed people to begin worship.

C. This doesn’t matter. Yes, it does. Just come into an auditorium with dead animals or sewage and it will definitely set a bad tone for worship. Many places have flowers in the auditorium and it is for beauty but it is also for fragrance. Make it a pleasant atmosphere. Bring up good memories of flowers and gardens.

D. This gives new significance to a Scripture that has always intrigued me. 2 Corinthians 2:14-17.

E. A Christian emits (in a figurative way) the very smell of Christ’s sweet sacrifice. We cannot buy it in a bottle. It does not ooze out of our pores. It comes out in our attitudes, actions and words. That sweet smell affects everybody around us. So it might not be a bad idea to ask yourself, “What do I really smell like?” If we know Christ our lives will smell good. This will naturally make a difference to those around us.

Thesis: This morning we are going to look at these verses from 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 and throughout we need to ask ourselves, “What do I smell like?”

For instances:

I. The victory of Christ over his enemies.

A. Leads us in triumph in Christ.

B. What is pictured here is the Roman triumphal procession

1. After a Roman army would conquer a particular tribe or people, there would be a ticker tape parade. However, it was different from the ones that we know.

2. Roman triumph was an incomparable spectacle. There’s never been anything before; there’s never been anything since, to rival it in drama, in splendor. After a great victory, the Roman senate would vote to give the conquering army and general a Triumph celebration.

3. All Rome made a holiday of it. And sometimes those triumphs were so long that a man standing at one place, it could take three solid days for the great procession to pass that one vantage point.

4. In a long parade would start first at rank upon rank of trumpeters, blowing their trumpets and heralding the approach of the great triumph. Then behind them would come the magistrates and the senators and all of the great patricians of Rome. Then behind the magistrates and the great leaders of Rome, there would march the conquering army. And interspersed among the army would be wagonloads of loot, of plunder, from the conquered country, from the ravaged capital, from the defeated army. There’d be wagonloads of gold and silver coins piled up high. There’d be wagonloads of adornment, of jewelry, of all kinds of garment and raiment. There’d be wagonloads and train loads of art, paintings, sculpture, statues, plunder.

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