2 Corinthians 2:14–17 (MEV): Now thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ and through us reveals the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God a sweet fragrance of Christ among those who are saved and among those who perish. To the one we are the fragrance of death, which brings death, and to the other the fragrance of life, which brings life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many are who peddle the word of God. Instead, being sent by God, we sincerely speak in Christ in the sight of God.
Sometimes it is the obscure things that provoke thought. Consider this passage, especially in light of a recent conversation. In the center of it was identity. And this one like many, insisted on identifying in the old things. That even after claiming to be in Jesus Christ. In this instance the identity is one that may even be dear to you.
Why identify as a sinner?
Think about that. It is some kind of boasting. In a sense, yes. Nevertheless it is an identity. It is an identity that Paul never uses to describe himself or another Christian.
We are in Jesus. Our identity is in Jesus! Look at how Paul describes that in the passage. God who always causes us to triumph. If God always causes us to triumph why do we choose our identity to remain in the old swamp?
God reveals through us the fragrance of His knowledge. That’s an awesome thing, as He is working through us continually. We are a sweet fragrance to Him among all men. To one we bring words of life, to others a sure reminder of death.
Who is sufficient for these things?
It’s not a rhetorical question. It’s not meant to show Paul’s own inadequacy. It’s not that Paul considers himself a sinner. He never identifies himself that way.
Our sufficiency for these things is given in Jesus. Our simple life in Him is what makes us the sweet fragrance. That’s what qualifies us.
There are some who make spreading the knowledge of God all about a paycheck. The nearly soul purpose of what they do is because they get paid for it. But Paul knew his mission. He was sent by God, and he can sincerely speak Christ to anyone.
That same mission is on each of us as Christians. Remember, Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” You are sent by God.
Everywhere you go, you carry that sweet fragrance. When people examine the way you comport yourself, they know something is different. To some, the fragrance is sweet and brings the promise of life. To these you can speak of God freely and they accept.
To others, that fragrance is cloying and sickening. It’s not different. It is how they perceive it. To the already perishing, a reminder of that end revolts just as it should. To these, too you may speak freely of the knowledge of God. Specifically that He came to redeem the perishing. You will meet resistance, persecution and maybe even death.
Rest assured your eternity is secure in Jesus Christ. Let’s live like it!