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Studies In Ephesians

Proclaiming the Unsearchable Riches of Christ (See 3:8)

Chapter 5:1-7

The Christian Life–A Fragrant Sacrifice

What does a sacrifice smell like? We who are long separated from life in the camp of the Israelites may have given little thought to such things as the aroma of a Levitical offering. But we’re not far removed from the aroma of a summer’s evening barbecue a few houses down the block! What was the sweet smell of the whole burnt offering like? It was probably like the odor of meat roasting over an open fire. A delicious aroma that made its way through the whole camp of the people.

But what use did the Lord have for roasted lamb? How is it that even He found the odor sweet? (“You shall burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord; it is a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord.” Exodus 29:18) This smell was the smell of atonement–the removal of the guilt of sin.

But the atoning sacrifice that really cleanses God’s people is that of Christ who “loved the church and gave Himself for it” (5:25). It is the wholly spiritual aroma that fills the camp of those who are pilgrims and strangers passing through this earth, hungry for that which lies beyond in the joyful presence of God.

It is this odor–Christ’s innocent suffering and death–that “saint-tifies” God’s people, rendering them separate, distinct, and unspoiled by the foulness of the sinful world. Through faith that Christ’s sacrifice has justified us (cleared us of guilt), we (the Church) become a people holy and pleasing to Him.

Living As Children Of God . . .

Such a noble and pure calling compels us to live as children of God. Ever see a child–with his dad in the workshop–reaching for a screwdriver when his father takes one, or a hammer, or sandpaper, and imitating the important task he sees his father engaged in? Paul urges us to be mimics (imitators) of God “as dear children.”

The better we come to know this God to whom we have been reconciled and sanctified by sacrifice, the better we will reflect His great love and purity (holiness) before the world. The key is to be mindful of the sacrifice; it was performed in a most unselfish love.

So then let us “walk in love,” letting our sacrificial attitude prove a glorious fragrance to those around us.

The sacrifice offered for us was pure and unspotted (“the precious blood of Christ . . . a lamb without blemish and without spot”–1 Peter 1:19), so that our corrupt and impure records might be expunged, and we be judged pure and holy in the sight of God. How then dare we indulge our bodies–eyes, ears, and minds–in the corrupt and filthy lusts of the world?

Paul regards the Church as a pure, holy body (Whose body?) surrounded by a filthy world–therefore let not even the mere accusation of impurity “be named” against us.

. . . In An Evil World

In place of the world’s typical topics of discussion–scatological humor, sexual innuendo, a brazen desire to introduce the most intimate acts of man and woman into the public discourse–the talk heard within the Body of Christ will be different. It will be that of uninterrupted gratitude for abundant blessings–yes, even that of marital love and pleasure–that God has poured out on His children. More than that, it will tell of the blessings of righteousness, spiritual peace, divine protection, and an everlasting life imparted to us through Christ.

With God’s help every Christian will make every effort to ensure that the pure aroma of sacrifice not be mingled with the putrid smell of worldliness, corruption, lust, and blasphemy. Our sanctification means we have been fully separated from all that.

But “all that” continues in the unbelieving world, for which reason “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” The mark of a true heir of the Kingdom of Christ and of God is godliness. He who claims God but proves to be a “fornicator, unclean person . . . covetous man” forfeits this inheritance. He is left only with a justly angry God.

Experience proves that it is all too easy to be stained by the business of living in this world or sometimes even to fall into the Dreck (mud, dirt, filth-ed.). But Scripture testifies of the forgiveness and cleansing that is to be found for those who repent and turn again in faith: “There is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared” (Psalm 130:4).

The key at all times is to rejoice in the aroma of Sacrifice by which we have been sanctified.

–Pastor Peter Reim