For those of us who have dogs, or have at least been around them, we know that although their sense of smell is keen, their opinion as to what smells good and what smells bad is often, well…disgusting! Their base animal instincts attract them to smells of decay, vomit, and feces, among other unappetizing things. But try to spray perfume or room freshener around a dog and they will complain with a snort, rub their noses, and usually vacate the premises as quickly as possible!
As humans, we realize the filth associate with much of that which attracts the nose of our non-spiritual furry friends. We recognize the stench of decay as a direct link to death. We know the filth, germs, and sickness associated with vomit and feces – two of dogs’ favorites. So, why do they follow their noses to these places? Why, as Solomon says, does a dog “return to its vomit” (Pr 26:11)? It is because they are animals fully enslaved to their fleshly nature.
We see in Genesis, chapters one and two, as God creates the earth, that mankind is the only species into which He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”. We are the only created beings in whom the breath of God rests. This is how God fulfilled His plan to create us in His own likeness (Gen 1:26, 27). In doing so, we have been subjected to a deeper sense of discernment than that of an animal. Unlike animals, we may choose to follow our spiritual nature, rather than our fleshly one. This is why a man who chooses to live by the Spirit of the Living God may better trust his senses. Romans 8:5-8 says:
"Those who live according to the sinful
nature have their minds set on what that
nature desires; but those who live in
accordance with the Spirit have their minds
set on what the Spirit desires. The mind
of the sinful man is death but the mind
controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does
not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
Those controlled by the sinful nature
cannot please God."
With this scripture in mind, let us take a moment to reflect on ourselves. Are you walking in flesh or in the Spirit? Are you living up to your potential as a being created in the likeness of the Almighty God or have you allowed yourself to follow your fleshly senses into filth and death? What pleases you more – the sweet incense of prayers muttered in humility or the prideful ways of this world?
The fact is, we are all born of the flesh and so born with a fleshly instinct that may lead us astray. This world is full of people who, much like animals, have become slaves to their fleshly nature. Their senses and their discernment – their spiritual sense of smell – has become skewed and is not reliable. They often find that which pleases God revolting, and like dogs introduced to the sweet scent of expensive perfume, they huff in complaint and often run away. Usually, they follow their noses to things, which God in His infinite wisdom and perfect understanding, knows are filthy. They are attracted to filthy things, as detestable in the sight of God, as a pool of vomit is to us. They have completely disregarded their spiritual sense of smell, and have come to rely on that which is pleasing to their debased natural state.
As Christians, God calls us to emanate the sweet fragrance of Christ:
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us
in triumphal procession in Christ and
through us spreads everywhere the fragrance
of the knowledge of him. For we are to God
the aroma of Christ among those who are
being saved and those who are perishing.
To the one we are the smell of death; to
the other, the fragrance of life."
– 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
It is important to remember that our “aroma” as Christians won’t always be pleasing to those around us. However, we are to trust only the nose of God, when adjusting our fragrance.
Every day, we must ask ourselves, “How do I smell today? Is my fragrance pleasing to God and to those filled with His spirit or is it more pleasing to those slave to fleshly tastes? In God’s eyes, am I more comparable to the sweet perfume of Christ or to the decaying stench of death and filth? Do I seem more attractive to the dogs of the earth or to sons and daughters of the Most High God? IS God Himself pleased to be within smelling distance of me, or do my words, my ways, the motivations of my heart, cause Him to wrinkle His perfect nose in disgust and distance Himself?