SUCH FRAGRANCE IS THE PRODUCT OF INTERNAL GRACE AND DIVINE FAVOR.
God is in us in His sweetening and sanctifying life. It manifestly suggests two things: first, the necessity of possessing internal graces, being filled with the fullness of God, and then, that these graces should become external influences, as they dispose themselves in pleasing and effective forms. Such influences are the holy fragrance of the devout life, arresting attention, awakening inquiry, and inspiring fondness, being neither heard nor seen but powerfully felt.
Supernatural Encounters: Smelling the Fragrance of God
I’ve been spending hours upon hours in worship and prayer. The Holy Spirit has been speaking life-changing words to me that I believe will also be life-changing for those who read them in the years to come. The Holy Spirit’s words bring life, renew our minds to His way of thinking, and reveal His loving heart to us.
Deep worship, abandonment and surrender—a willingness to yield to His every movement as you listen for the sound of His heart—ushers you into the Holy Spirit’s presence in a magnificent way. Sometimes you can even smell His fragrance like I did one Sunday afternoon.
I want to share with you what Scripture says about these supernatural experiences.
His Name Is Like a Perfume
In Song of Solomon, the Shulamite woman declares that God’s love is better than wine: “Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth” (Song 1:3-4). Where the name of Jesus is exalted in adoration, the stage is set for you to enter into a secret place in which you smell that anointed ointment that’s poured forth in your midst.
The Fragrance of His Knowledge
Paul the apostle understood the sweet smell of victory—literally. When we follow the Holy Spirit no matter where He leads us, He will give us fresh power to be His witness and through us diffuse “the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Cor. 2:14). We may offer a repulsive smell to those who refuse Christ, but those who are seeking Him will smell His life upon our garments.
The Fragrance of His Love
When we walk in love, we give off His scent. God is love, and when we abide in Him, we will smell like Him. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Eph. 5:1-2).
The Fragrance of the Anointing
I’ve been reading about the Levitical priesthood this year. Most of it reminds me how grateful I am that Jesus went to the cross and we have relationship rather than rules that allow us to find forgiveness of sin, approach His throne and fellowship with Him freely.
But I appreciated the passages about the anointing oil, which was fragrant—and unique. (Exodus 30:23-25) instructs, “Also take for yourself quality spices—five hundred shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much sweet-smelling cinnamon (two hundred and fifty shekels), two hundred and fifty shekels of sweet-smelling cane, five hundred shekels of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. And you shall make from this holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be holy anointing oil.”
The blend of herbs was used for the anointing oil and only the anointing oil. This was a type of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. A.W. Tozer, a 20th-century pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor and spiritual mentor to many, put it this way:
“The fragrance of the anointing oil was unique. If someone went near an Old Testament priest, he could say immediately, ‘I smell an anointed man. I smell the holy oil!’ The aroma, the pungency, the fragrance were there. Such an anointing could not be kept a secret.”
The Anointing Abides
Of course, if you are born again, the anointing abides: “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him” (1 John 2:27).
This is true, and yet there is another experience of the anointing—that fragrance of God, the sweet-smelling aroma of His presence. One way to get to that place is through deep worship, opening your heart up completely to Him, asking for nothing and ready to receive anything He might offer, and pursuing His heart with all of your heart.
In the end, there’s no formula for entering into a place where the fragrance of God manifests. And that should not be our goal in intimacy, but oh, how sweet it is when He chooses to allow us to smell the fragrance of His knowledge, the fragrance of His love, the fragrance of His anointing! And if we’ll embrace that moment and allow that anointing to rest upon us, we’ll come out with a fragrance that will attract others to His heart. Amen.
You may know that the Bible talks about the fragrance of God. Perfume makers in the Old Testament crafted special oil that was used exclusively for anointing things and making them “holy and the smell were both sacred and distinctive. In the New Testament, Christ’s love is called a “fragrant offering” (Ephesians 5:2) and Paul tells us that, as believers, we spread “the fragrance of the knowledge of Him” (2 Corinthians 2:14). I had read verses like these, and I’d even heard that the Holy Spirit sometimes showed up with a “sweet smell,” but I’d never experienced it till now.
Just like perfume, when the Spirit of God is on your life, there is a lingering “presence”, a separate sense that something is on your life.
There are some folks who like to wear perfume or cologne. When you give one of these folks a hug or shake their hand, you find that their fragrance clings to you. You can walk away from them, but there’s something left with you that reminds you of your encounter with them.
God’s desire is that our lives would give off a fragrance of Jesus to those around us.
So, why did He appear on Sunday?
Whoever the fragrance touched was set apart for ministry. We too are made holy by the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:16) “I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.”
We are made “holy”, set apart for God’s special use, through the Holy Spirit. In the same way, the anointing oil set these things apart for special use as well.
When the Holy Spirit is working in our lives, He will be changing us, taking us further from sin and closer to God. Everything in ministry is to be anointed by the Spirit. There is nothing we do in ministry that is not to be led by the Spirit of God.
As followers of Christ, our lives are supposed to carry another fragrance–the fragrance of the Holy Spirit.
How is that possible? Does God really . . . smell? Yes! But His fragrance can’t be detected by our old-factory system.
Like perfume, however, the Holy Spirit has the power to fill not only the space inside us, but also inhabit the space around us, and the more we submerge ourselves in Him, the stronger His “scent.”
You see, the Bible says that Spirit testifies to spirit (Romans 8:16).
God’s Holy Spirit attests to what’s going on inside of us. God’s Holy Spirit also testifies to what’s going on in other people’s lives, and when we are in-tune with the Spirit inside us, we can get a good sense of what is happening with others. So, in essence, the Holy Spirit serves as the olfactory system for our spiritual lives as well as the fragrance. He serves a dual purpose. (For sure He does much more than those two things, but we’re not delving into all the rest at the moment.)
I want to smell like God. I want to usher Him into every room and every relationship and every circumstance I find myself, and I want His presence to be sensed even before I make myself known–like a lovely perfume. I want His fragrance to linger long after I’m gone. I want people’s hearts to respond to His love simply because I’m there. Their spirits testify to “my” Spirit (i.e. the Spirit of God that lives inside me); they smell God on me.
But here’s the thing, I can’t MAKE myself smell like God. I can’t find a verse in the Bible or a particular spiritual discipline that I can saturate myself with at will. I can’t find a spiritual bottle of Holy Spirit power and douse myself when I feel I’m becoming stagnant. I also can’t always know if my life bears the signature scent of the Spirit. Instead, I have to give Him liberty to do as He wills, follow His guidance, praying for His mystery to overwhelm me, and trust that His presence and fragrance is growing and being sensed by those around me. The more time I spend just resting in Him, like soaking in a bath tub, the better chance I have of Him lingering on me.
People who think about money all the time have a certain air about them. People who care a great deal about the environment and saving the planet often wear their causes for others to see. A man or woman who cares a great deal about other’s opinions of them talks a great deal about fads and brands and the external trappings of success. People who are worriers have ulcers, frown lines, and nervous habits that are evident of the burdens they carry. People whose lives revolve around food can’t hide their issues (at least not forever). Optimistic individuals smile a lot. People who work hard at understanding others are often very good listeners. People who give themselves over to the Spirit also take on particular mannerisms and attitudes that are witness to Whom it is they follow and trust.
What does your signature scent say to others? What does your life “smell” like?
I’m certainly not where I want to be, but I do often pray that God goes before me. I often ask the Holy Spirit to be bigger than me in my life. I ask Him to permeate my being and to rub off on those around me. But it doesn’t always happen because I trip myself up regularly. I want people to feel His love and joy and peace and comfort in and through me very powerfully, but I lose my patience, fret over ridiculous details, or get annoyed when my plans get derailed. I don’t heed His advice or rationalize my sin and laziness, and therein impede His overflowing presence in my life.
I refuse to give up, however, and will keep praying for His blessed fragrance and asking Him to take my disobedient self and turn it into something lovely. I am powerless without Him and can be stinky too!
My hope and prayer is that as others have asked me about my cologne, they will inquire about the fragrance of God’s Spirit on me as well. May you have the pleasure of that too!