Years ago, I was having lunch in a restaurant in Boynton Beach, Florida,
sitting alone, and a short distance away was a large table with six or seven
middle-aged ladies. All were well-dressed and I assumed were members of a
Garden or Bridge Club. The same waitress was serving their table and mine.
The restaurant was crowded but quiet. I happened to be watching when the
girl waiting on them quietly removed an empty salad plate from the table.
When she did the woman nearest her screamed loudly, waving both arms, "Get
away from me! Get away from me!" Her voice was mean, very angry. The
waitress jumped back, frightened, and frozen in position. Everyone in the
restaurant jerked to attention. The ladies at her table were both shocked and
embarrassed–taking humiliated glances at each other. There was no reason for
the woman’s outburst.
Later, when the waitress came to my table I said to her, "Do you want me to
explain what happened over there?" She first looked startled at my question,
then sat her stack of dishes on my table. "Please!," She answered, "I never
touched her! All I did was pick up an empty salad plate–that is what I was
taught to do!" Her expression was still one of fright." "Let me explain," I
said, "That was not a woman to woman shriek–That was a ‘spirit’ to ‘spirit’
shriek!" She looked puzzled.
"The unclean spirit in the woman recognized the Holy Spirit in you," I said, "It
felt threatened by your presence and wanted to chase you away! That was the
reason it said, "Get away from me!" The girl listened intently. "You are a
Christian," I said, she nodded "Yes," and I continued. Whenever demons are
threatened by the Holy Spirit's nearness they lose control. ‘Get away from me’
was that spirit’s automatic response!" The waitress’ expression changed to
complete agreement. Those at the woman’s table probably never understood
the spiritual implications behind the attack.
That being so, I want us to examine ourselves in the light of the waitress’
experience. Observe this scripture carefully: "Now thanks be to God who
always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses 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. To the
one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of
life leading to life" (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). I explained in detail, "To the
woman at the table, you were the aroma of ‘death leading to death.’ The
demon felt the threat of his future judgement and began screaming "Get away
from me! Get away from me!" He panicked by your presence.
But why this example of "fragrance?" Hear this explanation carefully: Had
you been standing near Jesus’ tomb during the Resurrection--but in early
morning darkness--you would still have known the grave was opened. The
whole area was suddenly flooded with the fragrance of 100 pounds of spice
that had anointed His body. He was gone but the perfumed witness of His
Resurrection was powerfully present. That fragrance fulfilled the prophecy
that Solomon wrote 1,000 years before Christ.
Read it with your spiritual eyes:
"Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind!
Blow upon my garden, That its spices may flow out.
Let my beloved come to his garden And eat its pleasant fruits."
— Song of Solomon 4:16.
In the restaurant, it was the spiritual fragrance on the waitress that forced the
demon to cry out. The Bible gives us other examples of people who carried
this anointing. Zacharias the Priest and father of John the Baptist is one. After
burning incense in the Temple and being bathed in its fragrance, Zechariah did
not have to explain to people on the street or to Elizabeth his wife where he
had been. He smelled like a man who had worshiped in the presence of God!
He carried the "fragrance" and diffused it every where he went. Luke 1:8-14.
Years ago I was in a meeting with Mel Tari, the wonderful Indonesian
minister, and during prayer the building was suddenly filled with the powerful
fragrance of wine. I assumed we would be having Communion. I was wrong.
The wine-aroma was wholly spiritual. It was so impacting that more than 40
years later I still remember it vividly. God expects there to be a fragrance upon
us that will testify of the Holy Spirit’s presence. As servants of Christ we
must be able to give congregations more than religious talk. They don’t want
it! They have heard it before and are tired of it! They want reality!
Let me ask a personal question: "When people get around you, what do they
smell?" I am not being factitious or crude. Do you carry on your person the
"aroma of life unto life" or do you have the odor of "death unto death"? Those
are our only options. There is nothing else. God intends that "Kingdom
People" carry His "Kingdom Fragrance." This fragrance cannot be identified
by doctrine or denomination; it is an endorsement from the "age to come." It
doesn’t come in a bottle–you can’t buy it.
When Isaiah said the Messiah would not judge "by the sight of His eyes, nor
decide by the hearing of His ears," Isaiah 11:3, he was implying that like a
sheepdog can smell a wolf in the dark so the Messiah would detect truth by its
fragrance. God and the world smell us. The New Testament gift of
"discerning of spirits" parallels this action very closely. Like smelling the
fragrance of a flower you can sometimes discern people’s purity and
cleanness–or their dishonesty and deception. We Christians would save
ourselves a lot of grief if we obeyed Paul’s admonition to "desire earnestly the
best gifts." In my opinion the gift of "discerning of spirits" is among the very
best, (1 Corinthians 12:10). It can save us from many wrong choices. Our
problem is that we do not recognize the need for the Spirit’s fragrance in
ourselves–or our need to detect its message in others.
Here is my point, we can quote scripture until we faint and fall on our faces
but if we carry no miraculous fragrance we will do better to be quiet. Once I
was in a meeting when I lost my voice and could not speak a word. But! The
Holy Spirit still moved in incredible power on the people. Hear this: I would
rather be mute with the anointing of God than be fully vocal without His
miraculous presence. Preaching without the "anointing" produces religion--not
Paul said it this way: "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph
in Christ, and through us diffuses 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. To the one we are the aroma of
death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life," 2
Corinthians 2:14-16. In other words, God expects there to be a holy fragrance
upon us that whether talking or silent, our witness becomes alive with
awesome power. This happened with the waitress.
The gospel of John gives a perfect illustration of what I mean: "After this,
Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the
Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave
him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who
at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and
aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it
in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in
the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new
tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of
the Jews' Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby," John 19:38-20:2. Our
ultimate question is this: When people get around us what do they smell? Hair
spray? Sweat? Perfume? Dirty clothes?
Once when I was preaching in Kazakhstan, a dirty-looking stranger dressed
totally in black rags became so overcome with the transforming power of the
Lord that he suddenly ran forward, grabbed me under my arms, lifted me from
the floor, and spun me around. I was a captor! His hair was greasy-black, his
beard thick and messy, but in that moment he became angelic and beautiful
beyond description. What had happened? He smelled the fragrance of Jesus
and was transformed. The dirt, grime, and darkness, of a sordid life vanished
and he was changed to the Glory of Christ. His demons were banished! He
stepped into a new life in Christ! This is the point: God intends that kind of
transformation for all of us.
That day the restaurant was a "photograph" of humanity. It revealed Sin,
Redemption, Demons, the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of Life and Light, and the
other of Death and Darkness. The stranger in Kazakhstan showed how the
worst can run from pain and sorrow and be translated into one of God and
Glory! The waitress showed how someone can be a silent but transforming
witness of the Holy Spirit’s life and power!
Think on these things!