A popular home fragrance company is famous for their slogan – Don’t Go Noseblind. But did you know this is an actual scientific phenomenon? And I think we can become spiritually noseblind, too.
Desensitized to Smell
When a Jonah Moment (that’s what I affectionately call times God uses Military Orders to get me places I don’t want to go) sent me to Korea, one of the first things I noticed upon arriving was a prevailing odor of garlic, fish and fermented cabbage.
It felt like a slap in the face every time I stepped outside for the first few weeks. I couldn’t escape it. I attempted to cover it up, but it hung like a fog in the air. Eventually, though, I stopped smelling Soul’s signature scent. My senses were desensitized. I became noseblind. It was only when new Soldiers came to the unit or family came to visit and I watched their noses scrunch up and their eyes water with the first whiff that I remembered my host country’s distinctive odor.
This is a real thing. The receptors that detect smell become desensitized over time and repeated exposure until you no longer notice a particular smell.
Christians can fall into this phenomenon spiritually, too. Even the ones who do everything they are supposed to do to smell like a Christian. Perhaps, especially, even “old” Christians. Think about it… when your faith was fresh and new, when you were fired up to talk about what Christ did for you… the victorious aroma wafted around you wherever you went.
But what about now? A few years or a few decades later, has the aroma of your faith waned? Like the driver of a six month old car, have you stopped being excited about getting behind the wheel with Jesus?
If we only associate with other Christians or allow the newness of our salvation to wear off, we may stop noticing the subtle (and not so subtle) differences between the ways of the world and the ways of the Word. Or fail to actively spread Christ’s victorious aroma. When we begin to think our sin doesn’t stink as bad as other people’s or prayer becomes just another item to check off our list. Maybe we start to think we don’t need to visit Our Father’s house regularly. Just going through the motions or obeying out of obligation don’t produce fragrant fruit.
We become complacent, familiar, bored, forgetful, entitled, assimilated. Noseblind.
7 Strategies to Keep from Going Spiritually Noseblind
Stop Normalizing Sin
The more we tolerate sin, the less we notice its stench. We are all sinners and sin is sin is sin. Everybody’s sin stinks. Even the good things we try to do are often tainted by it. But that doesn’t make it OK. When we stop calling sin sin, we start believing we could be OK on our own. The Word says sin is an abomination to God—an offensive odor. When we think we no longer need God’s cleansing grace to smell like Christians, we lose our urgency for Him. None of us overcomes our sin without the blood of Jesus.
Spending time with people whose sin is like our own, we tend to notice it even less. So, we need people in our lives willing to call us out and agreeable to our responsibility to hold them accountable, too.
Normalizing sin makes us noseblind to our need for saving grace.Normalizing sin makes us noseblind to our need for saving grace. #5senses #experienceGod #spirituallynoseblind Click To Tweet
Remember How Much You’ve Been Forgiven
Mary, a woman who knew the magnitude of her her sins entered a home filled with religious leaders who reeked of hypocrisy and legalism and brought the cleansing scent of grace and mercy. Christ’s victorious aroma. Her actions were not received well by those whose way of life was threatened by such extravagant love, those who would would stumble over what Christ stood for, but Christ knew Mary’s motives and her heart. And He made sure we would all know.
“Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feed of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
It’s what Jesus said in Luke 7 that keeps us from becoming spiritually noseblind. He equates our understanding of our forgiveness to our capacity to love. Mary wasn’t noseblind to Christ’s victorious scent, despite all the time she spent with Him. Understanding the magnitude of her sins enabled her to love Jesus more than the others whose self-imposed strict adherence to the law left them feeling less like sinners and more like saints.
I’ll admit, it is no fun to ponder the preponderance of my sin, but only in understanding the magnitude of my messes, can I become mindful of the measure of His mercies. In Lamentations 3:22-23, we read those mercies are new every morning. That doesn’t mean we get the same old mercy day after day. The Hebrew word used for new is chadash (khaw-dash’), which means to be new, rebuild, renew, repair; to be a fresh new thing. If we expect the same old mercy, that’s what we’ll get. But if we start every day with a fresh expectation for the enormity of God’s love and forgiveness covering our every sin, it will fill us with awe and wonder every. single. day. That is the mercy that we’ll never be desensitized to.
Never forget how much you’ve been forgiven.Only by understanding the magnitude of my messes, can I become mindful of the full measure of His mercies. #5senses #experienceGod #spirituallynoseblind Click To Tweet
Hang Out with the Wrong Crowd
Last week I suggested one of the ways to smell like a Christian was to hang out with the right crowd. Now, I’m telling you too much of that might not be a good thing. Comfortable Christian cliques (even if you wouldn’t consider it clique-y, trust me, it is), breed complacency. But the wrong crowd challenges our faith. When we let those challenges drive us back to the Word, our faith will be fortified.
We need to go out into the places where the scent of victory in Christ is fresh and new, where it will be noticed by those in need, messy places where the stench of defeat and fear have reigned for too long. Sure, being a witness to what Christ has done for us is good for the person who hears the gospel, but it is also good for us to see how it impacts them for the first time and remember just how powerful the message is.
Hanging out with the wrong crowd resets our senses and reenergizes our sensitivity to things of the Spirit. Moving toward the mess manifests God’s masterpiece message. (SHINE) And I bet, if you think really hard, you can come up with at least one Man who did the same!Hanging out with the wrong crowd resets our senses and reenergizes our sensitivity to things of the Spirit. #5senses #experienceGod #spirituallynoseblind Click To Tweet
Open the Book
Yeah, yeah. I know. I said it again. Read your Bible. Jeez, Liz… doesn’t it get stale? That sounds like the definition of noseblind.
Well, actually no. God’s Word is living and active. I’ve read it through in its entirety several times and read portions of it just about daily, but not once have I ever opened it (with the right frame of mind inviting the Spirit to help me study) and been bored. Holy Spirit always points out something I’d previously missed.
Assuming I know the full measure of the treasures in my Bible because I’ve read it before can make me spiritually noseblind.
To keep it fresh and new, you could try using a concordance or study Bible, looking up the same verses in several translations, studying the original Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic words (#wordnerd) and their meanings, or even reading the related verses to discover thread of commonality between the Old and New Testaments.
Stop and Smell the Roses
Or any other flower out there. God didn’t have to make them smell nice, but He did. Sure, their scent attracts just the right pollinator, but some of them actually stink to high heaven. So, the next time you smell something pleasant in nature, breathe it in deeply and remember God did that for you! Then thank Him for it.
Stopping to smell the roses is synonymous for slowing down to appreciate life.
When we get still enough to recognize God at work in the world, our faith gets a fresh infusion of grace and gratitude. That’s precisely why this whole series on experience God is so near and dear to my heart. Learning to notice God’s hand in our lives is a powerful skill that keeps us from going spiritually noseblind. I don’t ever was to get so busy or preoccupied that I take God or his gifts for granted.
Anticipate an Aromatic Arrival
On days when I cook dinner in the crock pot because I plan to be out and about all day, I cannot wait to open the door and smell what’s been simmering all day. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
We can go out into the world, knowing God’s grace will smell sweeter when we return to His house.
Christ’s victorious aroma ought to assault your senses upon entering church just as distinctively as coming home to a pot roast simmering all day in the crock pot. If it doesn’t, I urge you to investigate why. Perhaps it has more to do with your anticipation that the actual atmosphere of your church, small group, or Bible Study.
Anticipation enhances our experience with Christ’s victorious aroma.Anticipation enhances our experience with Christ’s victorious aroma. #5senses #experienceGod #spirituallynoseblind Click To Tweet
Invite Others In
I can’t always detect the delicious aroma emanating from the slow cooker when I’ve worked from home all day, so I typically ask my boys or my husband if they can smell it when they walk though the door in the afternoon. Often, they say, “Mmmm-mmm… that smells amazing!” Their reaction reminds me just how good dinner will be.
We can lose sight (or smell) of just how good God’s grace is when we spend all our time immersed in it (no matter how heavenly that sounds). Here on earth we can go noseblind to the spiritual banquet He has prepared for us, but when we invite others in to our homes and churches and ask them what they smell, their reactions will remind us how good God’s grace smells and how richly He has blessed us. Or alert us that perhaps something smells fishy.
Sometimes, we need others to come in with a new nose, a fresh perspective, and hold us accountable for the aroma we diffuse. Newcomers are more likely to notice your church’s odor. Let’s ask them what they smell.
Overcome the Curse of Being Spiritually Noseblind
If you’ve begun to notice the scent of your salvation fading, make this song from Sanctus Real, “On Fire” your prayer rising heavenward like sweet incense to our Father today. May we never lose our sensitivity to the sweet smell of our salvation.May we never lose our sensitivity to the sweet smell of our salvation. #5sense #experienceGod #spirituallynoseblind Click To Tweet
Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Faith On Fire, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Soul Survival, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday, Salt and Light, and Becoming Press’s Writer Wednesday, Moments of Hope