The Victorious Aroma

The Victorious Aroma of Christ

The key verse, 2 Corinthians 2:14, in today’s post on being a victorious aroma is the one that inspired this whole series on experiencing God through the 5 senses He gave us.


Our sense of smell is a powerful force. It can evoke emotion, produce attraction, recall memories, warn of dangers, even generate joy.

Smells can cross borders other things cannot and move around corners and over hills. Often they only dissipate after traveling many miles in distance or altitude. They waft through walls and under doors. You don’t have to be close enough to feel the heat to know there’s a fire – you can smell it for miles. Our sense of smell can detect things our other senses cannot. All this makes smell a powerful way to experience God.

A Victorious Aroma

In Paul’s day, a particular scent prevailed. The scent of victory. When the Roman Soldiers conquered new territory, they proudly marched through Rome with their spoils of victory and their captives, as priests burned incense behind the procession. The commanders were honored and praised. (1) It was their way of proclaiming and celebrating their victory. As that distinctive incense wafted through the city, everybody, even those not watching the parade, knew the Roman Army had prevailed again.

So, Paul used this concept to paint an aromatic picture for the Corinthians of how followers of Christ ought to live.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

2 Corinthians 2:14

For the Israelites, the scent of incense and the smell of burning sacrifices alerted them to God’s call to repent and was the method they received His forgiveness for their sins. We know Christ’s sacrifice on the cross paid the price for our sin and His resurrection pronounced our victory over death. He conquered this world and we who follow Him by faith share in His triumph and march in step with the Holy Spirit in our own victory parade.

May we, too, carry the victorious aroma of Christ with us everywhere we go so that all the world will know of God’s great glory.

May we, too, carry the victorious aroma of Christ with us everywhere we go so that all the world will know of God’s great glory. #5senses #smellGod #victoriousaroma Click To Tweet

A Clinging ScentVictorious Aroma

My dad was a smoker—cigarettes, pipes, cigars. His scent was distinctive and it clung to him even when he didn’t have tobacco burning in his hand or at his lips. It lingered long after he left the room, and sometimes you could smell him coming. In fact, more than two years after his death (despite my best efforts), his favorite motorcycle jacket still smells of him. After spending, even a short amount of time with him or in his home, my own clothing soaked up his scent.

When we spend time in the presence of Christ—through prayer, receiving the sacraments, worship, spending time in His house, and studying His Word—His personality permeates our being and it is recognizable and distinctive. However, unlike my dad’s motorcycle jacket, we must recharge our victorious aroma often, if we hope to spread it to those we meet on the street. Practicing regular spiritual disciplines, creates a cloud of Christ’s aroma around us.

Like sweet smelling incense, our love can waft into hard to reach places. And it can remain as a reminder there long after we’ve departed.

Christ’s victorious aroma clings to us when we commune with Him.

Christ’s victorious aroma clings to us when we commune with Him. #victoriousaroma #5senses #smellgod Click To Tweet

Pleasant or Putrid?

Victorious Aroma

Some of the strongest scents can be positively pleasant or remarkably repulsive, depending on the particular receptors in the nose and brain of the one who smells it. 

The victorious aroma of Christ is pleasant to some while putrid to others.

“For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ

among those who are being saved

and those who are perishing.

To the one, we are an aroma that brings death;

to the other an aroma that brings life. 

And who is equal to such a task?”

2 Corinthians 2:15-16

For those rejecting the truth of the gospel, our victorious aroma might be offensive. People who don’t recognize they reek of sin refuse to believe their need to be washed in the saving scent of the one God sent. The mere suggestion of sin and its consequences stinks of death and condemnation, even foolishness to them. They refuse to accept a loving God would behave that way and fail to receive the victory He offers. Yet for those receiving and embracing Christ as their Lord and Savior, our scent is an encouraging reminder.

We are simply called to carry Christ’s victorious aroma to the world, not make it palatable to all people.

We are simply called to carry Christ’s victorious aroma to the world, not make it palatable to all people. #victoriousaroma #5sense #smellGod Click To Tweet

Living Sacrifices

In receiving this victory, God doesn’t just remove the stench of our sin, but He anoints us with the sweet smell of victory in Christ. And calls us to follow Him in love and sacrifice.

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Ephesians 5:1-2

“Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Romans 12:1

Christ gave His life to free us from captivity to our sin. He sacrificed Himself for love’s sake. To carry the victorious aroma of Christ, we love others with that same self-sacrificial love. Even if they don’t deserve it, refuse to receive it, or fail to reciprocate. This is our sweet-smelling sacrifice to God.

“The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through out Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable,

always abounding in the work of the Lord,

knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. “

1 Corinthians 15:56-58

We labor in love to carry Christ’s victorious aroma to the world knowing the Lord sees us and smells our sacrifice.

We labor in love to carry Christ’s victorious aroma to the world knowing the Lord sees us and smells our sacrifice. #laborinlove #smellGod #victoriousaroma #5senses Click To Tweet

One Caution

Carrying the aroma of Christ is not putting on airs.

The Romans used their victory parade to gloat about their triumphs, but we do not boast of our own strength or prowess. We didn’t fight for it. We can’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. Even the desire to claim victory comes from the Holy Spirit. We have been handed the victory.

The very pretense of perfection turns others away instead of drawing them in. That last question in 2 Corinthians 2:16, “And who is equal to such a task,” reminds me that none of us are worthy of the calling to carry the sent of Christ’s love to the world and none of us are capable of loving like Christ did without the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. We should be very careful about giving off the scent of superiority.

We don’t lord our victory over our fellow man. Instead, we seek the Spirit to make us humble and kind, meek, and mild, yet memorable in our loving ways, as we invite them to march alongside us in the victory parade.

Our Eternal Victory

Our final and eternal victory is coming when the trumpet sounds and Christ returns to establish His kingdom, making us mortal and corruptible beings immortal and incorruptible. We who have been given the gift of faith will rise victorious on the last day!

We are victorious, triumphant, conquerors over death and sin through Christ (Romans 8:31-39). Though we may face defeat and heartache in earthly matters, we cling to the truth of our eternal victory over this world through Christ. So, let’s start living and loving like it. Let’s spread the victorious aroma of Christ far and wide.

Love is Christ’s victorious aroma and love is the only power that can conquer evil. Can people smell it on you? Or does the odor you leave behind reek of something less pleasant? What changes could you make to infuse the air with an unmistakable Christ-like victorious aroma?



1) Nelson Study Bible, NKJV, Study Notes, Page 1947, 2 Corinthians 2:14-17


The Victorious Aroma


Linking Up With

For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne EllerFaith On FireSusan B. MeadFaith Filled FridayGrace and TruthFaith and Fellowship FridaySoul SurvivalRah Rah Link UpTell His StorySitting Among FriendsTestimony TuesdayPlanting Roots, and Fresh Market FridaySalt and Light, and Becoming Press’s Writer Wednesday, Moments of Hope

23 thoughts on “The Victorious Aroma of Christ

  1. Liz, I’m enjoying your series. My childhood pastor and the dad of my best friend smoked pipes. When I smell pipe smoke, I think of him and all the good things he did to encourage my faith. Thank you for this wonderful analogy. Saved to Pinterest and Twitter, friend.

    1. Oh, yes. Smells are powerfully associated to memories. Every time I smell fresh cut flowers it’s like I’m right back in my Aunt’s floral shop… uncanny! Thanks for sharing, friend! Blessings!

  2. This is a great post, I never thought about it in the victorious scent. The older I get I am more sensitive to smells, grass, gasoline from the lawnmower and I have never been able to tolerate smoke or fireplaces, how refreshing to be scented with the aroma of Christ.

    1. Interesting, that you’ve become more sensitive. I’ve been researching for the next post on how we often lose our sensitivity after long term exposure to certain smells. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your perspective, Rebecca! Blessings!

  3. This post has so much good historical background for biblical references. I do appreciate that, and it reminds me that I want to light candles more intentionally in my home. They remind me of the sweet aroma of the prayers of the saints from God’s perspective, and now you’ve given me another reason to light up!

  4. What an interesting and creative way to approach this subject, Liz. And I didn’t know that bit of history about victories in Roman wartime. Thanks for this well-researched and inspiring post! I’m hoping that my life carries the scent of Christ everywhere!

  5. Love this post . I , too had written about the scent of Christ in reference to the Gospel few months ago.

    This is a thoroughly explaine message

  6. This is great! I recently read in The Celebration of Discipline about using your five senses for a deeper experience during Bible reading or meditation. This post also reminds me of Revelation 8 where the prayers of the sense mixed together with the smoke of the incense float up to the Lord.

  7. Love is Christ’s victorious aroma and love is the only power that can conquer evil. Can people smell it on you?

    I love the way you closed with these words. Can people smell Christ’s love in me? I will always ask myself that.

    Thanks for sharing with us.

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