Captive, Yet Captivating
“But thanks be to God, who made us his captives and leads us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Good News like a sweet perfume.“ – Vs 14 NLT
The picture Paul uses here is that of a conquering king or general leading a victory procession through the streets of his home town with his captive enemies being paraded behind him as a visible sign of his power and triumph. Paul says that he is one of Christ’s captives. He has been “conquered” by Christ and made His slave. This was not a negative to Paul, but a positive. In his letter to the Romans he says this, “Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval” (Romans 6:16 NLT). Paul viewed himself as a willing slave to a new Master – God the Father. His life had been captured by the victorious effort of Jesus Christ on the cross. Christ had defeated sin and death, and now was leading Paul and others in a daily victory celebration that was visible for all to see. This procession is a demonstration of His power. Our place in that parade tells others that we serve a new master and that we no longer serve sin. Unlike conquered soldiers, who were humiliated in the streets and later executed, we are now citizens of the very kingdom we used to war against. We enjoy all the rights and privileges as citizens of the kingdom of God.
Our lives give off a fragrance, an aroma, based on the knowledge we have of Jesus Christ and His life-transforming, sin-defeating power. Again, Paul uses the imagery of the victory procession. At the head of the parade, incense was burned. It was a tangible manifestation of the victor’s achievement. We are that incense. Our lives are to give off a sweet-smelling aroma to all those watching. But verse 15 also reminds us that “our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God” (NLT). God is pleased when He sees us being led by Christ. When our lives are “in line” with Christ, it brings joy and pleasure to God. But those in the crowds who are watching this victory parade are also able to “smell” the aroma we give off. Paul says, “To those who are perishing we are a fearful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved we are a life–giving perfume” (Vs 16 NLT). Some look at this victory procession and only see death and defeat. They live for the wrong kingdom and do not look on Christ’s victory as a pleasant thing. They only see enslavement. They smell death and defeat. They want nothing to do with Christ or us. But others, who are “being saved,” are attracted to what they see. They are intrigued by this victory celebration. They look at our lives and are attracted. They are those in the crowd of bystanders who see Christ’s victory with a new sense of hope.
“In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance” (Vs 14 MSG). Are people breathing in the exquisite fragrance of the knowledge of Christ from my life. I hope so.
Father, I want my life to be a pleasing aroma to You. And I know that it is because it is all based on what Christ has done, not what I am doing. He is the victor, not me. He is the deliverer, not me. You are pleased because of what He has done. I am His slave. And as long as I willingly remain His slave, my life will bring a pleasing aroma to You. It will also give off a fragrance to all those around me. Some will be attracted to it, others will be repulsed by it. I don’t need to worry about their reaction, but I just need to remain obedient to Your Son. Help me to do so. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men