DO YOU LIKE perfumes? I love them. The word «perfume» comes from the Latin per, which means «through» and fumare, «to smoke.» Its very name makes reference to its origin: in ancient times, perfume was the fragrance that certain plants or natural substances gave off when they were burned. It was, then, the smoke that carried the fragrance. Much time has passed since those early origins of perfume, and at the present time, it is a liquid that is used on people’s skin (not in the surrounding air) to give off a good aroma
What is clear, whether it has to do with ancient times or today, is that perfume is something exterior. Thanks to the wonders of nature that our God has created, we have at our disposal substances that make us smell in such a way that it indicates cleanliness, purity, refinement, or good taste. However, the «pleasing aroma» (NIV), «sweet savor» (ASV), or «fragrance that brings life» (GNT) the Bible speaks about is not precisely a material substance that we use on the outside. Paul is talking about the knowledge of God: «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 When we know Christ and spread that knowledge through our words and deeds, we are really being a pleasing aroma for God and for humanity.
There is nothing wrong with using perfume on the outside; in fact, I recommend it. However, the aroma we give off thanks to the fragrances we buy in the stores has no power to transform the lives of any other person. On the other hand, the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ does transform lives. That fragrance is given off from the inside to the outside (due to the work of the Holy Spirit within us) through our works. It is the fragrance we give off when we have prayerfully remained in silence in God’s presence, when we have spent time reading His Word, and when we have made the decision to put His Word into practice in our lives.
«For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing»(2 Corinthians 2:15, NIV).