Spiritual Stench, Part 2

“Jesus, intensely moved again, came to the tomb. (Now it was a cave, and a stone was placed across it.) Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the deceased, replied, ‘Lord, by this time the body will have a bad smell because he has been buried four days.’” – John 11:38-39

Bad odors have a purpose, letting us know that something has gone wrong and that something harmful is threatening life. Whether spoiled food, a dead carcass in the yard, or an infected injury. In all of these circumstances, we would not ignore such a thing. We would throw it in the trash, bury it, and have the infection quickly treated.

Yet why when we smell something wretched with another, we run from it? If we love our neighbor, can we dismiss the spoiled food on the counter? If we love others as we should, do we just watch the vultures congregate in front of their door, just hoping the wind direction doesn’t bring any foulness to ours? How can we love one another and not plead with them to visit the physician when we know their concealed infection will ultimately lead to their destruction.

I suspect that it is not a refined righteous nose that causes us to stay away spiritual stenches, because there is only one righteous (Acts 3:14), and He was not deterred by a bad smell. Rather, I propose that it is the rot within our own hearts that we don’t want exposed. It is faithless hearts that protest the removal of the stone—that weighty lie that says it’s better to remain bound (v.44; see Exo 14:13-12).

So God must get us outside ourselves. Like after an extended time away from home, we are confronted with an unpleasant odor upon entry. Or when we sense a peculiar aroma in a neighbor’s house. These things should cause us to seek out problems within.

So God confronts us with the decay of others. He makes the smell of another’s death permeate our nostrils to remind us of our own end without Him (Amos 4:10; Isa 66:24). He allows us to taste the rotten fruit produced from another tree separated from its Root and Source (Luke 6:43-45; John 15:1-4; Rev 22:16). He leads us to situations where the offensive odor of another’s actions demonstrates how repulsive our actions are to Him (Jer 27:13).

So let your heart be humbled by allowing our aversion to the scent of another’s sin cause us to reflect upon our own issues. And may we invite others into our lives to help us detect the death that Christ still needs to remove. Before seeking to correct the odious actions of another when they get too near, consider that God is reminding you of your own abhorrent behavior (Mat 7:3-5).

And in those areas where the sweet fragrance of life is now enjoyed (2Co 2:14), remember who called out what stank and brought to life what was once dead (1Co 6:11). We must remember it is all by His grace (1Co 15:10; Eph 2:8), and that we won’t be completely free of this decaying flesh until we enter glory (2Co 5:4-10).

Only in humility can we truly love our neighbor and be equipped to help them, no longer callously leaving them to perish, nor arrogantly calling from the street that they leave death behind. Rather, a humble heart is a remembering soul, an obedient disciple who gets close to where the dead lie, and do not protest when the Lord asks us to expose what is detestable. We simply obediently role away the obstacles and allow our great and powerful Savior to call dead men to rise!

Billy Neal

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Spiritual Stench, Part 1

“Jesus, intensely moved again, came to the tomb. (Now it was a cave, and a stone was placed across it.) Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the deceased, replied, ‘Lord, by this time the body will have a bad smell because he has been buried four days.’”  –John 11:38-39

Recently, a few brothers and I were blessed to be able to volunteer with Samaritans Purse and help with disaster relief in Louisiana. I was involved in mostly outside roof tarping and limb cleanup, but one house in particular stood out to me. The outside was decently maintained, even though there was a lot of debris from metal work, boat repairs, and bins of empty drink cans spilling from the garage. But as soon as we entered the house, we were meet with an almost tangible odor. We were grateful that the main living area had a front and back door that we could prop open, so that we could work with some fresh airflow.

The homeowner was a kind, old, war veteran. He smoked, but the unpleasant smell of cigarettes only served to partially mask the rotting smell coming from his kitchen. It was a mess, with food decomposing on the counter and in the sink. I had to wonder how his children and grandchildren (he lived alone) allowed him to live in such a mess. I confess, I didn’t want to be the one to work in the interior (even though I did).

But it struck me, is this not the spiritual condition of all our hearts without Christ? In fact, this is the state of any part of our being that has not surrendered itself over to Life? It is dead. And death stinks.

Sure, we’ll keep the outside manicured, for that’s what our neighbor sees (1Sa 16:7), even though some of our internal trash keeps spilling out. We may allow certain individuals inside, but we keep certain recesses where we know death permeates hidden. Yet bad habits and destructive tendencies are only the scent of deeper decomposition. The problem is, our flesh fatigues (i.e. olfactory fatigue), and so becomes accustom to the filth and oblivious to the stench (Rom 8:5-8).

At least for ourselves.

When it comes to others, we would rather stay away. Oh, we might coldly tell them as we exit that they offend. Or we may politely say nothing and just stay on the door step.

But Jesus did not shy from the smell. He demanded that death be exposed, that the stone hiding it be removed. Because if rotting bodies are not exposed, if breathe (John 20:22) and light (Eph 5:13-14) are not allowed to enter, dead men don’t walk out of graves.

Billy Neal

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Know the Difference

Know the Difference

And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. — Matthew 17:18

Men, an epileptic boy is brought to Jesus. Jesus rebukes a demon and immediately it came out of him and the boy was healed. Today, 2000 years or so later, there is still no real cure for epilepsy. It can be “managed” with rest, medication, avoiding flashing lights and abstaining from drugs and alcohol, but can’t be cured with any known medical treatment.

What happened here was not a prescription for managing symptoms. I wouldn’t dare say all epileptic cases are of demonic origin, but this particular case was in fact demonic indwelling which manifested in symptoms of epilepsy. I’m no doctor, but seeing a case of healing like this should have us standing up to take notice. The ability of Jesus to recognize a health matter in truth as a spiritual matter is something we should all take note of.

While history is filled with bad cases of overzealous spiritual healers condemning citizens of all forms of evil, neither is popping a pill down our throats the blanket solution for all matters of health. How can we know the difference between a legitimate health issue and an influence of evil? We can test the spirits, but please, do not allow Hollywood to be your guide into this subject. Jesus could “see” the difference.

The miracles that Jesus performed are giftings available to us as well, in the right context, with faith in Christ Jesus who overcame. Please, do not try to extract a demon from someone choking on a chicken bone next Sunday at the diner. But hope is not lost if you’ve exhausted all normal means of treatment as this man and boy had. Jesus can see, and He is the answer regardless of the issue. The Lord Jesus has authority on earth, water, air and the heavens. He has authority over all sickness and evil. Jesus is our answer.

Move forward men, in decisive faith in Jesus. Listen for His voice in your heart guiding us to clarity on matters of health and the heart. Allow His Spirit to aid us in discernment. Take all matters to Jesus who heals.

Vance Durrance

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