Calvary Road Baptist Church


Romans 3.12


I remember a time some years ago that I walked through this entrance to the Church building, and I noticed that every door in the building was open. And just as I was about to ask myself why I was kicked in the face by an overwhelming offense. Boy did this place stink. I mean to tell you, this place was filled with one of those really good stomach-turning stenches. It was one of those retching smells. And immediately I realized, being the clever fellow I am, just exactly why every single door in the place was open.

Being only a mile or so from the mountains, we frequently get animals of various kinds coming our way during the night to rummage through the garbage dumpsters, looking for their favorite rotten food. Apparently, an animal doing that had crawled under the auditorium and died. So what I smelled on that Tuesday morning about twenty-five years ago was the nauseating smell of death. It was not the sweet smell of that which is pleasing to my nostrils. It was the smell of rottenness. And it turned my stomach.

“And how bad was the smell, pastor?” The smell was so bad that I immediately went into my office, closed the door, turned on the air conditioner, and made the command decision to allow others to do their obviously fine job of dealing with the problem.

I want you to bring back to your consciousness something from the recesses of your memory, something that happened to you. Perhaps it was a time that you came across a skunk that had sprayed. Perhaps it was the smell of a dead animal. Sometimes we store certain kinds of food that can turn bad and smell horribly if the seal on the container is broken or if the preserving process is not carried out properly. For some of you, the worst smell you have ever encountered was at a slaughterhouse or at a rending plant where animal carcasses are processed for various uses. Possibly, you were away from your house for several days, and you returned to discover food that had spoiled or milk that had soured. For some of you ladies, it may have happened that at a particular time when you were pregnant with one of your children a certain odor struck you as unusually nauseating. I have heard that sometimes happens.

Whatever the case may be in your experience, what I want you to do is try to remember your feelings of revulsion and nausea when you smelled something that was a stench in your nostrils, the reaction of your stomach and your nose when you smelled the worst smell you have ever smelled in your life. Do you remember something like that? Good. Hang on to the reaction you had when you smelled that smell.

With that done, there are three subjects that I want to delve into at this time to convince you why your sin will send you to Hell if you aren’t saved by trusting Jesus Christ to wash your sins away in His blood: 


When people smell a horrific odor they will initially treat the problem with a scent to cover the bad smell. I submit to you that God has done exactly that same thing in the past. Let me bring three things to your attention so that you can verify what I have said:

First, I bring to your attention the example of Noah. Notice in Genesis 8.20-21 that Noah “offered burnt offerings on the altar” that he had built, “And the Lord smelled a sweet savour.” 

20  And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

21  And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. 

God is presenting to us in His Word a physical picture of a spiritual reality. God’s man is spraying, as it were, spiritual scent to cover the smell produced by sinful men. You see, men grievously sinned against God. And God responded to men’s horrible sin by judging the entire world with the flood. When Noah and his family left the Ark that saved them through the flood the first thing he did was build an altar and offer a sacrifice to God, to spray scent, I contend to you this evening, to protect the nostrils of our holy God from the spiritual stench of sin.

Next, I bring to your attention the economy of Moses. I do not for one minute believe that the idea of offering burnt sacrifices that were pleasing to God was Noah’s idea. Since the Bible teaches us that none seek after God, and that there are none who understand, and that the way that seems right unto a man is not the right way, I give credit for Noah’s burnt sacrifice to God and God alone.[1] Further evidence of this is found in the books of Exodus and Leviticus, where God’s plan for pleasing Him and appeasing Him, God’s plan for worshiping Him and honoring Him, is found. It is in this portion of God’s Word that God lays out in explicit detail His wishes and desires for the formalized worship of His chosen people the Jews. I want you to turn to Leviticus chapter 1 and read verses 9, 13, and 17. Notice that a burnt offering to atone for sins, whether it be an offering from the cattle, or the herd, or the flock, produced a sweet savor unto the LORD. God enjoyed the smell produced by such an atoning sacrifice for sins as this: 

9  But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. 

13 But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. 

17 And he shall cleave it with the wings thereof, but shall not divide it asunder: and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood that is upon the fire: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. 

“But pastor, God doesn’t really smell. This is just a figure of speech, what theologians call an anthropomorphic expression.” I understand that, but let us not lose the truth in the midst of the explanation. God enjoyed the smell. Three times we are told it was “a sweet savour unto the LORD.” Now turn to Exodus 29.18, 25, 41. Notice that, whether it be a ram that is sacrificed, or a wave offering of bread, or the morning or evening sacrifice of a lamb, the burnt offering produced a sweet-smelling savor to the LORD: 

18 And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the LORD: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 

25 And thou shalt receive them of their hands, and burn them upon the altar for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour before the LORD: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 

41 And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 

These verses that we have just read describe God’s method of dealing with the sins of His people before the Lord Jesus Christ came and died and shed His blood. Until the Son of God came and died and shed His blood for sins, God wanted sins atoned by the sacrifice of spotless animals. And when the appropriate portion of the sacrifice was consumed by fire it produced an aroma that was pleasing to God. Disobedience to God is sin. And sin stinks to God. Part of God’s solution to the horrible stench caused by sins was to perfume the atmosphere with the sweet smelling aroma produced when atonement was made for sins, and the sacrifice was consumed by fire. Again, why did God do this? Because your lies stink. Because your cheating stinks. Because your adultery stinks. Because your sodomy stinks. Because your drunkenness stinks. Because your envying stinks. Because your jealousy stinks. All of these types of things produce a horrible smell in God’s nostrils. So He decided that the thing to do at the time was to cover the horrible smell with scent, much as we spray the air when we smell something bad.

So, there is the example of Noah and the economy of Moses. Now let us take a look at the experience of God’s presence: I want you to read along with me Exodus 29.41-46. And as we read these six verses I want you to consider the connection between what the people do in verse 41 and what the Lord does in verses 45-46: 

41  And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

42  This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee.

43  And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.

44  And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office.

45  And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.

46  And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God. 

Do you suppose there is a connection between making the place smell sweet with burnt sacrifices and God’s willingness to dwell among them? I think so. I think the best way to describe what we have here is “sacrificial perfume.” For some reason, God, in His infinite wisdom and goodness, used a sort of “sacrificial perfume” to produce a tolerable sweet savor that was acceptable to Him, so that He in all His holiness could tolerate being in the presence of His beloved but sinful people. 


What, you ask, is spiritual putrefaction? Putrefaction, the state of decay, rottenness, refers to something that is rotten to the point of causing a terribly nauseating stench.[2] It is the smell of something that causes you to think you are about to vomit unless you get away from it. Sinful man is exactly like that, in a spiritual sense, to God. If you are here this evening and you haven’t trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior you are spiritually repugnant to God. You smell bad to Him. You may object to what I assert, but I can establish what I have said in two ways:

First, this is seen by Scriptural description. Consider the disease of leprosy. No one can read God’s Word without seeing that leprosy, with all the repugnant smell associated with that disease which results from the rotting of human flesh, is God’s physical picture of sin. How leprosy nauseates us is only a hint of the reaction of our Holy God to our sin. So horrible are your sins that Isaiah 64.6 declares that your righteousnesses are said to be as filthy rags. Isaiah tells us there that even your best efforts at measuring up to God’s requirements are contaminated and defiled by sin. “Pastor, that’s terrible.” You are correct. Your very best is so terrible that it is hard to imagine God’s description being more revolting to a Jewish man or woman than is His description of sin in Isaiah 64.6.

But that is just the Scriptural description of our spiritual putrefaction. There is a verse which declares our spiritual putrefaction, as well. Romans 3.12: 

“They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” 

See the word “unprofitable?” Remembering that Romans 3.12 is a quote from Psalm 14.3 helps us to understand better what the word “unprofitable” means: 

“They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” 

Though this is the only place it is used in the entire New Testament, Rienecker explains the word’s meaning as follows: “The idea of the Heb. word [that it translates] is ‘to go bad or sour’ like milk.”[3] Whatever the meaning of “unprofitable” it must include “filthy.” That marginal reference in many Bibles shows us that “filthy” means “stinking.” In a spiritual sense, then, you “stink.” And not just some of you. According to Romans 3.12, you all stink. Was it any wonder, then, that God needed a sacrificial perfume to cover or mask the stench of your sinfulness so He could dwell in the presence of His men and His people? However, covering a bad scent is not the best way to deal with odor. Spraying scent is a very inefficient way to fight the symptoms of the real problem. The real solution to the dead animal odor in the Church was to remove completely what caused the smell, not just to open the door and air the room out. And so it is with any bad smell. 


Of course, this has to be the real solution. Purification is always a better solution to such a problem as this than perfume. Amen? It is far better to clean the refrigerator than to simply spray scent over rotten food. Did mom’s in days gone by spray air freshener on their child’s dirty cloth diapers? No. They washed them. And diapers that could not be washed were thrown away. Notice, then, two things in connection to saving purification:

First, notice the blood. 

First John 1.7:  “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 

The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice for sins. And His sacrifice produced a similar, but infinitely more effective, remedy to the spiritual stench problem of man than the previous method of sacrificial perfume. Whereas the Old Testament sacrifices were a scent that covered the smell by atoning or covering the sins of men from the sight of God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, particularly the shedding of His blood, resulted in the cleansing of sins. That produced a sweet-smelling savor, not of something that is dirty but heavily perfumed, but of something that smells good because it really is clean. Ephesians 5.2 reads, 

“Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” 

That is the reason why the blood of Jesus Christ is so important. Only the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses away sins. And without the cleansing of His blood your sins stink to God because the days of God allowing animals to be sacrificed to perfume over your sins has long since passed.

Second, notice the believer who has been cleansed by the blood. 

Second Corinthians 2.15: “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish.” 

The result of the sacrificial work of Christ on Calvary’s cross is that those who have trusted Him to the saving of their souls now smell very good to God. God accomplished for man what the farmer will never succeed in accomplishing for the farm animals. God cleanses away our sin and then so changed us that we now produce that which smells good instead of producing that which smells bad to God. So, there you have it. By the shed blood of Jesus Christ, offering up an acceptable offering to God, your sins can be cleansed so that not only does Jesus Christ smell sweet to God, but you will smell sweet to God, and your deeds which will glorify God will smell sweet to God after you are saved. 

When I went to my study that Tuesday years ago I smelled something so bad that something had to be done. Either the horrible smell had to go, or I would go. In like manner, God wants to dwell with men. It’s always been His desire with His creatures. But when sin came in through Adam mankind smelled so horribly bad to a holy God that dwelling among men was intolerable to Him.

Before it was time for His Son Jesus Christ to come and shed His blood on Calvary’s cross, God took the necessary steps to dwell among men after a fashion, by instituting the sacrificial perfume of burnt offerings which only covered sins and smothered the noxious odor of sin. It was a temporary measure until God’s permanent solution was implemented.

God’s permanent solution to the stench of sin was when Jesus Christ offered Himself up as the perfect sacrifice for sin. By His shed blood, He accomplished so much more. For because of His shed blood, and through faith in Him, your noxious odor is not perfumed. It is cleansed completely away. Gone, gone, gone, gone, gone my sins are gone. Now I smell sweet. Now I smell so sweet that God can dwell with me in such intimacy as was never before possible, for now, God dwells in me. And because my sins have been washed away in the blood of Christ, not only does God dwell with me, but someday I shall dwell with Him in heaven, as well.

Are you saved? If you don’t know Jesus Christ, you stink. You have a spiritual smell that is intolerable to God. He certainly won’t allow that smell into His heaven. No, you need to be cleaned. You need to be saved. Won’t you come to Christ for salvation full and free? God loves you and sent Jesus Christ to die for your sins, but God is also holy and will not allow sin into His heaven. Come to Christ, and He will wash your sins away so you can stand before God a sweet smelling savor, not because of any perfume you’re wearing, but because you are clean from your sins.


[1] Romans 3.11; Proverbs 14.12;

[2] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 1467.

[3] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 355.

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