“Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment” – Ecclesiastes 10:1a
Are you comfortable with sin in your life? I ask that because sometimes people reason and rationalize that a certain amount of sin is acceptable. They use phrases like “grace covers it all,” or, “God will understand.” They say those phrases in a kind of casual even flippant sort of way. Yes, we are forgiven by God on the basis of His grace. The blood of Jesus does cleanse from all our sin. But when a casual view of sin is adopted we become like those who, “trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which He was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29). We should never be complacent toward sin.
Sin, in all its forms and circumstances, separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). It hinders our communication with God (Psalm 66:18). Sin is so harmful to His precious creation that God finds it hard to even look on evil and wickedness (Habakkuk 1:13). Jesus finds sins such as lukewarmness repulsive; it turns His stomach sick (Revelation 3:16). The apostle John didn’t mince words, he said it was children of the devil who sin (1 John 3:7-9). So I ask, how much sin is allowable?
Purity and holiness are important to God. He doesn’t want us to allow sin that will cloud our spiritual receptivity with Him. He wants our channel clear, uncluttered by the static of sin. Incense is a type of prayer in the Bible. In the Old Testament when God gave instructions about how the incense used in His Tabernacle was to be made He said, “You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure, and holy. And you shall beat some of it very fine, and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you” (Exodus 30:35-36). Our prayer life should be precious to us. It is precious to the Lord. And because of that we should make sure we take sin seriously. Our prayers should be salted, pure and holy with the word of God in the power of the Spirit. We need to beat our prayer life very fine. We need to pay attention to detail and beat out every sin that threatens to entangle us.
The Holy anointing oil of the Old Testament was a symbol of the anointing of the Spirit on those who served the Lord. “And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil. . . . And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on man’s flesh; nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people” (Exodus 30:25, 31-33). The anointing of the Holy Spirit is for holy living. It is not to be casually combined with the fleshliness of those who have a casual view of sin. The word holy means separate, distinct. Something that is holy is separate from the world and devoted to God. Sin wrecks all of that. You can’t have a casual view of sin and be empowered with the anointing of the Spirit. You can’t use grace as an excuse for sin. God’s grace and the Holy Spirit do not bring us to a place where we are free to sin, but to a place where we are free from sin. There are those today who have fallen into the delusion that we can sin boldly before the Lord. That’s hogwash; literally. That is an abuse of God’s grace.
Jesus cleansed the Temple of thieves and said His Father’s house was meant to be a place of prayer (Matthew 21; Mark 11; John 2). We are the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19). If we have surrendered to God and been forgiven our sins, we no longer belong to ourselves; we belong to God (1 Cor. 6:20). Is there any sin in us or on us His Temple, that He wants to or needs to cleanse? Are we a place of prayer or impurity?
The story is told of a family whose children constantly nagged their parents to lower the standard to allow them to watch some less than holy TV programs. The parents didn’t feel the programs were something their children should watch. The children disagreed. To prove their point the parents made some brownies as a special treat for desert one night. When they brought them out the children we ecstatic. “Brownies!” they all exclaimed. But then the father said, “These are special brownies with a special ingredient. You know Buffy our faithful dog. Well she helped us with these brownies. We know how much you love her. So we thought we’d have her contribute. She gave us some brown ingredients of her own to put in these brownies. It was just a little. It won’t hurt. It doesn’t smell that bad. You probably won’t even taste it.” Needless to say the parents made their point. How much sin does it take to make something tasteless, (or should I say uneatable?). How much sin makes something putrid? Just a little.
Did you know that rat poison is 99.9% nutritious for rats? It’s that .01% poison that’s a killer. How much sin does it take to kill you; to inhibit and negatively affect your spiritual life? Just a little. Sin is like cancer, it only takes one cell to metastasize to a life threatening condition. The same is true with sin. Sin is never solitary, it always multiplies. Samson thought he could play with sin. It ended up blinding him, binding him and grinding him down (Judges 16:21).
Is there a stench of sin in your life? “Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment, and cause it to give off a foul odor; so does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor” (Ecclesiastes 10:1). Did you ever watch what flies are attracted to? They are attracted to death; dead meat; dead flesh. They are attracted to refuse, to dung. And when the fly travels from place to place they carry impurities and drop them off wherever they land. Are there dead flies in your life? Are the dead flies in your life transferring their putrification to others? As people see and follow your compromises with questionable activities, even sin, do they follow your downward spiral? Are people following you like flies to a dung heap? Don’t lower your standards or rationalize sin into your life. It’s not good for you. It’s not good for those around you. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
You are a sweet smelling aroma to the Lord. Don’t foul that aroma with the smell of dead flies. God has promised to show you the way of escape in times of temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). It’s not merely a question of what is or is not permissible. It’s a question of what is helpful, beneficial to the cause of Christ, and glorifying to the Lord (cf. 1 Cor. 6:12; 10:31). Is there a fly in your ointment? Swat it out with prayer in the power of the Spirit.