Fried onions produce a smell that draws people into a restaurant for deliciously greasy food that is normally not healthy at all. Depending on where you live in the world you may or may not know what I’m writing about here. In the US, a hamburger restaurant or a cheese-steak restaurant will serve fried onions on their sandwiches and for people like me the smell and taste is absolutely wonderful. My brother and I were recently lured into such a place. The smell of the onions frying on the grill wafted through the air outside a local eatery and we just had to have some. We ate a lunch that was amazingly delicious; cheeseburgers covered with fried onions and French fries.
Unbeknownst to my brother and me, the smell of the onions was now all over us. We knew that it was definitely on our breath, mints and gum seemed to have no effect. What we were unaware of was the smell was all over our clothes as well. We smelled like fried onions. I love to eat fried onions, but it is a smell that quickly turns from appealing and appetizing to one of offense. If someone smells fried onions cooking they will normally say, “Man, that smells delicious.” However, if someone says to you, “Hey Man, you smell like a fried onion,” they are telling you that you don’t smell good. Simply put, we like fried onions with our meals but we don’t like their smell on our breath or on our clothing.
Sin and the system of this world can act like fried onions in our lives if we are not passionately pursuing our Lord. We can mistakenly believe that we can indulge in the things of this world without being marked by them. We can find that the sin that seemed so attractive to us prior to indulging and during our indulgence now has marked us with its stench. We no longer smell like the children of God but are carrying the stench of this world’s system.
Faith and the Holy Spirit
The Old and New Testaments deal extensively with the subjects of holiness, consecration and sanctification for the believer. Separation from sin and evil is fundamental to our relationship with God. This separation involves two dimensions; separating ourselves morally and spiritually from everything that is contrary to Jesus Christ and drawing near to God. This separation is the essence of repentance; we turn away from our self and sin and we turn towards Jesus Christ. This separation is also the essence of the new birth; we are translated out of one kingdom into another. We die to sin and come alive to God through Jesus Christ.
For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (Colossians 1:13-14 NLT)
When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:10-11 NLT)
This separation is accomplished in our lives primarily by the working of the Holy Spirit but this work is completely dependent upon our submission to His moving and working in our lives; we have to let Him change us. As we walk in faith and obedience to the Word of God the Holy Spirit makes us more and more like Jesus.
There is a very fine line in our lives between holiness, consecration and sanctification and legalism, religion and dead works. I want to be as clear as I possibly can on this subject.
Holiness, consecration and sanctification are works of separation that take place in our lives as a result of our faith in Jesus Christ, our new birth and the Holy Spirit coming to reside within us. We are changed by Him as we submit our lives to His will, His ways and His word. These works of grace are possible because of the redemption we have in Jesus Christ. The blood of Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins; it is this grace that overwhelms our lives when we place our faith in Him for salvation.
Legalism, religion and dead works are normally our attempt at self-righteousness. Some believers become like the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes of the New Testament by imposing rules of “godliness” and “morality” upon the world in a tyrannical manner or with a holier-than-thou attitude. In some churches this has turned into grading the spirituality of church members based upon things like clothing, jewelry, cars, possessions, etc. There is significant pressure placed upon people to conform to an outward form of religious purity.
There can be no doubt that God has commanded holiness and obedience in our lives. It is for this reason than some turn scriptures concerning sin and righteousness into a bully-pulpit to decry the sin in the lives of others. Yet, it was Jesus Christ who died on the cross for the sins of the world (specifically my sin and your sin). He paid the price for our sins so that we might be forgiven and free. We cannot live righteously and biblically without the Holy Spirit in our lives. Our relationship with God through Jesus Christ is the foundation of holiness and separation in our lives.
For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. (Galatians 2:19-21 NLT)
What are the fried onions of your life?
We all have them yet for each of us they are different. There are things in this world that still call to us. Each of us faces temptation to return to the things of this world at different seasons. Just like the smell of fried onions calling to me from a hamburger stand there are sins that call to each of us from the kingdom of this world. The sin may be appealing, attractive and even delicious but they always leave us marked with the stench of our disobedience. I encourage you to confess your temptations to the Lord Jesus (He already knows) and ask Him to change your heart. Don’t hide the dark parts of your heart and mind from your Savior. Bring your temptations into the light of His love and of His Word and let Him change you.
We have been changed by the power of grace. We have been washed and cleansed through the forgiveness that was paid for by our Savior’s blood. We have become the house of the Holy Spirit. We have been adopted into the family of God. It is for these reasons that we are separated from the ways of this world. The Apostle Paul teaches us:
Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 NLT)
We cannot have it both ways
We cannot be the children of God who are walking in the power of His Spirit and maintain a life that smells like this unredeemed world. So…to continue the metaphor, we need to steer clear of the fried onions of this world.
Let us not carry the stench of this world upon our lives but rather let us carry the fragrance of heaven into this dying world.