Summary: In today’s world, there is an inordinate emphasis on physical appearance to the neglect of a far more important need, that of inward or spiritual beauty.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee; first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:25-28
The popular TV series, “Extreme Makeover” characterizes man’s pre-occupation with outward appearance. The “Cinderella-type” stories feature startling physical makeovers courtesy of liposuction, implants and cosmetic surgery. The skill of man may enhance the physical appearance of a person but what is far more important is a new birth experience which beautifies from the inside out.
I. THE CHRISTIAN’S OUTWARD APPEARANCE IS IMPORTANT!
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel…” I Peter 3:3
The Christian should be diligent in bodily cleansing, grooming and in wearing clean clothing. Our body is “the temple of the Holy Spirit”, and being such, we should honor His presence by providing a “temple” that is clean in which He will dwell.
In addition to this, consider Paul’s charge to the church in Corinth: "Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." II Corinthians 5:20-21.
Certainly no one as a commissioned ambassador, representing a king, would dare carry out the duties of his office dressed in unclean garments and careless personal hygiene. If such care is expected in earthly representation, how much more when we represent the King of kings.
But never lose sight of the fact that if outward beauty and cleanliness isn’t matched by inward (spiritual) beauty and cleanliness, than that person, in the words of Jesus, is no more than “a whitewashed sepulcher”.
II. FAR MORE IMPORTANT IS INNER SPIRITUAL BEAUTY.
Whereas as physical appearance is temporal at best, spiritual inner beauty has an eternal dimension. The Bible gives us a number of traits that go to make up such inner beauty. We find a list of those traits in Galatians 5:22-23 and in Colossians 3:12-17. Consider:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law”. Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:12-17 (NKJV)
III. INNER SPIRITUAL BEAUTY IS NOT OBTAINED BY MAN’S EFFORT OR INGENUITY.
No matter how hard a man may try to cleanse his own heart, he is destined for failure because “All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” [literally: “a filthy garment”]. (Isaiah 64:6).
Only God can cleanse the heart! It is achieved only through the “New Birth” experience. Jesus told Nicodemus: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” [John 3:3].
Consider: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10.
Therefore let the light that radiates from our life as a born-again believer in Christ shine forth from a physical body that never loses sight that it is “the temple of the Holy Spirit.”