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BE SURE TO APPLY YOUR COSMETICS
by Philip Owen

            I was about to begin these paragraphs with a remark that seemed obvious, namely, that no one wishes to be ugly, that we all try to be as attractive in appearance as possible.  But I was arrested by the thought of many today who seem to relish looking freakish.  In many such cases, especially where some deliberate physical disfigurement has occurred, there may be an element of satanic or demonic destructive influence at work.  But setting aside those obvious exceptions, normal people wish to present as attractive an appearance as possible.  For some of us, the task is well-nigh hopeless on a natural level.  But the grace of God is such that saints may be assured of the possibility of presenting the doctrines of God in our persons as attractive.  The Apostle Paul writes that we should “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect” (Tit. 2:10b).

            The privilege of adorning.  What a privilege!  Every believer has the potential to “adorn” the doctrine of God our Savior.  The Greek verb is kosmeo, from which we derive our English “cosmetic.”  The word means “to ornament.” And just as women may use cosmetics to highlight an attractive facial feature, so the Lord wishes to use our lives to manifest the glorious Person and Work of Christ, who is “God our Savior.”  One of our chief desires should be to make Christ attractive to those around us—both lost and saved alike.  The Bride in the Song of Solomon describes her Bridegroom so effectively to the “daughters of Jerusalem” that they cry out as with one excited voice:  “Where has your beloved gone, O most beautiful among women?  Where has your beloved turned, That we may seek him with you?” (Song 6:1).  Our lives should be so righteously attractive that observers inquire about the secret of our beauty.

            The people who adorn.  Certainly every believer can and should adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.  But the NASB punctuates the Titus passage in a way that links this privilege specifically to “bondslaves” (see vv. 9, 10).  What a magnifying of the grace of God.  The Lord would have us understand that His salvation is such that the lowliest of believers—even a bondslave, who may own nothing more than the clothes on his back, whose life is entirely controlled by another, and who has no liberty to exercise his own will—may live in such a way that God Himself is pleased with him and that others will seek the Savior and the truth because of his life.

            The practice of adornment.  The life that proves genuinely attractive is not one of sham and subterfuge, or hypocrisy and cover-up.  Eminently practical righteousness is its chief cosmetic.  Paul exhorts bondslaves to “be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith”; he continues with a general admonition to everyone to “deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present world” all the while “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (vv.  10, 12, 13). 

            The price of our adorning.  Our cosmetics did not come off the Close-Out Sale shelf in some discount store.  They are of the highest quality and cost the dearest price:  the life of Christ, “who gave Himself for us” (v. 14).  Christ died in order to pay the price required to make us who believe ineffably attractive.  Nothing short of His suffering and death were sufficient.  May we never spurn or even regard casually such an expensive gift.

            The purpose for our adorning.  We are not to be adorned with righteous works to show off and impress others with ourselves.  Nor is our adorning ultimately for the sake of the saved and lost around us.  Paul explains that the supreme purpose for which Christ gave Himself that we might be adorned was in order “to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (v. 14).  We have been redeemed for Christ’s sake and in order to please Him.  We have been redeemed that He might display us as trophies of His grace.  Have you looked in the spiritual mirror today?  Is the cosmetic of Christ’s righteousness evident in your life?   

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