Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Moral Perfection of Christ

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Scientists have come up with what they claim now is the universal standard for beauty. It's a simple mathematical ratio known as phi or “divine proportion.” It's also known as the “golden ratio.”

Leslie Basham: This is Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy: The ratio is 1.618:1. This ratio applies to many areas they say beauty is found. It applies in art, architecture, nature, and facial beauty.

For example, if the width of the face from cheek to cheek is 10 inches, then the length of the face from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin should be 16.18 inches to be in ideal proportion. That's true beauty.

There is a plastic surgeon has developed a phi mask that is a model for the ideal human face all in these divine golden ratios. There's another study by a psychologist that says the dimensions and proportions of what is regarded as attractive are amazingly consistent. This study said that the ideal attractive female face can be described this way—see if this fits you:

  • the eye width should be three-tenths the width of the face at the eyes' level
  • the chin length should be one-fifth the height of the face
  • the distance from the center of the eye to the bottom of the eyebrow is one-tenth the height of the face
  • the height of the visible eyeball is one-fourteenth the height of the face
  • the width of the pupil is one-fourteenth the distance between the cheekbones
  • the total area for the nose, less than 5 percent of the area of the face

How beautiful are you? This study said that very small differences mattered in what people perceived as attractive. For example, "the ideal mouth was half or fifty percent the width of the face at mouth level; if that percentage varied 'by as little as ten points,' the face was rated as less attractive."  

You read that and you realize that the standard for perfect beauty is unattainable. Only rarely does anyone even come close. Some have tried. In preparing for this session, I came across a cover for Newsweek magazine that had the headline, “The Perfect Face: How a Global Standard of Beauty is Emerging and What People Are Doing to Get It.” What people are doing to get it is lots and lots of plastic surgery.

As we think about perfection, about beauty, about the perfect face, and about the divine proportion and golden ratios, it brings me back to our study that we've just embarked on "The Incomparable Christ."

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, February 19, 2015.

Nancy is continuing to lead us through the book, The Incomparable Christ. You can get a copy for yourself at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy: Through this series we're following along with a book by Oswald Sanders called The Incomparable Christ. Today we come to the first chapter in that book, which is called, “The Moral Perfection of Christ.” What we're really talking about when we talk about his perfection is His beauty, His loveliness—the beauty of Christ.

He is the Model of all that is fair, all that is truly beautiful. He is the only “Perfect Ten.” Everything about Him is in perfect symmetry, perfect balance, perfect proportion. He is the only one who does not need any enhancements. He could not be any more excellent than He is.

How different is that from us? We all need to be enhanced. Whether it's facial beauty, or character beauty, or moral beauty, we all have imperfections. Aren't we painfully aware of those? We look in the mirror, and we see things we wish were different. Others see things in us they wish were different. But you look at Christ, and you will never see anything that needs to be different.

We see in the Gospels, as Oswald Sanders points out in his book, “the portrait of a Man, a real Man, who displays perfection at every stage of development and in every circumstance of life.” (The Incomparable Christ, p. 18). 

You get this thought in Psalm 45. It's a love song, a love poem that says . . . I think of the Messianic coming of Christ. "You are fairer than the sons of men." There's no one like you. Christ is incomparable. "Grace is poured upon Your lips; therefore God has blessed You forever” (Psalm 45:2 NKJV). 

Over the centuries there have been many song writers and hymn writers and poets who have tried to capture this portrait in words. I think of an old hymn that was written in 1700s that has been one of my favorites over the years. It says,

Majestic sweetness sits enthroned upon the Savior’s brow;
His head with radiant glories crowned, His lips with grace o'erflow.

Survey the beauties of His face, and on His glories dwell;
Think of the wonders of His grace, and all His triumphs tell.

No mortal can with Him compare among the sons of men;
Fairer is He than all the fair who fill the heav’nly train.

("Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned" by Samuel Stennett)

He's more wonderful, more beautiful than any mortal, any human being. He is more fair and more beautiful than anyone in the angelic host in heaven.

The beauty of Christ is not so much physical as it is His graces, the graces of Christ. As a man—and we're going to be considering Christ's life and ministry here on the earth over these next weeks during the Lenten season leading up to the passion week of Christ—He possessed every grace, every virtue in perfect tension and balance. Not one is missing; not one is out of balance. He had no “flat areas” as we all do, no deficiencies. Sometimes you have a lot of one grace, but then you are kind of off in the counterpart of that.

Christ had them all in perfect tension, perfect balance, perfect symmetry. He kept the Law of God perfectly. It's not just that He avoided committing any sins, but He perfectly lived up to the whole standard of God’s law. He never fell short in any way.

There is a lot that can be gained for our lives by taking some time to contemplate the perfection of Christ, the loveliness of Christ, the beauty of Christ. I'm glad that Sanders started out his book in this first chapter not by going to the birth of Christ, but by going to the overarching loveliness, beauty, and perfection of Christ. There is no one like Him.

There is a wonderful passage in the Song of Songs, the Song of Solomon, in the Old Testament. The Song of Solomon is a love story. It's the poem about a king and his bride. It's a beautiful picture of human marriage. But you also realize in this book that you are seeing an unveiling of the splendor, the beauty, and the loveliness of the Lord Jesus Himself.

In this Song of Songs, as it's called, chapter 5, we have an account where the Bridegroom comes to His bride. He knocks on the door of her chamber. He asks her to open to Him. He wants to be with her, and He wants to spend time with her. But she makes excuses: She's tired. She's ready for bed. She doesn't feel like it.

He persists. She finally gets up to open the door for Him and then finds out He is gone. He's not there. She is distressed by this turn of events. She goes out and into the city and goes everywhere looking for Him, saying to people, “Have you found Him?” She goes then to the daughters of Jerusalem—these are friends of hers—and she says to them, “Do you know where my beloved is? Have you seen Him? Can you tell me where He's gone?”

Then in verse 9 of the Song of Songs, the daughters say to her, “What is your beloved more than another beloved, O fairest among women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you so charge us?” They're saying, “What's so special about Him that you miss Him so much? You know He's gone, but maybe there are others who are just like Him. Maybe you can find somebody else to replace Him.”

She begins to think about that, and beginning in verse 10, she responds to their question, “What is your beloved more than another beloved? What makes Him so special? What makes Him so unique?” She begins to describe her beloved to these daughters of Jerusalem.

She says in verse 10, “My beloved is white and ruddy, chief among ten thousand.” There is no one else like Him. Then over those next several verses, she gives a detailed description of His head, His hair, His arms, His body. She describes His physical attributes, His characteristics, what it is that she admires about Him. She gives this detailed description.

Then she finishes that in verse 16, where she says, “His mouth is most sweet, yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!" (NKJV). 

As we read this part of the Scripture, we realize that we are not just about human earthly marriage—an intimate, human love relationship. We're reading about our heavenly Bridegroom. We're seeing the splendor and the loveliness of the Lord Jesus.

John Flavel was a Puritan pastor in the 1600s who wrote a whole sermon on this verse of Song of Songs 5:16, "He is altogether lovely." He called the message “Christ Altogether Lovely.” He said,

Cast your eyes among all created things, survey the universe: you will observe strength in one, beauty in a second, faithfulness in a third, wisdom in a fourth; but you shall find none excelling in them all as Christ does.

Bread has one quality, water another, raiment another, medicine another; but none has them all in itself as Christ does. He is bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, a garment to the naked, healing to the wounded; and whatever a soul can desire is found in him. 1 

As this bride recounts to her friends the beauty and the uniqueness of her beloved, two things happen. As you move into chapter 6, you see this. First of all, the people that she's been talking to about her beloved, they want to know Him.

So chapter 6:1, the daughters of Jerusalem say to this bride, “Where has your beloved gone, O most beautiful among women? Where has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you?”

When they hear this description, they think, Wow, He really is unique. There really is no one else like Him. We want to know Him. We want to seek Him with you.

Then as you turn to verse 2, you see something else that happens as she recounts the loveliness, the beauty, and the wonder of her beloved. The intimacy she once experienced but has lost is restored. She realizes that He really hasn't left, that He is still with her, and that she can still have that relationship with Him.

So she says in verse 2, “My beloved has gone down to his garden to the beds of spices, to graze in the gardens and to gather lilies.” That's picturesque, symbolic language in this love poem for saying, “My beloved has come to me.” He's gone down to His gardens.

And then she says in verse 3, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” There is this precious, sweet, soul satisfaction of once again experiencing intimacy and oneness with the beloved from whom she thought she had been separated, from whom she thought she had lost that intimacy. So others want to know Him. Then the intimacy she once experienced is restored.

So as we think about the beauty and the loveliness of Christ, we tell ourselves about His wonders. We tell others, and they grow to want to know Him. We find that we ourselves enter into a more intimate experience of relationship with Him.

Now as we focus on the beauty and the wonder of Christ, we will come to realize that He is not only our Savior and our Lord—He is all that, and there is much about that that we'll talk about over these next weeks—but we also come to realize that He is also our most priceless treasure.

He is beautiful. He's not just right; He is good. He is lovely. He is perfect. There is nothing on this earth more desirable than Him. In having Christ, we have the most beautiful, the most lovely, the most wonderful thing, the most wonderful possession, the most wonderful relationship that a human being could ever have on this planet.

When we realize the treasure that Christ is, that will cause us to live our lives differently.

  • We will not spend all of our lives in pursuit of things and people that can never fully satisfy.
  • We will focus our attention and efforts on Christ.
  • We will want to have undistracted devotion to Him.
  • We will want to spend time with Him.

We won't have to have somebody tell us, “You need to have a quiet time. You need to read your Bible. You need to pray.” We will want to be with Him. We will want to know Him. We will want to say "no" to other things that are distractions in order to pursue Christ because we have come to see that He is lovely.

A reminder here that Christ is only lovely, fair, and beautiful to those whose eyes have been opened to see His beauty. Until the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see who He is, until that point, our eyes are blind and Christ is undesirable to those who have never seen His beauty.

In fact, we read in Isaiah 53, which is an Old Testament prophetic passage about Christ the Messiah. It says,

He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not (vv. 2–3).

Now, how could people despise one who is so lovely, one who is so beautiful, one who is so perfect? How could we at times and at one point in our lives despise Him and have not esteemed Him? How could we have not cherished Him? How could we have ignored Him? How could so many people in this world still despise Him and not esteem Him and not consider Him lovely and beautiful? How could it be?

It's because at one point our eyes were not opened to know who He is. So many on this planet still have not had their eyes opened to see that He is beautiful. If He is not altogether lovely to you, if He is not your chief treasure, if you don't see Him as a priceless possession, if you don't wonder and marvel at his beauty and loveliness, then you need to ask yourself, “Do I really know Him? Have my eyes been opened to see who He really is?”

If the answer to that question is “no,” then let me encourage you to go to the Lord in prayer and say, “Lord, I want to know Him. Open my eyes to see Christ, to know Him, to see who He really is. Introduce Him to me. Help me to see Him, to know Him as He really is.”

Then we need to remind ourselves that perfection is found only in Christ. It's not found in others or in self. If you look anywhere else to find perfection, to find beauty, to find unmitigated loveliness, to find flawlessness, you will be disappointed.

That's what leads to so much depression and discouragement in this world. It's that we have looked at things and people other than Christ to satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. Look to anything—your husband, your home, your job, yourself—you will be disappointed. But look to Him, He will always exceed and surpass your highest hopes and expectations. Those who look to Him are never disappointed.

To realize that perfection is found only in Him is to come to the end of striving, the end of human effort to be perfect ourselves. We soon realize we can't be perfect. I meet a lot of Christian women who are trying really hard to be great Christian women.

They're getting discouraged and despairing in the process. Why? Because we can't be perfect. We don’t have that perfect ratio that we talked about.

  • We don’t have it physically.
  • We don’t have it spiritually.
  • We don’t have it morally.
  • We are failures desperately in need of a Savior.

So the call to the Christian life is not a call to “turn over a new leaf” or working at becoming a better person, but acknowledging our imperfection. To say, “I am flawed," and allowing the Spirit of Christ to transform us into His likeness as we gaze upon Him.

I woke up this morning feeling very sinful. Thinking about my day yesterday, I didn’t go out and commit these egregious acts of sin, but I woke up this morning thinking my lack of self-control, about different aspects of my responses, my spirit. This happens to me a lot at morning. Am I the only one? Okay, I’m not the only sinner in this room.

I woke up feeling so needy. Then I was reminded of what I was teaching on today. Only Christ is perfect. Christ is perfect. It was that great old-time preacher Robert Murray M'Cheyne who said, “For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.”

Don't live in discouragement. Don't live in failure. Yes, recognize that we are failures. The point is not to convince each other you're a really good person. The point is to realize and remind each other you really are a failure. You are a sinner. You are imperfect; you are flawed. But look at Christ. He is perfect. As we consider and look at the moral perfection, the beauty of Christ, we will respect Him. We will worship Him. We will love Him more. We will want to know Him more intimately. We will want to tell others about Him, even as that bride did in the Song of Songs.

We become more and more like Him, then we will reflect His beauty, His moral perfection to others. As we reflect His beauty, others will desire Him. He will become desirable to them, and the earth will be filled with the glory of Christ.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss in the series "The Incomparable Christ." She’ll be right back.

Today’s program was on the beauty of Christ. Each day through Resurrection Sunday, we’ll continue looking at another powerful characteristic of Jesus.

Getting to know Him through His word will radically change your life. At Revive Our Hearts, we’re so thankful for the opportunity to bring you this series all about Jesus. 

Some Revive Our Hearts listeners have come to know Jesus in a real and fresh way after hearing the teaching on this program. One said, “I feel like I am experiencing my Savior in ways like never before.” Isn’t that great.  Another wrote and said, “Thank you for your teaching on Jesus. I am falling in love with Him.”

You help Revive Our Hearts speak to listeners like these. This is a listener-supported ministry, and we need your involvement. When you donate any amount this week, we’ll send you the book Nancy’s been telling you about.  It’s called The Incomparable Christ. Nancy’s following the outline in this book during this teaching series. 

So when you get the book you can follow along each day. You’ll also receive The Incomparable Christ journal.  Our team crafted this journal so you could follow up each day’s teaching by answering some questions and evaluating your heart.

We’d like to send you The Incomparable Christ book and the journal when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Ask for it when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

What was Jesus doing before He came to this earth as a baby? It's a fascinating question. Nancy will explore it tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. Now, Nancy will close in prayer.

Nancy: Lord, how I pray that you would do that work in us; that out lives would display the beauty of Christ. His is the only perfect face.

So we worship you Lord Jesus. You are lovely. You are good. You are in perfect symmetry. You are in perfect balance, the golden ratio. It's yours. We love you. We ask that our lives may reflect and display your beauty to our world that so desperately needs to see the glory of who You are.

May our lives make others thirsty for you. May it point others to you. May they be drawn to say, “Yes, we love Him. We want to know Him, too.” I pray in Jesus' name, amen.

Leslie: What was Jesus doing before He came to this earth as a baby? It's a fascinating question. Nancy will explore it tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture was taken from the ESV.

1 http://www.puritansermons.com/sermons/flavel1.htm.

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