The Victorian novel The Picture of Dorian Gray illustrates how the person we project to others may be very different from who we are on the inside. After the youthful and handsome Dorian Gray had his portrait painted, he dreaded the prospect of growing old, and he wished the portrait would grow old in his place.

Soon he realized that his wish had been granted. The portrait, which mirrored his troubled soul, aged and became more hideous with each sin Dorian committed, while he himself remained youthful. His outward appearance did not match his corrupted heart.

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for displaying a similar hypocrisy. Many of them took pride in showing off their spirituality in public. Yet on the inside, they were guilty of many secret sins. Because of this, Jesus compared them to “whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of . . . all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:27).

We are tempted to cultivate a false image for others to see. But God knows our hearts (1 Sam. 16:7; Prov. 15:3). Through confession and prayerfully opening our hearts to God’s Word and the work of the Spirit, we can experience an inner goodness that is reflected in godly actions. Let God transform you from the inside out (2 Cor. 3:17-18).