At some point in your life, you may have seen a film entitled The Picture of Dorian Gray. The film was based on a novel by Oscar Wilde. If you have seen the film, you no doubt remember it to be a very intense film.
There are no chase scenes; no one is hanging from a cliff; it is just one of those films that seems to have a certain feeling about it, and that feeling is with you throughout the entire drama.
The story goes something like this: a young man named Dorian Gray had his portrait painted. Upon completion, the artist was quite proud of his work. Indeed, he seemed to be in awe of it somehow, and sensed that it was perhaps more than just a portrait — that it had perhaps taken on a life of its own. But he sluffed it off, because things like that just don’t happen.
The portrait was so handsome that someone in the room made the comment that it was too bad that Dorian couldn’t stay as he looked in that portrait forever. After all, we all grow old and lose our youthful virility and vitality. He would get older and older, and only the portrait of him would remain young and handsome.
This made Dorian very sad, so he made a wish — a prayer if you will — that he himself would never change, but would remain forever young and handsome, while only the portrait of him would grow old.
This was the beginning of a life-long string of selfishness.
Dorian would soon find out that his prayer had been answered. He hurt someone miserably, cruelly, and as a result of his calloused behaviour, a woman committed suicide. Afterward, he looked and noticed that the face in the portrait had become harder, with a cruel countenance upon it. Yet in the mirror he remained unchanged, with the countenance of innocent youth. His life from that point on becomes a shallow existence of selfishness and cruelty; a life filled with all manner of evil, drunkenness and debauchery. Even people who had once been his friends began to avoid him, for in all this debauchery he never even gave a care. His licentiousness was nothing to him.
As the years went on, many wondered at the fact that Dorian never seemed to age a day, though everyone else grew older. The next time we see the portrait, which he now kept locked away, we see that it is absolutely hideous!
What had been a portrait of a handsome, innocent young man full of life and vitality was now a picture of a foul, evil, twisted, diseased old man, covered with blood — a figure so ugly he barely even looked human.
Reading this, you might stop to ponder, as I did, what a portrait of your true inner self, your soul, might look like. Would you be beautiful and innocent, or would you look like that picture of the real Dorian Gray — foul, hideous, and covered with rotten, festering filth?
Finally, one-night Dorian Gray came to the end of himself, and he couldn’t take the pain, the evil, the sin any longer. With what little conscience he had left, he grabbed a knife and stabbed the hideous portrait, I believe knowing that what was on the canvas would then come upon his physical body.
He cried out “Forgive me Father for I have sinned!” repeatedly and died. The portrait went back to its original beauty, the beauty of a young innocent life, while Dorian lay dead on the floor. The hideous SIN had manifested in his body, and it had killed him.
In the closing moments of this moving film, it occurred to me that each of us is somewhat like this picture of Dorian Gray. Though we would all like to think that we are somehow clean and fine, and though we may well appear to be so on the surface, over time each of our souls becomes soiled and grotesque with the corruptness of our own sin, selfishness and lusts. We all tend to leave the innocence of childhood and become infected with the lusts of the flesh and pridefulness.
After we have come to the end of ourselves, and are tired of our miserable state, we can go to the Father, just as Dorian Gray did in the end, and ask Him to forgive us and cleanse us of the vile filth that only we and the Almighty know is there. And when we do, He will hear us, and in His grace, He will forgive and restore.
Oh, bless His Name!
There was one problem that I saw with the ending of this movie, however. In the end, when Dorian asked the Lord for forgiveness, the portrait alone became clean and nice, while the filth went onto Dorian Gray, and killed him. This would indeed be pitiful if it were as it was portrayed here. But it is not we who must bear our wickedness. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ took our sin upon Himself while upon the cross and it is no more, for He has taken it all away!!
The Biblical account of Christ upon the cross is remarkably similar to that of the picture of Dorian Gray at its worst. He became that disgusting, horrible filth upon the cross. He was so ugly, so disfigured, so laden with the sin of the world, that He hardly even looked like a human being hanging there on that cross! “. . . His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.” Isaiah 52:14
How Isaiah must have been taken aback when he saw the vision of prophecy! Christ actually became sin on that cross, so that we could be free and clean! “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29
Oh, praise the Wonderful Name of Jesus!! We do not bear our sin any more! If we are His, we are clean!
My sin — oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more!
PRAISE THE LORD! PRAISE THE LORD, OH MY SOUL!!
And He is risen and lives today in beauty and majesty!
Aren’t you glad that he whom the Son sets free is free indeed?!