But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18
Let's reflect upon some of the heavenly territory we have explored thus far. Grace is for spiritual growth and progress in the Lord. It is not intended only for birthing and starting out with the Lord. "But grow in the grace . . . of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Growth in Christ is to be produced by God's grace at work in us.
Often, God's people are apprehensive about an emphasis upon His grace. We become concerned that irresponsibility, ungodliness, laziness, or indulgence will result. We can rest assured on the promises and purposes of God that true grace does not produce such consequences. Such effects are produced by the flesh of man, either by licentiousness or by legalism.
Licentiousness hopes to turn grace into a means by which sinful indulgence is acceptable. "For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness" (Jude v.4). Legalism aspires to add religious performance to grace, thereby appealing to the self-righteous hopes of man. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:2-3).
When a person truly lives by the grace of God, righteousness results, not ungodliness. When a person increasingly learns to draw upon the grace of God for daily living, Christlikeness develops, not worldliness. When grace becomes more and more the resource for life, sin diminishes; it does not increase. "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14).
The temptation is to rely upon the law of God in order to generate godliness. The demand of the law to be holy, loving, and perfect becomes a false security to our flesh. We think that by hearing, repeating, or depending upon this demand, we can thereby accomplish it. Let us not forget that "the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope" (Hebrews 7:18-19). God's grace is the "better hope" that does not fail to bring forth what God desires.
The Lord has ordained for us a life-long involvement with His grace. He wants to work "grace for [upon] grace" (John 1:16) for the rest of our days. This is the "new and living way" (Hebrews 10:20). Perhaps this could all be summarized in another acrostic on grace: Glorious Realities As Christ Empowers.
Gracious Father, how bountiful is Your provision for my spiritual growth. How foolish of me to think that I need more for developing in godliness than Your grace supplies. O Lord, I long to grow in the image of Christ. I beseech You, remind me and convince me that Your grace is the only sufficient hope. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.