Early this morning, a friend texted me and asked a question about 2 Peter 3:18: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” His question boiled down to: “How do you grow in grace?”
I gave him an answer you’ll read below, and then he asked, “How do you keep from getting puffed up with knowledge.” My answer? I haven’t figured that out yet, other than begging God for mercy. It is so easy for me to think theoretically and conceptually about the Bible. It is much harder for me to think practically — that actually requires effort and action.
What does it mean to grow in grace? From the immediate context of 2 Peter 2:14-18, it means taking caution, by God’s grace, to not be carried away with doctrinal error and losing your spiritual stability by believing man-made philosophy. It means studying, knowing, and loving what the Scriptures say, particularly the hard parts of Scripture (like what Paul writes, says Peter). It means not distorting those hard parts of Scripture, but instead, with the power of the Spirit, staying faithful to what the text says. It means means being found by Christ “without spot, or blemish, and at peace” (v. 14).
We know from Philippians 2:12-15 that being blameless before God is ultimately rooted in God’s work in us for his good pleasure. So to grow in grace also means that we come to a deeper love that God is in control of our lives and our sanctification. We are not the ultimate cause of anything good that happens in and through us. God is.
How does this, in fact, play out practically? It means begging God for mercy to constantly have this on our minds. It means laboring over Scripture (especially the hard parts) and memorizing it so that God’s words — not ours — consume our thoughts when we are tempted to doubt our sanctification or take credit for it. So often the epistles begin with “grace to you” and end with “grace be with you.” We must be in God’s word if we want grace! Finally, it means confessing sin and looking at the person and work of Jesus, because he is the only one who can present us blameless, without spot or blemish, to God so that we might have peace with him.
Father, help your people grow in grace, and we need grace even to do that. Make us people who love your word, take it seriously, trust in your sovereignty, and look to your Son as our perfect righteousness.