But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18
As we consider various means by which Christians grow, think of each one of them as a book you’re putting on the shelf of your life. In order to keep those books in place, you need two bookends.
The first bookend we need is the righteousness of Christ. The most important question any person can ask is: How can I, a sinful person, be accepted by an infinitely holy and righteous God? Paul told us that it’s by trusting in the righteousness of Christ. Paul counted all his impressive religious credentials as rubbish in order that he might “gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith, Philippians 3:8-9. Paul found his acceptance with God not in his own imperfect obedience, as impressive as it was, but by trusting in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, which God credits to all who trust in Him as Savior. This is what faith is—trusting in Jesus Christ alone as one’s Savior.
The second bookend we must set in place is the power of Christ. Just as our acceptance with God must come through the righteousness of Christ, so our power to live the Christian life must come from Christ as well. As Jesus indicated in John 15:5, we have no ability within ourselves to grow. All of the ability must come from Him.
The common element in these two bookends is the word dependence. We’re dependent upon the righteousness of Christ for our acceptance with God, and upon the power of Christ for our ability to pursue spiritual growth.