While perfection is a noble and admirable ideal in our pursuit of sanctity, John Newton, in this very brief, to-the-point vignette tells us where the object of our real aim belongs.
If we become misaligned in what our purpose is, it can lead to frustration. Over some time we would find ourselves developing a self-defeating, and even self-abasing frame of mind. If this leads to a more profound feeling of futility, it can be discouraging enough to question any further desire of seeking a relationship with Christ. ~G.W.
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells.” Romans 7:18
The depravity of our fallen nature is and will be, universally and always felt during our present earthly state. It insinuates into and mixes with all our thoughts and all our actions. It is inseparable from us, as the shadow from our bodies when the sun shines upon us.
The holiness of a Christian does not consist in deliverance from depravity–but in being aware of it, striving against it, and being humbled under it; and taking occasion from there to appreciate our Savior, and rejoice in Him as our complete righteousness and sanctification.
The grace of God puts a great deal into the heart–but it takes nothing out. Nature and grace, flesh and spirit, will antagonize each other to the end of life. Therefore the life of a believer, while in the body, is a continual state of warfare.
The apostle felt a law in his members warring against the law of his mind. He would do good, but evil was present with him. He groaned burdened.
When we first set out, we hope to be spiritually rich–but the Lord’s purpose is to make us so to understand our extreme poverty. We wish to be something–but He is teaching us that we are nothing.
When indeed we are willing to be nothing, that He may be all in all, in us and for us–then I think we reach the very peak of holiness. Then, while we feel that we have no sufficiency of ourselves, we shall be enabled to do all things that occur in the line of duty, through Him strengthening us.
Italic emphases mine: ~G.W.