The true Christian cannot keep God’s law perfectly. “There is certainly no righteous man on the earth who does good and never sins.” Eccl. 7:20. There is in the best actions of a godly man — that which is damnable — if God should weigh him in the balance of justice. Alas! He cannot pray without wandering, nor believe without doubting. “For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.” Romans 7:18. Paul, though a saint of the first magnitude, was better at desiring than at performing.
The regenerate have a desire to obey God perfectly; but they lack strength; their obedience is weak and sickly. The mark they are to shoot at, is perfection of holiness. But though they take a right aim, and do what they can—they come short of the mark!
A Christian, while serving God, is like the rower who plies the oar, and rows hard—but is hindered, for a gust of wind carries him back again! So says Paul, “For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do.” Romans 7:19. “I am driven back by temptation!”
God permits this inability in His people—to humble us. Man is a self-exalting creature; and if he has but anything of worth, he is ready to be puffed up! But when he comes to see his deficiencies and failings, and how far short he comes of that holiness and perfection which God requires—it pulls down the plumes of his pride, and lays them in the dust! He weeps over his inability! He blushes over his leprous spots! He says with Job, “I abhor myself in dust and ashes!”