As human beings, we often feel like we need to earn God's grace. We sin, we mess up, we want to be perfect but can't seem to get it quite right no matter how hard we try. What we don't seem to realize is that this is a sin in itself. We cannot work for God's favor for even our righteousness is as filthy, bloody rags. The assumption that we must work to gain God's grace stems from the sin of pride. We will never be good enough on our own in order to merit or earn salvation.
Yet, the Bible also says if we don't obey and strive to please God, living as He commands us to live, we aren't really believers. (James) So, where does this leave us?
A couple weeks ago, my pastor made what was to me a profound statement. So, here it is: "Obedience is not the root of justification, but the fruit of justification." There is nothing we can do to be saved, but once He saves us, we will live in obedience to His word.
Are we made perfect, then? Yes and no. We are made righteous in God's eyes, yet we are constantly being sanctified by the Spirit which now indwells our sinful bodies. For now, our spirits have been reborn. But, complete perfection and sinlessness won't occur until we've recieved our new bodies, as well.
Still, we must strive to be obedient children of God. And, we will strive if we are truly His because His love and grace and spirit moves and empowers us to do so.