26 Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved.
The passage makes the most sense to me when I think of it iteratively, rather than sequentially. Do I need to be perfect in order to access God’s power? Of course not. That would be an impossible situation: I can’t perfect myself. Do I need to make an effort to be good? Yes, I do. And in that process of choosing righteousness, of trying to be good, I access the grace which enables me to accomplish that goal. In other words, I make a choice to do something which I can’t do on my own, and I trust that God will help me to do it.
Will I grow in stages, “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30, Isaiah 28:10,13)? I will, and every step of the way, I will need to make a personal effort in order to access the power of the Atonement which will help me to achieve the next level of progression. It is a powerful process and a hopeful one. Jesus Christ can help us overcome our weaknesses and sins. He can mold us into the kind of people who will eventually inherit eternal life.
I’m grateful for my Heavenly Father’s plan which allows me to progress and improve, both by teaching me to do good and at the same time by empowering me to become good.