What does it mean to be a Christian? Many would say that it involves doing good things and being a good person, trying to please God, and maybe even going to church. I say that is a bunch of crap. And I think Paul would agree with me.
Galatians 2:16 says, "a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ."
While a Christian may and should do good things, there is a fundamental difference between trying to please God and being good, and falling on my face before God and totally depending on the grace, mercy and blood of Christ. If I rely on Him alone, then my response is because of what He has done, and not what I can or should do.
Proverbs 1:7 "Start with God - the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning." (The Message)
Paul started with God, but we often start with ourselves. What can I do to make things right? Answer: Nothing! Are not all our righteous acts filthy rags before God? (Isaiah 64:6) Here, God, let me take this filthy rag and clean up this mess I've made. Oh, that looks worse now, doesn't it. Wait, I have plenty more filthy rags where that one came from...
Sounds silly doesn't it?
Christ fulfilled the law. On the cross he said, "It is finished," and not "The rest is up to you now."
I love verse 19 of Galatians 2, "For through the law I died to law so that I might live for God."
Can he make it any clearer? If we do not die to the law, and we do that only through Christ, we cannot live for God! Death first, then life. Carry our cross first, then we get to be his disciple. But that doesn't always preach so good, does it.
Remember the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. One thanked God that he was not a gentile sinner, one fell on his face and begged forgiveness. Who was justified before God? Someone please remind me.
2 Chronicles 7:14 "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
PS A word to the religious right: turning from our wicked ways (legislating morality, over-turning Roe v Wade, picketing abortion clinics, etc.) is meaningless without humbling ourselves, praying, and seeking his face first. Sorry.