Something to chew on from Martin Luther, the great reformer, speaking of our tendency to default to works righteousness. His words are genius.
“The law is divine and holy. Let the law have his glory, but yet no law, be it never so divine and holy, ought to teach me that I am justified, and shall live through it. I grant it may teach me that I ought to love God and my neighbor; also to live in chastity, soberness, patience, etc., but it ought not to show me, how I should be delivered from sin, the devil, death, and hell.
Here I must take counsel of the gospel. I must hearken to the gospel, which teacheth me, not what I ought to do, (for that is the proper office of the law,) but what Jesus Christ the Son of God hath done for me : to wit, that He suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death. The gospel willeth me to receive this, and to believe it. And this is the truth of the gospel. It is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consisteth.
Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually.”
Martin Luther, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (Philadelphia: Smith, English & Co., 1860), 206.