… not of works, so that no one should boast.
— Ephesians 2:9
Many people mistakenly think they can work their way to heaven by being good. Centuries ago, a simple farmer from England indirectly laid this myth to rest. He was an old and very godly plowman and was acquainted with a young English curate who had recently started a ministry in England. Though the plowman had no education, he had been educated by the Spirit of God and the Word of God. One day, in one of their many conversations, while they were talking about the greatest hindrance to spiritual attainment and growth, the curate said that he believed the greatest hindrance to spiritual attainment was the unwillingness to surrender one’s sinful self.
Sounds reasonable, but the plowman said, “No, I think not. I think the greatest hindrance to the advancement in the spiritual faith is the unwillingness to surrender one’s righteous self.”
It is a long way from, “I am proud to stand before God and tell how I have lived my life for the betterment of mankind,” to “God have mercy upon me, a sinner.”