The man under law wants to redefine the law so that it is doable. This definition ends up reducing the difficulties it presents to a practical human level, ignoring the obvious difficulties that performing the law truly represents. Ironically, putting oneself under the law reduces its message and reach. Grace sees a bigger picture, and recognizes the scope and sweep of true holiness. The man under grace can recognize that his own righteousness is as filthy rags:
“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Isaiah 64:6, NASB.
C.S. Lewis tells the story of a shrewish controlling overprotective woman, who views her own greatest role in life to be that of a mother to her children. Her own greatest gift to her children was also her greatest failure; she smothered them until they couldn’t wait to get out of her clutches. Her mothering was not for the sake of her children, it was all to serve her own sense of self worth. Her greatest selflessness was completely and utterly selfish.
Even so, it is often true that our own greatest strengths and sacrifices are really nothing but self-serving rottenness. The things we think we most need to repent of are often our least offensive attribute, and the greatest successes we have may be our worst sin in the perfect light of God.
The point of all this is that repentance could never be only about the sins we feel bad about. Not only will we have trouble perfectly conquering these things, but these are the least of our problems in the end. Nothing but a repentance of belief, that God alone knows us and truly loves us, can take us across. Jesus’ message of a God who is like a Father who perfectly loves us washes away our fears of judgement and the impossible task of measuring up to the law’s standards. Our only hope is easy-believism, because that is the only thing we can understand to be honest and true as a point of faith. Anything else waters down the true imprint of the law upon us, and greatly diminishes the scope of the reach of repentance upon our lives and desires.