What we church people tend to do is have this moment in our lives when we become aware of our sin, recognize our need for a Savior, choose to give our whole selves to Jesus because we recognize the truth that He is our only hope....and then try to bust out goodness and righteous living from that point on in our own efforts and power, because, after all, we're supposed to be "good Christians" now. We come to Christ based soley on His grace, but then in our practical living, we place ourselves back under the Law - trying to earn God's favor by our righteous acts. We get caught in cycles of guilt when we fail, rather than being amazed at the continued grace of Christ in our lives, and we fail so often becasue we feel like we should be able to be righteous in our own power now, rather than relying on His righteousness to flow through us.
Preach the gospel to yourself every day.
This is what I have been teaching my girls this year, and am teaching my D-group this summer as well, through Tim Keller's study on Galatians. One of my favorite sections is a section that Keller includes from Martin Luther's intro. to Galatians:
"Oh law! You would climb up into the kingdom of my conscience, and there reign and condemn me for sin, and would take from me the joy of my heart which I have by faith in Christ, and drive me to desperation, that I might be without hope. You have overstepped your bounds. Know your place! You are a guide for my behavior, but you are not my Savior and Lord of my heart. For I am baptized, and through the gospel am called to receive rigtheousness and eternal life...So trouble me not! For I will not allow you, so intolerable a tyrant and tormentor, to reign in my heart and conscience - for they are the seat and temple of Christ the Sond of God, who is the king of righteousness and peace, and my most sweet savior and mediator. He shall keep my conscience joyful and quiet in the sound and pure doctrine of the gospel, through the knowledge of this passive and heavenly righteousness."
Good stuff, that.