When I was a kid, I would go on vacations with my family and it seemed that at every bathroom break rest stop, my mom would always say "everyone use the bathroom". Even if I haven't got an ounce of urine in me, she would insist on me going. "I don't need to go to the bathroom" I would tell her and she always replied with, "Well just try".
That sums up the gospel for me...I'll explain.
Everything inside me wouldn't allow me to use the bathroom, because I lacked the urine. I could try, but fail. Which we can conclude that, if you can't go to the bathroom, all your will power in the world won't allow you to go.
As of recently I would try my best to not sin, resist temptation and obey God. I would fail miserably a lot of times, but still keep at it, continue to try. All my will power I could muster didn't stop me from sinning or falling. I realize now that it's because I didn't have it in me. I didn't have the raw ability to obey God.
In Romans 7:16-20 Paul talks about how he decides he wants to obey the law of the prophets [similar and including the Ten Commandments], even though he decides that it is good not to lust, even then, he still does. Because he cannot find anything inside of him that would allow him to perform 'what is good'. All because the sin that dwells in him. I highly suggest you read that and if you have time the whole chapter].
Jesus said, "you can judge a tree by it's fruits". To me and [I dare say] many others, we try to appear to be a tree that we are not. There is an analogy of someone who owns a orange tree but ties apples to it so people would think it's an apple tree. We all know that time will tell what kind of tree it really is. It may have apples on it, but sooner or later you will start seeing oranges again. You can change the appearance but what God asks of us is to change our hearts.
The pharisees in the Bible are the people that Jesus had the most problem with. The pharisees were people that gave 10% of their income to the church, prayed, knew their scriptures, obeyed the law of the prophets and told others to do so. Jesus had a problem with them? It's because they were just tying apples to their orange trees and even worse, they convinced themselves that they were an apple tree, they convinced themselves that nothing else was needed.*
'Diet soda' is one of the many 'food' items that contain the ingredient 'aspartame'. Aspartame is incredibly unhealthy and apparently, besides proven mental and other health risks, it becomes a toxin at 82º. But people don't want to be healthy, they want to look healthy. Girls and guys all over America deprive themselves of food or force themselves to throw up after eating because the appearance of health is more important than actual health.**
To a lot of us, the appearance of spiritual health is more important than spiritual health.
To a lot of us that have grown up in the church we have come to believe that the only thing that made the pharisees wrong was they were doing good works for the approval of men. I think there were some pharisees that truly were doing good works for God's approval or to please God. I think the reason pharisees like Nicodemus were able to come to Jesus, because they truly were seeking the Truth, they were truly trying to please God, but unfortunately did it the wrong way. At one point, they were led to believe that 'if you want to please God, you will obey these commands'. Which the true and only Gospel is "if you want to please God, realize you are an orange tree, don't just appear to be an apple tree, but allow him to change you into one, don't wait until you are an apple tree before you come to Him, because then you will never come".
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Everyone may have heard that verse, but faith in what? I believe it means, having faith that Jesus is who changes us, not us and not the law. The Bible says that Jesus makes us clean, the law cannot make us clean.
I have heard somewhere that if the admission to eternal life was $100, we think one of a few things: that we are to pay that admission ourselves [even though we can't], that Jesus paid it all [not by what we have done or will do that will ever pay that price] or a lot of us Christians believe that we are to try to pay with $37 and Jesus will cover the rest. We have this mentality that we believe the Bible when it says "it is not by works we are saved, but by the Grace of God", but then try to also believe the lie that we need to try to pay it. We need to "just try" even though we have no urine in us and we have no money in our wallets.
*Analogy taken from "The Jesus of Suburbia by Mike Erre"
**If you are one of those people, I certainly don't look down on you, but I actually understand, not that I have done that myself but I know what it's like, all too well, what it's like to try to get apples from an orange tree.