When I was first learning to play the flute in the fourth grade, my mom put a sticker on my music stand to encourage me. It said, "Practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect." The only problem with that statement is who can practice perfectly? I practiced a lot because I loved playing my flute and I was driven to get better each day. It didn't matter how much I practiced or how hard I practiced, my flute teacher would always have something to tell me that I could do to make it better. When I was accepted into music school to study music therapy, I thought that I was pretty good. Then I met other pretty good flute players at music school and met exceptionally good flute players. I realized that no matter how well I play the flute, I will always be striving to do better. Human righteousness is that way. We can do everything right, but we are still full of sin. Please look up Philippians 3:5-9.
We can appear to be perfect in every way, but it will still not be good enough because God looks beyond the appearance of our behavior and peers into our hearts. Proverbs 16:2 says, "People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives." Paul writes in Philippians 3:9, "...I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith." Paul was not saying that it wasn't worth following God's commands, but he was saying that following the law perfectly wasn't going to grant us the righteousness required to be right with God. God wants us to trust Him. He wants us to trust Him for our provision and protection, and He wants us to trust Him with our salvation. God wants our faith.
I think it is a difficult concept at times because we are so used to receiving rewards for doing something. Here on earth, we are not rewarded for the thoughts and feelings deep in our hearts because no one can examine our hearts and motives; we are rewarded for what people see us doing. God rewards the heart; He rewards our faith. When we have faith in God and believe what Christ has done, we obey because we want to obey not because we have to obey. Otherwise our actions are just garbage (Phil. 3:8).
Are you depending on Christ for righteousness?