I believe the problem with this way of living is that we are measuring ourselves against the wrong standard. Our value/morality/ knowledge/ goodness is not found in measuring ourselves against other men, but instead by measuring ourselves up to Christ. In this we woefully fail. It does not matter what we do, we cannot and will never measure up to the standard of Jesus Christ. Realizing our ultimate failure to measure up to the standard of Christ we come to understand that our value is not in what we do, but must be in something else.
God has worked in Christ to give men grace. Grace is not earned, it cannot be achieved. It is simply the gift of a benevolent God to man whom he loves.