If we say it is to learn and train and work to become righteous, we may end up like the Pharisees. Martin Luther basically said a Christian who's purpose is to become righteous is missing the whole point of the Gospel. It's like a woman marrying a man for his money.
For those who can achieve a level of outward righteousness, it tends to lead toward pride. For those who can't, this Christian culture leads to despair.
Jesus took it further: Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."
So what is God's will? Jesus reveals it plainly: Matthew 22:37: "You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." Vs 39 "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Love God fervently. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. If these are what we aim at, Jesus said we will fulfill all the other commandments.
This concept is so important that Jesus went on to give us a solemn warning:
Matthew 7:22-21 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"
These people spent all their lives learning, working, training to become righteous, and they were - as far as man's righteousness can go. But that is not what Jesus asked of them. In another passage, He said to come and learn of Him, his burden is easy and his yoke is light.
Instead, years of well-intended messages have instructed me on what else to add to my yoke. I've come to believe this is a false gospel, a distraction from the true gospel. It is insidious in the Church and in my mind. It beats me up rather than producing love.
True gospel: Christ is the subject of the gospel. We are the object. Christ lives in me. Christ works in me and through me. Christ promised that He began a new work. He is completing the work through His transforming presence. Having been made perfect, we are being made holy - by Christ. The work is done by Christ's Spirit.
Trusting His power to leaves me peaceful, fills me with the urge to praise Him, to know him. I can look up and thank Him when I know I've failed, knowing His promises are true and will be faithfully completed until the day I die. The joy this gives makes me want to share this gospel. The true gospel removes my anxiety toward God.
False gospel: I do good works for Christ. I try. I struggle. I exhaust myself. I'm a good Christian on the days I can check off a mental list of righteous things. I'm a bad Christian on the days I fail to meet my requirements. Religious people have been trying this as long as man has been on the earth.
Watching my failed efforts makes me despair. Why would I ever want to bring someone I love into this false gospel? There is no good news in this false gospel.
The true gospel is good news. The good news is that Jesus writes His laws on our hearts. He transforms us. How?
When we hear His words, we LET them settle in our souls, take root and grow. For instance, we read "Blessed are the pure in heart." We talk with Jesus and ask Him to give us a pure heart. We thank him for transforming us, for loving us. In other words, through this transforming work, we are getting to know Him as a friend, without fear.
Our love grows and so does our righteousness - by Him.