If you ever had any hope of trying to please God with your good, moral behavior, put that notion to rest. Psalm 14:2-3 should lay you flat.
3They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.
How then will you be able to stand in the last day, when God judges the thoughts and intentions of the hearts of all, when all must give an account? Especially in light of the passage above, that there are none righteous?
It is only by the righteousness of God Himself given to you as a gift through Jesus, that acts as a covering, a shield. And not only a covering, but a very replacement of the sin, guilt and condemnation that are yours, the very condemnation Jesus took on the cross in exchange for His very righteousness, a gift “to be received by faith,” or as Romans 3:21-26 puts it below:
21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
A propitiation is a wrath absorber, a wrath-bearer. On the cross Jesus absorbs your condemnation, guilt and shame in Himself, and in exchange, gives you the gift of His very perfections credited to your account, an account that was infinitely deficient of God’s standards, but is now infinitely sufficient for all eternity because of the perfect, gospel-work of Jesus in His life, death and resurrection.
It is this gift of love that the Father puts forward to us, that through faith we become united to God once again, because we had broken our good standing with Him. It is this gift, the gift of His Son for us, that we celebrate this time of year in Advent. And not only so, but we look forward in hope to His second coming, in which He will bring to fulfillment and establishment of all things in His kingdom. Ours is not only a future hope but a present one.
“It is finished,” Jesus said before breathing His last on the cross. Rest in the knowledge this is so. And not only this, but rest in the glorious truth that He did not stay dead, He rose and is alive. And not only this, but He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. And not only so, but He will return and establish Himself upon the Earth as our King and make all things right again in the universe. Heaven and Earth will meet in the final consummation of all things and the peace of God will reign forevermore! This is our blessed hope, but we must wait for it with patience in this time. Advent is a time of reflection not just upon the incarnation, but the incarnation with a view to the final establishment of His kingdom, for this was always the ultimate end to which the incarnation points. Ours is a present and a future hope.