"The message of Jesus's parable is that both approaches are wrong." -- Tim Keller, The Prodigal God (in reference to the the parable of the prodigal son, and how both sons approach to God is wrong)
I often play this game where, at some point, I become a good guy. It starts like this... I get busy doing "Godly things," like I give a good talk, or I read a lot of scripture and a lot of good books. I have very fruitful discipleship times, both with those younger than me and with men who are older. I'm given encouragement that I'm growing in Christ. And suddenly... I start believing I don't need Jesus. Jesus boosted me up to get to where I am, but I no longer need Him.
My default setting is rebellion... and I take any chance I get to do so against my Heavenly Father. The best way I've done so is to do enough good to avoid seeing my need. For instance, there are mornings where I'll actually say to myself, "hmm... I've really been in the Word lately... guess I can skip today!"
This is a giant red flag... the point of being in God's Word isn't to check it off my daily list of Christian activities... but it's to put myself in a place where I must humble myself under the authority of God. It's what I must do to understand my desperation for Him. It's what I must do to understand that God is God.
It's by God's Grace in Christ that I can even see my rebellion. He reveals my pride to show me when I'm not trusting Him. He allows me to still be jealous of others talents, so I can see when I'm living to the flesh rather than living to the spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). He allows me to see my anger when I'm judging others without remembering my own sin. He allows me to see my selfishness as I struggle with gluttony, lust, and laziness. It's by God's grace that He allows His Spirit to convict me in my times of deep pride, and it leads me to desperation, repentance, and fighting to believe the Gospel.
Have you considered that, as Keller writes in the quote above, that our normal approach to life is actually rebellion against God? Maybe you can relate with what I've shared with you. Maybe you see yourself angry at others because they possess different or more refined skills than you? Maybe you see yourself running over and over again to pornography, food, or alcohol, even when it seems like you're doing "well" in your walk with Christ. You ask yourself, "how could I still struggle with this? I've been a Christian for a long time now!"
The potential reason is that you operate, like me, under a default setting. And that default setting is to rebel against God. And we do it blatantly, and we also do it covertly by doing enough good to avoid feeling desperate for Jesus.
So what can we do?
Remember who we were --> Paul is adamant in Ephesians 2 that we remember our alienation from Christ, so that we would see Jesus more appropriately, that He did a remarkable work in saving us and reconciling us to Himself. We were dead, and we were alienated, but we are now alive and brought near.
Remember who we are --> We aren't Christians because of what we've done. In fact, all we could ever do apart from Christ is mess things up more. But Jesus indwells us, and gives us power. Because of that, as we do good things, whether it's share the Gospel, teach the Word, stand up for Him by the way we do our work, the way we study, the way we manage our finances, we give credit to HIM for allowing us to be effective in any realm of ministry or life.
Remember where we are --> We aren't in peacetime. We're actually at war, and if we aren't focused on the battle at hand, we will fail and forget Christ. So fight, repent, and repeat.
To do anything else is merely escaping reality that we're worse than we could ever imagine, but more loved than we ever dared to hope through the cross of Jesus Christ.