The glory of the gospel, as far as ungodly sinners are concerned, is that God in amazing wisdom and grace has found a way to justify the ungodly. This was clearly seen in the case of idolatrous Abraham, who nevertheless believed God and was justified without works (Romans 4:3-4).
It is vitally important to realize that it is as ungodly that sinners are justified, not on account of anything wrought in them or done by them. Sanctification is wrought in them afterwards, but they are first justified by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. Even the great Augustine, the major theologian of the Western Church, acknowledges this (Confessions, 10:2). 'Thou, O Lord, blessest the godly,' he says, 'but first Thou justifieth him when he is ungodly' (trans. E. B. Pusey, Softback Preview edition, p. 224).
We are looking here, I believe, at the tip of the iceberg of an ecclesiastical tragedy. If only the whole Western Church had held to this truth and corrected its doctrine and practice to conform to it, we might never have needed a Reformation. All the doctrines of the gospel might have been welcome and no division necessary.
Instead, Rome rejected the evangelical doctrines and made justification to include 'the sanctification and renewal of the inward man' (Trent, Decree on Justification, 7), so obscuring, if not obliterating, the promise of peace and assurance to ungodly sinners who believe.
Nevertheless, the saving truth stands firm. Believing on him who justifies the ungodly solely on the basis of the righteousness of his beloved Son, we receive righteousness by faith, peace with God, and the assurance that Christ is ours for ever. Moreover, we are more and more conformed to the image of that blessed Saviour who loved us and gave himself for us, till at last, passing into eternal glory, we enjoy his sweet and holy presence in the light and glory that never pass away.