Many sinners think that, though they cannot present a perfect righteousness for God's acceptance, he will accept something less, since that is all they have to offer. So a life-long process of negotiation goes on. Sacraments and penances are traded as approximations to the perfect righteousness God requires. This is called a state of grace, and the hope is that the balance will come out in favour of righteousness in the end, so that the sinner can be justified.
But there is no need for this most uncertain process. There is no need for life-long doubt about acceptance before God through our own works. This is not the gospel, and these are not the terms on which God accepts needy sinners.
There is a way by which God provides and makes over to the sinner a perfect righteousness. The righteousness of his beloved Son Jesus Christ is imputed or reckoned to the sinner as the perfect covering for his naked soul. God now looks on him and sees, not the miserable sinner, but the perfect righteousness of his Son. This is called justification, and it never stands in doubt, because there is no doubt about the perfection that the Son of God rendered, in life and death.
This is the sweet comfort of the gospel, and once someone has tasted it, he has no appetite for anything else or anything less. Oh, acquire a taste for this gospel righteousness, and no cunning craftiness of man will satisfy the soul as a substitute product. Really taste and see this sweet truth that the Lord is gracious (1 Peter 2:3), and you will never go back to bitter human works for justification.
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.