Imputed righteousness must come first. You cannot have the righteousness within until you have the righteousness without; and to make your own righteousness the price which you give to God for that of His Son is to dishonour Christ and to deny His cross.
The Spirit’s work is not to make us holy, in order that we may be pardoned; but to show us the cross, where the pardon is to be found by the unholy; so that having found the pardon there, we may begin the life of holiness to which we are called.
How Shall I Go to God?
Via: Of First Importance