Ask a hundred people if they want forgiveness, and a hundred people will say, "Yeah, sure. And can I have fries with that, and a large Pepsi?" They have no great sense of needing God's forgiveness but believe it would not hurt to have it in their pocket just in case. Religion is, I fear, most often practiced to buy off God's anger, to pay for a sin done, so that one is free to go on in it. We throw ourselves into church or confession as a burglar might throw a steak to a watchdog--to keep him at a safe distance. C.S. Lewis had his own witty way of describing the problem: "Amiable agnostics will talk cheerfully about 'man's search for God.' To me, as I then was, they might as well have talked about the mouse's search for the cat."
Our natural belief about ourselves is that we are pretty darned good people, though we are not too proud to admit that we have made a few mistakes along the way. This allows us to confess a little guilt, but in a self-flattering way. We say, "Well, I admit I'm not perfect." We do not mean to be humble here, as in "Now, honey, remember I'm not a perfect husband." We say it defensively: "Okay! I'm not perfect." Translation: "Other than a blemish or two, I sparkle. So get off my case!"
We also like to say, "I'm only human." By this we man, "My sin should be excused because, as a human being, I really can't help it."
Even when we feel guilty, we do not believe it is because we are guilty. (p. 32)
This is looking like it's going to be a great read. I've already been drawn more deeply into the great work of God through Christ Jesus His Son and our Lord.
Challies has a review here.