He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5)
I quote again from J.C. Ryle, Prepared to Stand Alone, 50-51.
"It is easy to be a convert from one party to another party, from one sect to another sect, from one set of opinions to another set of opinions: such conversions save no one's soul. What we all want is a conversion from pride to humility, -from high thoughts of ourselves to lowly thoughts of ourselves, -from self-concept to self-abasement, -from the mind of the Pharisee to the mind of the publican. A conversion of this kind we must experience, if we hope to be saved. These are the conversions that are wrought by the Holy Ghost.
And through this change the Christian is brought to understand that the standard of the world and the standard of the Lord Jesus are widely different:
They are more than different: they are flatly contradictory one to the other. Among the children of this world he is thought the greatest man who has most land, most money, most servants, most rank, and most earthly power: among the children of God he is reckoned the greatest who does most to promote the spiritual and temporal happiness of his fellow-creatures. True greatness consists, not in receiving, but in giving, -not in selfish absorption of good things, but in imparting good to others, -not in being served, but in serving, -not in sitting still, and being ministered to, but in going about and ministering to others."