“Unlike Jesus, we are sinners, and hence, unlike Him, we become Christians; we are sinners, and hence we accept with thankfulness the redeeming love of the Lord Jesus Christ, who had pity on us and made us right with God, through no merit of our own, by his atoning death.
That certainly does not mean that the example of Jesus is not important to the Christian; on the contrary, it is the daily guide of his life, without which he would be like a ship without a rudder on an uncharted sea. But the example of Jesus is useful to the Christian not prior to redemption, but subsequent to it.
In one sense indeed it is useful prior to redemption: it is useful in order to bring a sinful man into despair of ever pleasing God by his own efforts; for if the life of Jesus be the life that God requires, who can stand in His holy presence? Thus to the unredeemed the example of Jesus has an important part in the proclamation of that terrible law of God which is the schoolmaster to bring men unto Christ; it serves by its lofty purity to produce the consciousness of sin and thus to lead men to the Cross.” (111)
Taken from Machen’s “What is Faith?”