For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
-- Galatians 2:18
Rich irony in that verse. To seek favor with God through personal holiness is to be a sinner. To seek justification by personal obedience is disobedience.
To die with Christ is to demolish the curse of the law. To go back to living under the law is to say, "Nah, you know what? On second thought, I'll have that curse instead."
In the same passage Paul says "by works of the law no one will be justified."
But he means by personal works of the law. We are justified by the works of the law, only it is not our works that justify us -- because we have none -- but Christ's (received by us in faith).
We bring nothing to the table, but the food isn't free. Christ picks up the tab. The food is free to us.
Come with money, walk away empty handed. Come with empty hands, leave rich.
God put an angel at the gate of the garden to guard it with a fiery sword. We've got to get inside again, but the way we came out is not the way for us back in. None of us will be justified by our works. Not because obedience isn't the way in, but because the way is blocked. Only Jesus can go that way. Only Jesus, "having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs," bests the guard. That way is not the way for us. But The Way is, because he can go that way. And he carries us with him.