"And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." (Luke 18: 13-14)
Jesus shares the prayer of the publican, or tax collector, in the temple, and how he left justified before God. Jesus compares the justified publican to the self-righteous Pharisee, who listed all the things that he did and did not do. Comparing himself to the publican, the Pharisee received nothing.
Too many people construe Jesus' parable to mean that if we cry, beat our chests, or show contrition of some kind, then God will forgive us.
The publican did not just ask for mercy, as rendered in the translation, but literally he asked for propitiation, or a payment, for his sins.
There is no payment of tears, fears, works, or anything thing that we do or have or be that can make us right before God, that can pay for our sins.
Everything that we receive from God through Jesus Christ is because He has paid for everything!
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2: 8-10)
"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8: 31-32)
There is not one that we can do or not do to receive His grace in our lives. Jesus asks that we believe on Him (John 6: 29), and He takes care of the rest. Not our payment, but His pays the way for us to receive all things!