Though his view of the historical reliability of the Gospels is less than satisfactory, German Lutheran scholar Joachim Jeremias (1900-1979) penetrated to the distinction in the New Testament between true and false religion as deeply as anyone. Here's the type of thing you read all through his NT Theology.
For Jesus, the love of the Father was directed even towards the despised and lost children. That he called them and not the righteous (Mk 2:17), was apparently the dissolution of all ethics; it seemed as if moral conduct meant nothing in God's eyes. The world around Jesus based man's relationship with God on his moral conduct. Because the gospel did not do that, it shook religion to its foundations. . . . The message that God wanted to have dealings with the ptochoi [the poor], the sinners, and that they were nearer to God than the righteous, provoked a passionate protest. . . .
In Jesus' view, nothing separates people so completely from God as a self-assured religiosity. (pp. 119-20)