In Jesus' parable of the lost son, or prodigal son, the younger son rejected the Father openly and carelessly. The elder son, on the other hand, lost the Father through wrong headed obedience.
I see clients like this all the time. The obey God, not to know Him, to love Him, to become like Him or to delight in His love. They obey God to coerce Him to keep His end of the bargain that they invented, i.e. They obey God in order to “force” Him to be good to them.
These people obey God to put Him in their debt and get control over Him. Instead of relying on God's goodness and grace and mercy, just as pagans and atheists, these religious people seek to become their own Saviours.
Some people determine to be their own saviour. They break God's laws at will and set their own moral course. Others, many who consider themselves to be Christians, determine to be their own saviour by keeping all the moral laws of God in order to force Him to save them out of some sense of obligation.