No matter how many times I read the words in verses 8 and 9 of this passage – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” – I am somewhat puzzled. Perhaps it is because I was brought up in somewhat of the “old school” form of Episcopalianism. I grew up thinking that you had to earn your way to heaven. You had to do “good works”. In fact, in this very passage, verse 10, it states that “…we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works…”
This is something I continually have to concentrate on, to retrain my mind to think differently about this. Verse 5 says it in a nutshell – “…it is by grace you have been saved.” But, at the same time, Christians are called to meet the Great Commandment – Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind, and the second is like unto it – thou shalt love your neighbor as yourself. This commandment requires that you do something. As a Christian, you cannot do nothing, nor can you continue to sin and not change your ways (lots of double negatives in that sentence!).
We are only saved by Christ’s death on the cross. That’s it, period. But, to truly believe in that grace, one must actively live God’s Word. You can’t on the one hand believe that Christ died for our sins then on the other hand not meet God’s commandments. And, since we are after all humans, living God’s commandments may not come as easily for some even though they have accepted Christ as their personal savior. It requires work, maybe even great works.