When I was a jr. higher in youth group, God used a particular passage of Scripture to grab my attention and strengthen my faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
These two verses clearly teach us salvation is not a work we can do, but a gift of God obtained by faith. God forgives us by grace through faith so we would not boast in our own wisdom, determination, will-power, goodness, or anything else we suppose could earn us forgiveness with God.
It has taken me much longer to realize God intends to kill my pride with this same truth, not only in my salvation, but also in my new life in Christ. Read carefully the very next verse. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (vs. 10). Even as we cannot boast in our salvation, neither can we boast in the works we do after we place faith in Christ, because we are “his workmanship.” The works we do as believers “God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” This work of God in us by grace through faith kills pride in any credit we may take for the good works we do as Christians.
We need to remind ourselves daily as believers that the starting point of our salvation, trusting Jesus by grace through faith, is also the lifeline of our daily sanctification. Why? “So that no one may boast.”
This truth can make a big difference in how we interact with unbelievers. It humbles us to realize God is working in and through us by his grace. It also gives us common ground with others as we call them to repentance. The good I do is all of Christ. And the good that an unbeliever can become is all of Christ. It’s the same foundation from start to finish, and it all exalts Jesus Christ. This is how God graciously kills any pride we may take in the good we have done.