Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “for by grace are you saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast“.
Straight away we can say, we cannot earn salvation through anything we do, because salvation is God’s gift to everyone who believes in Him, repents and confesses their sins and asks for his cleansing. Then we are adopted into His family. The next question to ask after we are saved is – “what now?” If I cannot earn my salvation, what does God expect of me?
Transformed to do good works
God’s desire for each one of us, after we have become Christians, is that He will “transform us into the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29 and 2 Corinthians 3:18). This transformation cannot happen in a vacuum. As God transforms us on the inside, our outward lives will begin to show it. James 2 gives us some insight into this as James writes to those who claim that they have faith, but it seems there is no real evidence for their faith. In summary of his long answer he says “I will show you my faith by my works…. Faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2:18,26).
Good works through the work of Christ
The good deeds that a Christian does, he does because Christ is working in him and they are a witness to everyone around us – “they will see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The good deeds that people from other faiths do, is very often done in the hope that they will make merit, and somehow be able to get to heaven by all the good things they have done.
Good deeds as an outward sign of the work in our lives
So it is plain that good deeds, and good work, is important for a Christian to do, not to gain God’s favor, or from man’s own effort, but as an outward sign of the work that Christ has done in our lives. He is changing us to be more and more like Christ, and this is done in the power of the Holy Spirit.