To fully understand what the scriptures are telling us you have to consider what the works are. Their are various forms of work concerning any situation in life. It is the same for our spiritual part of our lives. In Ephesians it is saying we have to be saved through faith not by works. Yet it also says we are to do good works. So clearly it is speaking of two different works.
(Ephesians 2:8-10) 8 By this undeserved kindness, indeed, YOU have been saved through faith; and this not owing to YOU, it is God’s gift. 9 No, it is not owing to works, in order that no man should have ground for boasting. 10 For we are a product of his work and were created in union with Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to walk in them.
Now if you remember the pharisees believe by memorizing God’s laws and by appearing to be the most righteous they would achieve salvation.
(Matthew 23:1-13) 23 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying: 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the seat of Moses. 3 Therefore all the things they tell YOU, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say but do not perform. 4 They bind up heavy loads and put them upon the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger. 5 All the works they do they do to be viewed by men; for they broaden the [scripture-containing] cases that they wear as safeguards, and enlarge the fringes [of their garments]. 6 They like the most prominent place at evening meals and the front seats in the synagogues, 7 and the greetings in the marketplaces and to be called Rabbi by men. 8 But YOU, do not YOU be called Rabbi, for one is YOUR teacher, whereas all YOU are brothers. 9 Moreover, do not call anyone YOUR father on earth, for one is YOUR Father, the heavenly One. 10 Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for YOUR Leader is one, the Christ. 11 But the greatest one among YOU must be YOUR minister. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 13 “Woe to YOU, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because YOU shut up the kingdom of the heavens before men; for YOU yourselves do not go in, neither do YOU permit those on their way in to go in. . .
Now it is becoming clearer what some of the works is. Works of law. So the pharisees thought the law was their way to salvation. But Jesus stated many times we must exercise faith.
(Romans 9:30-32) 30 What shall we say, then? That people of the nations, although not pursuing righteousness, caught up with righteousness, the righteousness that results from faith; 31 but Israel, although pursuing a law of righteousness, did not attain to the law. 32 For what reason? Because he pursued it, not by faith, but as by works. . .
But does this mean we do not have to obey the laws of the bible? It seems to say this is so. But how can we exercise faith which Jesus stated many times we needed to do if we do not apply God’s laws in our lives to guide us.
(Galatians 3:10-14) 10 For all those who depend upon works of law are under a curse; for it is written: “Cursed is every one that does not continue in all the things written in the scroll of the Law in order to do them.” 11 Moreover, that by law no one is declared righteous with God is evident, because “the righteous one will live by reason of faith.” 12 Now the Law does not adhere to faith, but “he that does them shall live by means of them.” 13 Christ by purchase released us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse instead of us, because it is written: “Accursed is every man hanged upon a stake.” 14 The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham might come to be by means of Jesus Christ for the nations, that we might receive the promised spirit through our faith. . .
We know that one exercises faith with the heart and we make a declaration of our faith. So how do we acquire the skills to exercise faith in our hearts?
(Romans 10:10) 10 For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.
So we are to write God’s word on our hearts. In other words we are to live by his word and let it guide all we do.
(Proverbs 7:1-3) 7 My son, keep my sayings, and may you treasure up my own commandments with you. 2 Keep my commandments and continue living, and my law like the pupil of your eyes. 3 Tie them upon your fingers, and write them upon the tablet of your heart. . .
(John 14:15-17) 15 “If YOU love me, YOU will observe my commandments; 16 and I will request the Father and he will give YOU another helper to be with YOU forever, 17 the spirit of the truth, which the world cannot receive, because it neither beholds it nor knows it. YOU know it, because it remains with YOU and is in YOU. . .
So it is not by obeying the laws that will save us but faith in God and his laws, also faith in his son and our King Jesus.
(Romans 2:13) For the hearers of law are not the ones righteous before God, but the doers of law will be declared righteous
Now another dilemma faith without works is dead. Now what works could this be? We know that is takes more then learning God’s laws and obeying them but what are the other works? We can look to the book of James for that answer.
(James 2:14-17) 14 Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if a certain one says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? 15 If a brother or a sister is in a naked state and lacking the food sufficient for the day, 16 yet a certain one of YOU says to them: “Go in peace, keep warm and well fed,” but YOU do not give them the necessities for [their] body, of what benefit is it? 17 Thus, too, faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself.
Now it becomes clear we do not only have to learn the law and live by it but we must do certain works. Works of compassion.
(Matthew 25:34-46) 34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, YOU who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for YOU from the founding of the world. 35 For I became hungry and YOU gave me something to eat; I got thirsty and YOU gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and YOU received me hospitably; 36 naked, and YOU clothed me. I fell sick and YOU looked after me. I was in prison and YOU came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous ones will answer him with the words, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and receive you hospitably, or naked, and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to you?’ 40 And in reply the king will say to them, ‘Truly I say to YOU, To the extent that YOU did it to one of the least of these my brothers, YOU did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say, in turn, to those on his left, ‘Be on YOUR way from me, YOU who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. 42 For I became hungry, but YOU gave me nothing to eat, and I got thirsty, but YOU gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger, but YOU did not receive me hospitably; naked, but YOU did not clothe me; sick and in prison, but YOU did not look after me.’ 44 Then they also will answer with the words, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them with the words, ‘Truly I say to YOU, To the extent that YOU did not do it to one of these least ones, YOU did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life. . .
Now we know that we must have some works , works of compassion not works of the law. What is faith? We know faith is involved in the works. In James we learned we must have works and faith. We cannot see faith. How do we acquire it?
(Romans 8:24) For we were saved in [this] hope; but hope that is seen is not hope, for when a man sees a thing, does he hope for it?
(Hebrews 11:1) 11 Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld. . .
The bible tells us we must keep our eyes on the things unseen, not the things seen to build out faith.
(2 Corinthians 4:18) while we keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen. For the things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting
(2 Corinthians 5:7) for we are walking by faith, not by sight
Without faith it is impossible to please God so it is very important to acquire faith.
Hebrews 11:6 Moreover, without faith it is impossible to please God well, for whoever approaches God must believe that he is* and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.
We learn faith follow the things heard. So we must take in God’s word and listen attentively at meetings to make sure we put God’s word on the tablet of our hearts. It should guide all we do.
(Romans 10:17) 17 So faith follows the thing heard. In turn the thing heard is through the word about Christ. . .
2Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired of Goda and beneficial for teaching,b for reproving, for setting things straight,* for disciplining in righteousness
We must do personal research to verify that all we are being told is true. We must look deeply into God’s word.
Acts 17:11 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thes·sa·lo·niʹca, for they accepted the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
We learn that faith is a fruit of the spirit so faith comes from God as a blessing of the holy spirit. How do we acquire the spirit. By asking our heavenly father.
(Luke 11:12, 13) . . .? 13 Therefore, if YOU, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to YOUR children, how much more so will the Father in heaven give holy spirit to those asking him!”
(Galatians 5:22, 23) 22 On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. . .
Once we acquire faith we must exercise it by speaking to others about the reason for our faith.
(Romans 10:10) 10 For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.
(Hebrews 13:15) 15 Through him let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.
So it is not through works we are saved but through our faith and our showing our faith. The works would be the results of the fruits of the spirit. So we can see it is not the works of the laws of God but the works of our faith.
Colossians 1:9, 10) . . ., 10 in order to walk worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing [him] as YOU go on bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the accurate knowledge of God. . .
(Matthew 5:16) 16 Likewise let YOUR light shine before men, that they may see YOUR fine works and give glory to YOUR Father who is in the heavens. . .
So the work we must do is make sure we represent God in a righteous way so as not to smear his good name and prove our faith.
(Ephesians 5:6-12) 6 Let no man deceive YOU with empty words, for because of the aforesaid things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partakers with them; 8 for YOU were once darkness, but YOU are now light in connection with [the] Lord. Go on walking as children of light, 9 for the fruitage of the light consists of every sort of goodness and righteousness and truth. 10 Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord; 11 and quit sharing with [them] in the unfruitful works that belong to the darkness, but, rather, even be reproving [them], 12 for the things that take place in secret by them it is shameful even to relate.
Hopefully if we please God we will escape the destruction that is coming upon this wicked system and those who are causing God’s good name to be spoken of abusively.
(Titus 2:6-8) 6 Likewise keep on exhorting the younger men to be sound in mind, 7 in all things showing yourself an example of fine works; showing uncorruptness in your teaching, seriousness, 8 wholesome speech which cannot be condemned; so that the man on the opposing side may get ashamed, having nothing vile to say about us. . .
(2 Peter 2:1-6) 2 However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among YOU. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. 2 Furthermore, many will follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively. 3 Also, with covetousness they will exploit YOU with counterfeit words. But as for them, the judgment from of old is not moving slowly, and the destruction of them is not slumbering. 4 Certainly if God did not hold back from punishing the angels that sinned, but, by throwing them into Tar′ta·rus, delivered them to pits of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment; 5 and he did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people; 6 and by reducing the cities Sod′om and Go·mor′rah to ashes he condemned them, setting a pattern for ungodly persons of things to come;
So the works of are works faith in which we can read about those who did just hat in God’s word and some were mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11. There are many examples of those who trusted God and had faith he would fulfill the future promises and would do what is best. They held fast to Jehovah no matter what they had to endure. They worked to educate and guide others and set examples to follow. We need to work towards what is right in God’s eyes and not mans. In doing so we express our faith in our heavenly father and his son our king Jesus. So the works we are to do are an expression of our faith.