Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Others have made this point far more clearly than I. Nevertheless, here it is...
We know verses eight and nine, that salvation is a free gift of grace received through faith. We confess that salvation is not of our own doing, but of Christ's. So too, it follows, when we boast, we boast of Christ (1 Cor. 1:28-31).
But do we know verse ten? The Lutheran Study Bible offers this note regarding "good works:"
Our works are not the cause of salvation (vv. 5-9), but its result. We cannot even lay claim to these, for God created them for us to do in Christ. "Holy Spirit is received through faith, hearts are renewed and given new affections, and then they are able to bring forth good works. Ambrose says: 'Faith is the mother of a good will and doing what is right.' " (AC XX 29-30).
Jesus said that a "healthy tree bears good fruit" (Matt. 7:17). In other words, it is inevitable--the Christian produces good works. But, he doesn't create them, nor does he cause them. For as St. Paul clearly teaches: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand" (Eph. 2:10).
You were fearfully and wonderfully made, intricately woven, and all your days were formed for you "when as yet there was none of them" (Psalm 139:13-16). So, too were your good works.
And the conclusion: just as we take no credit for the free gift of salvation received through faith, we take no credit for our good works. In these we simply walk with Christ and say, "Thanks be to God." For the same God who created us, has saved us, and sanctifies us as well. Amen.