As humans, we have a tendency to go to extremes in either one direction or the other. And, as I seem to recall reading in a quote from Jonathan Edwards, Satan likes to push us hard toward those extremes. Satan does not care which ditch we end up in, just that we end up in a ditch.
We can see this problem when looking at two sets of Scripture versus. In the first passage we have:
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.
Awesome, excellent, reassuring words. The danger here is that we can fall on the side of cheap grace and think we can go on sinning so that God’s grace can abound. By no means! (Romans 6:1-2).
On the other side we have this passage:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We can focus on this verse and zero in on the good works we are doing and believe they are at least a part of the reason God loves us and saves us. Crash! Now we are in the opposite ditch and Satan can again rejoice.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit put these 2 passages right next to each other AND in the perfect order. As many of you likely noticed, these verses are taken from one continuous passage:
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. 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).
What comes first? Saved by grace through faith. What does it deny? Being saved by your works. What comes last and after you are saved? The reminder that you were created to go do the good works God has prepared. Perfect balance and perfect order. If we can can keep the whole passage in focus, we can avoid those nasty ditches on both sides no matter which way Satan tries to push.