In Ephesians 2:8 Paul had written that we are saved by grace through faith, and that this is God's gift to us. And now he underscores this truth, stating in verse 9, "Not of works, lest any man should boast."
No doubt that boasting was a very common thing already in Paul's day. It certainly is common today. Many boast of their faith and speak of accepting Christ, and of fulfilling conditions for salvation. In the preaching today the call so often goes out that we should open our hearts and let Christ come in and save us. This happens even though Scripture clearly teaches us that we all died spiritually in Adam and must by God's grace be born again before we have the life that wants salvation.
We should sincerely sing as we find in Psalter 383:
All that I am, I owe to Thee,
Thy wisdom, Lord, hath fashioned me;
I give my maker thankful praise,
Whose wondrous works my soul amaze.
This is the versification of the psalmist's words, namely, "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well" ( Ps. 139:14 ). We should, therefore, believe that even the desire for salvation comes from God. We should not boast of having let God save us, but confess that he gave all of it to us.
There is not one of our works ¾ including the desire for salvation ¾ that is not there as God's gift to us. He gives us all the rain and sunshine that we need for growing food. He also gives us all the strength for all of our spiritual activity that pleases Him.
We are not saved because of our works. We are saved by God, so that we can perform good works. He owes us nothing. We owe Him thanks for everything that we have spiritually as well as physically.
Read: Psalm 139:14-24 .
¼ This is the spirit of discernment, by which the elect discriminate between the truth of God and the false inventions of men. So then, in the sheep of Christ a knowledge of the truth goes before, and next follows an earnest desire to obey, so that they not only understand what is true, but receive it with warm affection. – John Calvin