Good works is not the means to attain salvation. It is the evidence that is subsequent to having obtained salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, that what He did on the cross was enough to save all of humanity.
One needs to reassess their faith in Jesus Christ if they do not fully understand the full implication of what they profess. We all need Jesus Christ because no amount of good work we do, will ever be sufficient to gain eternal life. I’ve always heard people say when asked where they think they’ll go when they die, “I hope God will have mercy on me and see that I have lived my life as decent as I could by following the 10 commandments.” Isaiah 64:6 states, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
I am by no means saying that we are not to follow the 10 commandments. What I want to emphasize is that it is impossible for ANY person to keep the 10 commandments. If one resolves not to lie, murder or lust, wouldn’t there be other sins that person is prone to like coveting or idolatry for instance? ALL people are lawbreakers even if they break only 1 commandment or 2 or 3 out of the 10. It is impossible to keep it.
By this, only Jesus Christ, God incarnate, has the ability to atone for us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If it were as simple as having our good deeds weighed against our bad, then profession of belief in Jesus Christ is invalidated. Either you believe Jesus died to save you (so that you can gain eternal life when you die,) or you believe your own good works can save you.
Being “born again”, is the term used for when a person truly grasps the implication of what believing in Jesus Christ truly means. It is when one comes to the realization that he/she is utterly depraved and without Jesus Christ, salvation is impossible. Jesus himself states in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Keeping the 10 commandments out of fear and compulsion because of the eternal consequence is a guilt-driven life that gets most people disillusioned and miserable, but once a person realizes Jesus died to atone for their sins, only then will keeping the 10 commandments become less of a yoke to carry and keep it more as reverence to God, done out of willing submission and not out of compulsion. It is God’s indwelling Holy Spirit that enables the “born again” believer to desire to keep them, as evidence of faith, and not the means to attain salvation.