Two types of works (works which serve God's interests & works which serve man or self-interests)
Galatians 2:16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
A person is fully capable of going to church, reading the bible, joining a small group, giving money, professing Christ as the savior, attending seminary, and even being a pastor without loving God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Here a few discerning questions to think about
Justification by Faith
3 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?
5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
The Law Brings a Curse
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
We are free from the law thanks to Christ and can now obey and follow the spirit of God which is inside us. Our hearts can guide our knowledge to be used correctly by the spirit of God if we listen, follow, and obey. Knowledge alone will be insufficient. Discerning the spirit is necessary. If we cannot sense the spirit then we ought to search our hearts for ways to cleanse ourselves from all that interferes with a spiritual way of life (selfishness, resentment/grudge, fear, pride, dishonesty). With full reliance upon God we may learn Godly wisdom to create good works.
2 Corinthians 3
3 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? 2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
The Spirit, Not the Letter
4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit;[a] for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Ephesians 2 By Grace Through Faith
2 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 [ Their Conversion ] For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
1 John 3:12 not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.
Works which serve God (Good works), works of faith
John 9:4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.
John 10:25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.
John 10:32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”
John 10:37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;
John 10:38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”
John 14:10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.
John 14:11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
John 14:12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.
John 15:24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.
Acts 2:11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”
Acts 9:36 [ Dorcas Restored to Life ] At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.
Acts 10:35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.
Acts 15:18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works.
Acts 26:20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
Romans 2:10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
All or romans 4
1 Corinthians 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
1 Corinthians 16:16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.
2 Corinthians 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Colossians 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled
Colossians 1:29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
All of James 2
James 3:13 [ Heavenly Versus Demonic Wisdom ] Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.
1 Peter 2:12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Works which serve man, self-interest, (to be seen by others, man) not by faith, dead works, works of the devil
Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 23:5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.
John 8:39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.
Romans 9:32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.
Romans 13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
2 Timothy 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works.
Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
Hebrews 6:1 [ The Peril of Not Progressing ] Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
Hebrews 9:14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
1 John 3:8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
Grace is work done in righteousness and by God or faith in God
Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
1 Timothy 2:10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.
1 Timothy 5:10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.
1 Timothy 5:25 Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.
1 Timothy 6:18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,
Titus 2:7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,
Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
Titus 3 Graces of the Heirs of Grace
3 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. 3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
9 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. 10 Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.
12 When I send Artemas to you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Send Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey with haste, that they may lack nothing. 14 And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.
Biblical words to live by.