We have simply let our thinking fall into the grip of a false opposition of grace to "works" that was caused by a mistaken association of works with "merit". And history has only made things worse. It has built a wall between faith and grace, and what we actually do. Of course we know there must be some connection between grace and life, but we can't seem to make it intelligible to ourselves.In fact, to not do the good works we are commanded to do is disobedience. Obedience is a necessary component of the Christian walk. Redeemed men cannot walk in disobedience. To walk in disobedience is to not be included in the elect. But to try and earn our salvation by doing good works is a failure. We cannot be completely righteous and and righteous acts do not atone for our sin. We need righteousness imputed to us. As John says, Jesus is the atonement for our sins yet,
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1Jo 2:4-6)Lest this seem impossible, God gives us grace, and grace comes before obedience. God delivered the Israelites from slavery before they were given the Law. We receive Christ's salvation before we are to walk in obedience to him. But just as many died in the desert because of disobedience, so we should also tread carefully lest we be wanting (1Co 10:12; Eph 5).