When dealing with the issue of grace and works there is always the possibility of confusing the two or limiting one for the other. However neither need be if the heart of the listener is open to truth and the word of the speaker is of the Lord. While it is true that works do not save it is also true that works are the evidence of the new birth. We are saved by repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The repentance part is what is so lacking in the church today. Some I am afraid, in an attempt to keep grace pure, have taken the route to withhold the teaching of repentance in the salvation message and in doing so have corrupted the gospel message at its roots thus cutting off any hope of salvation for multitudes. Repentance does not mean that we have to first overcome certain sins in our own strength, but that we are turning to God with all our heart no matter what it may cost us. Jer 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart. We find that the cost has been paid by Another, but our hearts are still surrendered in spirit. We are turning to God without limits in other words. We are ready to take that place which He has intended for us all along, both in exaltation as well as surrender. This is done in spirit and then when mixed with faith in the finished work of Christ as we place this heart of repentance on Him we enter into faith, and salvation occurs. The works that follow either confirm or deny that true salvation has taken root in the one who makes his or her confession of salvation. Keep in mind that once saved we are called to a life of holiness and the Holy Spirit will never allow any true believer to return to the practice of sin again. By practice it is meant the daily lifestyle of living without God in their life. We may fail at any moment in any given day, but that failing is not a day long practice. While I am sure that we have all listened to those who have claimed that they got saved and then returned to sin after some period of time and then later returned. The bible is clear that no one once saved can do that. If they leave they were never saved 1John 2:19 and if they are saved they cannot practice sin 1John 3:9. The practicing of sin is not about a time period, but rather about a character that has now been made new and cannot return to the old character. We did not change ourselves from a dog or pig into a new creature, but have been changed by the Spirit of God, and we have no ability to change ourselves back again since the work done in us was not of ourselves but of the Spirit. I am afraid that far too many have lost the understanding that the gate is narrow and the path straight, and have adopted a wide gate and a path that leads in all directions, with the end only leading the traveler of that road in a place of eternal torment. Yes they profess to hold Jesus as Savior, but they deny God as their Master as they live their daily lives in the flesh rather then the Spirit. Jesus said why call me Lord and do not what I say. In Romans it reads; Rom 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. Rom 8:6 For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. Rom 8:7 Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. Rom 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Rom 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. The verse 14 which reads "are led by the Spirit" is in the present tense denoting a continual action. In other words once this starts, and it starts at salvation, it never ends. The Spirit who leads on a daily bases, actually on a moment by moment bases, will never stop that leading. The idea is that He is not simply leading in kind, but that there is someone their who is following in action the leading that is being done. So once salvation takes place the true believer never goes back. The Lord asked of His twelve when many false followers were turning from Him, "Jhn 6:67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? However the true believer knows in Who he has committed his trust. Jhn 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. So we who have been converted not only are bound by the commands of God, but we seek diligently to keep them the best we know in our daily lives (flesh) and totally in our spirit (inward man, or heart), and when we fail we rush into His presence to seek the mercy and forgiveness that He so readily offers to all those who truly know Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. John says; My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. We need to take great care in noticing that John says "IF" we sin, not WHEN we sin. God intends His children to live above sin and we need to strive with all our being to do this. The only way that is given to know that we are saved is that we are commandment keepers. 1Jo 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. Keep in mind that this is not sinless perfection, but a heart that has been changed from seeking ones own desires to seeking those of God thus making the person a commandment keeper in spirit as well as truth. We are sternly warned that there are those who claim a salvation that they do not have and are liars. 1Jo 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. So where do works play in the scheme of salvation. They are not what saves, but they are what follows the true convert. They are a requirement of the evidence of true saving faith. No true believer can stand against the things of God in their heart and their heart governs how they live. Paul warned the Corinthian church that they needed to test themselves to see if they were really saved. 2Cr 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? This was put to them because of the amount of sin in the church even after several letters and much teachings on truth. It is one thing to strive and fail and another to disregard, and here Paul is dealing with the strong possibility of the later. The question that arises is how do we examine ourselves? The Spirit supplies the answer in verse 8; 2Cr 13:8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. The "WE" is not speaking about Paul alone or certain elite Christians but about those who are in the "faith". We can do nothing against the truth, but for the Truth. True believers are on a different road and live different lives. Yes from time to time we fail and struggle, but we cannot practice sin nor can we stand against truth so our position with Christ is seen in our works (lives) because of the faith that has been granted us. So we are saved by grace through faith brought on by repentance towards God, and the salvation that results is lived out by obediance towards God commands.