Works are evidence that you have faith, but works apart from faith are dead.
I was one of those people that said, "Of course I'm a Christian; I prayed the prayer when I was five years old!" I knew in my heart that if I was a true Christian, there would be evidence of that in my life. I wasn't seeing any of that evidence. I read in James 2:14–26 where it talks about "faith without works is dead."
Works are evidence that you have faith, but works alone are not going to get you into heaven. But if there is no evidence of that faith, then it is not true faith. James 2:19 says, "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!" Believing that God is real is not enough. There has to be fruit. If there is no fruit, then the tree is bad.
Regardless, YOU have nothing to do with your salvation. Elisabeth Elliot sums it up this way in her book Discipline: The Glad Surrender: "Discipline [works] is not my claim on Christ, but the evidence of His claim on me." You cannot claim Christ with your works, but works show that Christ has a claim on you. I am so grateful that my works are not what gets me into heaven! My works are like "filthy rags" compared to what Christ did for me. But works are a result of my faith, and if I have no works, then it is likely that I have no faith.
I cannot stress this point enough: If your life isn't showing any signs of Christ in you, then maybe it is time for you to examine yourself. Read the book of James and the gospels, and compare your life to the perfect example in the Bible. No, you will never be just like Christ while on this earth, but if you are not making any effort to be like Him, you may not be a true Christian.
Faith apart from works is dead.
Works apart from faith are dead.
You cannot have one without the other. Believing is not enough, neither are works enough. Praying the prayer, though it may be genuine, doesn't always mean you are a Christian. By grace we are saved through faith. It is through that grace that we can show our obedience to God in our works. Not so that we may boast. Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Just recently I realized this truth. I am now growing spiritually with help from this blog, reading my Bible, and reading other good books. I have this new desire to work hard for God's Kingdom. I can see the fruit of my faith. I don't want to settle for mere belief in God, and I pray you won't either.