Ephesians 2:1–3 isn’t any different than Genesis 3:2–5. If you believe you were created “not like God” then you will feel, think, and act accordingly. I you believe that sin makes you dead and Jesus makes you alive, you will feel, think, and act accordingly.
Sin is a symptom of believing the wrong things about one’s self.
Moral behavior is a symptom of loving one’s neighbor as one’s self.
It’s easier to focus on symptoms rather than the cause. It’s also highly profitable. See: the Pharisees and any megachurch preacher — both have exploited symptoms for money because it results in repeat business. Then as now, you pay a sin tax in whatever currency du jour, and there is gobs of marketing that promote specific behavior to reinforce the focus on symptoms. In the case of Eve: eat the fruit and you will be like God. In the case of evangelical Christianity: accept Jesus to receive eternal life.
Symptomatically, there’s a chasm between sin and miracles, good and evil.
Causality speaking, there’s a razor’s edge difference between sin and miracles, good and evil: belief; whatever you believe is what you sow and reap.
Then as now, the focus has always been on symptoms, which leads to fear, which leads to addressing the immediate symptoms, which is just a stopgap measure. It’s on this point that dogma promotes Christ as Savior as the long-term answer.
The Evangelical emphasis is save as many people as possible whereas Jesus emphasized loving one’s neighbor as one’s self. Dogma twisted that to mean save as many people as possible, blatantly ignoring that the greatest command is in the Old Testament. The New Testament is paved with gold because it surgically removes the world’s oldest business model from its first iteration to include every person ever born.
Jesus explicitly pushes back on this Pharisee/Evangelical business model directly to their face, stating that the way you treat the least among you determines your fate.
40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer [a]Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
There’s no ‘accept Jesus as your Savior’ in those verses. Nope, that’s all fear-based marketing.
Jesus was rubbing Leviticus 19:9–18 into the faces of the Pharisees, exposing them as the fraudsters that they were. Look again at verse 41: if you’re not taking care of fellow humans your fate is the same as the devil and his angels.
Then as now, the Christianity focuses on the individual, whereas Jesus explicitly focuses on taking care of others. Believing the Evangelical marketing condemns one to a life of dogma, and then upon death everlasting fire.
When I read that the death of Jesus is more important than his life, I’m reminded of the words of C.S. Lewis: the deceived do not know they are deceived. They will continue to deceive by mere virtue of believing.
Whatever you believe, you will reap. Believing that Jesus is your personal savior and refusing to take care of the least among is evil, pure and simple, but since you don’t know that you’re deceived you will continue to sow dogma as gospel.