rebelling against low expectations

Sin’s Effect on Man’s Mind


Completely Good to Radically Corrupted

Because man was made in God’s image, man was given a mind. God has a mind, so man has a mind. And in the beginning, man was made completely good. In fact, man was very good. Man’s goodness went beyond the goodness of all other creatures because he alone was made in the image of the Living God.

But what is this mind of man, and what was it made to do? Why was the mind of man very good in the beginning?

Of course, the mind of man did not remain good. The Serpent tested the mind and thinking of man in the Garden, and man used his mind to rebel against the Good Creator who had made him good. As a result, the mind of man, along with all his other spiritual and physical faculties, was subjected, by the curse of God, to death and futility.

What was the glory of man’s mind in the perfection of the Garden? What happened to man’s mind in the Fall? What is the state of the unbelieving man’s mind now? How can our minds be restored to their original glory?

Right Reason

“The precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart.” – Psalm 19:8

To drill down to what man’s mind is, we need to first establish what man is. Man, simply defined, is the creation of God made in the Image of God. If the essence of man, then, is to partake in, and reflect, the glory of God’s characteristics, then the pre-Fall mind of man can be defined in this way:

‘Man’s mind’ – the spiritual aspect of man which partakes in, and reflects, the glory of God’s Mind by thinking His thoughts after Him.

Hence, the glory of man’s mind in the Garden was that it was able to think and reason like God’s Mind without flaw. This does not mean that man’s mind was given comprehensive knowledge of creation; Adam’s knowledge was so basic that he needed to name the animals to be able to discuss them. Our present-day knowledge of creation is vastly larger than Adam’s was.

Regardless of the amount of knowledge Adam began with, the way that Adam thought, his approach to thinking and reasoning about God and His creation, was a flawless reflection of God’s approach to reasoning and thinking about Himself and His creation. The first man’s mind was created without flaw and, therefore, was able to reflect the way that God thinks without flaw.

There is, however, a crucial distinction to be made between God’s thoughts and man’s thoughts. God’s thoughts are original and creational. That is, all of God’s thoughts originate solely from His own Mind, and they logically and chronologically come before man’s thoughts. And God’s thoughts are creational in that His thoughts have the power to create and govern the facts of the universe.

In contrast, man’s thoughts are derivative and non-creational. That is, all of man’s thoughts must be derived from the original thought of God, and none of man’s thoughts have the power to create or govern the facts of the universe.

“There is no God”

“The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him.
All his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.’” – Psalm 10:4

But what was the effect that sin had on Adam’s mind? How did sin change his thinking, his reasoning? How much did his mind change due to the advent of sin?

Notice in the account of the Fall that Satan’s primary method of tempting Adam and Eve unto the first sin was to present an alternative way of investigating and thinking about the world. He offered a new approach to gaining knowledge.

Prior to this temptation, man implicitly trusted that God’s Word was clearly understandable, authoritative, trustworthy, and sufficient; it did not need to be questioned, added to, or tested through experimentation.

Instead of trusting in the unfailing truthfulness of God’s Mind without question, Satan invited Adam and Eve to sit in judgment over God by putting His Word to the test, by conducting an experiment with God’s Word.

“You don’t have any empirical evidence that you will actually die if you eat that fruit. How will you know that God isn’t just keeping you from being more like Him, keeping you small and restrained, unless you evaluate His truthfulness for yourself? What if you actually prosper and become wise like Him, knowing good and evil? You’ll never know if God is lying or not until you try.”

The result of this experiment was, and continues to be, that all the thoughts of unbelieving man are, “There is no God” (Psalm 10:4). The original sin made man to be the judge of God in such a way that the fallen man has now deemed God to be irrelevant and unnecessary in his thinking. His suppression of the truth of God, which is evident to all men, is the sad fruit of his rebellion (Romans 1:18-23).

I don’t take Psalm 10:4 to mean that fallen man continually thinks this one thought, because that would be absurd. I take it to mean that the foundation of all non-Christian reasoning is that one thought. A self-deluded rejection of God’s existence lies at the base of every unbelieving thought. And where His Mind is rejected, it is replaced with the sinners’ creed: “Man is the measure of all things.”

Therefore, here are some answers to the questions posed at the beginning of this section:

1. The first sin was a radical, rebellious challenge to the truthfulness and authority of God’s Word and, therefore, God’s Mind. Astonishingly, man, the finite creature, put on trial the sufficiency of God, the infinite Creator. Man attempted to eschew his reliance on God’s Mind and replace it with the sufficiency of his own. And this led to the radical corruption of man’s mind, and the total destruction of man’s ability to reason rightly in his unregenerate state.

2. Man’s thinking and reasoning changed in that it is now completely opposed to the way that man was originally created to think and reason. Rather than taking God’s Mind as the starting point of all accurate thought and right reasoning, man’s foundation for all reasoning is that “there is no God!” Because of this foundation, all of man’s downstream reasoning, in his unbelieving state, is sinful, flawed, and futile.

3. For the unbeliever, sin has poisoned the root and fruit of every thought. It has corrupted every line of reasoning. It has doomed to failure every attempt to erect a positive, autonomous world-and-life view that would successfully oppose the teaching of Scripture.

Love God with All Your Mind

“Let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

– Isaiah 55:7-9

In both conversion and sanctification, our mind is restored to its original glory by continually turning away from trusting in man’s thoughts, our own thoughts, and turning toward a universal, unquestioned dependence and faith on God’s Thoughts, which are revealed to us in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

If we do this, we will begin to reason rightly and to rightly understand God and His creation.

This is intellectual repentance. Mental pride is replaced by mental humility. As the Apostle Paul so beautifully put it, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19).

Begin all your thoughts with, “God is.” Make the God of Scripture the foundation of all your thoughts. Make the Words of Scripture the foundation for all you do, think, and speak. For in doing so, you will be loving God with all your mind, just as He has commanded you (Matt. 22:37).

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About the author

Zach Smith

is a full-time speech-language pathologist who works primarily with children with autism. He’s married to a beautiful woman and is a father to boy-girl twins. He enjoys lifting, playing chess, reading, and writing. You can find him online at: Basic Truth – Applying the Word of God to every area of life and culture (

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rebelling against low expectations

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