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THEOLOGY > Sin > The Character of Sin > Perverted Thinking  


With the intrusion of sin into the created order, every aspect of creation became affected by sin, from excruciating labor for the woman in childbirth to the appearance of thorns on the rose bush. No longer could the lamb and the lion play together, and the serpent became a potential lethal threat for the infant. Disunity replaced the original unity, and disorder became the norm instead of order.

Man’s rational ability vividly manifests this pervasive impact of sin—man lost the ability to think correctly; in fact, man now only thinks incorrectly, one could even claim that his thinking is perverted. In both Testaments the fragile and futile nature of man’s mind, or heart, are forcefully set forth:

every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5);

the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble (Prov. 4:19);

God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes (Eccles. 7:29);

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter (Isa. 5:20);

They know not, nor do they discern, for He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand (Isa. 44:18);

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9);

who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth . . . futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened . . . they exchanged the truth about God for a lie . . . and since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind (Rom. 1:18, 21, 25, 28);

no one understands . . . there is no fear of God before their eyes (Rom. 3:11, 18);

the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing (I Cor. 1:18);

the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them (I Cor. 2:14);

the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (II Cor. 4:4);

they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them (Eph. 4:18, 19);

devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (I Tim. 4:2);

to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled (Tit. 1:5).

The Scriptures do not impugn man’s ability to think, but rather the manner of man’s thinking, which means that man may have intellect (man can think and reason) but the intellect reaches wrong conclusions because of erroneous presuppositions and fallacious reasoning (man does not think and reason correctly). This is known as the noetic effects of sin; in one sense non-believers have rational ability but the ability itself does not guarantee proper conclusions. In the words of Isaiah the thinking is so effected that darkness is called light, and sweet and bitter cannot be distinguished: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isa. 5:20). The unrighteous man needs to forsake his thoughts (Isa. 55:7), for his thinking is not partially flawed but is corrupt in every dimension.

Man can think and reason;
but man does not think and reason correctly.

The above verses indicate the low estate of man’s intellectual abilities. His mental acumen is impaired by the damning effects of abiding sin, so much so that he does not have the ability to grasp the most important truths, really the Truth itself. Thus man’s reflection is flawed at the most crucial point: Truth. He does not recognize it; he does not grasp it; he suppresses it; he attacks it; he substitutes lies for the Truth, without even recognizing the exchange. To describe it in one short sentence: Theism is denied and Humanism is embraced.

Humanism is chosen instead of Theism,
and the choice is considered wise.

Because the thinking in regards to the Truth is perverted, thinking in every other area is also perverted. Reflection on any issue will either be in terms of God or in terms of something else; these two options can succinctly and correctly be referred to as Theism and Humanism. The Theism implied is Biblical Theism, the one and only God, the true God, the One revealed in the Bible. Humanism refers to any other perspective, whether atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, false religion, or erroneous philosophy. Biblical Theism is single and unitary; Humanism is variegated and speaks of all the various approaches to reality dreamed up by man or revealed to man by demons. The word “Humanism” refers to all thinking and conclusions that are not centered in and conditioned by Biblical Theism.

The position of Theism equips one with the perspective by which to attempt to reason correctly and hopefully to come to correct conclusions. It gives to the believer a worldview, a view of the world that is correct because the view is vertical, that is, it is from above. It has been revealed. It is from God and interprets all things in terms of God (see: Foundations, Two Options, The Starting Point, and Significance of Truth).

On the other hand, the Humanistic position does not begin with God and, therefore, does not interpret all aspects of reality in terms of God. The view is horizontal, that is, it is from below. It is of man, and man’s reason is viewed as the final arbiter. Reason is elevated above Revelation, or, perhaps more correctly, Revelation is not even considered to be a viable intellectual choice. Only horizontal views are considered to be valid options; thus, because Revelation claims to be from above, it is excluded from any consideration.

To use Biblical terminology, Light is rejected and darkness is chosen, evil over good, bitter over sweet, reason over Revelation, man over God. God is not considered, leaving the vacuum to be filled by man becoming his own god. And thus the first commandment is viciously violated (Ex. 20:3).

An illustration will manifest the implications of the above two options, Theism and Humanism. Consider a leaf. How does the individual think regarding the leaf, a single, solitary leaf, either on a tree or fallen to the ground.

Theism or Humanism?

An Illustration of the Two Options – A Leaf!

A Humanistic interpretation would see the leaf as the result of a long process of evolutionary development; the leaf is worthless except for the mechanistic part it plays in maintaining the status quo, a part it has come to have over millions of years as nature has interacted with itself struggling unconsciously and impersonally for survival. In the scheme of things the leaf is worthless except for its momentary pragmatic usefulness.

A Theistic interpretation would see the leaf and think God, for the leaf testifies to the existence and attributes of its Maker. The leaf is not worthless for the leaf is fulfilling its purpose as designed by God; the value of the leaf reflects its origin—from God—and its purpose—accomplishing God’s will. Also the leaf testifies to Creation, for the original vegetation was brought into existence on the third day of the six-day-week of God’s creative work. And the leaf appears and continues throughout the season; it begins, grows, matures, fades, falls, and rots, all according to God’s eternal Sovereignty (see: God is Sovereign).

To interpret the leaf in terms of God is to reason and conclude correctly; to fail to interpret the leaf, either deliberately or ignorantly, in terms of God is to manifest perverted thinking!

What is true of the leaf is true of every matter that could be given to reflection, whether the nature of the family, issues of the environment, nature of the animal world, principles of economics, or the choice of vocation. Or the topic could be more mundane personal concerns, like the type of automobile to buy or the destination of a coming vacation. The point is that, whether simple or profound, trivial or vital, every topic under intellectual consideration can only be approached and interpreted from one of two vantage points: Theism or Humanism. Everything is either viewed in terms of God or in terms of man. Beginning with God creates the potential for correct conclusions, whereas beginning with man dooms one to intellectual foolishness.

This condition of perverted thinking is revealed at the youngest level: “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies” (Ps. 58:3). At the child grows, according to Scripture, there is no fear of God (Rom. 3:18), which simply means that there is not sufficient fear of God to cause the individual to turn from the satisfaction of self (see: Elevation of Self) and to seek the glory of God. Lack of fear (see: No Fear of God) results from perverted thinking and leads to additional perverted thinking. And it is the nature of the very young, even from the time the child is born. “Speaking lies” is just one evidence of the deplorable state of man’s nature, and the lies are constantly exposing his sinful thinking that inevitably culminates in sinful behavior.

Because of man’s denigrated state he is in need of Divine assistance; the mind must be enlightened—the sinful mind must be Embraced by Truth; only in the working of God’s grace is there hope. Enlightenment is needed, enlightenment provided by God:

Teach me Your statutes (Ps. 119:12, 26, 64, 68, 108, 124, 135, 171);

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law (Ps. 119:18);

Make me understand the way of your precepts (Ps. 119:27);

Teach me, Yahweh, the way of your statutes (Ps. 119:33);

I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind (Isa. 42:6-7);

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2);

God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 4:6);

Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day (II Cor. 4:16);

And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator (Col. 3:10);

those who believe and know the truth (I Tim. 4:3).

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