1 John 2:10-11
The “Noetic” Effects of Sin
When we come to saving faith in Jesus Christ, we are not only cleansed of our sin, but we receive a new heart and mind. And this renewing of our minds is something that we must nurture in the Holy Spirit; hence, the Apostle Paul writes: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). The renewing of our minds allows us to see with the light God provides through His word and Spirit. And the word and Spirit plainly indicate that we are to love our brothers and our neighbors as ourselves; this is the light God provides for both our knowledge and obedience. And the more we walk in that light, the more the light shines that we may see the right path and walk therein. In short, the light God provides through His word shows us the way to go. As we walk that path, we gain more knowledge as that light continues to enlighten both our minds and the path.
But the opposite is true as well. If, once enlightened through faith in Jesus Christ, we choose instead to walk contrary to the light God has given us, if instead we disobey the teachings of his word and hate our brother and our neighbor, then we risk losing the meager light that we have gained. We call this the “noetic” effects of sin. “Noetic” has to do with the mind and its mental state and capacity. The more we walk in darkness (which John defines as hating one’s brother but could include any sin of commission or omission), the less we see, understand, and know. Sin causes a cloud of unknowing to descend upon our minds and darkness to blind our eyes. We then do not know as we ought or do as we ought. We lose our way and know not which way to go. Moral and ethical decisions which would be second nature to the believer walking in the light suddenly become quandaries for the one disobedient to the word and thus walking in darkness. What’s worse is that he will attribute his darkened mind and indecisiveness to his being a broadminded fellow, open-minded, tolerant, liberal, and a host of other terms whereby he may put darkness for light and light for darkness, bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20), the whole time blind as a bat and wandering like a cloud.
Christians are people who know where they are going about their daily lives, meaning that they walk in the light. They might not know what the day will bring—it might bring unexpected heartache or a challenging temptation, but regardless, they continue to walk in the light as God gives them light.