The Noetic Effect



The noetic effects of sin refer to the way sin negatively affects and undermines the human mind and intellect. Accordingly, this sin affects both our reasoning as well as our knowing. While our ability to reason remains intact, without the encompassing revelation of truth found in God’s Word we cannot fully comprehend the distortion secular psychology creates regarding the human condition.

This human condition, due to the original indwelling of sin (Genesis 6:11; Ephesians 4:22), creates an inherent focus towards self-centeredness that in turn affects every aspect of our interpersonal relationships with the world. Secular psychology seizes upon the notion of self-centeredness and shifts the focus to an individual’s childhood experiences and the environment around him or her that cause the human troubles in an effort to reduce the sense of God that inhabits all of us, and thus, the relevancy of sin.
In the secular view, the tendency is to avoid the creation of guilt by not placing any shortcomings upon the individual person. Rather, the responsibility becomes more of a medical condition that needs particular treatment. Adams (1970) further noted that the guilt one feels suddenly becomes the problem itself, and therefore the acknowledgement of sin and the incongruence in the relationship between created and creator is increasingly minimalized.

Biblical counseling seeks to address the relationship between man and God by pointing out the effects of original sin on the heart (Mat. 15:18-19; Rom. 6:16-23) as well as the redemptive power of the work of Christ. It is not the job of the therapist to absolve a patient of guilt (Sodergren, 2005). This should be left to the relationship between the patient and God with perhaps some guidance of a biblical counselor. Accordingly, it is in Paul’s letter to the Romans Chapter 1 we find the most fitting scripture regarding the reliance upon man’s knowledge:

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.


Adams, J.E. (1970). Competent to counsel. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan
Moroney, S.K. (1999). How sin affects scholarship: A new model. Christian Scholar’s Review,
     28(3), 432-451.

Sodergren, A. (2005). Guilt and mental disorder.

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