When we view Christ’s temptations in the wilderness and in the garden of Gethsemane, we find a unique paradigm. Though man, fully so, he was also the Son of God. From conception he was in union with the Godhead and beyond corruption. Our first parents were not, though. They had a relationship with God- they were in communion with him. Union and not mere relationship seals against any corruption as we have testimony in the NT that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit until the consummation. Like the incarnation of Christ is our new birth. It is a regenesis, a supernatural event. I propose that the corruptions of Adam and Eve were of a supernatural kind, also. Not effected by God, but by the Satan. That corruption was bound permanently to man in the fall by God. Man’s holiness ended at the advent of sinning and at once sin took its place. Man’s corruption was thorough, and so he died, no longer was he perfect in all ways. Even those faculties, thought, conscience, will, which do not change in their native essence, changed in their natural affection, and so their ability diminished, and were sealed in it. It is the affection, perhaps then, that the Devil supernaturally caused to change.
One more NT example to demonstrate that there can be permission for Satan to effect supernatural change within a person and cause him to have affection for what would normally be shunned:
Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
I chose the KJV for the specific reason of avoiding too hasty a conclusion about the condition of this boy. Other renderings would have it that he had seizures. Which is fine as far as that goes. However, it is linked to a second description. It says that he was possessed by evil. While it may be seizures that are spoken of, it may refer to his behavior of falling into water and fire. The sense is that he sought to kill himself. He acted crazy. That is what lunatic, selēniazomai, means. And more, it was the condition present at the time. It was not that he sometimes was selēniazomai, it was in the present as an active condition.
So it is said:
And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
It is acknowledged that in the presence of them all, a change miraculously occurred so that the disciples knew it.
Again, what I am not saying is that Adam and Eve were demon possessed. I am just showing that it was not according to this child’s right-minded choice that this would happen to him. And more, it was not the demon who threw him in the fire and water, but the boy who acted. Again, we must take note that no rational person would do so. The knowledge of fire and water and their beneficial and destructive qualities did not need to be changed. Merely a change in the desire irrespective of what is true, or what is known about what is true, is all that is necessary to cause a person to irrationally respond to the environment or even to disregard what is surely known.
Man is left in the Garden alone with his natural ability unimpaired until the serpent intervenes. Without God there to protect, Adam and Eve were vulnerable. What supernatural event then happened is a mystery, but the facts remain. Adam in his natural state would not have chosen to rebel because he could not have chosen to. No new knowledge was introduced, only new questions and perhaps an accusation. We noted that the powers of the enemy are far above our comprehension. So, whatever happened was not a natural event and so it cannot be said that Adam simply chose against himself. For him to act against himself, Adam had to be deceived. But how so? Deception is not free choice, by definition. The natural ability of the will was unimpeded. He chose. The will goes where the mind goes. Was the mind changed? Surely not by Adam, for how could that be? A perfectly good mind will always choose good. What we can say is that between seeing the fruit good for food, which it was not, and the conclusion that it was also good for gaining wisdom, for which it was neither granted nor needed and so no sound reasoning existed to doubt it, for they were already perfected, the mind was somehow corrupted.
Emotion is not necessarily grounded in reason. Emotion can be enough in fallen man to override sound thinking. Could it be possible that emotion is at the root of the fall? And here, not a change in the love of God, but perhaps exitement, an inticement, to be more like him?
Why is this important? Because a corrupt mind cannot choose that which is not corrupt, for it cannot without corruption discern the difference between truth and error. In human developement, man first chooses emotionally, and only with time does a child learn to use sound thinking. And it chooses according to its kind as Jesus said, even at that. As Christ did, the good mind rejects the temptation presented, it always does the will of God because it loves as God is love. And, except that Jesus was also filled with the Spirit, the mind of Christ would also have been corrupted, for he was truly man with emotion that could be changed. But, why does Jesus resist the temptation? He does so by a defense of the truth. But is there a sense in which he emotionally responds, also? It is said that Jesus was tempted in all ways, that is, in every respect, as we are also tempted. Plays upon the Lord’s emotions are elsewhere made. And we see him many times respond with emotions that express the righteous indignation that we sense in the temptation narative. But in all this, Jesus, unlike Adam and Eve, did not respond with emotion out of control.
A miraculous thing must occur in regeneration. The good mind must be sure of the object of its affection, for it must choose in faith and faith is sure and certain of the thing upon which it sets its hope. It must know without doubt that the choice is the right one or it will not choose. It must have knowledge and be convinced that knowledge is true. A corrupt mind cannot choose but evil, truly, for it cannot discern what is good, so cannot choose good in truth but only in unbelief. God will not accept a heart divided, either. No mixed affections will do. Except that a new mind is given man, he remains corrupted in all his mental faculties unable to discern good from evil. And there, that is the sense, that is how Adam and Eve chose wrongly, they could not discern, rightly, good from evil. Somehow their minds were corrupted before they chose evil for they thought their choice good. We have no evidence that the abilities to reason, changed.
Did the Satan change the affections somehow in those faculties which were righteous and holy? For affection is what trusts that the choice is good. Or to say it another way, it loves (it has affection) the truth in righteousness. Could it have been feelings and emotions and not rational thoughts or other perceptions pe se, that corrupted the mind? Was the desire good but manipulated to excess so that the choice was an emotional one and not a rational one? Who knows? The anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God, but a heart jealous for the truth, can, as we see in Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple. Adam’s mind could not be corrupted even with inducements in sight or by argument, then what is left? Some supernatural change, but in what?
We must understand that for a person to be born again is not a matter of choice, but a miracle, a supernatural event, for the mind corrupted can never trust its own eyes. It will choose on the basis of feelings, first, and not knowledge. Jesus said that the children of the Devil act out of hate. His portrayal of their blindness is that their desires were their guide and those desires were the same as Satans- hate. They had seen the miracles, they had heard the truth that he proclaimed. The had the evidence of their eyes and knowledge in mind of the message proclaimed. Still they remained hardened in heart. The mind cannot rightly understand and discern good from evil until those desires are changed even if it has been enlighted by experience and knowledge. It cannot see Christ as trustworthy for it cannot see Christ as truly good and worthy of love through its jaundiced view, from a heart that does not trust. Trust is not founded in knowledge, but affection. It is in part conviction, though conviction properly belongs to the abilities of reason. Distrust on the other hand is no sound conviction. Not because it lacks sound reason, but because it does not love of the object (knowledge). It is divided, unsure in all its ways. Even the corrupt, rational mind, can see some good in the message of the Gospel. It can have knowledge, but it cannot love that knowledge in truth, even though convinced, because it cannot surely set itself toward it. The trinity of saving faith consists of knowledge, conviction, and trust (love, an emotional affection that gives itself wholly to its object). It is the last of these which we must deal specifically, for even the devils believe and tremble, as both knowing and convinced of the truth.
The mind must be changed. We know this word from the Greek, it is metanoia. Repentance is a change of mind. Better, it is a change in the affections of the mind. The unique view of the NT is not that repentance is merely a natural change. It is a gift, granted by God. And what I have tried to demonstrate here is that even if it were merely natural, it would not be of faith, for faith knows and is sure, it also loves, for love in truth is sure and certain of the object to which it is directed. But a corrupt mind never can be sure of what it knows, so it cannot love, and a divided heart can never be sure of who it loves, because it cannot truly know. We have the words of Paul in 1 Cor 2 to help explain what repentance means:
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 because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Paul’s declaration of what he knew to be true is this:
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
It takes the mind of Christ to turn around, it also takes the love of God spread abroad in the heart, to change those hostile emotions, to set its sights on things above, to deny the appeals of the enemy, to be able to reject and resist his attempts of deceptive ploy without, or corruption of mind within, or the sway of the emotion which pertain to the right understanding and love of the truth. That is a supernatural occurence and cannot come from a mind which is unable to discern good from evil. Even when the mind happens to settle upon what is good, the heart of man does not love it for it is divided against itself, it cannot love for love is the attribute of God who does not turn nor is there any shadow of doubt in him and he knows who he loves. The heart, even if the mind chooses the good, corrupts the choice by the adulteration of its affection if its affection is impure.
The fall was a supernatural occurence, not to be explained by natural means, even though natural abilities come into play. By that we know something very important about what it means to be saved. It is not natural and cannot be founded upon natural ability for those are corrupted. Emotions, feelings, that which we call love, likewise being corrupted cannot turn themselves to a single-minded affection for they are unstable in all their ways until a new heart is given. A new mind is not ours to create, for we are not the creator, nor can we clean the old heart for ours is not the blood of Christ. For the old to become new it cannot be cleaned by the hands of man, by a decision, or by anything else earthbound. Indeed, the creation did not arrive in its fallen state in the first place by any natural event or even by the actions of man. We see unequivocably an evil force interject himself into man’s life. We know unequivocably that man was perfect and that God had given him a commandment, the breach of which was punishable by death. Man was induced to disobedience and became dead in it. Satan’s actions corrupted man’s choices. But was it Satan’s corrupting man’s affections, but not from their right orientation, perhaps, but in their degree making them unnatural, and then God’s sealing man in them, that constitutes the fall? It still remains a mystery as to just how Satan effected change in man’s affections toward God. He does not have to make man hate God, he needs only to make man want to leave his natural estate with the good intention to be more like God. To do that the Satan only needed to use what was native to Adam and Eve in the first place.
Except that one is born from above, he cannot discern the kingdom of God. He cannot perceive in truth the Son of God and so therefore will not follow him. He cannot submit and take his rightful place in humility before God. Then who are those the Father seeks? Those who worship in Spirit and in Truth cannot be the natural offspring of a man’s flesh, for it is sealed in corruption. They can only be those who are born of God, recreated, re-genesised, by the Spirit, and given the heart of the Son. To that we have the testimony of Scripture also. Setting a man’s mind right is one portion, the other is setting man’s heart right and putting it in its rightful relationship to God once again.