Why is it that the voices in your head all sound the same?
You do hear voices in your head, right? Whew. I’m relieved.
Seriously, why do your thoughts, leadings, and temptations all sound like they are coming from the same source? People—theologians, philosophers, counselors—have wondered for years about this phenomenon.
Paul, writing about this subject in the New Testament, puts forward the revelation that leading, temptation, and thought sound the same but are in reality three, distinct individuals. Simply, you’re never alone. Even when you are thinking in the shower, it’s you and two others.
The first voice belongs to you. There’s no revelation here. You are a thinking person. Thinking people create ideas and then think about their ideas.
What is not self-evident, or the concept that is remarkably difficult to remember, is that as a new person who has been regenerated in Jesus Christ, you have been given the mind of Christ (ref. 1 Cor. 2:16 et al). This doesn’t mean you have the IQ of Jesus, or that your mind is His mind, per se. It means that as a spiritually redeemed person your thoughts are in concert with His thoughts. You deeply desire to do what He desires for you to do.
The second voice is that of the Holy Spirit. Just before Jesus exited Earth, He promised to send the Holy Spirit to live within us, lead us, comfort us, guide us, and mentor us in the truth of God. Assuming He is doing this means that He is talking to us about the same things we are thinking as regenerated people.
Pay attention now. The Holy Spirit’s customary style of communication is to voice for us what is already in our hearts and minds to think about. In this way He leads us into what is true. He does this by role playing our part so we envision what our role as a Christian looks like and sounds like. Most of the time, the Holy Spirit sounds like you.
In summary, you sound like you when you think and the Holy Spirit sounds like you when He thinks. Unless you are paying attention, this gets confusing.
But hold on. Every great adventure story, which is what our lives are, is fraught with a classic battle between good and evil.
The third voice is the voice of sin. I’m not referring to your poor performance, i.e. the things you do that are wrong. Rather, I’m referring to an entity that the Bible identifies as sin, or the law of sin, or the principle of sin. The lengthiest passage on this subject is recorded in Romans 7, starting with verse 14 and proceeding through the end of the chapter.
(Don’t bother reading this passage out of a New International Version of the Bible. The translators did a sorry, sorry job of translating this passage from the original language. Chose instead a New American Standard Bible, the English Standard Version, or the New King James among others. You can find these versions at biblegateway.com if you don’t have one on hand.)
Returning to the character of sin: He first appears in Genesis 4:7. This is where Cain is contemplating killing his brother, Abel. The text reads, “6 The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.’”
Notice that the Bible attributes to sin sentient qualities, i.e. crouching, desiring, preparation to attack, and the real possibility of being defeated. To make certain we are on the same page, in this reference to sin the Bible is using the noun form of sin to isolate a person, place, or thing, not the verbal form of sin that will play out later in the chapter when Cain murders his brother.
We now have three players in the game of life: you, the Holy Spirit, and Sin. While there is a lot to be said on this subject, let me drop to the bottom line: In considering the role of sin, Paul in Romans 7:14ff determines that the principle of sin lives within our bodies and from that position engages us with temptations disguised as us. Make certain you grasped that last sentence.
The principle of sin disguises himself as you. More specifically, he disguises himself as the old you who was a descendant of Adam, i.e. the same individual who was crucified with Christ (ref. Rom. 6:6ff, Gal. 2:20 et al). So, sin weighs in on the issues of life by impersonating a dead person. In short, he submits to you perspectives, thoughts, and temptations that sound as though you came up with the idea.
Of course, that’s not possible. As a new person in Christ, deeply committed and desiring to walk in concert with the Holy Spirit, endowed with a new heart and the mind of Christ, you cannot generate tempting thoughts. It sounds like you do, and you can certainly be deceived into following sin’s suggestions, but the sound is only the principle of sin impersonating a dead person in order to recommend a deceptive option that is counter to you and the Holy Spirit.
In summary then, life rocks along, circumstances occur, and you are making your way along doing your best. You are thinking about ideas, the Holy Spirit is leading, the principle of sin is deceiving, and all three of you sound exactly the same. Like you.
It’s pretty confusing, isn’t it? After all, even the Apostle Paul describes his confusion in Romans 7. If he got confused.... Well, we could use some assistance.
It’s really, really helpful if you can see this dynamic play out, especially in someone else’s life. By segmenting the players into their respective roles, after a while you can effectively discern who is who and who is saying what. But without the parts broken down and the actors defined, all the parts and players sound the same and the sound is dissonant.
All of these words to tell you this: No Mercy and Battle for the Round Tower do this defining and breaking down for you within a grand adventure story. The literature does other things as well, but first and foremost these two books take you into the spiritual world and guide your development as a warrior in the Kingdom of Light.
No Mercy is located here.
Battle for the Round Tower is located here.