“The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)

That sounds a little off, doesn’t it? When someone says he’s got voices in his head we want to fit him for a jacket with straps on the sleeves and buckles in the back. It’s not normal to hear voices in your head. It’s not natural to hear voices in your head. If I heard voices in my head I certainly wouldn’t tell anyone about it. They’d think I was crazy.

Do you ever hear voices in your head? No? Maybe you’re not listening. Or, maybe one voice has become so loud that it drowns out the other voices and you’ve become so accustomed to it that you can’t even recognize it as a voice; you think it’s you.

Well, I hate to break this to you. I’ve got voices in my head. And you’ve got voices in your head too. You may not be aware of it, but you do. The way I figure it, you’ve got at least four voices in there. If you think you’ve got more than that, you may need to talk to someone who wears a white coat to work. I can help you with four voices, but if great aunt Bessie from Omaha is talking to you in there, I’ll have to refer you to someone with a notebook and a couch.

Speaking of couches, Freud was pretty sure there were three voices bouncing around inside the average human cranium; the id, the ego and the super-ego.

The id is the unconscious voice that wants satisfaction “now!” The id screams when your body wants something like food, sleep or sex. It wants what it wants and doesn’t care about anyone or anything else, or the consequences. It’ll holler until you give it what it wants.

The ego is the voice that’s just trying to get along. He’s the one always trying to negotiate with the other voices. He just wants to make it through the day without too much damage.

The super-ego is the voice of the ideal you. It’s the voice that tells you to get up at 5:00 AM to go for a jog and says no to that extra piece of German chocolate cake. The super-ego is the voice that wants you to be all you can be. He hates the id because it represents all of your ‘animal’ impulses. And super-ego thinks the ego is a weakling; always negotiating and compromising, never just saying ‘yes’ to what he ought to be doing.

According to Freud, we spend our lives acting out the desires of these three voices based on whichever one is winning the argument at the moment. I guess Freud’s theory makes sense … if you’re assuming that the only voices inside your head come from inside your head. I’m assuming Freud was assuming that. According to Freud, if you have a voice inside your head that came from somewhere besides the inside of your head you were nuts. Freud called it ‘psychosis’; you can’t make two hundred bucks an hour with a couch and a notebook if you’re going to use words like ‘nuts’ to describe crazy people.

Anyway, I don’t think Freud took into account any voices that originated outside of a person’s head when he was counting voices and I don’t think he considered the Bible as a kind of human-being owner’s manual when he was formulating theories on the clashing forces of psychic structure (the voices in our heads).

If you’re going to come up with more than the id, the ego, and the super-ego, you’ve got to take into account a few things Freud missed. 1) That there may be voices originating outside your head that get into your head. 2) If you’re willing to consider the Bible as a human-being owner’s manual (it’s a lot more than that but, among other things, it’s an owner’s manual) then you’ve got to believe that if there were voices in your head the Bible would have something to say about it.

Personally, I take both of those things into account. Because I believe number two: ‘the Bible, among other things, is a sort of owner’s manual,’ I know number one is true: ‘there are voices inside my head that originated outside my head,’.

This is what I know: there are four voices inside my head. Only one of them came pre-installed when I was born. The voice I was born with is the ‘sin-nature man’. This voice is a part of my spiritual DNA; I inherited it from my great-great-great grandfather Adam.

There’s a nice warm fuzzy humanist philosophy that says man is naturally good and noble and kind; all he needs is a perfect world to make his own perfection bloom … kind of like the BP commercial where the happy bubble head people drive their happy bubblehead car past the evil gas stations that hurt the happy world and into the happy BP station to fill up their happy car with happy juice and then go happily on their way. “Beep, beep.”

It’s a nice idea, just not an accurate one. Cars don’t run on happy juice and man isn’t naturally good and noble and kind. He’s naturally bent, damaged and broken. He is born with a sin nature, not with a good/noble/kind nature. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)

So voice number one is ‘sin-nature man’; you were born with him (or her). He/she is the voice that shouts, “I want!” “I want more!” “I want what you’ve got!” “I want revenge!” “I want what I can’t have!” I want my rights!” “I want to be the boss of me!” A lot like Freud’s id, only more sinister – because it’s older than the id and it’s got some help from the outside (we’ll get into more of that later).

The idea that ‘sin-nature man’ is the only natural voice in your head is pretty depressing. When the apostle Paul wrote about this voice in his head he said: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) That was the apostle Paul! He was a big time Christian! If he felt that way about his ‘sin-nature man’ voice, what hope do we plain old Joe/Jane Christians have?

Well, that’s the voice we were born with. It’s the truth and that’s it. Man is not born good and noble and kind. He’s born with rotten pre-installed. What a terrible life. Isn’t there anything we can do about it?

When great granddad Adam sinned he broke the race of man. It’s part of our genetic heritage. From that point forward every one of us that came out of Eve or her daughters was broken … except for one. In order for men to be fixed somebody had to pay the bill Adam rang up. The only someone eligible was someone who didn’t come from Adam, didn’t possess his spiritually broken DNA. That someone couldn’t be a son of Adam; he had to be the son of God.

The price to pay for Adam’s sin was death. But the one paying the price had to be innocent; he couldn’t have a price on his own head or he wouldn’t be qualified to pay for Adam’s sin. God’s son was the only one who could do that. God’s son didn’t pay that bill when he came to earth as a little baby and he didn’t pay the bill with his teaching or his miracles. He paid the bill when he died.

Because he did, something amazing happened. The damage that was done to all men through Adam disobeying God was reversed for all men when God’s son, Jesus, paid the price required to wipe out Adam’s sin. “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)

Jesus’ death wiping out Adam’s debt means that even though we were born with the ‘sin-nature man’ voice in our heads we’re not doomed to obey it for the rest of our lives. Now we’ve got the power to shut up the voice and shut down ‘sin-nature man’.

How do we do that? We get a new voice inside our heads that’s more powerful. How do we do that? Simple – we do like Jesus did; we die.

When I say die, I mean die spiritually. The truth is you were already dead spiritually when you came into this world. The only thing you’re alive to is the sin nature you inherited. You’ve got to be willing to lay that life down like Jesus laid his life down to kill the power of the ‘sin-nature’ in man.

Jesus’ death wiped out the debt Adam left for his offspring, but the story didn’t stop when he died. He came back to life, and this time he was indestructible. Likewise, when you die to that life you inherited from granddad Adam, you’re born into a new life, one that’s not a prisoner to the voice of ‘sin-nature’ man. Here’s a bonus: you come back indestructible too.

Your new life is a spiritual one. When you died to your sin-nature, your body didn’t die. Likewise when you’re born again, you’ve got a new spirit life, but you’re stuck with the same old physical body (you’ll get a new one to match the new spirit life eventually, but not right now).

The good news is that when you say yes to killing ‘sin-nature man’ you give birth to ‘spirit man’. And with his birth comes a new voice inside your head; ‘spirit-man’ voice. The voice of ‘spirit-man’ has the power to shut down the ‘sin-nature man’ voice.

Now we know about two voices in our heads. The ‘sin-nature man’ didn’t die completely when you took on your new life. He’s still hiding down in the “members of your body” (Romans 7:23), but he doesn’t have the power to control you anymore. There’s another voice in your head now, ‘spirit-man’; he’s the new you, the indestructible you. He has the power to keep ‘sin-nature man’ in place. And when your old body finally breathes its last, ‘sin-nature man’ will die with it, but you, ‘spirit-man’, will live on and one day receive your new indestructible body to match.


I promised you four voices. We only covered two. We’ll get to the other two voices next week. They come from the outside in; one’s an enemy and one’s a friend. We’ll also cover how to grow your ability to hear the good voices and shut down the bad voices.

Until next week, keep an ear out for ‘spirit man’.

Alive in Christ,

Steve Spillman