Christians believe that the one, true God is a three-in-one God; three distinct persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, in one divine essence or being. The three persons of the Holy Trinity are united in all that they do, especially in their work of bringing us to faith in Jesus and sustaining that faith.
Each of the three persons of the Holy Trinity also has a “specialty.” God the Father is referred to as the creator of heaven and earth. Jesus, God’s Son, is known as our redeemer. God the Holy Spirit is the sanctifier who makes us holy by bringing us to faith in Jesus.
The Bible also mentions an un-holy trinity; the devil, the world and our sinful nature. The three members of the un-holy trinity are united in their goal of leading us away from faith in Jesus.
In his Small Catechism, Martin Luther summarizes the work of the un-holy trinity. In the section on the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “lead us not into temptation,” Luther writes, “God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that the devil, the world and our sinful nature may not deceive us or mislead us into false belief, despair and other great shame or vice. Although we are attacked by these things we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.”
The members of the un-holy trinity are all working together to harm us but each of them also has a “specialty.”
The devil tries to harm us by lying to us. Jesus calls him the father of lies. The main purpose of the devil’s lies is to get us to believe that God does not love us and arbitrarily withholds good things from us. Therefore, according to the devil’s lies, it is our job to bite and scratch our way through life to get God to love us and to get what we need.
To counteract the devil’s lies we must stay focused on the Bible’s clear truth that God did not withhold his own dear Son from us but gave him up to die for us on the cross. So how could we possibly ever believe that God intends to withhold any good from us?
The world’s special form of evil is to convince us to take the easy way out. Jesus speaks of this in Matthew 7:13: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” (ESV)
“Don’t get so hung up on doctrine, don’t be so picky about doing the right thing, it’s only wrong if you get caught,” the world says, along with thousands of other ways to get us to take the easy way.
The way to avoid the world’s easy path to destruction is to remember that the glories God has promised believers in the life to come far outweigh any struggles we have to endure here on earth.
Finally, our sinful nature has its own special way of leading us astray. When we are given the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism to create and strengthen faith in us, our sinful nature treats the Spirit like an enemy and goes into attack mode: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” (Galatians 5:17, ESV)
Through the power of Holy Baptism, our sinful nature or “flesh” is drowned and dies with all sins and evil desires and a new man daily emerges and arises to live before God in righteousness and purity forever, Luther says in the Small Catechism.
At the heart of all the attacks of the un-holy trinity is our identity as God’s beloved children. May we never forget that, because of Christ’s love, we will someday enjoy a glory in heaven that far outweighs any of our struggles on earth.