What Differences Does the Trinity Make in Temptation?

We can define the doctrine of the Trinity easily enough: “God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God.”1 Actually comprehending it is another matter. On the surface it seems like a contradiction to have one God in three persons, but this is what the Bible clearly teaches us. God, by his very nature, is bigger than our limited human minds can understand.

And that’s okay. We know enough to love, worship, and obey God. Just because we can’t fully comprehend this mystery, that doesn’t mean we should stash it up on a high shelf to gather dust. The doctrine of the Trinity is eminently practical—it’s worth mulling over and shaping our lives around. Through the Scriptures we can go ever deeper into the precious mystery of the Father who chose us and planned our salvation, the Son who paid for our sins on the cross, and the Spirit who regenerates us and applies the blessings of redemption.

Let’s consider what difference this makes in a moment of temptation.

What thoughts go through your mind when you’re teetering on the edge of sin? Your spiritual battle might be limited to thinking, “This is wrong, I shouldn’t do it.” As true as that is, it’s often not sufficient to change our behaviour. More than rules, we need to act out of our love for the one true God, which triumphs over our love for anything in this world. And who is this God that we love? He is Father, Son, and Spirit.

Thomas Brooks, in his book Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, shows us how well God has equipped us to withstand the temptation our enemy brings us. God’s law is just one weapon among the whole arsenal. Satan learns to dodge it and dull its edge with lies. It’s just a small thing. You deserve this. Did God really say….?

Knowledge of our triune God gives us so much more ammunition against creeping temptation. Brooks writes:

“Make strong and constant resistance against Satan’s temptations. Make resistance against temptations by arguments drawn from the honor of God, the love of God, your union and communion with God; and from the blood of Christ, the death of Christ, the kindness of Christ, the intercession of Christ, and the glory of Christ; and from the voice of the Spirit, the counsel of the Spirit, the comforts of the Spirit, the presence of the Spirit, the seal of the Spirit, the whisperings of the Spirit, the commands of the Spirit, the assistance of the Spirit, the witness of the Spirit; and from the glory of heaven, the excellency of grace, the beauty of holiness, the worth of the soul, and the vileness or bitterness and evil of sin—the least sin being a greater evil than the greatest temptation in the world.”2

Father

When temptation comes, think about your Father. Because of his abundant love, he chose you “before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Ephesians 1:4). He is worthy of all honour and praise. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, he has compassion upon us even though we have failed. He embraces us and restores us to communion with him. Why would we ever want to do anything that would dishonour our loving Father?

Son

The cross of Jesus puts the reality of our sin right before our eyes. Indulging in this temptation seems harmless, but Jesus paid the penalty for it when those nails were driven into his hands. This is costly grace. It is also effective grace—the kind of deep mercy that empowers us to turn away from our sin and live for Christ. He is interceding for us now, praying that we will not fall into Satan’s schemes. One day we will see him in his full glory and thirst no more—and this will bring us far more joy than the fleeting pleasure of sin.

Spirit

Satan’s attack may be fierce, but we are not left defenceless. The Holy Spirit lives within us, teaching us what is true and good. He comforts us in our moment of temptation, assuring us that Jesus has faced this before and can bring us through it. He reminds us that we are sealed for our eternal inheritance, and shouldn’t settle for the tarnished and perishing treasures of this world. With his leading we can walk in holiness instead of sin (Galatians 5:16).

These are deep waters. We could spend our whole lives swimming in the mysteries of the triune God without exhausting them—and what a glorious life that would be! God’s revelation of himself is meant to change every facet of our lives, and this is just one way. In temptation, argue against your sinful nature; resist it with your love for the Father, Son, and Spirit. He gives ample help in your time of need.

 

  1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, Inter-Varsity Press, London, 1994, p. 226.
  2. Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices (1652), Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, reprinted 2011, pp. 180–181)

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