It is with almost certainty that most people read the title and immediately jumped to the conclusion that the word “trinity” was in reference to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. No, we are talking about temptation.
James tells us, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14-15). Thus, temptation can be deadly. But, what about the trinity part of the title? This comes from a statement by the apostle John, who writes, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:16). These three realms of lust make up all the temptations assailing man. There two examples that we wish to consider in which one individual was tempted in all three of these realms. In one example the person failed miserably in overcoming the temptations cast toward them. In the other example, the individual quickly, easily and completely defeated the trio of temptations, leaving us an excellent example of how best to confront them.
The first of our examples is that of Eve in the Garden of Eden. God had given specific and clear instructions to Adam and Eve concerning that which they could and could not eat. The only real test of faith for them was in that God said, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Temptation soon raised its ugly head. The serpent denied the truth of what God had said. He said they would not surely die, but would instead be as gods, knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:4-5). In just one verse, the Bible shows us that all three realms of temptation both confronted Eve and overcame her. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6). Notice that she saw that “it was good for food”. The appeal to the fleshly desire for food is one that is strong in man. Many have succumbed to it and behaved wickedly in order to fill their bellies. This is a simple case of “lust of the flesh”. Then note that she saw that it was pleasant to the eyes, it was appealing to look upon. I suppose the most common and effective allurements of today, to draw away one from faithfulness in their marriage vows is that of the “lust of the eyes”. Finally, she saw that it would make her wise, “the pride of life”. To be wise, rich, beautiful, powerful or any other thing that would cause people to exalt one, has long been a temptation that many could not withstand. Eve failed the test!
Our second example is found in the gospels. It is that of the temptation of Jesus (Matt. 4:1-11). Being hungry after fasting for forty days and nights, the first temptation the devil cast His way was that of the “lust of the flesh”. He tempts Jesus with the idea of food, that which would fill His empty belly. Notice the weapon with which Jesus combats this kind of temptation. He says, “It is written”. He quoted the word of God in response to the temptation. His first concern was, what had the Father said concerning such a situation? Secondly, the devil throws “pride of life” at Jesus, for what glory and honor would be seen in God sending angels to bear Him up before He was injured. Jesus’ response was, “It is written again”. He combats temptation with the word of God! No disobedience to God can possibly be good, even if it does exalt one before man. Thirdly, the devil pitched the “lust of the eyes” at Jesus, by holding up all the kingdoms of the world for Him to see. How did Jesus respond? He knocked the “lust of the eyes” pitch out of the park with the same words as before, “It is written”. He defeated and overcame all three realms of temptation. Thus, the Hebrew writer could say, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
The deadly trinity is a reality. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life can and will bring about the spiritual death of a man, if he succumbs. However, all three can be overcome. One of the things that is of great importance for us to consider concerning these three realms of temptation is that they are all centered around self. Lust of the flesh is what I want. Lust of the eyes is what I like. The pride of life is how I want to be seen. When one detaches himself from self and attaches himself to Christ, it will be a whole lot easier to beat back these temptations. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). Jesus did this himself. When faced with the terrible suffering of the cross, He said to the Father, “nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark 14:36).
All will be tempted, for temptation is common to man, but along with the temptation comes a way of escape (I Cor. 10:13). Just beware the deadly trinity.
(Editor’s note: Send any questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org)