The un-holy Trinity are the false goods and false gods that Satan sets up. They are the World, the Flesh and the Devil. I wrote about how the Holy Trinity counters the un-Holy Trinity here, but as we head into Lent consider the tools we are given to battle the un-holy Trinity: there are three, and they give us a well rounded and complete armory in the fight.
The three are prayer, almsgiving and abstinence, and together they counter the World, the Flesh and the Devil. How so? The World is the underlying assumption that life is about power and prosperity. We’re here to get money, save money, spend money and attain worldly wealth and power right? Wrong. And it is almsgiving that counters this basic assumption that it’s all about money.
When you give your money sacrificially you’re telling your bank account who’s boss. You’re taking control of money and by giving it away you’re telling the money god just what you think of him. You’re reminding yourself that money is like manure: spread it around and it does a lot of good. Save it all in one place and it starts to stink and breeds germs. So almsgiving is a direct, practical and simpe way to put The World in its place and turn our hearts to heaven.
Abstinence, or giving something up for Lent, is a sure way to discipline the flesh. It’s fashionable to cut this one out these days and say, “Instead of giving something up, I’m taking something up.”–meaning some good cause. Actually we’re supposed to do both, and the old tradition of giving up some physical pleasure means that we are taking the threat of The Flesh seriously. The Flesh is not just the physical pleasures of food, sex, sleep, entertainment and drink. It is also the underlying assumption that life is all about keeping this body of mine satiated with all sorts of pleasurable sensations. Giving up a fleshly pleasure corrects that underlying assumption and shifts our attention to higher things.
Prayer is the antidote to The Devil. It’s simple. The Devil wants to be worshipped instead of God. By offering more prayer and worship to God we stymie the devil. By turning our attention to God and offering him our devotion and obedience we trample down the head of Satan during Lent.
So this Lent we battle the un-holy Trinity with three holy weapons. Almsgiving counters The World. Abstinence counters The Flesh and Prayer counters The Devil.