The Trinity is a subject hotly debated and still mysterious. We understand from scripture that God exists in three persons, and these persons at times act and move in independent ways, yet they are in perfect coordination and unity.
In explaining the Trinity with an example drawn from our own experience it both helps us to understand God, and at the same time helps us see a further important truth: HOW to “walk in the Spirit” as the scriptures demand. Many Christians know the command to walk in the spirit, but really have no idea what it means or how to “do it”. Likewise, many Christians struggle with sin and don’t know how to “be better” and be less sinful. This little analogy may help.
We were created in the image of God. This means we are three united elements: body, soul and spirit. The body contains the personality with its feelings, thoughts and drives (the soul), and the spirit is the inward man who either reaches out to God or denies him.
When the bible speaks of “the flesh” it means more than just physical cells of the body. It’s referring to our natural tendency towards selfishness and gratifying the senses. The body and soul are working together to live out a human life on earth. The spirit starts out quite dormant (the bible uses the term “dead”) until filled with the Spirit of God, and then it’s resurrected to its true function, to know and worship God and to discern his will. And so on.
So these three parts also form a kind of “trinity”.
They do not always work in unity. Sometimes the body is tired, but the spirit wants to pray or speak to somebody. Jesus said “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”. There are differences of activities within these three parts of a human being. Maybe the soul wants to party but the spirit says, hold back. The flesh wants to eat but the soul commands it “you will get overweight, so restrain yourself”.
We can now see more clearly the Trinity, the Godhead. Apart from sin, the “tripartate” nature of God is like a person’s soul spirit and body. God is the Eternal Father on the Throne, also the incarnated Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Each of these is equally God, just as we are not divided – we are not three people living in a body, but ONE person!
At times, the three-ness of God was revealed through unity, and sometimes through different persons. Jesus prayed always that he might be brought into unity and conformity with God the Father, and he did nothing but what he perceived his Father doing.
When Jesus ascended he sent the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God, both terms are used in scripture) to be “another helper” to be ALL that Jesus was to his disciples and more. When we receive God, we receive “The Son” and we receive the “Spirit of the Father” and the “Holy Spirit” and we receive “The Father” – there is no disagreement here, it’s all one and the same.
But Jesus on earth could be tempted to step outside of perfect oneness with the Father (the wilderness temptation and the Garden of Gethsemane). He could act independently of his Father, yet he chose to submit himself to Him.
That’s our clue to “walking in the spirit”. The “flesh” – body and soul – wants to be better, and sets out to change things. That’s a fundamental mistake! So many people, including Christians, think they have to clean up their own act and struggle to be a better person. Yet using only the body and soul to TRY just exaggerates the problem: being out of harmony with God in the Spirit.
Each time you exercise your flesh to “try harder” you are drowning out the voice of the Spirit and becoming less able to surrender to its commands. Whether or not the flesh is being evil or good, it’s still the flesh and really of no use to God UNLESS it’s in conformity and unity with the Spirit.
Just as Jesus never went outside his Father’s will or command or power, never acting in his own nature, so WE – like miniature trinities – have the task of bringing our personalities and wills into submission to the voice of the Spirit. THAT alone is the way of victory, peace, wisdom and ability.
We have to align in harmony with the Spirit and let God be the conductor of our human symphony. No “instrument” of ours can play its own independent tune.
One last illustration. I played a computer game where one task was manipulating three separate knobs to adjust a sound wave into perfect harmony with the given “key” wave. The frequency and tone of my wave had to be modulated so that eventually the sound was a perfect harmony, not discord. When perfect harmony was achieved the task was completed.
I see my soul and flesh like two parts of my human “soundwave”. God’s beautiful key tone within my spirit can be heard, and my only task is to conform myself to it, to bring myself into harmony with God. Then HIS nature will sound out, not mine!