I was studying through James 4 and happened upon a verse that grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. It was James 4:5. In the ESV the verse is somewhat cryptic: “Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?” James was writing about our friendship with the world and the reality that, if we choose to be a friend of the world, we “make ourselves an enemy of God.” I looked at the verse in the NASB: “Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?” That was clearer. I was beginning to see the point of the verse. Then I looked in Kenneth Wuest’s expanded translation: “Or do you think that the Scripture says in an empty manner and to no purpose, ‘The Spirit who has been caused to make His permanent home in us has a passionate desire (to control us) to the point of envy (of any control indwelling sin may have over us)?” It became crystal clear.
If you are a follower of Christ, His Spirit dwells within you. Paul writes about this in Romans 8. The believer is said to be the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). He has taken up residence in our bodies in order to control and direct our lives. This is the concept behind Ephesians 5:18 where the believer is commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The reality is that He (the Holy Spirit) wants all of us. He wants to fill us, indwell us, and control us. He doesn’t want part of you, part of your time, part of your will, or part of your love. He wants to fill you and for you to yield to Him. He doesn’t want to take second place or any other place in your life. And this is where the verse congeals with the context. We can find ourselves in a place where we want God but we also want the world. And you can’t have both.
I think James’ point is that when we decide that we want to love the world, the Holy Spirit becomes jealous. He becomes jealous of the believer that has another love-something else that is filling the believer’s mind and will and attention. God wants all of us because He has bought us with Christ’s blood. I remember reading in the Old Testament that God is a jealous God. In Exodus 34:13-15, God warned the Israelites about following other gods: “ You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice.” God has never wanted His children to have any other love than Him. This verse in James stirred in my mind the understanding that God calls for my undivided love and is jealous to secure it. He expects all my heart, and my obligation as His child is to give Him all my love.
I recently read an article regarding the heart-breaking marriage relationship between Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The article spoke of the marriage that was doomed from the beginning because of Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles. The article stated that even on their honeymoon Prince Charles had pictures of Camilla in a diary and had talked to Diana about buying Camilla a bracelet. The article related the deep grief and devastation that Diana felt because the love that she longed for in the marriage relationship never materialized. She expected (rightly) her husband’s undivided devotion and it grieved her greatly because he loved another. She quietly endured a collapsing marriage that ended in divorce because of “another love” that destroyed their marriage.
When I read that article, I thought about my own relationship with Christ. I have made a commitment to Christ and He has saved me, but I had to ask myself the question as to whether there is another love that is grieving the Lord and sending Him to jealousy? Not a person, but any thing, any god that can fill my heart and keep me from giving Him my undivided affection. Success, comfort, prominence are only a few of the almost infinite number of loves that we can secretly keep “pictures of in a journal” just like Prince Charles did. Reading James 4 has sparked in my heart a greater desire to love Him with all my heart because to set my eye on anything else is to grieve the One who gave everything for me. Regarding your relationship with Jesus Christ and the indwelling Spirit, how is your love life?