No only do the Father and the Son love their people with an everlasting love, but James 4:1-5 insists that the Holy Spirit loves us with a jealous love that utterly detests our worldliness because our worldliness is a form of spiritual adultery.
The Holy Spirit is absolutely a jealous Lover who is consumed with protecting the purity of Christ’s Bride; however, he is neither wild, uncontrolled, nor blinded by his Jealous Wrath-Love for us. Instead, James tells us, the Holy Spirit gives us more grace:
6But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:6-10)
The Holy Spirit Gives More Grace
Because the Holy Spirit is jealous for the Bride of Christ, he neither ignores the worldly spiritual adultery of his people nor reacts in anger to destroy them. Instead, the Holy Spirit responds by giving more grace as he purifies a people for the Bridegroom Christ’s possession.
George Smeaton is fantastic on this point:
The pointed inquiry of the Apostle James to the envious and contentions men to whom he addressed himself is: Can the Holy Spirit have His habitation in a heart replete with envy? And the emphatic answer, tacitly implied, is No. But (that is, on the contrary, de) He giveth more grace.
The meaning is: the Holy Spirit makes the man in whom He dwells to cherish no envy at another’s welfare, but rather to wish their blessings augmented; and the same Spirit gives more grace to him who is thus minded, or makes him the recipient of more grace. On that man he confers richer communications of grace. (The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, p. 92)
The Holy Spirit Gives More Grace By Our Submission
But how does this grace come to us? In what way do we receive the Holy Spirit’s grace? Quite simply, James says that we must submit ourselves to God to seek his purification from our sinful worldliness.
James writes six practical commands for us (we will look at the sixth in the next section):
- “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” Preach the gospel to yourself, reminding yourself that Jesus the King has died for you. Throw your hope on him for your salvation.
- “Resist the devil, and he will flee you.” Remember that you belong to Christ, no longer under bondage to Satan. You are not fighting a losing battle, but are fighting a battle that Christ has already won for you. In the victory of Christ, resist the devil, and the devil will have no choice but to flee from you.
- “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” Return to God through Christ, again and again. Seek the cleansing blood of Jesus to purify you from all sin, and claim the righteousness of Jesus Christ to cover your nakedness and shame. In the confidence and boldness of Jesus Christ, draw near to God, knowing that he is pleased to draw near to you.
- “Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” By the grace of the Holy Spirit, actually leave your sin and do not return to it. God requires clean hands and pure hearts to approach the holiness of his temple (Psalm 24:4). Christ has purchased your purity at the cross, and the Holy Spirit will apply that purity to your life as he sanctifies you.
- “Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.” The world offers laughter that leads to mourning and joy that leads to gloom. Until you reorient–by the grace of the Holy Spirit–your understanding of these things, you will never know the pleasure, joy, and abundant life that the Father offers you in Christ, through the Holy Spirit.
Now, it is important to understand that James does not command that we obey these commands in order to earn the grace of the Holy Spirit; rather, he is saying that obeying these commands is the fruit of the grace of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If the Holy Spirit does not jealously yearn for our righteouesness and purity, we will never be saved in the least.
The Holy Spirit Gives More Grace to Exalt Us
This submission, however, is not to degrade us or to hold our mistakes over us saying, “Told you so!” The Holy Spirit takes no pleasure in rubbing our noses in the messes that we have made. Instead, this submission is for our good. In fact, this submission is for our exaltation.
At the end of verse 10, note the goal of submitting to the Holy Spirit: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
God desires your good. God desires your joy, your life, your pleasure, and your exaltation. He does not want to harm you, or to hold you back, but to give you abundant life.
Do you really expect the Holy Spirit who Jealously loves you to desire anything less?