After emphasizing the impossibility of simultaneous friendship with the world and God, James articulates why this is: “Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously’?” (James 4:5). The Holy Spirit fiercely woos the heart that He is invited into. God does not want to share the throne of anyone’s heart. He yearns jealously. Using the analogy of adultery, God is deeply betrayed and torn by a divided heart in His child. The inner suffering of a faithful spouse when betrayed is mirrored and amplified in the Spirit of God when His children have world-loving hearts.

Jesus expressed this deep yearning for His people when He lamented over Israel: “ ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” ’ ” (Matt. 23:37–39). He acknowledges at the beginning their betrayal: they have even scorned and killed the messengers seeking to reconcile them with their King. Jesus yearns for their hearts, to protect them. But by their own actions and hearts they have chosen a desolate house and to not see His face again until their choices are not changeable.

Does the Spirit simply yearn and then leave it to humanity’s weakness to make a change? No, “but He gives more grace” (James 4:6). The Spirit of God does not leave humanity stranded with contrary hearts. He gives grace—that wonderful grace secured by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus!—for surrender and a change wrought by His power. With Charles Spurgeon, we should “[n]ote that contrast; note it always. Observe how weak we are, how strong he is; how proud we are, how condescending he is; how erring we are, and how infallible he is; how changing we are, and how immutable he is; how provoking we are, and how forgiving he is. Observe how in us there is only ill, and how in him there is only good. Yet our ill but draws his goodness forth, and still he blesseth. Oh! what a rich contrast!” (“More and More,” in The Complete Works of C. H. Spurgeon, vol. 61.)

If His children would only acknowledge the reality of their need, He will send all the grace needed and more. This grace leads His child to submit to God and resist the devil, and the devil will flee, knowing that he is no match (v. 7). Humans cannot resist the devil in their own strength; submission to God is paramount and primary. And God gives the grace for even this.