Do you think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
— James 4:5

In yesterday’s Sparkling Gem, we looked at the word “dwelleth” in James 4:5. It says, “Do you think that the scripture saith in vain, the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” The next word in this verse that we must consider is the word “lusteth.”

For the most part, the word lust has a very bad connotation in our minds. We think of sexual lust, for example, as something that must be eradicated from our lives. We think of a greedy kind of lust as an excessive desire for material possessions. Lust is something we don’t want to admit exists in our lives. On the contrary, we think of lust as something we want to get rid of.

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But James tells us that the Holy Spirit has lust — and because He is the Spirit of holiness (see Romans 1:4), we know that the lust of the Holy Spirit must be a healthy, godly kind. Understanding this point is so important that we must stop and see exactly what James is trying to say to us here.

The word “lusteth” is taken from the Greek word epipothei, which is a compound of two Greek words — epi and pothei. The word epi adds force to the word, and the word pothei means an intense desire or yearning. When compounded, the new word describes an intense, excessive yearning for something. Usually this word is used to indicate something that is morally wrong or sinful.

For example, this word could be used to picture a drug addict who daily requires a new “fix”— enough drugs to carry him into the next day. When the last fix wears off and his body is desperately crying out for a new infusion of chemicals, the drug addict nearly doubles over in pain, yearning for the next injection. Everything in him is focused on getting those chemicals. He is consumed with his need for more. The word epipothei could describe that kind of desperate yearning.

The word epipothei could also be used to describe the behavior of a sexual addict. Going from one sexual experience to the next, he is driven to keep going and going. In this case, the desire is so abnormal that enough is never enough. The desire can never be satisfied. People with such an addiction are raging with lust to have more and more sexual encounters of some type.

It is interesting that James would use the word epipothei — translated “lusteth” — to describe the Holy Spirit in this verse. Why would James do this? Does the Holy Spirit truly lust? Why would James use such a word?

It’s important to understand that this word “lust” doesn’t refer to something bad unless it is used in a bad connotation. It can be used in a good way. James 4:5 demonstrates this truth by telling us that the Holy Spirit Himself “lusteth.” In other words, there is something that the Holy Spirit is yearning after — something He passionately longs to possess. One expositor has translated this verse to read, “The Spirit that dwelleth in us has an intense yearning.…” But what does the Holy Spirit yearn for so strongly?

After all the Holy Spirit has done in us, it should be no great shock to discover that He is in love with each believer He indwells. The fact that the Spirit of God views our mixing and mingling with the world as adultery should alert us to the intense love and affection He has for us.

The Holy Spirit was sent to be our Helper and Comforter. Although He does many other things, His primary job is to help us find Jesus Christ, help us grow as Christians, help us witness, help us worship, help us understand God’s Word, and so on.

Everything the Holy Spirit is to us — our Indweller, our Sealer, our Sanctifier, and the Power of our new life in Christ — is encompassed in His deep love for us. His work, His attention, His gifts, His power, and His Word are all directed toward us. We are the objects of His love and affection. As a Divine Lover who lives on the inside of us, His love and affection are single-heartedly focused on us. He passionately yearns to fulfill His responsibility to the Father to help, to teach, to guide, and to empower us.

James used the word epipothei to describe the Holy Spirit’s intense desire to possess us and fill us. This word emphatically means the Holy Spirit wants more and more of us. When it comes to you and me, He can never get enough!

I have walked with God for many decades. Over the years, I have learned one important thing about my relationship with God: It doesn’t matter how much I surrender to His sanctifying power today, by tomorrow He will be asking me to surrender more. Every second, every minute, every day, every week, and every year that passes by, my eyes are illuminated to new areas of my life that have never been surrendered, and each time the Holy Spirit asks me to yield those areas to His control.

During the altar call when I was saved, the congregation was singing the famous song “I Surrender All.” Ever since that time, I’ve been surrendering all as the Holy Spirit convicts me and shows me areas where I’ve never fully surrendered. I first called Jesus “Lord” decades ago, but I’m still learning to accept His Lordship in various areas of my life. It doesn’t matter how much I think I’ve surrendered or how yielded I think I’ve become, there is always more to surrender and more He desires to possess of my life.

Likewise, the Holy Spirit desires to possess you — all of you. This desire is so intense that it almost appears excessive compared to natural, human lust. He is absolutely focused on changing you, empowering you, conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, and helping you fulfill God’s plan for your life.

The amazing thing is that the Holy Spirit dwells within each of us as believers, thinking of and concentrating on each of us all at the same time! He is always looking for ways to help us in our walk with God. The Holy Spirit is consumed with a flaming, passionate desire to fill us up with His love and affection and to possess ever more of us.

Let the Holy Spirit love you! Let Him control you! Let Him exercise His authority in your life! Let Him flood you with His divine desire! Every intention He has for you is good, holy, and pure. How can you go wrong by surrendering your life, your mind, your family, your spouse, your children, your business, your ministry, your actions, and your behavior — everything that you are and everything you have — to the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit “dwelleth” in us, and He “lusteth” for us. Meditate deeply on these two truths, and you will come to understand in a more profound way than you ever have before what it means to have the Spirit of Almighty God Himself permanently abiding within you and passionately yearning for you.

The Holy Spirit will never be satisfied with a shallow fellowship; He is in constant pursuit of true communion with you. So make a decision today that from this day forward, you will start satisfying the Holy Spirit’s passionate yearning for you to know Him intimately on a deeper, more sustained level than you ever have before!


ather, I thank You that the Holy Spirit is absolutely focused on changing me, empowering me, and conforming me to the image of Jesus Christ as He helps me fulfill God’s plan for my life. I am amazed by the Holy Spirit’s ability to think of and concentrate on each of us all the time as He continually looks for ways to help each of us in our walk with God. I surrender every area of my life to You today, even areas I’ve never surrendered before. And tomorrow when You reveal other areas I need to surrender, I’ll surrender those areas as well. I know the Holy Spirit wants to fully occupy my heart and my life — and I am ready to yield!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!


I confess that I am surrendering more and more of my life to the Holy Spirit every day I live. Every day I am seeing new areas that need to be surrendered, and with the help of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God, I am surrendering those areas. I will not stop surrendering as long as I live on this earth, because I know that every day, the Holy Spirit will show me another area I need to yield to Him. With His help, I will give Him greater access to every part of my life and being so He can have full, unhindered expression through my life to the glory of God the Father!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!


  1. Can you think of areas you’ve never surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying power? What are those areas? Wouldn’t it be wise for you to make a list so you could begin to pray over those areas of your life in which you know the Holy Spirit is asking you to more fully surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?
  2. What did you learn about the “lust” of the Holy Spirit by reading this Sparkling Gem? Please take a few minutes to think through this question. It’s important, because it will help you identify what the Holy Spirit really wants.
  3. I don’t know about you, but every day I am becoming more aware of areas I’ve never surrendered. I thought I had surrendered all to Jesus when I got saved. But the older I get and the more mature I become, I realize there is so much more to surrender. What about you? What areas has the Holy Spirit pinpointed in your life over the past months that He has asked you to more fully surrender to God?