It started with James 4:5. The first time I read it, many years ago, was in the King James Version:
Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
You can Google James 4:5 commentary and get a lot of words. Apparently this is one of the most discussed verses in the Bible. And you might tell me the Greek here is in the ructual presubjuctive tense and my take on it is all wet. But that’s all right. What I got from this verse the first time I read it is what I still see in it.
The commentaries get into a lot of back and forth about whether this verse refers to a lower case spirit or the Holy Spirit but either way it’s God’s Spirit (or spirit). If it’s the spirit that dwells in us it’s still His spirit He planted in us at our conversion. But that’s not the word I want to talk about. It’s that other one. You know the one. You can say desire and it’s one thing. Passion is a step up. But lust? Suddenly this thing about a relationship with God becomes something different, almost frightening.
We read in the Old Testament where God said ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ and we think in the negative. Absence instead of presence.
Deuteronomy 6:15 says that God is a jealous God. Again negative, absence. I don’t have another god. No Buddha, no Mohammed, no Hari Khrishna. I confirm that and go about my business, thinking I have done all that’s required of me.
But God thinks otherwise. He wants more. He desires me. He has a passion for me. He wants, lusts after, an intimate relationship with me. I don’t think I can put into words how much God thirsts for me, all of me. He doesn’t want ritual. He doesn’t want duty. He doesn’t want sacrifice. He wants me. He wants to be, and He is, the lover of my soul.
When I understand this and begin to let Him in I find the passion returned to Him out of my spirit. And I cry out with Paul:
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings… (Philippians 3:10)