What Is A Spirit Of Jealousy In The Bible?
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What Is A Spirit Of Jealousy In The Bible?

Jealousy is a very real issue that many people struggle with, even Christians. The Bible has a lot to say about jealousy and envy. One thing the Bible mentions specifically is a “spirit of jealousy.” But what exactly does that mean?


In this comprehensive blog post, we will dive deep into the meaning of a “spirit of jealousy” according to the Bible. We will look at relevant passages, analyze what they teach, and summarize the key takeaways. Our goal is to gain a solid understanding of this Biblical concept so we can identify and combat jealousy in our lives.

Key Takeaways:

  • A spirit of jealousy is an evil, demonic spirit that incites envy, suspicion, and rage.
  • This spirit seeks to destroy relationships, ministries, and lives.
  • The spirit of jealousy often partners with other demonic spirits.
  • King Saul was tormented by a spirit of jealousy regarding David.
  • Jealousy springs from prideful comparing and coveting.
  • We must repent of jealousy and pray for deliverance from this spirit.
  • Walking in love and faith counteracts the spirit of jealousy.

With that foundation laid, let’s dive into the Bible and see what we can learn about the spirit of jealousy.

What is a spirit of jealousy in the bible?

The Spirit of Jealousy Seeks to Destroy

In the book of Numbers, we find a curious account involving a spirit of jealousy coming upon a man. Numbers 5:11-15 says:

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘If any man’s wife goes astray and behaves unfaithfully toward him, and a man lies with her carnally, and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband, and it is concealed that she has defiled herself, and there was no witness against her, nor was she caught— ‘if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, who has defiled herself; or if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, although she has not defiled herself— ‘then the man shall bring his wife to the priest.” (NKJV)

This passage refers to a “spirit of jealousy” coming upon a man and making him wrongly suspect or accuse his wife of infidelity. Even if she had done nothing wrong, this evil spirit could apparently deceive the man into a paranoid rage.

The fact that the Bible treats jealousy here as a “spirit” shows that it is a supernatural demonic manifestation, not just a natural human emotion. The purpose of this spirit is to destroy relationships and stir up division through false accusations and suspicion. It operates in deception and blinding rage.

This passage demonstrates how the spirit of jealousy seeks to wreak havoc on marriages, families, friendships, churches, and every other human relationship. It promotes suspicion and mistrust where trust should reign. This dangerous spirit must be dealt with through discernment, prayer, and walking in the truth and love of God.

King Saul Tormented by a Spirit of Jealousy

One clear example of the spirit of jealousy at work in the Bible is found in King Saul’s attitude toward David in 1 Samuel 18. The chapter opens with David becoming very successful as a warrior and commander in Saul’s army after defeating Goliath. We read:

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“And it was so, as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.’

Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, ‘They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?’ So Saul eyed David from that day forward.” (1 Samuel 18:6-9 NKJV)

David was the hero of the hour who was praised for his great victory. But Saul became bitterly jealous of the acclaim David received. We are clearly told Saul was “very angry” and he looked with envy at David from that point on. The passage continues:

“And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul’s hand. And Saul cast the spear, for he said, ‘I will pin David to the wall!’ But David escaped his presence twice.” (1 Samuel 18:10-11 NKJV)

The distressing, jealous spirit that came upon Saul manifested in attempted murder as he actually tried to spear David to the wall in rage! This was no ordinary emotional jealousy, but a demonic spirit influencing Saul and provoking him to destroy David.

Over the next chapters this jealous rage only increased as Saul threw more spears at David, plotted ways to have him killed in battle, slandered him to his son Jonathon, and ultimately chased him all over the countryside seeking to kill him. Every chance he got, Saul tried to eliminate the perceived threat that David posed to his power and position that he was so jealously protective over.

This account shows how the spirit of jealousy can utterly consume someone, leading to horrible sin and violence while blinding them to reason. The person being attacked often has done nothing wrong except receive appreciation or success that the jealous person covets for themselves. The spirit of jealousy can fester into an obsession destroying lives if unchecked.

Jealousy Springs from Pride and Coveting

The story of Saul and David gives us some clues into the root causes of the spirit of jealousy. We see hints of pride, insecurity, competition, and coveting in Saul’s attitude. At heart, jealousy stems from pride and a coveting spirit.

We get more insight into this from James 3:13-16:

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” (NKJV)

James associates envy (or jealousy) with “self-seeking” ambition and pride. When pride is at work, we compare ourselves to others and covet their success, gifts, relationships or blessings. This breeds jealousy, which James calls both “earthly” and “demonic.” What an insightful analysis! The spirit of jealousy does not flow from a heavenly mindset but an utterly worldly, self-centered attitude.

Proverbs 14:30 also diagnoses the problem: “A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones.” The Hebrew word for envy means jealousy or covetousness. When our hearts turn away from thankfulness to God and contentment in His will, jealous rot begins to destroy us from the inside.

Jealousy might start with small feelings of resentment, insecurity, and pride. But when indulged, it spirals downward into coveting,Comparison, hatred, and violence, as we see in Saul. We must nip jealousy in the bud before it blossoms into an overwhelming demonic manifestation.

Partnering Spirits

The spirit of jealousy rarely works alone. Scripture shows how it teams up with other demonic powers to wreak maximum damage. For instance, jealousy is coupled with anger in this passage:

“Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, but who is able to stand before jealousy?” (Proverbs 27:4 ESV)

The initial feelings of coveting and resentment fuel outbursts of anger, aggression, and even cruelty when jealousy takes over. Envy and anger work hand in hand to destroy.

We also see jealous linked with selfish ambition and disorder:

“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (James 3:14-16)

Self-seeking pride and jealousy disturb human relationships, churches, communities, and nations as evil spreads.

There are also strong connections between jealousy, theft and greed. In the tenth commandment, God prohibits coveting anything that belongs to your neighbor (Exodus 20:17). Why is coveting so dangerous? Because it leads to stealing, adultery, murder and all kinds of social breakdown when left unchecked.

A spirit of jealousy provokes us to covet and take what is not rightfully ours. It partners with spirits of greed, theft, adultery, hatred, lying and murder to achieve its wicked ends. This is why we must bring it into the light and force it to flee through the power of Jesus Christ and the Spirit of Holiness.

Deliverance from Jealousy

Now that we understand the dark, dangerous and demonic nature of jealousy, how can we be set free from its grip? As Christians, we cannot afford to entertain this spirit, which only serves the kingdom of darkness. Through God’s power and grace, we can walk in love and light that drives out the spirit of jealousy.

First, we must humble ourselves before God and sincerely repent of any jealousy or envy toward others. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). As we take responsibility for our sinful comparisons, covetous thoughts, and bitter resentment, we find freedom through Christ.

Second, we should ask God to reveal the root issues that have allowed jealousy to take hold. Do we harbor pride or insecurity? Are we discontented? Do we crave the affirmation and applause of people over the approval of God? As we become aware of heart issues feeding our jealousy, we can repent and receive God’s healing.

Third, we need to ask fellow believers to pray deliverance prayers for freedom from this demonic spirit and its influence. We see Jesus and the early church casting out spirits in Jesus’ name and authority, and believers today can still exercise this spiritual authority against demonic manifestations. As we renounce and rebuke the spirit of jealousy in Jesus’ name through prayer, we will find liberty.

Fourth, we must counter the lies and accusations of the enemy with God’s liberating truth. The spirit of jealousy thrives on deception, suspicion and false condemnation. But Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). As we soak in truth through Scripture meditation and prayer, we can dismantle demonic strongholds in our minds.

Fifth, we can put on the armor of God described in Ephesians 6 every day, wearing the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, and helmet of salvation to protect our minds and hearts. As we fix our eyes on Jesus and his grace, the spirit of jealousy has no room to operate.

When we walk in humility, prayer, deliverance, truth, and spiritual warfare, we will find victory over the dangerous spirit of jealousy through the mighty name of Jesus! What wonderful freedom is available to those who trust and obey Christ.

Walking in Love Counteracts Jealousy

The more we yield to the Holy Spirit and grow in Christlike love, the less room we give to jealousy and envy. As 1 Corinthians 13 teaches, love “does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” This kind of agape love comes from God and casts out any spirit of jealousy as we lay down selfishness andStriv^efor the good of others.

Galatians 5:16 also encourages us to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” As we learn to continually surrender our thoughts and choices to the Holy Spirit’s leading, He replaces bitter jealousy with God’s loving nature.

Rather than compare and compete, love celebrates others and their gifts. Instead of suspicion and covetousness, love trusts God’s sovereignty. In the place of selfish pride arises Christlike humility, thankfulness, and compassion for our neighbor.

Walking in love also means confronting jealousy with truth and grace rather than denying it. Jealousy thrives in the darkness but shrinks in the light. If we see evidence of envy in our hearts, we take it immediately to God in transparency and ask for more of His perfect love to heal and fill us.

As Christians, our model for combating the spirit of jealousy is our Lord Jesus. Though he was perfect and perform*ed great miracles, he drew no attention to himself but pointed everything back to the Father. He walked in such profound humility, surrender and love that there was no place for envy or pride. We have the same access to God’s empowering grace and love to walk as Jesus did.


This examination of the spirit of jealousy throughout Scripture has underscored its destructive and demonic nature. We learn that if left unchallenged, jealousy poisons our hearts, minds, and relationships in dangerous ways. It partners with other dark spiritual forces to wreak havoc on lives, marriages, churches, ministries, and nations.

However, through the light and power of Jesus Christ, we can find freedom from jealousy’s grip as we walk in humility, prayer, deliverance, truth, spiritual warfare and love. While the spirit of jealousy aims to steal, kill and destroy, Jesus came to give us life to the full (John 10:10). As we stay grounded in God’s Word, Spirit and grace, we can shine as lights pushing back the darkness of envy and ushering in God’s love.

Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.