“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psa. 19:7-14).
In this reading we learn, among other things, David’s attitude toward the word of the Lord, and his desire to be innocent of presumptuous sins. Many could well repeat this attitude today, in the church as well as outside of it. Presumption is defined as: “too great pride, hope, or confidence; something which is believed to be so, but not proved.” Thus, presumption is a sin, either way it might be taken, and actually becomes a matter of trying to help God.
Men in Old Testament times were guilty of helping God.” When God promised to bless Abraham and his seed after him, Abraham had no child. This being true, and Sarah being barren, Abraham was not able to see how this promise would be kept. Therefore, he committed the sin of presumption by at tempting to “help God” by taking Hagar, his wife’s hand maid, who bare him Ishmael (Gen. 16:I,2). This was not only rebellion toward God’s marriage law (Matt. 19:8), it was in ignorance of God’s true purpose, revealed in Gen. 17:1-19. This sin of presumption led to family grief, in addition to being displeasing in the sight of God.
When God commanded Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites because of their sins (1 Sam. 15:1-3), and he returned with King Agag and the best of the flocks, his was the sin of presumption. He was trying to help God” by saving for sacrifices. This was direct rebellion against God’s order. Besides, He doesn’t want such sacrifices. And Samuel said, Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). For this, God rejected Saul from being king (1 Sam. 15:23).
Moses sought to “help God” by striking the rock, when God had commanded him simply to speak to the rock (Num. 20:8) in order to bring forth water for the Israelites. Moses no doubt believed that this should be done: yet, it was in disobedience to God’s command, and because of it, Moses was refused the privilege of leading the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, the promised land. He presumed it would be pleasing, but it was not.
Uzzah committed such a sin by touching the Ark of the Covenant, which he, and others, were not allowed to (2 Sam. 6:6, 7). He too, thought he could “help God,” by reaching out to keep the ark from falling, but as a result was punished with instant death.
The question naturally arises with some, “What is wrong in such, when it is only an effort to help God?” “The sin is in seeking to help God”. First it shows distrust of God. Do you actually think Gods need your help or mine? And then, it shows conceit. Can we give such help?
These were not the only ones guilty of the sin of presumption; others in that age, and many today are guilty. Those who write creeds by which religious people are to be governed are guilty of “helping God.” Does He need man’s help in determining what is to be believed or practiced? Can man give such “help”? Is he capable of it? Jeremiah said in the long ago, “It is not in man that walks to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). Though the human creeds are claimed to be simply a help in understanding what God has written, it remains that they are an addition to God’s plan, and it is presumption for man to attempt to help God in this respect. Men presume (believe a thing to be right without proper proof) that many things are acceptable to God, when in reality they are in rebellion against Him. Adding days of worship, giving more than on the Lord’s day, instrumental music, women preachers and teachers, are only a few of the presumptuous sins in denominationalism.
Various missionary arrangements, the “sponsoring church,” and others) without scriptural proof are no less sins of presumption than the others mentioned; yet some brethren insist upon such. For man to think he can improve upon God’s work, is to be guilty of “helping God,” committing the sin of presumption. Additions to the divinely authorized worship and work of the church are among the sins of “helping God.” He has revealed His will and His way, and expects man to walk accordingly.
Those who presume that they know better, and can do better with their promotions, go beyond that which is written (1 Cor 4:6 f; 2 Jn. 9), leading the way, as it were, in things without divine sanction. Such is an effort to “lead God,” and is therefore, rebellion. Even though many are doubtless sincere in their efforts, it remains. All Christians must remember to not turn aside to the right hand or to the left, and to do no more or less than what God has commanded us to do (Nu 22:18 f; Deut 5:32). Presumption is SIN!