By Eugene Crawley
“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 thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy 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. This attitude could well be repeated by many today, in the church as well as outside of it. Presumption is defined as “too great pride, hope, or confidence; also, 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 the Old Testament times were guilty of “helping God.” When God promised Abraham that He would bless him 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 attempting to “help God” by taking Hagar, his wife’s handmaid, who bare him Ishmael (Gen. 16:1, 2). This was not only rebellion to 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 displeasing God.
When God commanded Saul to utterly destroy the Amalekites because of their sins (1 Sam. 15:1-3), and he returned with Agag, the king, and the best of flocks, his was the sin of presumption. He was trying to “help God” by saving for sacrifice. This was direct rebellion against God’s order. Besides, He does not want such sacrifices. “And Samuel said, Hath 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 denied the privilege of leading the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, the promised land. He presumed it would be alright, but it was not!
Uzzah committed such a sin by touching the ark of the covenant, which he and others were not allowed to do (2 Sam. 6:6, 7). He, too, thought he could “help God,” but as a result was punished with instant death.
The question naturally arises with some, “What is wrong with such, when it’s only an effort to `help God’?” The sin is in seeking to “help God”; for first it shows distrust of God; does He need our help? 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 walketh 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 presumptuous 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 rebellion against Him. Sprinkling for baptism, baptism because one is saved, wearing of religious titles, and such are only a few 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. Binding various opinions, likes and dislikes because of prejudice, brethren fall into the same class. For a man to think he can improve upon God’s arrangement, His organization for His church, and His work and desires, 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, expects man to walk accordingly, and man had best be content to abide within His teaching!
Those who presume that they know better, and can do better with their promotions, go beyond that which is written (2 John 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 – presumption is sin!
Truth Magazine XXIV: 8, p. 138
February 21, 1980