THE SIN OF PRESUMPTION
I once thought that the idea that we can sin and not know it was preposterous. How can we sin and not know it? I have been exploring what it means to walk humbly with our God and have come to the conclusion that although we are redeemed, we have yet to appreciate the depths of our sin.
It is a wicked thought that says I am saved, I rest easy in the arms of God and there is nothing much wrong with me. We have neither paid much attention to what Scripture says about us nor have we paid much attention to our own soul, to our motivations and pretenses. We think that because God has loved us so much, that all must be well.
We must remember our theology. We are justified but justification does not make us holy. Instead, we who are unholy are given the status of holiness by God. The penalty of our sin have been paid, our account is paid in full. God declares that we are right before the Law, not because we paid the price but precisely because Jesus paid the price. So, here we stand in our unrighteousness, declared to be holy. It is an awkward state of affairs. And it would be a miserable state if we did not remember the rest of our theology. Those who are justified are sanctified. Often, it is the doctrine of sanctification that we miss. Big words scare us. What does it mean and will it hurt? It means that we are in a ongoing process of becoming holy and yes, it sometimes hurts. We spend the rest of our lives, engaged in the process of becoming holy. One must assume that somewhere along the way, we will have to give up things, ideas, habits and practices that we happen to like.
James 4:13-17 is a sobering text that reminds us of hidden darkness in our souls. “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’” At first we come to the text and say what’s wrong with that? There is nothing sinful about working or making a profit or making plans to go some place for that purpose. We might be puzzled by this sarcastic text if we did not read the rest of it.
14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”
16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.
This the sin of presumption. Presumption is a subtle sin. The person who has been redeemed by the blood of Christ, knows that they are nothing without God. We are utterly dependent upon God. This is a basic Christ understanding of our condition and often we say things like this to each other in deep conversation.
But, we make our plans in life as if we are in full control. We make long range plans, we presume to know that this is the will of God for our lives and we presume to have the power to will our future. Suddenly a little statement becomes a great sin. And all of us are guilty. We presume upon God. We assume that because we thought of it, it must be God’s will.
It dawned on me that this is the way I live my life and had never given it a second thought. But what right do I have to make plans without consulting God or at least acknowledging that my plans are contingent on the grace of God? When I was growing up, you often heard people say something like if the Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, I plan on doing this or that. There was a tacit acknowledgment that we do not hold all this power of willing and doing. Rather, it belongs to God.
I suspect that the sin of presumption keeps many of us from being as close to God as we would like. I also think that for those seeking spiritual renewal, confession of this sin would be a good place to start.
When God seems distant, or when we think that we have not progressed very much in our walk with Christ, maybe we need to do a close inspection of our soul. Careful examination is a skill that takes time to learn and requires an honest, objective approach to ourselves. Being objective about our selves is very difficult. But we need to know if our little habits that we think nothing about are truly sinful.
Little discoveries like this might be small revivals, one step closer in holiness. Maybe that is how it works, small steps here and there until the revival fires are lit and the flame roars.