Faith Versus Presumption
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. Psalm 19:13.
Someone recently wrote asking the difference between faith and presumption? Note the following points:
1. To insist that every one of our prayers is answered is presumptuous. (1 John 5:14)
“The assurance is broad and unlimited, and He is faithful who has promised. When we do not receive the very things we asked for at the time we ask, we are still to believe that the Lord hears and that He will answer our prayers. We are so erring and short-sighted that we sometimes ask for things that would not be a blessing to us, and our heavenly Father in love answers our prayers by giving us that which will be for our highest good-that which we ourselves would desire if with vision divinely enlightened we could see all things as they really are. When our prayers seem not to be answered, we are to cling to the promise: for the time of answering will surely come, and we shall receive the blessing we need most. But to claim that prayer will always be answered in the very way and for the particular thing that we desire, is presumption. God is too wise to err, and too good to withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly. Then do not fear to trust Him, even though you do not see the immediate answer to your prayers. Rely upon His sure promise, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you.’” Steps to Christ 96
2. To minimize Satan's success to tempt us to presumption is presumptuous. (1 Peter 5:8)
“Beloved, Satan being fallen from light to darkness, from felicity to misery, from heaven to hell, from an angel to a devil, is so full of malice and envy that he will leave no means unattempted, whereby he may make all others miserable with himself… makes use of all his power and skill to bring all the sons of men into the same condition and condemnation with himself. Satan has cast such sinful seed into our souls, that now he can no sooner tempt, but we are ready to assent; he can no sooner have a plot upon us, but he makes a conquest of us. If he does but show men a little of the beauty and ﬁnery of the world, how ready are they to fall down and worship him! Whatever sin the heart of man is most prone to, that the devil will help forward. If David is proud of his people, Satan will provoke him to number them, that he may be yet prouder (2 Sam. 24). If Peter is slavishly fearful, Satan will put him upon rebuking and denying of Christ, to save his own skin (Matt. 16:22; 26:69-75). If Ahab’s prophets are given to ﬂatter, the devil will immediately become a lying spirit in the mouths of four hundred of them, and they shall ﬂatter Ahab to his ruin (2 Kings 22). If Judas will be a traitor, Satan will quickly enter into his heart, and make him sell his master for money, which some heathen would never have done (John 13:2). If Ananias will lie for advantage, Satan will ﬁll his heart that he may lie, with a witness, to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). Satan loves to sail with the wind, and to suit men’s temptations to their conditions and inclinations. If they be in prosperity, he will tempt them to deny God (Proverbs 30:9); if they be in adversity, he will tempt them to distrust God; if their knowledge be weak, he will tempt them to have low thoughts of God; if their conscience be tender, he will tempt to scrupulosity; if large, to carnal security; if bold-spirited, he will tempt to presumption; if timorous, to desperation; if flexible, to inconstancy; if stiff, to impenitency.” Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies from Satan
Presumption is a common temptation, and as Satan assails men with this, he obtains the victory nine times out of ten. Those who profess to be followers of Christ, and claim by their faith to been listed in the warfare against all evil in their nature, frequently plunge without thought into temptations from which it would require a miracle to bring them forth unsullied. Meditation and prayer would have preserved them and led them to shun the critical, dangerous position in which they placed themselves when they gave Satan the advantage over them. The promises of God are not for us rashly to claim while we rush on recklessly into danger, violating the laws of nature and disregarding prudence and the judgment with which God has endowed us. This is the most flagrant presumption.” Lift Him Up, p. 80
3. To claim God’s promises even though we are disobeying is presumptuous. (1 Sam. 15:22)
But faith is in no sense allied to presumption. Only he who has true faith is secure against presumption. For presumption is Satan's counterfeit of faith. Faith claims God's promises, and brings forth fruit in obedience. Presumption also claims the promises, but uses them as Satan did, to excuse transgression. Faith would have led our first parents to trust the love of God, and to obey His commands. Presumption led them to transgress His law, believing that His great love would save them from the consequence of their sin. It is not faith that claims the favor of Heaven without complying with the conditions on which mercy is to be granted. Genuine faith has its foundation in the promises and provisions of the Scriptures.” Desire of Ages p. 126
4. To seek after anything less than GOD'S COMPLETE WILL lends itself to presumption. (Prov. 3:5)
"I never remember, in all my Christian course, a period now (in March 1895) of sixty-nine years and four months, that I ever SINCERELY and PATIENTLY sought to know the will of God by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of the word of God, but I have been ALWAYS directed rightly. But if honesty of heart and uprightness before God were lacking, or if I did not patiently wait upon God for instruction, or if I preferred the counsel of my fellow men to the declarations of the word of the living God, I made great mistakes." George Müller Counsels to Christians
5. To limit oneself to only ONE voice lends itself to presumption. (Isa. 8:20)
When God reveals His will, he will speak first and foremost through His word, then through the impressions he places in our hearts, through the providential opening and closing of doors, the counsel of friends and spiritually mature individuals—sometimes, and His peace. Note all of these—or maybe I should say MOST of these will point in the same direction. Note that anything that is contrary to the teachings of God’s word CANNOT be according to His will. Fleeces only confirm God’s will; they do not reveal it. And by all means take enough time to clearly hear his voice. In the desire to be bold for God, some individuals are jumping off presumptuous cliffs—so to speak—and finding that the landing is a bit hard if not disastrous. If you are serious about knowing God’s will, and open to whatever He wants, you can be assured that He will carefully and clearly reveal what He has in mind. And if you are not sure, wait until it becomes clear.
6. God’s bidding are His enablings. (Php 3:12,13)
“As the will of man co-operates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All his biddings are enablings.” Christ Object Lessons, p. 333
7. God will lead us forward one step at a time. (Isa. 30:21; John 7:17)
It has been pointed out that God will generally lead us one step at a time. If God has called you to a particular service or task, He will clearly open doors and bring resources that make that next step possible. Faithfulness in that step will open the way to the next step. If you study the lives of great Christians—George Müller and Hudson Taylor, for example—you will find they went forward taking incremental steps, for which God had prepared them with prior, often small, preparatory testing experiences ahead of time.
8. Genuine faith will result in the impossible! (Php 4:13)
Heavenly intelligences are waiting to cooperate with human instrumentalities, that the world may see what human beings may become through a union with the divine. Those who consecrate body, soul, and spirit to God's service will constantly receive a new endowment of physical, mental, and spiritual power. The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the life of His life. The Holy Spirit puts forth its highest energies to work in mind and heart. Through the grace given us we may achieve victories which, because of our defects of character and the smallness of our faith, may have seemed to us impossible. To every one who offers himself to the Lord for service, withholding nothing, is given power for the attainment of measureless results.” Heavenly Places 62