Bible verses about Presumptuousness
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 3:10-11

The time had come. Previously, Moses thought he was ready, and he impetuously promoted himself to do the job. He did it without waiting for God.

Look at the difference: Before, Moses promoted himself, but now he says, "God, who am I?" What a change took place in his thinking! He not only hesitated about going, but he almost seems petrified about the prospects of going. This is a true principle of those who have been humbled in their field of expertise.

The young foolishly think, in their vanity, that their strength will allow them to sail through any problem. They are deceived by their own ignorance. Like Moses, they foolishly rush in where angels fear to tread. When they come to understand, usually after years of experience, they realize how very little they know.

This principle is clearly shown in the way a student of science might be humbled. He may have graduated from high school, then from college, and may have even obtained a master's degree and now works on a doctorate. He has learned a great deal. However, after maybe twenty years of experience in the field of chemistry or biology, he realizes there is a great deal more that he does not know, more than his accumulation of schooling and experience. If he is a Christian, he begins to see God's creation and the Creator's mind in a much different light.

That is what has happened to Moses. In those forty years, his impetuous spirit had been dissolved, and he saw the power of Egypt in its true light. He may have feared execution, imprisonment, or embarrassment by the powerful Egyptians.

Does this not encumber and constrain us as well? We worry and fear that we will look foolish before friends and relatives if we obey God—if we keep the Sabbath or tithe. How many of our relatives have castigated us because of tithing? It seems awfully dumb to them, but how do we feel? Do we fear what they think?

Moses more fully recognizes his weaknesses in comparison to Egypt, and he quails at the thought. God has to overcome Moses' resistance. What a change! Moses was going to do it on his own before, but God now has to overcome his resistance. All of the testing God had put Moses through produces right faith and right conviction.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Conviction, Moses and Us


 

Exodus 21:14

If a man wanted mercy, he would grab the horns of the altar. God says, "I don't care who he is. If he acted with premeditation, you loosen his grip on those horns and kill him. He gets no mercy."

This word "premeditation" is the same word that is elsewhere translated presumptuous. So, we have to add this idea of premeditation (intent) to our concept of presumptuousness. This idea is present in the "intentional sin" (Numbers 15:30-31), but this adds to it. Lying in wait with craftiness—that is the element of planning or setting out with a purpose to sin. Often times, it is not done emotionally; a person sits down and plans to sin—no matter what.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Exodus 32:1-8

They did this in their ignorance and their impatience to get things moving. Even though most of the people wanted it, and a renowned religious figure proclaimed it "a feast to the LORD," it did not make it so. God was definitely not positively impressed, nor was Moses. In one of the gravest acts of presumption shown in God's Word, and one of the largest in terms of the number involved, they took it on themselves to add this to the worship of God. What they did was very seriously disrespectful to God; they attempted to configure the nature of God according to their own desires.

Proverbs 14:12 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." People say they keep Christmas and Easter to worship Christ, but they are also defining the nature of God according to their own ideas. Just as surely as the ancient Israelites blended paganism with what God truly revealed, so people do today. This is the basic principle of acts of presumption, and each of us has done this, not once, but sadly, repeatedly, even though we may know better.

Jesus says in John 4:24, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth," meaning we must worship to the fullest of God's intent as revealed in His Word, with every act guided and determined by His revealed truth. Yet, how many corners do we cut when we feel it serves us better at the time?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Presumption and Divine Justice (Part Two)


 

Leviticus 4:2

The word presumption does not quite mean in Hebrew what it does in English. In English, it simply means "to assume," to take a matter upon oneself without considering all the factors and doing it. However, in the Old Testament, it carries the idea of acting arrogantly—of rebellion. In fact, it means to do something with audacity or to be headstrong. It refers to those who overstep their bounds or dare to act in a disobedient manner. A willfulness is implied in the word that is not contained in English, making it much more forceful.

In other words, a person who sins presumptuously is fully aware of what he is doing; he is fully educated and not in ignorance either of what he is doing or the potential cost of doing it, and he deliberately sets his mind to do it. It is an act of rebellion, an audacious setting one's will, despite all he knows, to go ahead and do it anyway.

By these usages, the word "unintentional" in Leviticus 4 and Numbers 15 can include within it someone who is conscious of what he is doing but does not act audaciously. He does not plan it. He is not rebellious—but weak. God will forgive that, but He will not forgive the sin that is presumptuous according to usage of the word in the Old Testament.

In the New Testament, the word begins very similar to the English usage of the word. It means "to think" or "suppose." Howevver, according to the context in which it is used in the New Testament, it contains the idea of dealing proudly, defiantly, and recklessly. It means to look down upon. A tremendous amount of pride is implied in it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Examples of Divine Justice


 

Leviticus 4:2

"Unintentionally [ignorantly, KJV]" includes more than one might think at first. It means "wander," "err," "make a mistake," and "go astray," and contains a strong sense of ignorance and even inadvertence. It suggests a lack of deep understanding of the seriousness of the sin involved. In other words, regarding this sin, the person did not know any better. It includes sins done with a degree of consciousness, an awareness of what one is doing'something done willingly out of weakness'but not sins done deliberately.

For instance, the Bible clearly differentiates between manslaughter and murder, and the underlying principle revolves around presumption:

And if you sin unintentionally, and do not observe all these commandments which the LORD has spoken to Moses. . . . [T]he person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on the LORD, and he shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the LORD, and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be upon him. (Numbers 15:22, 30-31)

Manslaughter is to kill someone accidentally, while murder is to take a life deliberately and willfully. To sin presumptuously is to sin willfully. Those who overstep their bounds and dare to act in a disobedient manner commit presumptuous sins such as murder. The New Testament word translated "presume" can mean "to think," "to suppose," "to deal proudly, defiantly, and recklessly," and "to look down upon." It shows an evil attitude and a twisted thinking process followed by an action one knows full well is absolutely wrong to do.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Presumption and Divine Justice


 

Leviticus 10:1-7

What did these men do that was so awful? They were priests, sons of Aaron, the High Priest, nephews of Moses. If anybody had a close relationship with God and would receive a measure of leeway in judgment, it was these two. Nevertheless, there was none; with God, there is no respect of persons in judgment (see Romans 2:11). He reacted swiftly and violently, wiping them out on the spot. This incident involved no Temple prostitutes, no human sacrifices, just "strange fire." Surely, such a little thing would not matter! God's reaction allowed no time for a trial; there was just a summary execution, a terrifying supernatural judgment by God.

Verse 6 contains an interesting sidelight to this violent event. Undoubtedly, Aaron was shocked into an emotional reaction that may have ranged from pitiful wailing to a consuming anger toward God, but Moses cautioned him to control himself and give no outward demonstration of his emotional state! Why? Moses understood that they had sinned grievously and got what they deserved. Aaron was told that, despite the shocking nature of what had happened, he should express no disagreement with God's judgment.

Consider this in a larger context. Beginning in Exodus 40:1, the Tabernacle, its altar, and the laver were erected and the interior furniture arranged, then all was consecrated in a solemn ceremony. At that point (verse 34), God came to dwell in the Tabernacle.

Leviticus 1 follows the sequence of events, showing God giving the sacrificial rituals to be performed at the Tabernacle. In Leviticus 8, Aaron and the priesthood are officially consecrated. In Leviticus 9:1, the priesthood's ministry formally begins. In verse 24, a startling occurrence takes place during that first offering: ". . . and fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar." This signaled God's acceptance, showing that all had been done according to His will.

However, there is more to this story, giving us understanding of the term "strange fire" that follows in chapter 10. Within the instructions regarding the sacrifices, Leviticus 6:12-13 gives the priests an interesting charge:

And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. A perpetual fire shall burn on the altar; it shall never go out.

The term strange means "what is alien to." Foreigners are called "strangers" in Scripture because they are aliens to Israel and to the covenant (Ephesians 2:12). In this case, the fire used by Nadab and Abihu was alien to what God had commanded regarding fire. Together with Exodus 30:7-9, their infraction becomes clear. The priests were to make the morning and evening incense offerings only with the special incense mixture God commanded, and they were to take the coals for these offerings only from the continually burning fire under the altar of burnt offerings, which He started in Leviticus 9:24.

Aaron was undoubtedly confused and displeased, not understanding what happened, but Moses gave him God's answer. In Leviticus 10:3, the Lord says, "By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified." Nadab and Abihu were among those chosen to come near Him in service. They revealed their disrespect for Him by treating His command regarding the fire as something common. They simply did not follow His instructions.

They added or subtracted to what God said and did, attempting to get by with what they carnally assumed was acceptable to Him. By this incident, holiness is defined. Among those who are consecrated to serve God, His instructions must be explicitly followed. Thus, this example appears especially pointed toward the ministry.

The instructions are not ambiguous. Each step and instrument in the process is designed to teach certain spiritual concepts. They had been completely instructed, so they blatantly twisted God's teaching. In response to Moses, Aaron remained silent, knowing the judgment was correct. This incident is of special importance to us because of the context and because of who we are. The context is the consecration of the priesthood in service to God, and we are, according to I Peter 2, a royal priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices. By this incident, God shows, perhaps more clearly than in any other place, what holiness is in relation to Him.

Holiness is not merely consecration or dedication to a god, but it is both moral and ethical as well. True holiness is what results from His consecration, but the consecration must be combined with our submission to His commands. In pagan religions, a person could be dedicated but not moral, as is clearly shown by the ritual prostitution practiced at their temples. The prostitute was indeed consecrated to her god, but she most certainly was not moral—nor were they who used her services.

Today, a person may claim that his god is the Creator God, but if he is not obedient to the Creator God's commandments, he is merely deluding himself. Sincerity is only part of the picture. We are to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). The closer one is associated with God's work, the more necessary it is to ensure that the relationship with God is not marred by spiritual blemishes. Otherwise, the person cannot function properly as a channel for God to work through. God will not be glorified before the people unless His servants submit to His commands.

A similar careless notion got Cain into trouble. If we add or omit with knowledge, it is presumption, and presumption springs from pride. It is as if we are telling God He does not know what He is doing. We have elevated ourselves to His level. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else than His will must be our attitude.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Presumption and Divine Justice (Part Two)


 

Numbers 14:39-40

It almost sounds as if they are trying to be contrite. They are putting on a facade of being repentant. They are trying to make up for what they did wrong on the previous day, when they refused to go into the Land. But there are some times when you just cannot go back, and this is one of those times.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Numbers 14:41

God's command was, "You will wander thirty-eight more years in the wilderness, and your bodies will be strewn all over the place. And, since you refused to go into the Land, I'm not going to allow you to go in at all. The next generation will take your place." Moses says that their futile attempt to go into the Promised Land is refusing the command of the Lord. Disobeying. Transgressing.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Numbers 14:41-45

There was no mercy from God for this presumptuous sin. These people were warned. They were told explicitly that what they were doing was a sin, what would happen, and that God would not be with them. But they went anyway! They presumed to go up to the mountaintop.

So another thing about presumptuous sin is that it is continuing proudly in the face of advice (and warning) to the contrary. What we see here is that presumptuousness can be rash on the one hand and quite premeditated on the other. But the constant concept behind these things is pride, arrogance, defiance, self-importance, and self-reliance.

It is an ambitious "go get 'em" attitude—one is going to succeed in what you want to do, come hell or high water. No matter what happens, a person will to carry through on his plan—even if God Himself should say, "Don't do it!"

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Numbers 15:37-40

Considering the context, the primary motivation that God had in mind when He gave them this command was to remember the Sabbath. The tassels were something that they wore right on their clothing. It was a part of their everyday dress. They had to look at every time they put their clothes on, every time they took their clothing off, all the while they were on the street, all the while they were doing business. Everyone who was following this command had a tassel, which everybody could look at—to remind them of the commandments of God. But the context indicates that the primary motivation was because this man broke the Sabbath presumptuously (Numbers 15:32-36)!

We all break the Sabbath from time to time, but to do it presumptuously is not something that we want to do. We will break it out of ignorance. We will break it out of weakness. But not very many of us are going to set our minds to break it, as this man apparently did.

So God wanted to remind His people not to be negligent in carrying out their responsibilities before Him. And if these people who were wearing the tassels were aware of the context in which this "tassel commandment" appeared, then they would understand that the primary motivation seems to be the Sabbath.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 4)


 

Numbers 16:1-3

They are accusing Moses of appointing himself. "You take too much upon yourself. We're just as good as you." Yet, that is not the issue. The issue is respect for God through the office He had appointed the man to.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership


 

Numbers 16:1-2

This would be similar to all the leading men of a worldwide church marching up to the person in charge of that church, and demanding that he kowtow to their terms.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Numbers 16:3

To paraphrase, they said, "Look! Who are you, Moses? You've taken this authority to yourself, but it should be shared among all the people, because we have all been called out. We are all holy before God. Why then do you exalt yourself above the congregation of the LORD?"

Notice what they say. It is quite ironic. They say, "You are taking too much authority to yourself. Everybody should have this authority." And then they accuse Moses of exalting himself: "You put yourself in this position." But were they not attempting to do the very same thing? These words would come back to haunt them very shortly.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Numbers 16:5

Moses replied in a very interesting way. These two hundred and fifty men march up to Moses' tent, knock on the flap, and say, "You take too much authority on yourself. It should be shared among us two hundred and fifty." Moses replies, "You'd better watch out, because tomorrow morning God will show which one is holy, which one He has chosen to lead this people." Then in the following verses he gives them instruction.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Numbers 16:6-7

This is an inter-family squabble, mostly an argument among Levites, headed by a grandson of Kohath, Korah. Moses puts the blame squarely on the ones who were in charge. These Levites thought they had been kept out of the good positions. Their job was to take down the Tabernacle, cart it off, and do other physical labors, while Aaron's family got to be priests.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Numbers 16:8-10

Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and all the other two hundred and fifty men were not content with what God had given them to do in the church of the wilderness. They did not want to be porters and bearers. They did not want to be the setup crew or the take-down crew. Instead, they wanted to be the mediators between God and men. They wanted the cushy job—the one they saw that had the most going for it, the one that had the most authority. They were not content with where God had placed them in the body at the time.

Seeing this, Moses tells the rest of the Israelites, "Clear out! Get away from Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. If you don't want to be caught in what they've just done, stay away!"

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Numbers 16:9-10

These people wanted more authority, more autonomy. They did not see that God had appointed the authority, and they were actually part of the authority. Some of these leaders came from the tribe of Levi, which was part of the constituted authority within Israel. God had separated them, yet they wanted more. Their desire, the way their pleasure would be gratified, was to be given more than they had already been given.

God has separated us from the congregation of Israel to serve Him. He has made us a part of a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to do the work of the church. By this, we become part of His body. So this is exceedingly important to us, as Paul explains in I Corinthians 12. We are a part of the Lord's body, a spiritual body, and who is the Head? Jesus Christ. If we attack or rebel against another part of His body, we are attacking Jesus Christ! That is the principle involved here. We may not like to see it that way, but it is the truth.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Submitting (Part 2)


 

Numbers 16:9-10

Moses lays it right back on them! They had been appointed apart from the rest of the congregation just as he had been. They despised and took lightly that appointment, desiring the higher job! They did not despise hierarchy—they despised not being HIGHER in that hierarchy! They wanted to call the shots their way.

The same is true today. Even in those groups condemning organized church government, someone emerges as spokesman, organizer, and/or leader. Those who disagree with this then split off again. The process tends to continue until little or nothing remains. Are these fruits godly?

Staff
For the Perfecting of the Saints


 

Numbers 16:33

God most assuredly showed who was holy! The rebellious men went down to the pit. There was no sacrifice to cover that sin.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Numbers 22:22

God was angry because Balaam went when He had specifically told him, "Don't go unless they come to you and ask you." Nothing in God's Word says that they did. Instead, it says that Balaam got up in the morning and saddled his donkey, and off he went.

God gave conditional permission. The condition was only if he was asked again, but he was not asked again yet went anyway. Balaam was one of those people who, if you give him an inch, he takes a mile. If he was not specifically told, "You shall not go," then he thought that meant he could go ahead and leave.

In like manner, there are those who think, "Well, because the Bible does not say 'Thus saith the Lord,' it is okay!" We can see many things in Balaam's character that are similar to what many people today mimic due to the fact that they are not listening to God either. God was very specific with Balaam, but all he heard was, "Go ahead!" He tuned out the part that began with if.

This is why God was angry with him. He was so angry that He came out against him, to stand in his way. Maybe the most intriguing detail here is that the word adversary is, in Hebrew, satan, which means generally "adversary, enemy, foe." God came out against Balaam the same way that Satan comes out against us, when God allows him to do so. God set Himself up as Balaam's enemy.

In reality, by leaving without fulfilling the conditions, Balaam chose to join Satan's side. God, then, visibly to the donkey but invisibly to Balaam, set Himself up as the adversary to Balaam.

Balaam showed God that he would do what Balak wanted him to do. In counterpoint, God will do something to try to get Balaam to change, to turn. God does not come out against Balaam as a normal enemy would—to do him harm—but to turn him around and give him a chance to repent. But Balaam would have nothing to do with that. He had set himself up as an enemy of God, and he never turns himself around.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Balaam and the End-Time Church (Part 2)


 

Deuteronomy 12:32

These are strong warnings!

Mankind has an innate desire to worship God, but he wants to be free to do it according to the dictates of his own mind. The result is a wide variety of religions—in actuality, mass confusion as to which is the true religion—and a world in which true values are lost in an ocean of conflicting opinions about how to live. This, in turn, has helped persuade many people to reach the conclusion that all gods are equally good, or its counterpart, that everybody is worshipping the same god.

We all know God is not pleased with this situation, but He allows it to continue. However, even while allowing it to continue, He is calling people out of it. He has shown His called-out ones that they have been redeemed from the bondage to traditions, described in I Peter 1:18 as "vain," "aimless," or "futile," depending on the translation. However, in the vast majority of cases, someone, presumptuously taking it upon himself to inaugurate a tradition, began practicing them, sincerely thinking he was improving his life. We have all followed these traditions, but the Christian is responsible not to allow the world to squeeze him into its mold of conduct, character, and attitude.

Proverbs 21:16 describes the way many presumptuous sins begin: "A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the congregation of the dead." Like this man, most people do not deliberately set out to depart from God. Nevertheless, carelessness invariably enters the picture, and a person drifts from his former sure fix on his goal. Once his focus on the goal is blurred, he is more easily deceived into foolishly assuming certain things. An especially sad part of this is that the result is the same as if he were deliberately presumptuous.

The author of Hebrews uses a metaphor in Hebrews 2:1-3, portraying a boat slipping from its moorings and drifting away. A person "neglect[s] so great salvation" by allowing himself to be caught in the current of the world's attitudes and conduct. Presumption frequently begins with careless drifting, but the drifting quickly advances from neglect to presumption unless one carefully checks whether he actually has God's permission to behave as he does.

In Proverbs 8, wisdom is personified as a woman crying out to people along the way—to God's Kingdom?—to take heed to her instruction. In verse 36, she utters a profound warning: "But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death." None of us likes to think of himself as foolishly loving death. However, the Bible consistently shows that those who do not consciously, purposefully, and carefully direct their lives toward obedience to God do indeed love death rather than life! Such a person is in effect presuming that all is well with him in relation to God. God does not like being taken for granted—because it is bad for us!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Presumption and Divine Justice


 

Deuteronomy 17:12-13

As Americans, we find this hard to take. It is not hard to imagine that a high percentage of the verdicts given in this country are appealed almost automatically. No one, it seems, is willing to submit to the judgment! But God says here in the law that whatever is judged—by those who are in authority to do so—should be taken. If one fight its (if he will not accept it), then he is acting presumptuously—because he is defying the authority that was put in place by God Himself!

God is the Authority over all. He governs everything. Sometimes, He puts the basest of men in positions of authority; but He "passed on" them. Or, He might have even put them there, personally. If such people should make a judgment that goes against what we think is right, we have to take it.

This is likely where Peter derived what he writes in I Peter 2. He says that if we are suffering (or we are being persecuted) for righteousness sake, and we take it patiently, then we get high marks from God—because that is exactly what He wants us to do. No matter what the decision that a judge should make, if that is the one he makes, then we are to submit to it. That is righteousness. That is the proper attitude.

Israel did not have an appeals court. The plaintiff could not take his case to a higher court. It was the judge himself who had to say, "This is too hard for me. I'm going to pass this up to a higher court." It is a little bit different from our own system, but it is the principle that we need to get out of this. If the priest or the judge should make a decision—then the godly thing to do is to submit to it. God says, "If you don't (if you rebel against it), then you are presumptuous."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

1 Samuel 13:6-14

I Samuel 13:1-15 recounts the story of an act of presumption by another well-known figure, containing another valuable lesson for us. Saul arranged with the prophet Samuel to perform sacrifices in an appeal to God to intervene before Israel went into battle with the invading Philistines. Saul's sin was in presumptuously stepping in to perform Samuel's responsibilities when the prophet arrived later than the appointed time. Saul gave Samuel three justifications for his presumption: 1) The people were growing distressed and deserting him; 2) Samuel's late arrival; and 3) the growing threat of the Philistine army (verse 11).

On the surface, it appeared Saul and the Israelites were indeed in a difficult situation, yet Saul's reasons did not justify presuming to disobey what was commanded. He should have waited for Samuel to arrive and perform his responsibility. Saul, a Benjamite, could request a sacrifice be made and provide the animal for it, but he was not authorized by God to perform the sacrificial ceremony. Samuel was merely later than both he and Saul thought he would be.

Saul excused himself further by saying he "felt compelled." The King James Version records that Saul said, "I forced myself." This suggests that he was not ignorant of what he was doing but convinced himself it was more important to make the sacrifice than to obey God's instruction. He was immediately stripped of the opportunity of having his dynasty continue forever (verses 12-13), as God later promised David.

Many circumstances arise in a Christian's life when following God's commands runs counter to prevailing opinion and to our own fears about the threatening conditions we imagine are building around us if we obey God. Strong thoughts are then likely to mount, urging us to turn aside from what He says - "just this once" - to relieve the swelling pressures.

As our own children do not always understand what we tell them to do, we cannot always see why God tells us to do this or that. But can we trust God that His reasons are good? For instance, He tells us to set aside three tithes and to travel to far places to keep His feasts. He commands us to love our enemies and do good to them. He asks us to become like little children and to sacrifice ourselves in service when we would rather give orders. He tells us to submit ourselves to one another in love and to be subject to corrupt and unjust governments. Keeping these instructions is sometimes far easier said than done. Can we see God in the picture even in difficult circumstances and trust Him? In this case, Saul did not.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Presumption and Divine Justice (Part Two)


 

2 Samuel 6:1-9

David was afraid of the Ark - and of God! Let us notice, however, that God did not rush down and give David the answer. He did not say, "David, do you see what you have done wrong?" He did not explain to David just why He struck Uzzah. He made David work through the problem.

He does the same thing with us. When we find that we are out of sync with God, He does not simply rush to intervene and say, "Now there, there, my son." He does not pat us on the head and say, "You are alright."

Rather, He says, in effect, "Now do you understand that you are in hot water?" He asks, "Are you feeling pain?" And you say, "Yes!" Then He says, "Well, can you figure out why?" So we have to do that.

Upon close examination, we find that those who had advised David were complacent and neglectful. They thought that, because the Ark came to them on a cart from the Philistines, they could simply send it on to where it was supposed to go in the same way. Obviously, that did not work out so well!

The instructions for how to carry the Ark properly are found in I Chronicles 15:2, 14-15. These instructions were learned correctly because David had to work his way through the problem.

Can we make mistakes like this? David was "a man after God's own heart"! Of course we can! David made mistakes left and right, yet God loved him. When God puts us through such things, it does not mean that He does not care for us. David committed adultery with Bathsheba; killed Uriah the Hittite; caused the death of thousands and the death of his son, Absalom. All because he, at times, took God's laws for granted.

We, too, can become complacent and neglectful as to how we live our lives. If we do not respond to God, He will increase the pressure on us.

Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 are the "blessings and cursings" chapters of the Bible. Consider these in light of the increasing pressure that God applies to draw us closer to Him and to stop taking Him for granted.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Don't Take God for Granted


 

1 Chronicles 13:9-11

I Chronicles 13:1-3 introduces an episode containing a presumptuous act, immediately followed by a sobering display of divine justice. However, this time, one of the most respected names in Israelite history is directly involved. It is the story of Uzza's sudden death while moving the Ark of the Covenant, the most sacred and revered of Israelite objects. The Ark, representing the throne of God and containing the tablets of stone Moses received from God on Mount Sinai, normally resided in the Holy of Holies.

David desired to move the Ark to Jerusalem to continue to consolidate the kingdom under himself. As they were moving it on an oxcart, the oxen stumbled, and the Ark appeared to be toppling to the ground. Uzza, in what may have been pure reflex, put out his hand to steady the Ark, but upon touching it, he was immediately struck dead (verses 9-10)! At first, David was angry that God ruined his party (verses 8, 11) - as the whole atmosphere of the Ark's transfer was celebratory - but shortly after, he became extremely fearful (verse 12).

The Bible shows God to be longsuffering and slow to anger. Why did they not hear His voice from heaven saying, "Thank you, Uzza, for keeping the Ark from getting damaged and dirty"? Instead, He exploded in anger and slew Uzza on the spot! However, God had given strict instructions for transporting the Ark, found in Numbers 4:4, 15, 17-20:

This is the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of meeting, relating to the most holy things: . . . And when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is set to go, then the sons of Kohath shall come to carry them; but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These are the things in the tabernacle of meeting which the sons of Kohath are to carry. . . . Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: "Do not cut off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites; but do this in regard to them, that they may live and not die when they approach the most holy things; Aaron and his sons shall go in and appoint each of them to his service and his task. But they shall not go in to watch while the holy things are being covered, lest they die."

The Bible nowhere indicates that Uzza was a Kohathite. If he was, what God did is even more understandable. Everyone in the whole procedure from David on down was guilty of disobeying God's instructions regarding the most holy things. David failed to consult with the High Priest - or any priest, for that matter - regarding how the Ark should be moved. Evidently, no priest protested that proper procedures were not being followed.

The Kohathites were not even supposed to look on the uncovered Ark. To God, when Uzza reached out and touched the Ark as it seemed about to topple off the cart, it was no act of heroism but the final act of desecration, arrogance, and presumption. The last thing presumed was that Uzza's hand was less defiling than the earth that he feared would contaminate the Ark.

God's instruction in Exodus 20:24-25 regards building Him an altar. An altar made for His worship had to be constructed of earth or unhewn stones. No altar defiled by man's sinful hand was suitable. Dirt cannot sin; it always follows the nature God established. God did not want the symbol of His throne contaminated by the evil that manifested itself in a whole string of rebellions against His specific instructions. There was nothing arbitrary, capricious, or whimsical in God's action.

Jesus teaches us to address God as "Father," a title suggesting familiarity, yet we are also to pray, "Hallowed be Your name." God shows in these two incidents that, if reverence is due to the symbols used in His worship, how much greater reverence must be given to the realities of the New Covenant?

Those involved in this incident were well-intentioned, but it illustrates for all generations that God still requires conformity with His directives concerning holy objects. Deviation from orthodoxy can be deadly.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Presumption and Divine Justice (Part Two)


 

2 Chronicles 26:16-21

What is God's reaction to presumptuous sin? There is no mercy! He immediately struck Uzziah with leprosy, and the man was cut off. It sounds like he was cut off from just about everything for the rest of his life. He pretty much lost his crown—lost everything. He certainly lost his health, all because he sinned presumptuously.

Ambition is not a trait that impresses God—certainly not presumptuous ambition. He is looking for a humble man who will stay where God has put him and do what God tells him to do. Uzziah was king over God's people Israel. Was that enough? No! To Uzziah, he wanted to be a priest as well.

It was his strength (verse 16), his pride, that drove him to do this presumptuous act. His heart was lifted up within him to make him think that he was worthy of more than what God had given him. He became discontent with his place. He was dissatisfied with what God had given him (his position as king); and he took to himself a position that was somebody else's.

God would never give him the authority to be a priest: He was a Jew, and the law says that only a son of Aaron could be a priest—a Levite. Uzziah knew that! But in spite of all the warnings, all of what God says, and in spite of what the priests themselves told him—he did it anyway.

Is it not interesting that he was struck with leprosy in his forehead? That should tell us something. What does leprosy stand for? What is it a symbol of? Defilement! It is a symbol of uncleanness—of being impure. Remember in the Pentateuch, all those rules about if somebody had a spot then they were to remain outside the camp? And they were to wash and do all various things. What they were looking for was leprosy. All the things that they had to do—all the washings, all the inspections, and everything else—were to certify whether the person was clean or unclean.

God put this uncleanness—this mark of defilement—right on Uzziah's forehead, where he could not hide it. What is right behind the forehead? The mind is the seat of intellect, as well as the seat of our character. The mind is where it is all being stored. That is where we think. God put this mark on this man's forehead to show that his character had been defiled—by presumptuousness, by this overweening pride that he was greater than what God had made him.

This is why presumptuousness is such a terrible, damnable sin—because it defiles character that has been built. It ruins it, to the point that God cannot work with it any more. He says that person shall be cut off from His people. There is no sacrifice for this kind of sin. That is how serious presumptuousness is.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Job 38:1-7

God approaches Job in a way calculated to chop him down to the humanity to which he belonged. How could Job possibly conclude that he was anything close to what God is! Such presumptuousness! Had Job ever created anything remotely like this earth? How could he even begin to think he was somehow God's equal? Job had a highly exaggerated opinion of himself. He had somehow managed to outgrow his humanity or had lost it on this trip to call God into condemnation!

Just as surely as there was an awesome difference between God's creation of the heavens and earth and what Job had accomplished, there was at least that much difference between God and Job spiritually.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Job, Self-Righteousness, and Humility


 

Psalm 10:6

The evil person is so presumptuous. He has become oblivious of God just as Satan did—so oblivious that he thinks that God will not punish or require any payment, that God simply will not care about what he does.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Psalm 19:12

Who among us really knows how much we sin? Who is really aware of how vile we are? Who even knows all the sins he has committed or are in the process of committing? Who knows how defiled we are by our flesh? How strong human nature is in us still—after who knows how many years of being in the church? So David says, "Cleanse me from the faults that I don't know about, others don't know about, that I've hidden from myself, that I didn't even know were sin."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Psalm 19:13

The Reader's Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary defines presumptuous as "unduly bold, audacious, and arrogant." Strong's Concordance also defines the corresponding Hebrew word as "arrogant." Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines the root word, presume, as "to undertake without leave or clear justification." The word identifies acts done in domineering, haughty insolence with a scornful, contemptuous disdain for respect, convention, and even law. It is the opposite of "humble," "modest," and "unassuming." In a religious context, it can be said that presumption is taking unorthodoxy to its extreme.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Presumption and Divine Justice


 

Psalm 75:6

Where does it come from? The only one that he left out is the north—where God's throne is.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Psalm 75:7-10

The righteous do not exalt themselves. God will promote them; He will exalt them when it is the proper time. In the meantime, it is best for all of us to be content with where He has put us. We do not need to go to the lengths of Korah or Diotrephes to be presumptuous—we can be presumptuous anytime we take something upon ourselves that has not been given to us to do, thinking that we know better. Such a thing is just plain pride.

The cure for presumptuous behavior is realizing what God has given us, where He has placed us, and what is best for us at the time. If we work within the parameters He has set for us, we will grow, and we will perform the task He has asked us to do.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Proverbs 14:12

Not all presumption is careless drifting. Unfortunately, strong evidence exists to show that much of modern liberalism in religion was deliberately planned and executed. A Layman's Guide to Protestant Theology by William Hordern, p. 74, refers to this:

The method of liberalism includes the attempt to modernize Christianity. The world, liberals argue, has changed radically since the early creeds of Christendom were formulated; this makes the creeds sound archaic and unreal to modern man. We have to rethink Christianity in thought forms which the modern world can comprehend. Fosdick argued that we must express the essence of Christianity, its "abiding experiences," but that we must not identify these with the "changing categories" in which they have been expressed in the past. For example, says Fosdick, an abiding experience of Christianity has been its conviction that God will triumph over evil. This has been traditionally pictured in the category of Christ's second coming on the clouds to destroy evil and set up good. We can no longer retain the outworn category, but we can still believe the truth which this ancient thought form was trying to express. We can continue to work in the faith that, through His devoted followers, God is now building His Kingdom and that there will be a renewing of life, individual and social, to bring it into conformity with the will of God. The essence of the faith is thus retained, argues Fosdick, which the thought form in which it was once clothed has been abandoned.

A second aspect of the method of liberalism is its refusal to accept religious belief on authority alone. Instead, it insists that all beliefs must pass the bar of reason and experience. Man's mind is capable of thinking God's thoughts after Him. Man's intuitions and reason are the best clues that we have to the nature of God. The mind must be kept open to all truth regardless of from whence it comes. This means that the liberal must have an open mind; no questions are closed. New facts may change the convictions that have become hallowed by custom and time. The liberal will venture forth into the unknown, firmly believing that all truth must be God's truth. In this spirit, the liberal accepts the higher criticism of the Bible and the theory of evolution. He refuses to have a religion that is afraid of truth or that tries to protect itself from critical examination. (emphasis added)

Is it any wonder, when those who are supposed to be the primary protectors of religious purity think the way they do, that the laity behaves as they do? Does it really make any difference? Certainly, because the almighty God on high definitely thinks it makes a difference!

Hardly anything more clearly illustrates the self-deceived perverseness of human nature as its presumptuous additions of the observation of Christmas and Easter to the worship of the God of the Bible. That Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea is indisputable, but among other things, He was not born on December 25, nor did anybody exchange gifts on that date. Scripture nowhere says there were three wise men, and it is clear they gave gifts only to Christ as King.

Regarding Easter, Jesus was not resurrected on a Sunday morning, nor was He crucified on a Friday afternoon. It is impossible to squeeze three days and three nights, which Jesus Himself said would be the length of time He would spend in the tomb (Matthew 12:40), between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. Even so, fantastically detailed and emotionally appealing traditions have presumptuously been built around both these events and have been taught to a deceived public as though they were true.

Beyond what has been already mentioned regarding these days, where in God's Word does He command that we believe and do these commonly accepted practices? Men have presumptuously taken them upon themselves.

The addition of Christmas and Easter to Christianity happened so long ago that they have come to be accepted as part of the Christian religion, and most people celebrate them without thought. Nevertheless, adding to so-called Christian beliefs has not ended—in fact, it is still happening.

The late Pope John Paul II was an ardent ecumenist. He circled the globe many times in his travels and embraced in conference many non-Catholics in his effort to bring all into one fold. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, has pledged to continue that effort. Recently, their representatives achieved a decisive victory in forging a much closer alliance with the Anglican Church. However, Anglican leaders could take this step only by abandoning the firm foundation of a former doctrine and thus joining Catholics in accepting a presumptuous addition that the latter already believe.

A headline in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, May 17, 2005, reads, "Catholics, Anglicans reach accord on Mary: Statement closes big gap between churches." The article explains:

The historical separation between Roman Catholics and Anglicans has narrowed after both found common ground on the position of Mary, mother of Jesus, according to a document conceived at the highest church levels. . . . Anglicans, already close to Catholics because of liturgy and traditions, have moved even closer through their understanding of Mary as outlined in the joint statement, which took five years and an international committee to complete.

Bringing back the departed brethren has been a strong focus of the Catholic Church since the Counter-Reformation that followed the Protestant Reformation, which had dealt Catholicism a powerful blow in the sixteenth century. However, it was not until the "New Age Movement" began in earnest during the mid-1970s—with its strong, insistent call for a paradigm shift toward greater tolerance and radical thinking in religious beliefs and values—that the stage was set for ecumenical efforts to succeed.

The following quotation from the same article publicly undressed, as it were, the Anglican Church:

The document seeks to transcend past controversies on Catholic dogma, including the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary. While not spelled out specifically in the Bible, such beliefs can be interpreted through Scripture, according to the 80-paragraph document.

The result might be an elevation, or at least a heightened acknowledgment, of the place of Mary—particularly for Anglicans, the denomination born in England during the Reformation and called the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Anglicanism is considered closest to Catholicism because it gives Mary a pre-eminent place among the saints, includes her in Communion prayers and holds six Marian feast days.

Among other matters, Catholics and Protestants disagree over the Catholic dogmas of the Immaculate Conception—the assertion that Mary lived a life free from sin from the moment she was conceived—and the Assumption, the belief that her body and soul were taken into heaven when her earthly life ended.

Those dogmas have "created problems not only for Anglicans but also for other Christians," the document said, largely because they are not explicitly supported by Scripture.

But those dogmas also "can be said to be consonant with the teaching of the Scriptures and the ancient common traditions," said the document, titled "Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ." (emphasis added)

How can either of these two doctrines be biblically derived? They cannot! The Catholic Church has long acknowledged that the role they give Mary cannot be supported by Scripture alone, so now both the Catholic and Anglican churches have admitted through the publication of this document that these teachings are based upon mere human tradition.

In the distant past, someone decided that honoring Mary in this way would be "nice," or perhaps he used the word "appropriate," because she was chosen by God to bear His Son in her womb, and besides, she seems to be such a good woman. However, the Scriptures call for no such elevation in status, and they certainly never claim that she lived a perfect, sinless life! Now the Roman Catholic Church has gone so far as to claim she is co-savior with Christ!

Such presumption seems beyond the bounds of honest, spiritual reasoning, but the Catholic Church has similarly declared Sunday to be the day of worship, replacing God's Sabbath. They have published articles openly admitting that, if one uses the Bible alone, then the Sabbath is the only acceptable day of worship. In those same articles, they have also been honest in stating that they have made this change from Sabbath to Sunday on their own authority. On these issues, their presumption is not hidden!

But this is arrogant and bold hubris on a massive scale, enabled only because Satan has managed to deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9). The overwhelming majority of people calling themselves Christian are so unconcerned—that is, tolerant and careless—they live thinking that it does not matter to God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Presumption and Divine Justice


 

Isaiah 14:12-15

Probably all of us have thought that we know better than those in charge. Watch out! Thinking like this is not wrong in itself, but it is something that lodged itself in the mind of Helel (the name of the "covering cherub" before he became Satan): "I know better than the one in charge," and in this case, it was God.

We can begin to see how his pride was beginning to exalt itself against God. It was moving to break the relationship between them. It was coming between Helel and God so that their relationship could not continue. Helel could not continue to serve God.

Most have felt that we have been overlooked, neglected, or abused. Most of us have felt rejected a time or two. Of and by themselves, these feelings are not wrong. But, again, we must beware, because these feelings can begin to generate pride. Such a thing fed Helel's feelings about himself. They simmered in him and made him angry, and he desired to assert his will to control the governance of all that was happening. "I will ascend to heaven," he said, and he tried to. We see the pattern here; we can see the process involved from beginning to end.

It ends in warfare against God, which is why a person of pride cannot have a good relationship with Him. A proud person cannot have faith in God, at least not very much. A small amount of faith can be there, but pride will definitely be a hindrance. This is why the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18:9-14 follows immediately after of the Parable of the Importunate Widow (Luke 18:1-8), which Jesus ends with, "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on earth?"—because humility is essential to faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 6)


 

Isaiah 14:13

Biblically, God's throne is in the north—way in the north of heaven. What Helel had decided to do (he was already in the attitude of Satan) was to exalt himself and his throne by attacking God and supplanting Him.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Isaiah 14:14

This is interesting, as his domain went only as far as the clouds. His place of authority was within the atmosphere of this earth. Yet, he says, "I will take my throne and establish it far beyond what I've been given, because this earth is not enough for me. I will break the gravity of this earth, and walk among the stars. I'm going to be the top dog in this universe." He says, "I will be the Most High."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Jeremiah 7:4-12

We can learn a great deal from the prophets' descriptions of conditions in Israel in the years just before God scattered them. Jeremiah 7 contains an especially vivid description, describing attitudes and conduct just before Babylon's invasion of Judah. Anybody who cares and diligently searches for the causes of our present scattered condition can easily find many of them.

Verse 4 reveals a casual, self-righteous, and presumptuous self-confidence that, since they were fellowshipping with the "church," everything would be fine! Nevertheless, the enemy conquered Judah and took the people into captivity, so membership in the church is no guarantee that judgment will not come on us individually or collectively. Jeremiah expresses the Jews' prideful assumption of being above correction, an attitude that has its basis in a confused understanding of God's love and the purity of His holiness.

We must be prepared for God's Kingdom. The attitudes and conduct of these people, expressed here but applied to us now, show that we were not living up to God's expectations. We can learn, though, that fellowshipping with the church without the right attitudes and conduct can easily foster a delusion that all is well, while by God's judgment all clearly is not well! Verses 5-6 illustrate that their judgment of how to apply God's Word in their lives was severely compromised. They definitely did not love their neighbor as themselves; they were unmistakably self-centered. Is there more evidence here that we may have been the same?

Verse 10 expresses the extent this delusion had permeated their lives. By ignoring God's moral and ethical demands, they were in effect telling God that attending services released them from the guilt accrued during the rest of their lives. It was as if God's judgments did not apply to them. They were after all "in the church," right? It reads almost as if they felt they were doing God a favor by showing up! What is more, while there, they heard insipid messages telling them, "Peace, peace. Everything is okay. God's grace covers all."

Though ceremonially going through the motions, they lacked thorough dedication and devotion to God's way in every aspect of life. Beginning in verse 12, God reminds them that they should remember the history of former generations and take warning because they are on track to experience the same calamities. Have we in our time repeated their assumptions that everything is fine when it is not? It seems so, since the Laodicean assumes he is rich and increased with goods and needs nothing. The reality is that he is blind to his true condition and not clothed with God's righteousness.

God has called us into a courtship relationship leading to marriage with Jesus Christ. He makes clear what He expects from us as our part in this relationship. Jesus says to His disciples, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). A love relationship requires each to sacrifice thoughtfully for the other. Keeping of the commandments does not "save" us, but it prepares us to live eternally with Him and shows our attitude of submission to Him.

Jeremiah 7:5-9 plainly portrays precious little concern for fellow man. In fact, most of the sins Jeremiah directly mentions are transgressions of the last five commandments. Only one sin, idolatry, focuses directly on the first four commandments. This suggests that a breakdown in human relationships quickly followed the disintegration of the relationship between God and Israel. Similarly, I John 4:20-21 calls upon those who say they love God and claim to be Christians to love the brethren. John goes so far as to say that, if we do not love the brethren, our claim to love God is a lie! This is another area in which many fell short, and it led to division, which continues to the present.

This indicates that self-absorbed people indulged themselves at others' expense. Self-absorption produces strained marital relationships (and ultimately divorce) and alienated children as they and their parents go in wildly different directions. Within congregations, it yields shallow and casual relationships that show little true concern. Its fruit are intolerance, impatience, strong opinions about trivial things, offense, harsh judging, and division.

It produces busy people who feel as if they are accomplishing a great deal because they seem to get many things done. The church member may even prosper more than at any other time in his life. However, the busy-ness is spent on things of minor spiritual importance. Meanwhile, the relationship with God, while existent, is allowed to be neglected. That is what Laodiceanism is. People bring it in from the world where God is a figurehead but with whom there is no relationship. It is a deceitful fruit of too much time, attention, and energy focused on the wrong things. Laodiceanism is deceitful because the Bible reveals that the person afflicted with it is unaware that he has it. He is blind to it, but God certainly is not because He is being neglected in this relationship. How can He possibly marry someone who will not draw close to Him because of involvement in so many other things?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Seven)


 

Jeremiah 23:16

Even though it is not stated directly, these prophets are acting presumptuously. They are doing a work, they are saying words, that He did not put in their mouths to say. It is a vision from their own hearts.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Jeremiah 23:17

These are the words of the false prophets—the ones He had not sent. They are telling the wicked, those who despise God, that there will be peace, and everything is going to be okay. But verse 18 shows God's contrary response.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Jeremiah 23:18

God asks, "Which one of these false prophets has ever come to Me, and been in My counsel, and heard what I said?" And the answer is, rhetorically, "None!" The sense of this is "none of these have stood in My counsel."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Jeremiah 23:19

He is talking about a tornado that He has sent—a violent windstorm. The false prophets have said, "No bad is coming" (verse 17). God says, "Do they ever listen to Me? I've said, 'I'm sending a whirlwind, and it's going to fall on the heads of the wicked.' How dare they say that everything is going to be okay!"

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Jeremiah 23:20

In the latter days, do we understand it perfectly? What God is performing and executing right now, throughout His whole plan? Or, are we presumptuously saying that everything is going to be okay? That we are all right, that we are spiritual, that we are on God's good side, that we have God's favor?

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Jeremiah 23:21-22

"I've had nothing to do with them," God says. "Yet they went on their own, presumptuously, to speak their own words in My name."

The work that God says needs to be done in the latter days is to turn the people from their sin, and back to God. It is a message of repentance, of returning and then strengthening the relationship that we have with God. In the latter days, you will understand it. Not only will you understand what needs to be done, but you will also understand why it needs to be done—and do it because what good is understanding if it is not done? Any other kind of work at this time appears to be either window dressing or contrary to the will of God—and presumptuous.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Ezekiel 28:12-15

Consider what he was. He was the pinnacle of what God can create by fiat. That is what is suggested in the wording of this passage - he was the "seal of perfection," the most perfect creation, full of wisdom and beauty. He was made with precious stones as part of his body. Music - beautiful music - was intrinsic to him. He had an exalted position as the "covering cherub." He walked where God ruled, amidst the fiery stones. He had it all. It should have been enough for him, but he began to think, "I'm still one step down from the top. I really don't have it all. I want to rise to the next level of management. I want to be the CEO of the universe. I think I'll overthrow God."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Ezekiel 28:17-18

His own splendor blinded him to what was real and true. What was real and true is that God will always be supreme. He will always be the chief authority in the universe, and no created thing can supplant its Creator. It was total hubris—overwhelming pride—that caused him to do this, because he was discontent with his position, and he presumptuously thought he could overthrow God. He even tried to stage a coup, and God slammed him right back down to earth.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Matthew 7:3-5

Jesus gives us practical instruction on this matter of judging. In a word, we are unqualified. We are not qualified to make these judgments. Setting ourselves up to judge another—even to "help" him in whatever problem he may have—is self-exalting, proud, presumptuous, vain (in terms both of vanity and futility), and as Jesus says, hypocritical because we are guilty of the same problems. In fact, He implies that our problems are worse! They are planks versus specks in the other person's eye.

The great overriding problem here is that it arrogates to ourselves a prerogative of God. He is the Judge. What are we doing taking one of His jobs from Him? In James 4:12, the apostle asks, "Who are you to judge another?" It sounds rather harsh to hear it put that way. "Who are you to take upon yourself the authority to judge this other person?" He says in verse 11, "He who speaks evil of his brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law." That is what happens when we take it upon ourselves to judge another person.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What's So Bad About Busybodies?


 

Matthew 18:1

The disciples ask Jesus, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Thinking that He was about to set up a great temporal kingdom, they want to know who would hold the primary offices and posts of honor and profit. Mark informs us that they had disputed this subject while traveling (Mark 9:34). Jesus asks them what they had been arguing about. Luke adds that Jesus perceives their thoughts (Luke 9:47). The disciples, conscious that Jesus is aware of their dispute, are at first embarrassed into silence, but they eventually ask Him to decide it for them. Jesus' reply are the parables found in Matthew 18:2-14.

Martin G. Collins
Parables of the Millstone and the Lost Sheep


 

Matthew 18:20

Many stay-at-home members use this verse to justify not fellowshipping with a larger organization. On the surface, it seems to support their argument. However, we must look at it in context.

The chapter begins with Jesus teaching about our need for humility (verses 1-5). He uses the analogy of body parts to show the importance of not offending little ones (verses 6-10). He then gives the Parable of the Lost Sheep to show His concern for every sheep (verses 11-14). He instructs about how we should deal with offenses among us (verses 15-20). The context of the entire chapter is interpersonal relations and offenses, not church administration. Peter understood this, for he immediately asks how often one should forgive a brother (verse 21).

God requires two or three witnesses lest injustice come from one man's word against another (verse 16; Deuteronomy 19:15). He will honor the decision based on the judgment of two or three along with the accuser. If the offender will not listen to them, the offense should be taken to a larger forum—the church. The very context assumes the existence of a larger group. God prefers, however, that matters be handled privately in a smaller group whom He will be among rather than escalating every personal problem to the attention of the whole church. Notice the instruction: Go to the offender ALONE first, then escalate it only as necessary to solve the problem.

In I Corinthians 5, Paul shows how this works in practical application when a church member was unabashedly committing sexual sins. Notice that Paul had ministerial, hierarchical authority over the Gentile church in Corinth. He even made his judgment of the situation—disfellowship that man!—without being present! Later, upon the man's repentance, he ordered him restored, and forgave even as they forgave (II Corinthians 2:10). He also legislated what their attitude and approach to a repentant sinner should be!

Did he allow every group of two or three in the congregation to make a judgment? How would God have bound the conflicting judgments that surely would have arisen between the people of varying levels of understanding and maturity in Corinth? The church would have been divided into many small groups had Paul not exercised his authority.

Is that not what we have seen as groups have misapplied Matthew 18:20, lifting it out of context, and justifying their own doctrinal and administrative decisions? This misapplication and twisting of this one scripture automatically repudiates any authority God placed in an ordained ministry and splinters the church. Is that how Paul understood Scripture, or did he constantly defend his own position as an apostle and that of the local ordained ministry to preserve unity?

We are told to judge by the fruits. What are the fruits of two or three people deciding they can make doctrinal and administrative judgments? We need look no further than the dividing and redividing of groups in today's greater church of God to see that the fruits are not good.

Scattered sheep are just that: scattered and in grave danger. Contrast the dubious idea of Christ giving administrative authority to two or three scattered sheep to the very clear and powerful administrative authority given to Peter as head administrator of the church in Matthew 16:18 (see also John 21:15-17). Compare also Hebrews 5:4 where no man can take the office of high priest to himself. Can any of us decide we are the final word? Can we take any office in the priesthood to ourselves? God compares presumption to witchcraft (I Samuel 15:23).

Staff
For the Perfecting of the Saints


 

Luke 4:9-13

The theme here is protection. Satan quotes from Psalm 91:11-12, which has the same theme. He is quoting back to Jesus the very words that He had inspired, but he does it without quoting the entirety of the two verses. He leaves out one phrase: "in all your ways." Jesus immediately replies, showing him that he had misapplied it: God does not guarantee He will protect us "in all our ways."

Will Jesus protect us in our rebellion? Will He protect us if we are downright foolish? God certainly expects us to do things involving faith in Him, which the unconverted may consider to be foolish or dangerous. But willfully exposing ourselves to any danger, presuming that God is going to protect us, is tempting Him. Man has no right to dictate to God what He should do.

It is as if Satan is saying to Jesus: "Since you are God's Son, certainly He will protect You from whatever danger You may get into. His angels will always be there to help You. You cannot be hurt. Deliverance will always be there. You can trust Him." It sounds good, but it is built upon a presumption.

Some ministers, when they are counseling people on a trial, say, "You just do what I told you, and everything will work out." The implication is that, even if the minister's counsel is wrong, God will smooth it over and make it work simply because he is God's minister and they are God's people. From this temptation of Jesus, we can see that He does not believe that. We cannot tempt God and expect His promises to force Him to rescue us. God may, in His mercy, rescue us because of our ignorance, but that is not the spiritually mature way to think.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 2)


 

Acts 5:1-10

We can perceive a mixed bag of Ananias and Sapphira's sins involved in this tragedy. Acts 4:36-37 informs us of Barnabas' sacrificial gift for the well-being of the newly formed church. Pride and desire for acclaim motivated the couple to give a gift but without the honesty or sacrifice exhibited by Barnabas and others.

"Why has Satan filled your heart" (verse 3) is the equivalent of "Why have you dared?" They were free to give whatever percentage they set, for Peter says that the entire property sale price was under their control. Their sin lay in deceitfully alleging that the amount they gave was the whole of the sale price, when it was actually only a part. They deviously exaggerated their offering.

Some think this judgment was harsh, but Peter did not. He spoke of the sin as inspired of Satan, and the passage makes clear that both Ananias and Sapphira were fully aware of what they were doing (verses 2, 9). Conscious deceit is spiritually disastrous because trust is completely violated. They should have known better.

God interpreted their action as tempting Him, seeing how much they could get away with. Their way of reaching their goals is so opposed to the gospel that God could not allow it to go unchallenged; it would have set the whole mission of the church off course. Honesty and integrity are the standard of God's way of life. Sin is no light thing with God.

These people were living behind a deceptive façade, one similar to the idea that, if one keeps the front windows clean, it does not matter how dirty the back ones are. They allowed themselves to become tools working to destroy the family relationship of trust within the church. God forcibly reminded them and us that He will not abide that.

We must treat one another with fairness and loving kindness, or we will not be in His Family. Ananias and Sapphira are shocking reminders to us that we will not get away with deceitfully cheating or taking advantage of our brethren. God may not appear to be in the picture, but only the faithless have this blindness. The penalty will be paid—unless repented of, it is only a matter of time. Ananias and Sapphira paid quickly as a lesson to us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Presumption and Divine Justice (Part Two)


 

Romans 8:7

The core of life for us is government. The issue is who we will allow to govern us. We can govern ourselves in deciding to kill, commit adultery, steal, or lie—that is, break the commandments—or we can submit to God who says, "No," to every one of these things. The decision as to what is moral has already been decided by God. Our only decision is whether we will submit to what He says to do.

What are we to do when the issue is whether to break the Sabbath by working or keep it by refusing? What are we to do when we are in a financial bind and in debt? Should we submit to God and pay His tithes first? Will God be trusted to provide our needs in a tight financial situation even though we tithe? What are we to do when we desire to cover ourselves: brag, lie, or tell the truth? What should we do when we are sexually enticed: flee or commit adultery or fornication? What are we to do in any case when submitting and glorifying God are the issue?

Should we expect God to bless us when we choose to take sovereignty and control—we think—to ourselves, that is, when we introduce idolatry into the mix of the relationship? Once we are no longer ignorant of the choices before us and choose to take sovereignty to ourselves, sin becomes exceedingly more serious in its consequences, and we become the idol, because that is who we are serving.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 7)


 

Romans 10:1-3

Interestingly, a commentator writes that "they being ignorant of" (verse 3) could be translated into "for they ignoring," which puts a different sense on Paul's thought. When one is ignorant, he just does not know. Perhaps knowledge was withheld from him. On the other hand, when one ignores knowledge, it is readily available, but he turns his back on it.

Are modern Israelites who celebrate Christmas really deceived? Is the deception so strong that they cannot see it? A self-deceived person is ignoring truth rather than ignorant of it, and if that indeed is Paul's emphasis, it makes this Christmas question much more serious. It means that people are accountable for what they are doing, and therefore, they will pay more for it than if they acted in ignorance.

Most Americans are aware that many of the Christmas traditions have no connection with Christianity. Almost every year, articles on the origins of various Christmas customs appear in the newspapers, especially in the larger cities. The authors of these articles cannot trace any of the "modern" traditions back to the Bible because most of the customs came from pre-Christian traditions in Germany, Norway, Russia, Holland, and other nations. Thus, people cannot claim that such knowledge was withheld from them.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christmas, Syncretism and Presumption (1994)


 

Romans 12:17-19

Resentment and incivility, in which we take our revenge with a blast of insults, are not an option for us either, even when it may seem justified. Paul expects us to bring our relationships with others into the scope of our relationship with God. Would we do the same thing to God? In verse 14 Paul says, "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."

If we take vengeance, we encroach on the prerogative of God, seizing power that does not belong to us. By intruding, we get into the way of what He has claimed as His responsibility. Man is incapable of taking vengeance with proper wisdom, justice, and love. Paul instructs us, by faith, not to take the prerogative of revenge to ourselves but allow God to execute judgment.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sixth Commandment (Part One) (1997)


 

Romans 14:4

Yes, God has given us a promise of becoming judges, kings, and priests in the World Tomorrow, but He has not given us the authority to be judges now. We are to be making evaluations and learning how to judge. But, right now, unless we have been appointed to a certain position in which such judgments must be made, if we take it upon ourselves to make them, we are stepping into the muck. We have gone beyond our sphere.

He is telling us that, if we decide to take it into our own hands to judge another man's servant (think of it in terms of every other person being God's servant), then we have begun to be presumptuous. We are meddling in another's matters.

Jesus would have been meddling in somebody else's affairs had He decided to arbitrate the dispute in Luke 12:13-14. He would have been what the Bible calls a busybody—someone who is doing something that he has not been called to do or been given the authority to do.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What's So Bad About Busybodies?


 

2 Corinthians 12:7

Paul twice says, ". . . lest I should be exalted above measure." God gave him this "thorn in the flesh" so that the apostle would not get too big for his britches, as it were, because God had given him some revelations. That sort of communication from God could swell a person's head. Thus, the apostle says God allowed Satan to afflict him so that Paul would not venture beyond what he had been given.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

1 Timothy 3:1

It is not wrong to want to be an elder, or an overseer, or a pastor. If one's motives are right, it is not an improper ambition. Being a pastor of a church and helping the people are good works, if they are pursued in a godly way.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

1 Timothy 3:2-7

A spiritually immature person in an office of authority like this will follow the same course that Satan took. He will get a big head and try to grasp beyond his position.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

1 Timothy 5:11-13

This is similar to my own experiences regarding people who are unemployed. If they are unemployed for any period of time, if they do not have strength of will, they learn to be idle. "Learn to be idle" is a difficult Greek construction, though the New International Version renders it well: "They get into the habit of being idle." It is not that they sit down and study how to be idle, but over a period of time—even though they may start out looking for a job and using their spare time in a profitable manner—inertia sets in.

Notwithstanding their good intentions, they start rising a little bit later, taking their time doing this or that. They find over time that it is far easier to sit around and drink their coffee, call their neighbors or brethren, chew the fat, and talk about this or that person:

"How is he doing?"

"Oh, fine!"

"But you know he has a problem."

"Oh, does he?"

"Yes. His marriage is not going well."

"Well, you know, I went through a problem like that back a few years ago. Maybe I'll give him a call and give him some advice. It is tried and true! It worked for me. If he needs me to, I'll go over and watch his kids for him."

And pretty soon they are fully involved in somebody's marital crisis when they should not have even known about it! It is evident that being a busybody is linked with gossip, tale-bearing, and scandal-mongering. They usually go hand in hand.

Once a person starts messing in other people's business, before long he is telling his friends what is happening and how wonderfully he is advising and helping these people. Soon all sorts of rumors are flying back and forth about so and so and this and that. Like a law of nature, it is only a matter of time before a relationship conflict erupts. What is then present in the church? War and disunity!

Experience shows that it often comes back to bite the meddler! The Old Testament provides a graphic image of what happens to such a person: "He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears" (Proverbs 26:17). And just a few inches away from those dog's ears are big, sharp teeth! When we meddle in other people's affairs, it comes back to hurt us. No one wins when meddling happens.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What's So Bad About Busybodies?


 

1 Timothy 6:3-8

The way this argument progresses is intriguing. Paul starts by mentioning those who were apostatizing, preaching a false gospel, and rejecting what Christ had given the church in the gospel, yet he ends up speaking about contentment.

His thought is this: Those who argue against the doctrines of God and against the church are essentially discontent. They are at the initial stages of presumptuousness, or they may have already become fully presumptuous. They try to use their "godliness" to get some sort of advantage or gain for themselves. The motives on the surface may seem to be that they are trying to be godly, but underneath, the real motive is to get something for themselves.

We should not think of this "gain" as only money or goods. It could be respect, or favor with somebody. It could be notoriety or having people think that one is smart. It could be having authority of some kind - ordination or having a group of followers. It could be many things. What it comes down to is presumptuousness, because the person who does these things is reaching beyond his place.

God put the person in the body at a specific point, to do a certain job, and when he starts doing the types of things that Paul mentions - arguing against the doctrine, for instance - he is taking a job that he has not been given. Paul says the real gain comes when we behave in a godly manner and reckon that what we have is sufficient for us.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

2 Timothy 4:6-7

Paul was ready to pass the mantle on to young men like Timothy and Titus, to take care of the churches in the Gentile world. The apostle looked back on his life and saw what he had accomplished. He had done a great work for God. He had gone from persecuting the church to being its greatest champion in preaching the gospel throughout the Gentile world.

He realized that he had done the best that he could. And look what he did! He penned fourteen books of the Bible, founded who knows how many churches, and caused the conversion of many people. He looked back and said, "I've lived a full life. I've finished the task that God set for me. I have no regrets for the life I've lived since conversion."

He surely regretted what he had done before conversion, but that was past. Those acts had been forgiven, and he had proceeded on to the great things that God had in mind for him. He would not rage against God or accuse Him of treating him unfairly, although he had been beaten and flogged many times for the gospel's sake. He had been stoned and left for dead, nearly drowned in the sea, and suffered hunger and thirst—the many "perils of Paul." But they meant nothing to him at this point. He had no regrets. His life had been lived to the fullest for God. He did not complain that he deserved better, that he should go to his rest in peace. He asked for nothing. He was content.

The antidote to presumptuousness can be whittled down to the attitude of contentment, which Paul displayed. If one is content, he is not presumptuous. A contented person is satisfied with his position, with what life has dealt him, his lot in life. He is happy where God has put him and does not ask for more, but he is willing to fulfill his task to the best of his abilities.

He is not always striving to get ahead, to be the leader, or to have so many things. To the contented man, that is not how life should be lived. He is not out to receive notoriety or fame. He does not seek the respect of everyone. He does not necessarily desire to be recognized for all his accomplishments or even need to be accepted all the time. A person who is truly content is never presumptuous.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Titus 1:7

Self-will is insisting stubbornly and arrogantly on one's way, as opposed to following the will of God. Paul states that a minister of God must not allow himself to be self-willed but must be led by and do God's will. What kind of minister would a person with false pride and stubbornness make?

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 4): Self-Will


 

Hebrews 13:5

The author is writing about being covetous, meaning that we want more for ourselves - things that others seem to have and we do not. So he writes, "Be content with what you have. Don't get all riled up about it."

It is very interesting that he says, "Be content," and then, "God has told you He will never leave you nor forsake you." When we are discontent and dissatisfied, one of the first thoughts that we normally have is that God has abandoned us, that He does not care about us, that He has not blessed us. Paul says, "Don't think that way. Be content with where you are because God has not left you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. You are exactly where He wants you, so you have no reason to be discontent. God has placed you in the body where it pleases Him." And that should be enough for us.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

1 Peter 4:15

Peter lumps murderers, thieves, evil doers, and busybodies all into one category. How bad is it, really, to be a meddler or a busybody compared to knifing somebody, robbing them on the road, or just being downright evil? What is so bad about busybodies? Why does the Bible take such a stern view of meddling?

This sin has several tentacles that reach into various areas of our Christian lives and has a great impact upon our relationships both with God and with other people. That is what makes it so bad.

The New King James puts the word "meddler" in the margin—a very good translation of this word. The Greek word translated "busybody" or "meddler" is allotriepiskopos, a compound word—two normal Greek words stuck together—found in the Bible only in this one spot.

Allotriepiskopos literally means "not one's own overseer." "Not one's own" is one word and "overseer" is the other. It means, thus, "one who oversees others' matters or affairs." This word contains episkopos, which is the Greek word for "overseer," sometimes translated as "shepherd" or "bishop." This allotriepiskopos could be a good thing—if it was someone like a steward of an estate who was assigned to be the caretaker of another's matters, or an executor of a will, someone who is appointed to look over another's affairs after his decease.

However, in this one occurrence and in the normal Greek (it is used only a couple of other times in the classics and not quite in this same context), it is a negative term. It describes a person who takes it upon himself to interfere in another person's matter.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What's So Bad About Busybodies?


 

1 Peter 5:5-7

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders - Peter adresses presumption by starting with the young people. Just as young people are supposed to submit to their elders, so are we to submit in whatever positions we are in.

Yes, all of you be submissive to one another - Peter broadens the instructions. It is not just whether you are younger than another person, or that you are in a lesser position than another person is. It says all of you be submissive to all of you. One another—whatever your rank, whatever your position. Whether you are a toenail on the body or the left elbow. All of you submit to the other.

And be clothed with humility - Not only are we to submit, but we are to do it in humility. And have it clothed—fully draped over us—because that is the attitude that will keep presumption at bay.

"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" - This is where the favor will come—to those who are humble. "God resists the proud"—that is an understatement! God backhands the proud. God will not give even the time of day to the proud. That is how much He "resists" the proud.

This passage gives the antidote to presumptuous sin: 1) submitting, 2) being humble, and 3) waiting for God to exalt—not taking it upon ourselves to do it ourselves.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

2 Peter 2:10-11

False prophets "walk according to the flesh"; their minds are primarily on physical things rather than the true things of God. God is not in all their thoughts (Psalm 10:4). They also despise authority—other than their own—and apparently think themselves superior even to God's angels. They are presumptuous and self-willed, acting out of the dictates of their own hearts (or the influence of a demon) rather than following God with humility and trusting Him to bring His will to pass.

David C. Grabbe
What Is a False Prophet?


 

3 John 1:9-11

Who is this Diotrephes? Perhaps a better question is, "Who does this Diotrephes think he is?" Was he an apostle? Was he an evangelist? Was he a pastor? Was he a leading man in the congregation? Was he an "ordinary" member? John does not say, but it is interesting that John mentions that Diotrephes just loved to have the preeminence among them. It almost sounds as if he was only a member of the church or perhaps an elder. We do not know.

One of his most marked characteristics is he liked to be "Number One." He had to be the important guy, the one everybody came to for answers to their questions, the one to make the big decisions. He even went so far as to say malicious things against John - one of the original twelve apostles. He prated against him with malicious words. He spoke down on him.

John was the disciple that Jesus loved, and here some little man, probably in the church at Ephesus, was talking against the apostle who had put his life on the line for the church many times, who had spent years in exile on the Isle of Patmos, who (tradition says) was put in a vat of boiling oil and was not harmed a bit, a man whom God was obviously with - and this Diotrephes thought he was so important that he could point out John's flaws to the rest of the congregation.

Then he started disfellowshipping people because they did not agree with him. He kicked people out of the church who wanted to fellowship with their brethren whom he had put out. John promised, "When I get there, I'm going to take care of this. I will call to mind all these things and make what this man is apparent."

Given the way he treated the congregation, Diotrephes was a "Satan in the flesh." What he did was evil, which is what John writes in verse 11: "Beloved, do not imitate what is evil." He is warning, "Do not imitate the actions of this man, Diotrephes. He is doing exactly what Satan did."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

Jude 1:6

Jude puts this in an interesting way. They were not "the bad angels," or even "the angels who sinned." He calls them "the angels who were not content with where God had placed them."

We know from Revelation 12:4 that one-third of the angels were under Helel's hand, and he convinced them to leave their proper domain—the place where they had dominion, the place of their responsibility and authority—so that they could get more for themselves. In doing this, they sinned. Their discontent caused them to attempt to take by force what had not been given, but which they thought they deserved. This is the same thing that happened in Korah's rebellion (Numbers 16:1-35).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness


 

 

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