Editorial — Not Ignorant of His Devices, part 1

“Our divine Lord is equal to any emergency. With Him nothing is impossible . . . Come to Christ just as you are weak, helpless, and ready to die. Cast yourself wholly on His mercy. There is no difficulty within or without that can not be surmounted in His strength.” The Signs of the Times, January 3, 1906. But while we have this wonderful assurance we are not to be presumptuous. “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.” Desire of Ages, 126.

Whether you know it or not Satan is constantly sending you temptations to be presumptuous. (The Signs of the Times, August 5,1886.)

By presumption we can place ourselves in a position where Satan’s deceptions have power over us. Often the temptation to be presumptuous comes in a religious guise, even in the words of Scripture: “When the tempter came to Christ to lead Him to presumption, he came quoting the Scripture.” Review and Herald, July 5, 1892. This temptation is so powerful and successful that Ellen White says, “Presumption is a most common temptation, and as Satan assails men with this, he obtains the victory nine times out of ten.” Historical Sketches, 133. Often the people of God come into dreadful disappointment in their work for the Lord because of a confusion between faith and presumption. “The path of faith lies close beside the path of presumption. Satan is ever seeking to lead us into false paths. He sees that a misunderstanding of what constitutes faith will confuse and disappoint. He is pleased when he can persuade men and women to reason from false premises.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, 333.

It is helpful for us to know some of the common ways that Satan tempts men with presumption as outlined in the Spirit of Prophecy. Here are a few:

  1. Doing nothing in God’s cause: “There can be no presumption more fatal than that which leads men to venture upon a course of self-pleasing.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 345. “Indolence and slothfulness, presumption and self-confidence, will alike bring defeat and destruction. God takes cognizance of the works of all. Those who have sought their ease, and shunned care, anxiety and labor for God’s cause, may be sure their sin will find them out.” The Signs of the Times, July 5, 1881.
  2. Placing our own judgment above the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy: “The prevailing spirit of our time is that of infidelity and apostasy—a spirit of pretended illumination because of a knowledge of the truth, but in reality of the blindest presumption. There is a spirit of opposition to the plain Word of God and to the testimony of His Spirit. There is a spirit of idolatrous exaltation of mere human reason above the revealed wisdom of God.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 79.
  3. Speculation about theological matters God has not made known such as the family structure in heaven: “Neither those who shall be raised from the dead, nor those who shall be translated without seeing death, will marry or be given in marriage. They will be as the angels of God, members of the royal family. It is presumption to indulge in suppositions and theories regarding matters that God has not made known to us in His Word. We need not enter into speculation regarding our future state.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 173.
  4. The use of extravagant expressions by ministers will lead to presumption: “The path of presumption lies close beside the path of faith. In no case should he make use of extravagant expressions, for a certain class are sure to be affected, and influences are set in motion that can no more be controlled than can an impetuous horse. Once let impulse and emotion get the mastery over calm judgment, and there may be altogether too much speed, even in traveling a right road. He who travels too fast, will find it perilous in more ways than one. It may not be long before he will branch off from the right road into a wrong path.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 91.
  5. Rejection of New Testament principles of church organization will lead to presumption: “Those who accept this bogus sanctification do not hesitate to draw away from the body and set themselves up as criteria. They claim that the Lord is leading them, and do not seek counsel of the church, but move out independently, deceived in themselves and deceiving others . . . Each individual will have an independence of his own, claiming to be taught of God; therefore no one must get in their way or interfere with their course of action. This is as Satan would have it. The voice of the church, God’s delegated power upon earth, is set aside and despised. These professedly sanctified ones are filled with vain conceit, and with presumption move on in their own wisdom, exhorting others to come up to the exalted standard of themselves.” The Signs of the Times, October 23, 1879.