What is Presumptuous Sin?

Several weeks ago I was reading in the 19th chapter of Psalms and came to verse 13 which reads “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.” -ESV

In the King James version this term is “willing sin” versus “presumptuous sin” but both are accurate regarding how we live our lives as Christians. I will look at willing sin at the end of the post, but want to concentrate on presumptuous sin for the moment.

Because I was taken with the unfamiliarity of the word presumptuous, I looked up the definition. It means “failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate.”

How does this relate to sin? Let me disclose something about myself to help you understand. I have had some sort of a dietary restriction since the mid-90’s for health reasons. These restrictions have been quite extensive and are even more extensive in the past three years. If find myself craving things that I should not have but often succumb to the temptation and go ahead and eat the “forbidden food(s)”. I had long wondered if this was sin for me, but couldn’t really explain why I thought it might be. It isn’t sin for others and it isn’t gluttony, so… ? This 12-letter word convicted me that it IS sin for me and here is why. If I know something is harmful to me but I chose to do it anyway, I am not treating my body as the temple of God. That is what Paul says my body is in I Corinthians 3:16. I am choosing to not observe the limits of what is appropriate for me to keep my body functioning optimally.

Now let me move outside the scope of my personal body and look at how what I do that affects others can be presumptuous sin. At times I choose to do things that could be a stumbling block to someone else. This could be in terms of my behavior, habits or negligence. In I Corinthians 8:9 we are admonished to think about what we do based on what those around us believe sin is. “But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” -ESV

Note that Paul specifically points out our liberty because his passion was teaching that Christians live in freedom from the law of sin and death because of choosing Christ’s penalty for us on the cross. We ARE indeed free! However, if that freedom causes us to act in such a way as to cause an unbeliever to question anything about our faith it becomes presumptuous sin.

This one word has become a revelation of how God desires me, as an individual, to live. I have repented and will continue to repent for it was Martin Luther who said “…All of a Christian’s life is one of repentance. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

Your revelation will most likely be different from mine… but, it is nonetheless just as important to repent of. Perhaps you are far from being a drunkard but your drink is more important to you than it should, be causing you to shirk your duty in areas regarding being a parent or employee. Or, it might be that you are choosing to dress in somewhat seductive ways that could cause a stranger to lust after you. The list is endless.

Ask God what might be your presumptuous sin and then repent. Not because of guilt or trying to please God but because you desire to live in the freedom he has given you through salvation. We cannot be entangled in presumptuous sin and be fully free.

Remember that the King James version calls presumptuous sin willful sin? Here is the difference and the similarity between the two words.

Willful sin means that we are fully aware something is wrong and yet choose to do the deed anyway because afterward we can ask God to forgive us because he DOES forgive. The problem with that thinking is that this not a sign of a repentant heart. It is like telling a small child to say they are sorry to their sibling, but the tone of their voice gives away that they are not sorry at all… they just said the words to get out of a sticky situation.

Presumptuous sin means that we may not know it is sin until the Lord convicts us. But once we have been convicted, if we choose to do the deed anyway it is failing to observe what is permitted or appropriate.

Let me end by reminding you that each time I challenge you in a post, I am also challenging myself. We are all sinful creatures, but PRAISE GOD, because of Jesus – we are forgiven and forever accepted and loved unconditionally by our Heavenly Father!


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