It is assuming or taking something for granted, guessing or hoping something is true on the basis of probability or mistaken belief, based on wrong or incomplete facts, thoughts and ideas, rather than solid facts including the correct interpretation of God’s Word.

Satan presumed Job loved God because of the blessings he received (Job 1:11, 2:4). However, Job still worshipped God after the major disasters affected him and said, “Even though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him” (Job 1:20, 13:15). When Job’s friends assumed his many problems were because of his sin, he challenged them, ‘tell me what they are’ –

Live under God’s direction not personal presumptions

his godly lifestyle dispelled this incorrect concept (Job 5:8, 11:13,14, 13:18,23). Being an unwarranted deduction, presumption is a snare that often leads to sin. Living humbly before others will help us to avoid such thinking. We should not however be afraid of reasonable assumptions based on the available evidence. Although we don’t know in advance God’s strategy in all situations, the wise can often see what is coming and prepare for it (Prov 27:12).

1/. Presumptions about God

There is a measure of arrogance, ignorance and disobedience, in mistakenly thinking God will understand the good motive or thought behind a wrong action; presuming blessing can be claimed while disobeying (1 Sam 15:1-21). How do we justify not obeying the direct commands of the Lord?

God cannot bless or condone sin – He may overlook it for a period but there will come a time of reckoning. Presumption twists the truth, thinking I am a child of God, I can continue to sin so that grace might increase (Rom 6:1). This is a wrong understanding of the requirement of salvation which is to turn from sin – the power of God will help keep a Christian from sinning and the forgiveness of God is granted when sin has overtaken a person. The psalmist prayed, “Keep me from willful sin” (Ps 19:13).

2/. Presumptions about the future

The Bible counsels, don’t boast about tomorrow, you do not know what it will bring forth, so humbly commit your way to the Lord, follow His agenda by doing His will for “My times are in your hands” (Ps 31:15; Prov 3:5,6, 27:1; Jas 4:13,14).

The rich fool just presumed life was going on for a long time, not realising that it would end immediately for him (Lk 12:16-21). Felix wrongly assumed he could turn to God when he wanted, and not when the Spirit was convicting him (Act 24:25). It is never recorded he ever became a Christian. In pride King Nebuchadnezzar declared, “Is not this the great Babylon I have my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” All was stripped away and he finally “acknowledged God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes” (Dan 4:30-37).

3/. Presumption in prayer

In our praying, we can become presumptuous – assuming we know God’s will, or expecting Him to do things our way. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Eph 5:17). Faith begins with a promise from God, humbly waits on Him, is surrendered to Him and is God centered, focusing on what will bring glory to God, while presumption begins with a personal desire, is arrogant and demanding, dictating what God must do for our benefit.

4/. Presumption about God’s purposes/intentions

Presumption often results from misunderstanding a word from God, thinking a general promise always holds true. The words of Paul to the jailer “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” are not an all-encompassing promise (Act 16:31). Paul actually said salvation was available for everyone in his household if they too believed, as salvation is dependent on personal choice. Trusting in their own plans to fulfill God’s promise, without listening to how God wanted to bring it to fulfillment, Abraham and Sarah came up with their idea to get the promised son through Hagar the servant. This was not God’s will or plan and created many problems. Unless the promise is very specific, don’t allow your expectation to be fixed on something very specific, leave it up to God how He works. A wise safeguard is to ask other mature Christians if they discern your proposed plans are from God.  It is essential to know God’s Word, what His will and promises are, their extent and any conditions that apply aware we can only be forgiven if we forgive others (Mt 6:14). Endeavour to know God’s voice; remember it will always agree with the Bible.

5/. Presumption about our capabilities

Overconfidence in our ability to judge the evidence as presented is a mistake we can readily make, instead of being sensitive to the Spirit and “enquiring of the Lord” (Josh 9:14-26). How often do we foolishly think, we can get through the events of life without God’s help? Yet Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). Nothing of eternal worth is accomplished without His Spirit (Zech 4:6). He is sovereign and we in our limited understanding should humbly submit to His will.

6/. Presumption about others  

We think we know the motives of others, yet this is not the case, unless revealed by the Holy Spirit (1 Sam 17:28; Mk 2:8; 1 Cor 2:11). We need to be careful not to jump to conclusions about the behaviour of others; it is better to ask than be wrong.

7/. Presumption about living

We need a clear biblical understanding of who we are in Christ, not a warped notion of who we think we are or the opinion of others (Rom 12:3).

After failing to enter the Promised Land as they should have, and the subsequent decree from God that they would perish in the desert, the Israelites thought ‘Okay we’ll respond and do what God wanted us to do in the first place’. Moses said, “Do not go” yet in presumption they went into battle and were defeated (Num 13:36-14:45). It is essential to hear from God and obey Him, not try to play the game of life by our rules. God fulfills His promises, yet He often responds in different ways, not in the same way each time. Hence, we must walk in close relationship to Him.

8/. Presumptions about heaven

Many people assume they will be let into heaven, considering they have lived ‘reasonable’ lives (Mt 7:21-23). Unfortunately, they will not be allowed, instead being doomed to the lake of fire because they have not come to Jesus for salvation, or accepted the false teaching that after making a token decision to follow Christ they can live as they please without any need to address the sinful nature within.

See also: assumptions, fables, facts, faith, hearing God's voice, opinions.