The disease of sin is both deadly and subtle. How often do we go about in our daily affairs without realizing its hidden presence in the ongoing battle of the Spirit and the flesh (Galatians 5:17)? The subtlety of our indwelling sin is what makes it so dangerous, because, as a disease, sin often eats away at our vitality while we ignorantly believe ourselves to be in the best of shape! Thankfully, the Scriptures give us the requisite prognoses that our sleepy conscience cannot supply. Ultimately, only the Great Physician, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, can awaken our souls to the systemic reality of sin’s corruption.
There are many subtle sins that are common among men, however, I find that there is one that tends to infect believers with striking regularity. The sin of which I speak is the sin of presumption.
James is very direct when describing this dangerous tumor which is common among all men:
James 4:13–16 (NASB) — 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.”16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.
Isn’t it interesting that James doesn’t allow us the latitude to excuse such presumption as that which is harmless. How easy it would be for the spiritual patient to declare: “Oh, I simply misspoke – a harmless mistake.” But James’ assessment of the matter is much more severe. A spirit and attitude which assumes the existence of another day, beyond today – which the Lord has not yet supplied, is more than an innocent miscalculation – James calls it evil arrogance. That’s a big pill to swallow, but it is a needed one!
Simply put, the mind that is set on the things below is much more prone to become infected with the expectation of tomorrow; however, the mind that is set on the things above will be quick to confess the conditional “if” much more readily than the adverb “when.”
Let us therefore confess with greater conviction and regularity: “If the Lord wills, we shall live…”