Ignorance Does Not Excuse Sin

Published: 01st December 2009
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God does not consider ignorance an excuse for sin and will not overlook a sin just because you or I were ignorant of the sin when we committed it. The verse that teaches this is found in Lev. 5:17, "If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity." (NKJV) (See also Lev. 4:1-2, 13, 22, 27 and Lev. 5:2 and 5:15 bearing in mind as you read that to sin unintentionally in these verses is to sin in ignorance.)



God's nature is such that he cannot bear nor tolerate sin. The Psalmist said, in prophecy of Jesus, "You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness more than your companions." (Psalm 45:7 NKJV) Jesus hates wickedness and wickedness is just another name for sin. God's people are also to hate evil. "You who love the Lord, hate evil!" (Psalm 97:10 NKJV) That is what it will take within us to develop a Christ like character. "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." (Prov. 8:13 NKJV) "Hate evil, love good." (Amos 5:5 NKJV)



Since, as the Psalmist says in Psalms 119::172, "all your commandments are righteousness" (NKJV) deviation from them, whether it be intentional or not, is unrighteousness, thus evil, thus the thing God cannot tolerate and hates. In Isaiah 61:8 the Lord says, "For I, the Lord, love justice." (NKJV) Thus when Jesus returns to judge the world he will be judging it in righteousness. (Acts 17:31)



It is obvious that if God had not loved us and intervened on our behalf his righteousness would have demanded our condemnation for our sins, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Rom. 3:23 NKJV) Fortunately, God does love us and did intervene for us by sending Jesus into the world to be a propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10) which simply means Jesus paid the penalty for our sins so that we will not have to which allowed God to be just in punishing sin and yet give unto us a way to be saved through faith in Jesus. This is the gospel story.



We need to make applications of these truths. What can we learn from what we have said?



(1) The person who has never heard the gospel is lost. Everyone of us has a tendency to say to ourselves, based on emotion, not the truth of God's word, that if a person lives in a remote land far away where the gospel has not been taught and/or is not readily available to him he will be saved without the gospel. The Bible teaches just the opposite.



Why go preach the gospel anywhere if a man is saved without it? Why bother a man if he can be saved, and already is, without the gospel? If a man is saved without the gospel it is better to leave him that way than to teach him the gospel. Why? Because if you teach him the gospel and he rejects it he will be lost.



Why did God command the gospel be preached in all the world to every creature (Mark 16:15 NKJV) if it is not needed? If a man can be saved in his sins then the conclusion must be that sin is no big deal and Jesus died for nothing. Do we believe that?



(2) Another lesson learned is that there is an enormous burden upon Christians to preach the gospel throughout every corner of the world no matter how remote. If a person is lost without the gospel and we were commanded to take the gospel to them (the Great Commission) but did not nor did we make any efforts to do so then what becomes not only of those who did not hear but to those of us who made no effort that they might hear?



(3) Another lesson we learn from this is that if ignorance is not an excuse God will accept then it is our duty to study and work as hard as we can to learn all we can about God's word. We accept the fact we will be saved by God's grace and not by perfection in commandment keeping and rejoice in that fact but, that having been said, what about the man that takes a lackadaisical attitude toward learning God's will and obeying his commandments. Does God's grace cover man's indifference?



Does a man want to try and go to heaven as one who never cared enough about God and his will to try and learn his commands so he could obey them? I fear such a man may well meet up with 2 Tim. 2:15 at the Day of Judgment. "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Tim. 2:15 NKJV) The indifferent man has not been much of a worker in God's word.



God's grace covers only a certain class of Christians and that class does not include the lukewarm and indifferent. Jesus described the church at Laodicea as wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (Rev. 3:17) and says, "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:16 NKJV) God's grace is not for the lukewarm, indifferent, and disobedient unless and until they repent.



In closing I reiterate ignorance does not excuse sin with God. That being the case we have an obligation to live a life of knowledge which means for all of us it is time to get the Bible out and read and study it. The old King James Version says, "study to show thyself approved to God." (2 Tim. 2:15) Let us not sin because of willful ignorance of God's word - willful in that we prove ourselves to be too indifferent and lazy to study it and try to learn from it.



Denny Smith's articles are all listed on his web site - dennysmith.net - along with many audio sermons by Waymon Swain. There are also links that will take you to hundreds of other articles and audio sermons found on other recommended sites.








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