But I didn’t know…

If any [one] does something forbidden by the Lord, they will be guilty even if they sin unintentionally.  Lev 4: 27

This verse seems a bit steep. Why should you be guilty if you did something unintentionally? Especially so since God knows the hearts and knows if it was truly done unintentionally or not.

This is exactly what I thought when I first read it.  But as I went to study this passage a little further, I found it worded differently (and more correctly, I think) in a different translation:

And if any one…sin[s] through ignorance [he is guilty]  Lev 4:27 King James Version

Ahh, this gives an entirely different meaning.  Sinning through ignorance and sinning unintentionally are two different things in my mind. ‘Unintentional’ implies a complete accident that was beyond your control.  For example, you tripped and knocked into something, which knocked into something else and did something (can’t think of a good example!)  BUT sinning in ignorance implies that you could have known what was right, but chose not to seek it out.

The same thing is true in America. If you break the law, you can swear up and down that you didn’t know that it was against the law, but it doesn’t matter, you are still guilty.  It’s your responsibility to find out. If you’re not sure about what you are about to do, it would behoove you to seek out the law concerning that matter.

Now it is true that God ‘winked’ at the sins committed in ignorance by the gentiles before the time of Christ. (Acts 17:30) This means he didn’t pay much attention to them.  This is because the Gentiles had no law given to them like the Israelites had.  The Jews had no excuse for their sin, because the law was given to them.  Thus the whole, “to whom much is given, much is required” thing.  God gave them the law so He could bless them, but a curse came if they disobeyed.

Even so now, there is no excuse to those who sin in ‘ignorance.’  The bible says, “how can they escape who neglect such a great salvation?”  To God, our ignorance is simply neglect.  A neglect to search out the truth and the will of God.  God will always give truth to those who seek it.

Light has come into the world through Jesus Christ. Only those who shut their eyes can not see it. Ignorance is no excuse when you stand before God on the day of Judgment.  You will be speechless and without excuse before a mighty God.

But on the flip side, God forgives those who sin when they seek Him in repentance.  Just as God provided for sin in the Old Testament, He has also provided His Son as a sacrifice for our sins.  So don’t wallow in your sin, but instead, repent and forget the past and go forward with God. He is ready and eager to forgive those who are humble before Him.