I May be Guilty, but I'm Innocent
by Alex D. Ogden

Election day is one week from today. It seems like every commercial on television and radio is a political ad for this candidate or against that one. The evening news is full of reports on national, state, and local elections.

In the mayoral race of a nearby town, one candidate is charging the other with having violated election laws by handing out literature, and otherwise trying to solicit votes, too close to where people were casting early ballots. When interviewed by the local TV news, the accused candidate basically said if he was guilty, he was still innocent since he didn't know about that election law. Say what? Even if he is guilty, he is still innocent because of ignorance of the law??

I wish I had known yesterday that ignorance makes me innocent even though I'm guilty. I found out yesterday that I'm going to have to pay a 10% penalty for not having listed my property with the County Assessor before May 31 of this year. I'm new to Arkansas. I didn't know I was supposed to do that. When I told the clerk that I didn't know I was supposed to do that, do you think she let me off of the 10% penalty? Nope. I'll get the bill in the Spring. Ignorance of my responsibilities under the law does not mean that I do not have to pay the penalty. No court in our land will allow us to plead "Not guilty by reason of ignorance." If we are guilty of breaking the law, we must pay the penalty.

It is unfortunate that many seem to think ignorance is bliss in spiritual realms as well. It isn't. Notice how ignorance was no excuse for those under the Law of Moses:

Leviticus 4:13 "And if the whole congregation of Israel shall sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty;"

Leviticus 5:17--"And if a soul shall sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he knew [it] not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity."

These verses are there for our learning (Romans 15:4). Will we learn the lesson? Ignorance is NOT bliss. We will be held responsible even if we were ignorant of the law.

What all this should point out to us is the need to know what is expected of us. Just as that political candidate should have known what the election laws were, we should dedicate ourselves to knowing what is expected of us under the Law of Christ. Paul told Timothy, "Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). Paul wanted Timothy to "give diligence", or to exert himself, to be approved of God. That's what we all must do--exert ourselves to make certain we are doing those things which will please our Heavenly Father and not doing things which displease Him. To do so requires that we spend more and more time in study of His word. We need to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). This is the only way to overcome ignorance.

Don't let yourself be fooled into thinking that in the day of judgment the Lord will accept your plea of "Innocent by reason of ignorance." He won't. Learn now what He expects of you and then Do It.

This page is Copyright 1998 by Alex Ogden, All Rights Reserved.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, November 04, 1998.

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