Summary: Today we will look at the difference between willful sin, sinning in ignorance, and the feelings that hurt creates -- and how this all relates to forgiveness.
Ignorance, Hurt, and Forgiveness
1. A man given to day-dreaming was driving down the freeway a cell phone call came in through his blue tooth audio system. He heard his wife's voice urgently warning him, "Herman, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on Highway 401. Please be careful!"
"Oh no!" said Herman, "It's not just one car. It's hundreds of them!"
3. I asked one man what the difference was between ignorance and apathy. You know what he told me? “I don't know and I don't care!”
4. Well, sometimes we can do something wrong out of ignorance. If it is out apathy, we are more to blame – we should care. But sometimes we can be oblivious to our wrong-doing. That will be just one of the issues we plan to address today.
Main Idea: Forgiveness is such a relevant topic that the questions keep surfacing. Today, we will address two more of these questions.
I. What is the Difference Between Wrongs Done KNOWINGLY and Wrongs Done Unintentionally?
A. The Torah foundation: sins of ignorance vs. HIGH HANDED sin (Numbers 15:27-31).
“If one person sins unintentionally, he shall offer a female goat a year old for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the people of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them. But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.”
1. One sin is unintentional or committed in ignorance.
2. The other is “high handed,” willful, presumptuous.
3. Psalm 19:12-13 illustrate these two categories of sin:
“Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.”
4. “Cut off” could mean death penalty, God’s wrath, but perhaps more likely ex-communication – perhaps until the sinful person has repented.
5. This may be the reason that Church Discipline is only practiced on church members who are guilty of certain gross sins (see I Cor. 5:9-12).
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
B. Sin is usually a combination of ignorance, weakness, and WILLFULNESS.
1. James Philip argues that demonic sin is pure willfulness, human sin a combination of willfulness and ignorance. I would add a third element in many cases: weakness.
2. His view is that Satan and his demon can never be forgiven because their sins are purely willful, whereas human sin almost always has an element of ignorance.
3. The more willful the sin, the more evil the sin.
4. Thus the unforgiveable sin is purely willful, blasphemy against the Spirit, apostasy of Hebrews 6. True believers cannot commit such a completely willful sin.
5. (See also Deuteronomy 29:18-20).
C. We should be especially gracious toward the IGNORANT aspects of sin.
1. Luke 23:34, “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.”
2. Those who crucified Jesus were guilty of crucifying an innocent man, but did not know they were crucifying the Son of God, and that is what they were forgiven for.
3. Acts 3:17, “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.”
4. I Timothy 1:13, “ though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief…”
D. Notice that we are still RESPONSIBLE for the sins we committed in ignorance.
1. Because they are more easily forgiven and our guilt level is not the same, the OT still required a sacrifice to atone for them.