Summary: We like to excuse many of our actions as “only mistakes” and “no big deal”. But God sees things differently as He speaks to us about our unintentional sins.
Everyone is familiar with the statement of Steve Urkle, “Did I do that?” after unintentionally creating havoc. We have all heard someone say, "I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it" or "Forgive me, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to..." We like to excuse many of our actions as “only mistakes” and “no big deal”. But God sees things differently as He speaks to us about our unintentional sins.
I. What is Unintentional Sin?
A. Unintentional Sin is a Sin of Ignorance
1. 1 John 3:4 “Sin is the transgression (or breaking) of the law.”
2. Modern day example: You get caught speeding in a 25 mile per hour zone, when you didn't realize that the speed limit had changed. Or going through a stop sign that you didn't see.
Just because you weren’t aware that you broke the law at the time you broke the law, you’re still guilty of breaking the law.
3. Paul is another example of having committed unintentional sin.
a. Acts 8:3 “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.”
b. 1 Timothy 1:13 “Although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”
4. A man frequently does wrong for lack of thought, through not considering the outcome of his actions—or even thinking at all. He carelessly and hastily blunders into the course which first suggests itself and errs because he did not think about whether or not it was right.
5. Proverbs 7:22-23 “Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, He did not know it would cost his life
6. A sin of ignorance is committed quite often when there is no intent to do wrong and yet wrong is done. Many of the worst sins are committed with the best of intentions
7. Psalms 19:12 “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.”
B. Unintentional Sin is a Sin of Neglect
1. Numbers 15:22-24 (NLT) ““But suppose you unintentionally fail to carry out all these commands that the Lord has given you through Moses. And suppose your descendants in the future fail to do everything the Lord has commanded through Moses. If the mistake was made unintentionally, and the community was unaware of it, the whole community must present a young bull for a burnt offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. It must be offered along with its prescribed grain offering and liquid offering and with one male goat for a sin offering.”
C. A sin requiring a guilt offering was the unintentional breaking of special commands regarding religious duties. Examples given to Israel were neglecting to tithe, or eating the priest’s portion of a sacrifice.
D. James 4:17 “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
E. Failing to do what we know to do is sin.
II. Unintentional sin is still sin.
A. 1 John 5:17 “All unrighteousness is sin”
B. Unintentional sins of ignorance or neglect are really sins.
C. Someone has said, “"If ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise,"
D. But we must realize as much as God loves the sinner He hates, abhors, detests the sin and cannot in His infinite holiness let sin go undelt with.
E. Even though one might have sinned unintentionally, the Lord still considers their action to be sinful, and thus holds them accountable for their actions.
F. Luke 12:42-48 “And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”