I was in court once fighting a traffic ticket, and i was somewhere way down on the docket. I watched other people get up and pleaded their case. One guy ran a red light because he didn’t see it was red. The judge told him that he was guilty because he was following too closely behind a taller vehicle. Another person was fighting theirs and when confronted with the law they broke, they insisted they were innocent because they didn’t know that was a law. The judge got everyone’s attention in the court room and said, “I want all of you to hear this because i don’t want to have to repeat it all day. Ignorance of the law doesn’t make you innocent when you break it.”
I’ve always remembered those words, and haven’t been back to fight a traffic ticket since. I learned a lot that day about driving and the law. There’s not been a time since when I was driving behind an 18 wheeler through town, that I haven’t remembered to slow down so I could see the light. Once we are knowledgeable about laws (God’s and man’s) it should change how we live. We are no longer ignorant of how we should live or of what is right or wrong. To continue living and doing things, knowing the law, is to be willfully breaking it. James 4:17 clearly calls that sin.
Just like that judge ruled that day, God will do the same in Heaven. Our ignorance will not be an excuse. I love how Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me more about you, how you work and how you move, so that I can walk onward in your truth until everything within me brings honor to your name” (TPT). Our desire, and prayer, should be to know God more and more so that we are no longer ignorant of His ways and laws so that we can live the way He wants us to. He’s given us the Bible to teach us the right way to live, but He’s also invited us into a personal relationship with Him so we can know His heart. God is willing to let you know more about Himself if you’re willing to take the time to know Him more.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
How do you know what is sin? Do you let your pastor decide that for you? Do you let your political party tell you what it is? Do you let society define it? Maybe you just go with what feels right to you. The fact is that none of these have the power to define what is right in God’s sight and what is wrong. There is only one source that defines what is sin and what is not. It’s the Holy Bible. God’s Word was written by about 40 people over the period of about 1,500 years. II Timothy 3:16 tells us that all scripture is inspired by God.
We know that even though it was written by so many people over such a long period of time, that it was all inspired by God. The beauty of God’s Word is that it stands the test of time and will remain relevant forever because human nature doesn’t change. The Bible looks at human nature, defines what sin is, but more importantly, shows us how to get forgiveness from it and how to avoid it. Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved” (NLT).
To avoid falling into sin, we must first know what sin is to God. James 4:17 gives us a simple definition of sin. It says, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” If you know what’s right and then choose not to do it, then you’re sinning. The Bible is also filled with other things that it names as sin like lying, adultery, stealing, etc. at the heart of each of those and every other sin is that basic definition. You know there’s a right and a wrong and you’re willfully choosing the wrong.
So how do we avoid falling prey to our desire to do the things we want to do, but aren’t the right things? Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” If we want to know what sin is and also to have the ability to overcome it, we must put God’s Word in our heart. We must read it, understand it, meditate on it, and memorize it so that we can live the way God wants us to. It’s not up to other people to tell you what it says. It’s up to you to read it and to understand it. When it come to your eternity, don’t rely on second hand information alone.