“If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity. And he shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish from the flock, with your valuation, as a trespass offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him regarding his ignorance in which he erred and did not know it, and it shall be forgiven him. It is a trespass offering; he has certainly trespassed against the Lord” (Leviticus 5:17-19).
Most have heard the saying, “Ignorance is bliss”. What does this mean? This idiom carries the idea of a “Lack of knowledge results in happiness” or “You are more comfortable if you don't know something”. Is this true regarding God’s commands to us? Is it better for us to be ignorant of them?
In the book of Leviticus, Moses continues to receive from God, as He speaks to him from the tabernacle of meeting, instructions on how Israel was to serve God (cf. Leviticus 1:1). As the opening passage above indicates, Israel’s ignorance of God’s law did excuse them when they were guilty of violating God’s law. They were still GUILTY of trespassing God’s law and must BEAR THEIR INIQUITY. Ignorance was not bliss! Committing a sin in ignorance was still committing sin!
But, what is very interesting is God had made provisions for how an Israelite might be forgiven of different types of sins he or she had committed in ignorance. God had provided a way for them to be forgiven when they had become unclean by touching a carcass (Leviticus 5:2), touching human uncleanness (Leviticus 5:3), speaking thoughtlessly with their lips (Leviticus 5:4), in regard to the holy things of the Lord (Leviticus 5:15) or by doing something against any of the commandments of the Lord (Leviticus 4:27). Once the person became aware they had sinned they were to confess they had sinned and bring their offering to the Lord (Leviticus 4:28; 5:4-5).God had even considered a person’s economic condition and what that person could afford to offer as a sacrifice for his sin.
One of the reasons we should study God’s Word diligently is that we might not be ignorant of God’s law and unintentionally sin again Him. David said, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). Peter encourages us to desire God’s Word that we may grow (1 Peter 2:2). Paul encourages Timothy to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). As Christians, we should not desire to remain in ignorance, but understand God’s Will for us!
However, for a new Christian who is fairly ignorant of God’s laws this can feel overwhelming. In fact, some have discouraged themselves from obeying the gospel of Christ because they feel they do not “know” enough. God does not want this to happen. After we have become Christians, God has provided a way for us to be forgiven of sins we commit in ignorance. The apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). God is FAITHFUL and JUST to forgive us when we have confessed such sins we have committed in ignorance and repented of them.
God’s ability to provide for our spiritual needs is greater than our weaknesses in learning His commandments. God’s grace is greater than our sin! I am thankful that God has given me His Word. I know “ignorance is not bliss”. Today, I will study God Word so that I may understand His Will!
“I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5)