One of the many funny scenes in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” was when Del (John Candy) and Neal (Steve Martin) end up in the wrong lanes of a divided highway. They accidentally drove on an off ramp in the dark and with no lights or other vehicles, had no indication that they were in the wrong lanes. But another car in the correct lanes gets their attention and yells to them…. “You’re going the wrong way!” At first, they are completely ignorant that they are in the wrong and take these words of wisdom to be directed at their destination instead of the physical direction of the road. “How would they know where we’re going?” they ask. Not until they see two semi truck heading right at them do the realize the wisdom of those words of advice. In this case, ignorance of their error was not going to protect them from the consequences of their error.
There’s a common expression that ignorance of the law is no excuse. But sometimes it actually is. Sometimes your own child does something wrong, but they could not have known it was wrong at the time. This is when you have a chance to coach and train them, but now you inform them that next time, they will know and breaking the rule in the future will have consequences.
God did this with Abimelech, king of Gerar. “From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”” (Gen 20:1-7)
God first points out the real punishment for such a crime, “you are a dead man”. But Abimelech had a legitimate argument that he had no idea… ironically something in him (God points out it was His Spirit), kept him from completing the sin. “it was I who kept you from sinning against me.” But here is a case where God (being the Father) sees His child violate His law unknowingly. God points out the violation and the potential punishment… but gives him another chance. Yet a warning follows… now that you know, next time the punishment will be real.
In life, there are plenty of times where the consequences will be just as real whether we know the rule/law or not. But when it comes to God’s ultimate consequence of eternal life or death, He will always give us a chance.
We are all ‘dead’ as a result of the sin (knowing that sin or not is not an issue). And many of us go on sinning without truly knowing the consequences. But once His truth is revealed to us, ignorance is no longer an excuse. Prior to a knowledge of Him, we can’t be held to that standard, but once we know, we are guilty. Since it is impossible to live completely blameless (even after knowing Him), the deserving death sentence MUST be carried out. That sentence will either be levied on you for your eternity, or you can choose to accept that Christ has already accepted that punishment on your behalf.
I pray that you appreciate my blogs. They are my way of journaling as I read His word. If you do like them, please be sure to click the Follow Hisfamily Ministries button left of this post AND to spread the word. Share these posts with others and perhaps they will be blessed too.