Vol.XIV No.XI Pg.7
January 1978

? You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Dear bro. Turner:

Do Christians sin when, through ignorance of the Scriptures, they use the piano in worship or support other unauthorized activities? Does the Bible make a distinction in willful sin and sin of which one is unaware? MQ


Willful sin (Heb. 10:26) is comparable to presumptuous or "high-handed sin"' (Num. 15:22-36), and is distinguished from "unwitting" sin. But the distinction does not remove the later from the category of "sin," and as sin offering had to be made for that done "unwittingly" (Num. 15:). Paul's desire to do better (Rom. 7:19-f) did not remove the reality of sin; and he found relief only in the forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ.

Is ignorance bliss? When one asks concerning a "Christian" we deal with those who have access to the standard of truth — and who have an obligation to determine the validity and authority for their actions. The point frequently overlooked in discussions of this sort is the willful ignorance of many who could know the truth. (Study 2 Pet. 3:5 2 Cor. 3:14-16; 4:3-4.)

How many organ playing, institution supporting, social-gospel promoting church members do you know who have made, and continue to make careful study of the Scriptures to determine God's will in these matters? Who manifest an open, inquiring mind, and show a willingness to change their practice in order to conform to all truth learned? Who will allow you to study these matters with them? Don't start counting until you have made a serious effort to study with them. You need not tell me that but few church members have this attitude. We must not measure ourselves by ourselves (2 Coy. 10:12); and, "but few" will be saved. It is this unwillingness to strive for the divine standard-- to "water down" religion to the level of the majority, or "the way we have been doing it" — that makes the liberalized "fellowship" movement so attractive to church members today.

None of us are perfect! There are, no doubt, some individuals who are involved in sinful activities "unwittingly" and despite efforts to learn the truth. This does not erase the existence of sin; it does not give those who know better the right to engage in the sinful practice; it does not remove the responsibility of the taught to instruct the untaught- reproving as well as exhorting. Because we are all subject to unwitting sin is the more reason to "prove all things" and continually pray for forgiveness (1 Thes. 5:21; 1 Jn. 1:9).

What God will do, in final judgment, about the person who sins in ignorance is not mine to determine. I can only study my Bible, live in good conscience before God, and teach others to do likewise. It is not "playing God" to set forth clearly what we believe the Bible teaches on a matter. Those who assume God will accept that for which He gave no authority are the presumptuous ones; and those who find comfort in willful ignorance, or encourage others to do so, are not very far behind. The "mark" we miss is set by God, and not by man.