Despite a superabundance of knowledge, many people live and act in ignorance. There are different degrees of ignorance–no one clearly knows everything. But some decisions made in ignorance have profound consequences.
Peter, a formerly Jewish leader knew the difference between sins committed with full knowledge–those done with high-handed rebellion, and others committed with a lack of knowledge–sins done in ignorance. Think back to the difference in sacrifices required by those sinning with full knowledge and others who fell short of God’s glory through ignorance.
As he speaks to the crowd, gathered out of curiosity because of a miraculous healing, he charges them with ignorance.
“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.”
An interesting assessment of sinners, don’t you think? They acted–they took decisions–they exercised their wills, but they acted in ignorance–they did not realise the seriousness of the sin they were committing. Their eyes were blind to see the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
Did this make them innocent? No. But God’s mercy is available to those who accept full responsibility for their sins. God doesn’t promise to forgive our shortcomings, our weaknesses, our indiscretions–all euphemisms for the evil of sin.
We are born in sin and become skilled at excusing our rebellion. We have a litany of excuses for our conduct and until we acknowledge ourselves to BE sinners and to have committed sins, we remain in rebellion.
The classic example of God’s mercy to a rebel in the New Testament is the Apostle Paul, Saul of Tarsus who was shown mercy in a remarkable way by God.
Paul, in his profound testimony of God’s grace, speaks of his own ignorance. “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” (I Timothy 1:3)
What level of knowledge do you have? Are you acting in knowledge or in ignorance? May God enable all of us this morning to find our way to the foot of the cross.
As the hymn writer wrote,
“I am not skilled to understand what God hath willed, what God hath planned.
I only know at His right hand is One who is my Saviour.
I take Him at His word indeed, ‘Christ died for sinners this I read,’
For in my heart I find a need of Him to be my Saviour!”