Hover over Romans 1:20-22 for proof of God's existence, and over Matthew 5:27-28 for Judgment Day’s perfect standard. Then hover over John 3:16-18 for what God did, and over Acts 17:30-31 for what to do.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

More on the Law

There is something else in criminal law that is extremely important to understand. It is Ignorantia juris non excusat--from the Latin "ignorance of the law does not excuse." It's the legal principle which says that even though a person is unaware of a law, they are still liable for its violation. They are guilty even though they weren’t aware of the law’s demand.

If you drive through a country town at 70 MPH, ignorant of the fact that the law of the town says that 50 MPH is the maximum speed, you are still guilty of violation of the law and held accountable.

Being held accountable for violating a law of which you had no knowledge may seem unreasonable, because there is no way any one person could be aware of every law on the books. However, the purpose of this principle is to ensure that "willful blindness" cannot become the basis of a plea of innocence.

Such is the case with the willful ignorance of atheism--"I didn’t believe therefore I am guiltless." The Law still condemns its violators, despite what the Bible calls "unbelief."

However, a good judge will take genuine ignorance into account. This is the case with God. Even though you have intuitive knowledge that adultery is a violation of God’s moral Law, you may be ignorant to the fact that God’s considers lust to be adultery (see Matthew 5:27-28). Or, even though you may think it is okay to have a personal conception of God (either as an image of wood, or as an image in your mind), you may not be aware that this is a violation of the Second of the Ten Commandments:

"You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them" (Exodus 20:4).

When the Apostle Paul arrived in the city of Athens, the Bible tells us that he was grieved because the city had given itself to idolatry. In their ignorance, they had done what most civilizations do, they had made God to be as they imagined Him to be. Paul said,

"Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.'" (Acts 17:24-28).

How foreign these words are even to modern "traditional" Christianity. Many whisper when they enter a building that they call a "church" because the assume that that is where God dwells. But the Scriptures tell us "God does not dwell in temples made with hands." He is as much in your home as He is at places we assume are holy, and He is nothing like we conceive Him to be.

Then the Apostle gave them the good news that even though they were guilty of violating the Second of the Ten Commandments, God would overlook their ignorance:

"Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:29-31, italics added).

If you have suddenly realized that you have also been guilty of creating a god in your own image, the Bible has the same message for you. You must repent because God has appointed a fearful Day of Judgment, and the only way to be safe on the Day is to trust in the Savior, Jesus Christ.