(Jesus said) "And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. ...." Luke 12:47-48a
Guy Lanchester is a 46-year-old man who lives in Florida.
Recently, Lanchester was interviewed by a reporter from television station KTVJ. Before going any further, I should tell you Lanchester had recently been arrested for possession of cocaine. The police first became suspicious of him when they saw him go behind a flower pot and try to hide a small plastic bag filled with white powder. When it was obvious the police were coming directly at him, Lanchester tried to hide the bag amidst the plants.
The ruse didn't work. The police retrieved the bag and then they put Lanchester under arrest.
So far there is nothing in this drug bust which calls for a TV interview. Those kinds of arrests happen all the time. But Lanchester did do one thing which was newsworthy: he said, "I didn't know it was against the law to possess cocaine in Florida." Well, it is against the law in Florida, just as it's against the law in any of the other states Lanchester might have gone to.
So, you see, Lanchester's excuse about being ignorant of the law didn't hold any water.
Ignorance of the law is never an excuse ... not in Florida and not with God.
As the passage above tells us, if we are ignorant of a sin we have committed, we will be lightly punished; on the other hand, if we knew the wrongness of our action, then our punishment will be harder and more harsh.
There is nothing in this text or anywhere else in Scripture which says those who break God's commands in ignorance are going to get off scot-free.
Assuming I believe he acted in ignorance, Lanchester is still facing the possibility of some serious jail time, and assuming we are sinners who intentionally and unintentionally have transgressed God's Law, we can be sure a punishment awaits us, which is far more harsh than the worst of earthly jails.
Truly, there is no excuse or explanation that can get us off. The only thing which can procure our rescue from punishment is if someone were to take our place. The Someone who took our sins and paid the price for our salvation is Jesus Christ, God's only Son.
Throughout His entire life, without a slip or stumble, Jesus lived for us. He fulfilled the laws we had broken; He resisted the temptations which had done us in, and He carried our sins to the cross where He died our death.
Now, because of the work which Jesus alone could do, those who have Spirit-given faith are set free.
We are free not because of any excuse; we are free because all who believe on Jesus will not perish, but be given everlasting life. As Scripture says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks Jesus has won my release and brought about my rescue from eternal damnation. May my life reflect my gratitude so others might know the wonders of Your love. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries