Sunday, 1 December 2013

Ignorance is no defence

Ignorantia legis neminem excusat

Translated from the Latin this phrase states that 'ignorance of the law excuses no-one'. It is the legal principle that simply because a person is unaware of a particular law, this does not excuse them from the penalty of breaking that law. You cannot hope to be escape punishment by claiming that you were not aware that your actions were illegal. Even if you find yourself in a foreign country, with unfamiliar laws, to be ignorant of those laws will not be sufficient for you to escape punishment for the crime. The rationale behind this principle is clear, for if ignorance were an excuse, then a person charged with a crime could simply claim that they were unaware of the law in order to avoid liability, even though in truth that were not the case.

Romans 1:20 says of all men 'that they are without excuse' when faced with the law of God. They cannot claim to have been unaware of its requirements, and hope that they will be excused because of their ignorance. The natural world around us clearly speaks of a creator, it manifests the power of God and leaves all people without excuse. The conscience, even though corrupted through the effects of the fall, gives man a sense of right and wrong, and leaves him without excuse before God. Even the unreached tribes of this world, living in the furthest corners of the earth are without excuse. It is the responsibility of the church of Christ to take the gospel to them, for 'neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved'. Yet often man's ignorance of God's law is a willful ignorance; he does not desire to know what the Lord hath commanded in his word, lest he bound but it, but would rather live as he pleases. For him there will be no excuse on the day of judgment.

Will you then put forward this argument of ignorance on that day when you stand before God? It will not wash. God hath commanded all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. You cannot claim ignorance of God, for no man is truly ignorant of his creator, he only attempts to makes himself so by blinding his mind to the truth. The responsibility lies with you alone, and on that day when you stand before God, it will be you that is held responsible. There will be no defense, not ignorance nor anything else.

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