Sins of ignorance

J. C. Ryle on sins committed in ignorance:

But I do think it necessary in these times to remind my readers that a man may commit sin and yet be ignorant of it and fancy himself innocent when he is guilty. I fail to see any scriptural warrant for the modern assertion that: ‘Sin is not sin to us until we discern it and are conscious of it.’ On the contrary, in the fourth and fifth chapters of that unduly neglected book, Leviticus, and in the fifteenth of Numbers, I find Israel distinctly taught that there were sins of ignorance which rendered people unclean and needed atonement (Leviticus 4:1–35; 5:14–19; Numbers 15:25–29). And I find our Lord expressly teaching that ‘the servant who knew not his master’s will and did it not’, was not excused on account of his ignorance, but was ‘beaten’ or punished (Luke 12:48). We shall do well to remember that, when we make our own miserably imperfect knowledge and consciousness the measure of our sinfulness, we are on very dangerous ground. A deeper study of Leviticus might do us much good.1


  1. Ryle, J. C. (1952). Holiness (Kindle Locations 331-338). Heritage Bible Fellowship. Kindle Edition.