The time was the mid 70's. The place was on an East Texas road. Abdul (not his real name) had just been pulled over by two highway patrolmen for doing 85 in a 55. He stayed in the car while one patrolman approached the driver's side. The other stood at the right rear of the car.
Abdul had been a very devout Muslim. He had come from Iran to America to attend college. During that time he investigated Christianity. Abdul became a Christian. He transferred much of his Muslim heritage to Christianity. For example, devout Muslims do not smoke or drink. Abdul thought it was abhorrent for Christians to smoke or drink. The very thought was offensive to him.
The patrolman began, "Sir, have you had anything to drink tonight?"
Abdul could not believe that this officer of the law would ask such a question. "Why would you ask me such a nasty question?" Abdul responded.
"Sir, I didn't intend to ask you anything offensive. I just wanted to know if you had any alcoholic drinks tonight?"
Abdul became very animated upon hearing him ask this question again. His hands began to move as he spoke more loudly and rapidly, "You ask such a nasty question of me again! Why do you do this thing? I have not done anything to you!"
The officer leans down to eye level and asks Abdul's passenger, an American girl, "Has he been smoking something?"
This was all that Abdul could take. "You have not only dishonored me with your questions but you are now trying to dishonor this lady with them. Is there no limit to how you will abuse us?!"
"Woah! woah! woah!" the policeman continued, "We don't need an international incident here. I was just trying to do my duty. I'll tell you what: the speed limit in this state is 55. You just keep it below 55 and we won't have any trouble." With this, the officer turned on his heels and headed back to the patrol car.
However, Abdul was not finished. He called out. "You couldn't give me a ticket if you wanted to!"
Naturally, the policeman turn around quickly, approached the car and said, "Why not?!"
"Because I don't have a driver's license!" Abdul announced triumphantly.
The patrolman at the back of the car couldn't take it anymore. He fell on the back of the car in laughter. The other patrolman suddenly saw the humor in the whole thing and started to laugh too. And you know what? Abdul didn't get a ticket. They had the American girl drive and told Abdul he would get a ticket next time.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Abdul could have received a ticket. (This is a true story by the way.) Do you think it will be different when we stand before God. Will we be able to say, "Sorry, Lord, I didn't know what I was doing was wrong."?
People are breaking God's laws with impunity. You can take any list of things that God hates and find that they are committing these wrongs. Take 2 Timothy 3:2-5 for example:
2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Will you be able to find someone who will say that they didn't know these things are wrong? Yes, but will that make them innocent. No.
We are not only responsible for being righteous but also for knowing what righteousness is. This is why Josiah wept when the copy of God's word had been found and read. He knew that all his people were guilty of breaking what God had said was right and wrong.
Will it be different for us?
Don't count on it.
2 Kings 22:8 (ESV)
8 And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.
2 Kings 22:10-13 (ESV)
10 Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.
11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes.
12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying,
13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”