The Sin of Ignorance
1 Peter 1:13-16
Why gird up the loins of your mind, be sober…

I. WHY IS IGNORANCE NAMED AS THE SPECIAL SIN TO SET OUT THEIR UNREGENERATE ESTATE, seeing they were guilty of many other sins? Not because men sin only by ignorance, as the Platonists think, but —

1. It may be the Holy Ghost doth of purpose do it to aggravate the hatefulness of the sin because men use to excuse it and make light of it.

2. Because it is a sin none are free from. If he had named whoredom, or drunkenness, etc., many unregenerate men would have pleaded not guilty.

3. This sin serves more to reproach the rebellious nature of man. It was the knowledge of good and evil that Adam so much aspired unto, and lo, now, he and all his were set in gross ignorance.

4. Because ignorance is the mother and nurse of all sorts of sins (Ephesians 4:18; 2 Peter 2:12; Psalm 36:2, 3, 4). But have unregenerate men no knowledge? Yes, they have some knowledge, for they are wise to do evil, and they may have great learning in arts and sciences; but yet they are justly taxed with ignorance because they know not God as a Father by the light of faith, nor Christ Jesus whom He hath sent; and besides, they have no desire to know their own iniquities or the way how to reform their own lives; they have no knowledge to do good.

II. These things being thus resolved, there are DIVERS OBSERVATIONS TO BE NOTED FROM HENCE.

1. That a true convert must make conscience of inward sins, as well as outward; of defects as well as evil desires or lusts, as here of ignorance as well as of wicked thoughts. The same God that saith, "How long shall thy evil thoughts abide in thee?" complains also of ignorance (Isaiah 1:3).

2. That ignorance is no small sin; it is exceeding hateful to God; contrary to doctrine of those that say it is the mother of devotion.

3. That without reformation of ignorance we cannot be truly turned to God; without knowledge the mind is not good; therefore, to tear the veil is one part of God's work in our conversion (Proverbs 19:3; Isaiah 25:8).

4. That ignorance is wanton and full of lust (Ephesians 4:18).

5. That the way to be rid of lusts is to be rid of ignorance. For saving knowledge keeps us from sin (James 3:17). Here we may see the principal use we should put our knowledge to, viz., to cleanse our hearts of base thoughts and desires.

6. That we may live in places of great means for knowledge and yet be grossly ignorant. For he writeth here to the Jews, who had the law and the prophets, and the oracles of God and the priests, etc.

7. That all knowledge or learning without the knowledge of God's favour in Christ, and the way how to reform our own lives, is but foolish ignorance.

8. That habitual lusts are a sure sign of ignorance, whatsoever knowledge men pretend.


1. It hardens the heart and works a continued evil disposition to sin with greediness (Ephesians 4:11, 18). Now the ignorance in the godly may be where the heart is softened and the overflowings of corruption stopped.

2. It hoodwinketh the soul in the main things needful to salvation, as the knowledge of a man's own iniquities, God in Christ, the forgiveness of a man's own sins, and generally all the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). A wicked man may discern spiritual things carnally, but not spiritually.

3. It hath never been in the furnace of mortification; it hath never been truly repented of, whereas the ignorance of the godly hath often been confessed, mourned for, etc.

4. It will suffer no saving grace to neighbour by it; where ignorance hath not been repented of, there no fear of God, no holy contemplation, no uprightness, love of God, or His Word, or His people, will dwell. Now the ignorance that is in God's children is well neighboured with many holy graces that can dwell by it. And as these ignorances differ in nature and working, so they differ in imputation. For unto the godly there is a sacrifice for ignorance. God doth not impute ignorance unto the godly: it shall be to them according to what they know, and not according to what they know not.

(N. Byfield.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

WEB: Therefore, prepare your minds for action, be sober and set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ—

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