Q. Is it possible to sin unknowingly?
A. It is not only possible to sin unknowingly, it’s an absolute certainty. John said, “If we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Sinning is so much a part of our nature that we often sin without even realizing it. People who are convinced that they no longer sin don’t understand this. They think sin is just a matter of observable behavior, not realizing that our thoughts and words convict us as well.
In Matt. 5:22,28 Jesus said our thoughts can be just as sinful as our actions, using anger and lust as examples. And in Matt. 12:36 he said men will be accountable for every careless word they’ve spoken. He said the teachers of the Law and Pharisees were like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean on the inside (Matt. 23:27). They appeared to be righteous and pure, but only because no one could see the hypocrisy and wickedness that filled their hearts.
We are no different. I once heard a visiting speaker say, “If I could tell by looking what sinners you are, I wouldn’t be here speaking to you. And if you could tell by looking what a sinner I am you wouldn’t be here listening to me.”
It’s important to guard your behavior and resist the temptation to sin, but don’t ever let yourself be fooled into thinking that means you’re not a sinner. Remember, were not sinners because we sin. We sin because we’re sinners. It’s in our blood, and we can’t help ourselves. That’s why we need a Savior.
Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression (Psalm 19:12-13).