Are We Accountable for What We Don’t Know?
Lack of knowledge and rejecting knowledge are two different things. Not knowing because you can’t know is different from not knowing because you reject the opportunity to know.
Paul, who was formerly a blasphemer, said: “but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13). Paul honestly believed that he was doing God’s will (John 16:2; Acts 23:1; 24:16; 26:9). His wrong actions had not reached the a place where he willfully sinned against conscience and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31–32, Hebrews 10:26–27). When Paul viewed the majesty of Jesus in the Damascus Road Experience, his doubts were gone, and he was obedient to the “heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19).
To sin against the Holy Spirit is to oppose it willfully. This means a continual resistance to God’s voice that eventually reaches the point of no return. Paul was clearly referring to this kind of sin when he wrote:
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6). And he added, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26).
If people willingly reject the opportunity to know the truth, they will be held accountable for it. The Lord says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6).
If a person gets a brand new car and neglects to follow the manual’s maintenance instructions, he has no excuse when something goes wrong with the car. In like manner, the Lord revealed Himself in His Word and Creative acts. We have no excuse if we don’t learn of God’s truths and follow His instructions (Romans 1:20).
In His service,