When we read Lv 4:13 we realize that even if one person ignores the commission of a sin, it doesn’t mean he is not guilty. In other words, if a person sins without knowing it is a sin, even so he is guilty.
“And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty” (Lev 4:13)
Whether or not someone is conscious that what he does was a sin, if the act he committed was sinful he will be guilty. As we can see, the excuse of ignorance does not exist for sin. Our responsibility is to inquire, to seek the Supreme Being and find out if somehow, even if by feeling after him, as Paul said, we find Him. Our obligation is to inquire about His laws, to find out about the rules before we act. If by giving little importance to God and his rules, we do not inquire about them, we do not know them, and we act against them, that is our problem. That same idea is expressed in Leviticus 4:27-28 and 5:17. Let’s see.
“And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty” (Lev 4:27)
“And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity”. (Lev 5:17)
It is actually true that someone who is ignorant in good faith has a certain extenuating circumstances, but never absolving. This is proven in Luke 12:47-48 when the Lord Jesus himself says that the servant who did not understand, and because of his ignorance did things worthy of stripes, will be striped less. In other words, the one who knew he was doing wrong and continued doing so, will receive many stripes, while the one who sincerely did not know, will receive less stripes, not as many as the one who did know; but he will be striped. We can see clearly that ignorance is extenuating but not absolving. (Extenuating means it lessens the punishment; absolving means it totally annuls it.)
“47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required, and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more”. (Lk 12:47-48)
In short, good faith ignorance of God’s commandments does not free anyone from the penalty of transgression, the most it lessen that penalty.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children Hosea 4:6
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, Acts 17:30
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23
God does not overlook ignorance. Man has the God given responsibility of “studying to show himself approved” (2 Tim. 2: 15). Paul wrote thus of God: “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2: 4). In certain cases in times past, God did provide some excuse for ignorance (Acts 14: 16). The language now is: “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17: 30, 31). Just because we have not availed ourselves of God’s word and learned of God and his plan of salvation for man, does not mean God will justify us because we are ignorant (I am not referring to the mentally incompetent).
Let it then be known to the non-believers, who try not learning about God so they can allege ignorance, as well as the believers that do not want to inquire much about whether or not to obey God’s commandments,hoping to allege good faith ignorance.