Will ignorance of Jesus’ reality mitigate one’s culpability for sin?
22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 The one who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But this has happened so that the word that is written in their Law will be fulfilled: ‘They hated Me for no reason.’ John 15:22-25 (NASB)
Had Jesus not confronted them personally, their sin of “unbelief” would have been mitigated by ignorance for where there is no knowledge there is no sin (Romans 4:15; 5:13; 1 Timothy 1:13) but since Jesus personally confronted them and they observed with their eyes and heard with their ears, they were culpable.
This does not suggest that one who does not see or hear Jesus is immune from culpability for unbelief as Jesus is speaking in specifics here…a unique scenario…but every man and woman having attained an age of reason sufficient to discern good and evil is culpable for their sin via the moral law infused within them at conception (Romans 5:12; Romans 2:14-15) and unless Jesus is their Messiah by faith to mediate that sin via covenant promise (Hebrews 8:12), they will die in sin and die the “second death” in Hell (John 8:12; Acts 4:12).
Jesus also taught in parables so that those who possessed a heart willing to believe would understand the eternal import of Messiah’s words while those who would reject Messiah did not understand (Matthew 13:10-13) and this was done out of compassion for everyone who stands in the Judgment of the Condemned (Revelation 20:11-15) will face culpability in accordance with, commensurate with and measured-out by knowledge…not all condemned will suffer equally in Hell…. an irrational atheist will not suffer to the degree of a Hitler or a Stalin…the Son will met-out punishment with justice and fairness for all who have rejected Him as Lord and Mediator for their sin.
It is written,
“5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will repay each person according to his deeds: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, He will give eternal life; 8 but to those who are self-serving and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, He will give wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of mankind who does evil, for the Jew first and also for the Greek, 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who does what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.” Romans 2:5-11 (NASB).