BIBLE READING: Leviticus 5-7
We have all heard someone say to us, “I am so sorry, I didn’t mean it” or “Forgive me, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to this or that.” We like to excuse many of our actions as “only mistakes”, “I didn’t know better” and “no big deal”. God sees things differently as He speaks to us in today’s reading about our unintentional sins.
“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the LORD, he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation, a ram without blemish out of the flock, valued in silver shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. He shall also make restitution for what he has done amiss in the holy thing and shall add a fifth to it and give it to the priest. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven. “If anyone sins, doing any of the things that by the LORD’s commandments ought not to be done, though he did not know it, then realizes his guilt, he shall bear his iniquity. He shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering, and the priest shall make atonement for him for the mistake that he made unintentionally, and he shall be forgiven. It is a guilt offering; he has indeed incurred guilt before the LORD.” (Leviticus 5:14-19)
We are reminded that breaking the law means breaking the law. While there may have been a distinction in terms of the consequences of unintentional and intentional sins in the Old Testament, the Bible is clear all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory ( Romans 3:23 ). An everyday example could be applied to a speeding ticket. If you or I get caught speeding in a 20 mile per hour school zone when we didn’t realize that the speed limit had changed down from 30 miles per hour. Just because we weren’t aware that we broke the law at the time, we’re still guilty of breaking the law and will have to pay the fine.
The apostle Paul wrote of his own life in 1 Timothy 1:13 , “even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief.” He thought he was doing good, but after a revelation from God, he became aware of just how sinful his acts had been.
Many have said, “If ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise,” but this philosophy is contrary to God’s Word and built on a misunderstanding of God’s love. It’s built on the idea that God’s law is put there to stop our fun when in reality it’s there for us to have a fruitful and prosperous life that glorifies God. When we ignore parts of God’s Word so that we can ‘do what we want’, we are also ignoring the blessings that come with obedience.
So, like the Psalmist, we must pray “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.” Psalm 19:12 -Selected from J. Dyer