Have you ever realized later that you should have defended someone’s innocence or spoken up in a situation? Have you ever been contaminated by something harmful and not realized it until later? Have you ever made a hasty and thoughtless commitment to do something, get distracted and completely forget until much later? These all fall under the category of “unintentional sins.” Since these are sin, those guilty cannot simply walk away and say with regret, “Oh well.” Confession must be made―“I was in the wrong”― and a sacrifice must be offered.
Allowances are made for these unintentional sins based on the person’s financial ability to offer a sacrifice. The rich and poor people who sin unintentionally make an offering according to their ability: a female lamb for those who are wealthier, a grain offering for the absolute poor. Sin is sin and atonement must be made even for unintentional sins.
The recognition of unintentional sin underscores the depravity of man. We sin without even being aware of it. Sin, like paying taxes, is inescapable in this life. We live in a fallen world where sin leaves its fingerprint on every part of our lives and world. What hope does a person who fears God have?
The Apostle Paul includes unintentional sin in his inclusive statements regarding sin:
- “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:23-26).
- “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us. . ..” (Ephesians 1:7-8a).
- “And you being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col. 2:13).
These truths regarding the forgiveness of sin, including unintentional sin, free believers from living with disappointment with self and with others. Not every sin is intentional. Sin happens. We are freely forgiven, so we must freely forgive others when they’ve sinned against us, either unintentionally or intentionally. Sometimes others fail to speak out on our behalf, fail to be as “clean” as we think they ought to be, or forget to keep a commitment made to us. God gives grace to us and we give grace to them. True Christlikeness walks in a heart of forgiveness and chooses to “give up the claim of what is owed by a brother” for unintentional sins (see Deut. 15:3).
"The fire must be burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out." (Leviticus 6:13)
Leviticus 6:8-14 recounts God's command to Moses for the priests to burn an offering on the altar every morning and every evening. The evening fire is built high enough to burn through the night. In the morning the priest dons his priestly garments, cleans off the ashes and from the embers of the still burning fire kindles the morning offering. In this brief passage God commands the priests five times never to let the fire go out. When the priest takes away the ashes he carries them outside the camp; they no longer serve any purpose.
In some ways the burnt offering is a picture of the believer's own devotional life. Just as this fire was actually kindled by God in Leviticus 9, so the believer's initial fire is kindled by God. The new birth and the resulting changed life ignite a fire of love and devotion to God that issues forth in sacrificial living. The believer is responsible to continually stoke this fire and keep it burning through daily time with God. This continually burning fire produces a bright flame of witness and a warmth in the heart; it brings joy in the night seasons. Too often, however, believers neglect this daily fire and little by little this fire goes out. Instead of a bright warmth there is a dark coldness and instead of a fire there are ashes.
Your devotional life must be kindled daily. Depending on past experiences and the help of others leaves you with a cold, dark altar. As my husband says "Yesterday's fire is today's ashes." Are you living in the light and warmth of a daily sacrificial fire or are you living on ashes?
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
- What do the four sins (in 5:1-6) requiring a sin offering have in common?
- What all does "making restitution" for violations against "the Lord's holy things" involve?
- What do the sins listed in 6:2-3 involve? How were they to be resolved?
- Which portions of the sacrifice were acceptable to God as sacrificial meals for the priests?
- What instruction does God give regarding the altar fire?
- This paragraph (7:7-10) describes the first four offerings (sin . . . guilt . . . burnt, and grain), which priests receives each of these offerings?
- Why does the Lord prohibit the people from eating the fat from the offerings?
- What part of the animal is given to the priests as a contribution?
Turning truth into prayer
How bright is your devotional flame? Are you living on past experiences with the Lord? Ask the Lord to light a light in your devotional life.