Today’s reading includes Leviticus 4:1-5:19, Mark 2:13-3:6, Psalm 36:1-12, Proverbs 10:1-2.
Today we read about unintentional sin. When I was young I remember taking communion once a month or so. And I remember that part of the service included a statement about sins of omission and commission. Sins of omission are those sins we commit by not doing what we should do. Sins of commission are those sins we commit by doing what we know we should not. We all sin. And we all commit sins of omission and commission. We all have times we don’t do the things we know we should do. And we all have times we do things we shouldn’t do. Sometimes our sins of omission or commission are unintentional, yet we are still responsible for them. Leviticus 4:1-2 sets the stage for this.
Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. This is how you are to deal with those who sin unintentionally by doing anything that violates one of the Lord’s commands.
Sometimes our wrong actions or inactions are unintentional, but they are still sin and we are still responsible. Our good God will eventually reveal to us these sins and at that point, we must repent and make restitution, if necessary. I can honestly say, that there have been a couple of times that I have come to deep conviction about something that I didn’t realize was sin until years later. I could have ignored it, but because I had come to the point of realization, if I had ignored it, there would have been a separation between me and God—and my heart could not bear that. So, I set aside my pride and began a Facebook private message with the words, “I know you will think this is silly…” and “You probably won’t remember this or even care about this, but…” I would rather appear foolish and make things right with others, and especially with God, than leave words unspoken which should be spoken, even if they seem silly.
So, unintentional sins are still sins. Look at one of verses which indicate this truth.
27 If any of the common people sin by violating one of the Lord’s commands, but they don’t realize it, they are still guilty. 28 When they become aware of their sin, they must bring as an offering for their sin a female goat with no defects.
And throughout our reading today, we see some of the same language within different circumstances:
Suppose you unknowingly…
When you realize what you have done, you must admit…
Suppose you make a foolish … when you realize its foolishness …
Over and over we read of circumstances of unrealized sin. Over and over we see that one day we will realize it. And what do we do then?
“When You become aware of your guilt in any of these ways, you must confess your sin.”
Leviticus 5:5 NLT
Step one is confess to the Lord. And as you confess, remember these great truths.
He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
Psalm 103:12 NLT
9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 NRSV
Step two? Restitution. Sometimes we can just deal with our sin between us and God. Sometimes, however, we need to go a step further and leave your “sacrifice on the altar” and go find the person you have wronged and make it right. Say you are sorry and ask for forgiveness. You will know if you need to do that if you are still bothered by it after you take it to the Lord. If you still think about it, if you still feel a little prick in your Spirit, then ask the Lord if there is anything further you need to do, then ask Him for the opportunity and courage to do it.
Above all, the take-away lesson for us is to keep short accounts with God. Regular confession and observation of our actions and inactions is healthy for our souls. And it keeps us humble, as we admit that we are not all we should be and could be. Today, and every day, pray this prayer found in the Psalms:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.