The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), February 17
“If a person sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter—if he does not tell it, he bears guilt” (Lev. 5:1).
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, gotten distracted and completely forgotten until much later? These all fall under the category of “sins of omission.” Since these are sins, 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 sins of omission based on the person’s financial ability to offer a sacrifice. The rich and poor who fail in their duty to do good or avoid uncleanness make an offering according to their ability: a female lamb for those who are wealthier, a grain offering for the absolutely poor. Sin is sin, and atonement must be made even for unintentional sins.
The recognition of sins of omission 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 sins of omission, free believers from living with disappointment with themselves and with others. 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 your claim to what is owed by your brother” for unintentional sins (see Deut. 15:3).
Question from today’s reading (Leviticus 4:1-6:30):
Why must restitution be a part of confession and repentance?