“If the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly … and they realize their guilt, when the sin which they have committed becomes known, the assembly shall offer a bull from the herd for a sin offering and bring it in front of the tent of meeting.”
If we form a synthesis from Paul’s indictment on unrepentant humanity in Romans 1 with God’s inauguration here in Leviticus 4 regarding the unintentional sinner, we’ll walk away today better equipped to speak the truth in love to the unrepentant sinners in our society. Far too often, I’ve tended to view unbelievers through too cynical a lens, extracting Scriptures like, “our righteousness is as filthy rags” to impugn my relatively moral neighbor, believing him to have some secret and self-serving motive beneath the good intentions. I’ve read Paul’s words in Romans 1 that unbelievers have willfully exchanged true worship for idolatrous practice and leave too little room for the reality of human ignorance and mistaken priorities.
But Leviticus 4 makes it clear that unintentional sins are just as much a deficiency of our human condition as intentional sins, and I imagine they might be a lot more prevalent than even the most pious among us would readily admit. Even those of us who’ve been washed by the blood of the Lamb, those of us who rejoice in confessing our sins because the confession leads us to glory in our Savior’s grace, still have no real clue as to just how great that grace really is, right? We can easily list the really bad things we’ve done in our seasons of prodigality, but do we have any inkling just how many sins have gone unconfessed through our lives of faith? Have we kept track of every prideful and lustful and envious and judgmental thought that has entered our minds? Even worse, how many times have we done wrong thing in good intent, thinking we were doing the right and noble thing? Only God knows!
“Grace that is greater than all our sin,” one hymnwriter beautifully put it, but let me add this little addendum based on Leviticus 4:13-14: “Grace that is greater than all our sin: from those we confess to those we never even recognize.”