Troublesome Topic: Why Did God Hold Them Guilty for Unintentional Sins?

Lesson 11 of 21

1   For them to Learn What God desires

When I was a missionary in Mexico, I had to learn their laws and do my best to obey them. Even if I did not intend to break the law, if I disobeyed their laws, I would be held guilty. Claiming ignorance because I wasn’t from there would not have helped me. The same is true for those who come to our country from other parts of the world. We expect them (or should expect them) to learn our laws and obey them.

Some people are happy to live in ignorance and think that they won’t be held responsible. That is not how God sees things. Everyone is responsible to know what God demands of them. The priests and the Levites were specialists and it was their job to know all the details of the Law. However, the average person was required to know the parts of the Law that directly affected them. Ignorance was no excuse. So, no, ignorance is not always bliss.

There is a standard by which we will be measured. We are all held responsible for understanding God’s standard.

2.   To teach them it’s about Him and His holiness, not about us

His holiness needs to be satisfied regardless of our inconvenience, or our excuses.

However, God knows that we don’t know everything. That is why there were unintentional sins. God knew someone would be made aware of something later on. The person was not considered guilty for not knowing, he was guilty because the holy nature of God had been offended in some way.

It’s about Him and His holy character. So don’t make it about you and what you can get away with!

3.  To remind them of His sovereignty

God is sovereign and can do whatever He wants. He does not let us set the standard, and His standard does not have to make sense to us. The fact that unintentionally offending God’s holiness required a sacrifice was a big reminder that God is the one who makes the rules.

4. To teach them to be more careful next time

Unintentional sins are described in the Law as things that someone did which were offensive to God but they didn’t realize that they had caused an offense until later. I call this offering the “oops” offering.

Now imagine someone who very, very frequently has to say, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking.” What would you tell this person?  I imagine that, whether it is a son or daughter, a fellow employee, or a friend, you would say something like, “Start paying attention! Be more careful and you won’t have to say, ‘I’m sorry’ all the time.”

The same is true in our relationship with God. He wants us to learn to be more careful so we do not offend him as often as we did when we were “baby Christians.” He wants us to care so much about our relationship with Him that we want to improve, we want to get better at living as he wants us to. He wants us to be a reflection of His character without having to say “oops” all the time.

The next lesson in the short and mid-length series on covenants is General information about the Burnt Offering.

The next lesson in the full series on covenants is The Guilt offering Was Not What I Expected.

The next lesson in Why Is That in the Bible? is That “Sweet Smelling Aroma” Does Not Seem Sweet to Us