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Theology

Unintentional Sins and Atonement

Leviticus 4 is about unintentional sins, or as the KJV would say, “sins of ignorance.”  There are sacrifices for unintentional sins that come from private individuals, the whole congregation of Israel, leaders, and common people.  Four times, God says this phrase after a sacrifice is made: “And the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven” (vv. 20, 26, 31, 25).  Israel was full of ignorant sins, they were hidden from their minds, hearts, and spiritual eyes.  Unfortunately, we are in the same boat. 

Our hearts should be that we trust in the Holy Spirit to reveal these secret sins to us.  We should have the desire of David when he prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” and “Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults” (Ps. 139:23-24; 19:12).  We should be broken over our ignorance simple unwillingness to examine our true selves by facing the ugliness of sin face-to-face.

Yet, there is a Priest who atones for our secret sins.  First John 2:1-2 says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”  More than that he is the atonement for our sin that he had to offer one time.  Hebrews 7:27 says, “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”

At the cross of Jesus, everyone who calls on his name finds grace, mercy, peace, compassion, and forgiveness (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:13). There is no partiality with God, for here we see rich and poor, slave and free, leader and follower, male and female, old and young, and Jew and Gentile all come into the presence of God because of Jesus’ sacrifice (Rom. 10:12; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11). Perhaps, even while Jesus was on the cross there was an allusion to this sacrifice for unintentional sins when he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 

How perfect are the Scriptures, that every page, even the Old Testament, tells the glory of God and the preeminence of Christ!