When you sin, is it unintentional or defiant? God’s glory is violated by our sin, yet we a choice today whether we will deliberately continue in behaviour which the Spirit convicts us is wrong. Though forgiven, there are still consequences for the choices we make today…
22 “‘Now if you as a community unintentionally fail to keep any of these commands the Lord gave Moses— 23 any of the Lord’s commands to you through him, from the day the Lord gave them and continuing through the generations to come— 24 and if this is done unintentionally without the community being aware of it, then the whole community is to offer a young bull for a burnt offering as an aroma pleasing to the Lord, along with its prescribed grain offering and drink offering, and a male goat for a sin offering. 25 The priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community, and they will be forgiven…
27 “‘But if just one person sins unintentionally, that person must bring a year-old female goat for a sin offering. 28 The priest is to make atonement before the Lord for the one who erred by sinning unintentionally, and when atonement has been made, that person will be forgiven.
30 “‘But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or foreigner, blasphemes the Lord and must be cut off from the people of Israel. 31 Because they have despised the Lord’s word and broken his commands, they must surely be cut off; their guilt remains on them.’”
Numbers 15:22-25, 27-28, 30-31
In the Old Testament, there were different consequences for sin based on whether it was unintentional or defiant. Right after these instructions in Numbers, God spells out that breaking the Sabbath is punishable by death. The Lord isn’t messing around: his holiness and glory is violated by our sin.
Sin is equal opportunity: all have sinned and all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). That includes you and me. And when we pretend that we do not sin, we deceive ourselves and we make God out to be a liar:
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
The good news is that we can confess our sins and he will cleanse us. Why? Because “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all,” (Hebrews 10:10). Intentional or defiant, our sins were paid for by the penalty Jesus endured for us.
Defiance. What about defiance? Even though Jesus’ sacrifice covers even the most premeditated sins (i.e. carefully planned lies to parents or teachers or the boss, falsifying numbers on your taxes, or even setting up that adulterous rendezvous), God still has something to say about defiant sin.
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!
If we reject Jesus’ sacrifice and deliberately continue to sin, there will be no other way to reconcile to God. Therefore, if we deliberately continue in our sin, we leave ourselves short of God’s glory and disconnected from God’s grace. That’s a terrible place to be.
If we accept Jesus’ grace and sacrifice and we continue to sin because we know we are covered and grace will abound, we are mocking God. The wages of sin is still death (Romans 6:23) and even though we have eternal life in Christ, God may take us out of this world if we bear the name of Jesus and then choose to walk in defiance to our calling.
How would you characterize your sin today? Have you been defiantly sinning against God? Today is the day to walk in the better way.