Many instances are given in Leviticus 5:1-5 pertaining to instructions against sin and the subsequent guilt. I find the continual reference to guilt to be worth a second look. Though these Old Testament passages pertain to Mosaic Law, awesome truths often await our discovery.
Notice two things as you read the following passage from Leviticus. First, there are many mentions of two kinds of sin: known and unknown. Second, really think about the aspect of guilt. Haven’t we all confessed sin and continued to feel guilty? Years later? As a child, I would sometimes confess the same things over and over, feeling that I must not have “done it right”.
Guilt is the lingering effect of sin, but that’s our humanness, not God’s perfect plan. Romans 8:31-39 reassures us that God is the one who justifies, that no one can bring a charge against us, His Son intercedes on our behalf, and nothing shall separate us from His love. Yet guilt does its best to pull us down.
From Leviticus 5:1-5,
“Now if a person sins, after he hears public adjuration to testify, when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt.
Or if a person touches any unclean thing, whether a carcass of an unclean beast, or the carcass of unclean cattle, or a carcass of unclean swarming things, though it is hidden from him, and he is unclean, then he will be guilty.
Or if he touches human uncleanness, of whatever sort his uncleanness may be with which he becomes unclean, and it is hidden from him, and then he comes to know it, he will be guilty.
Or if a person swears thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, in whatever matter a man may speak thoughtlessly with an oath, and it is hidden from him, and then he comes to know it, he will be guilty in one of these.
So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned.”
So we see that God even provides for the fact that sometimes we sin unknowingly. But when we are aware of sin, we must confess it. The confession of sin deals with both sin and guilt. Being cleansed, in the 1 John 1:9 sense, means the guilt fades away. God even foreshadowed the necessity of dealing with guilt later in Leviticus 16:5-22 when He required a double sacrifice from His Old Testament people.
In this sin offering, two male goats were required. Aaron, the priest, cast lots as to which one would be the sin offering and which one would be the “scapegoat”…or guilt offering. The lot would fall, the priest would slaughter the one goat, and then verses 21-22 describe how Aaron laid his hands on the live goat and proceeded to:
“…confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel, and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness.
And the goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.” (emphasis mine)
This scapegoat was provided to carry their burden of guilt…forever in the wilderness. We serve a just and compassionate God. A merciful and gracious God. He provided for the Israelites, and He provides for us. We can cast all our cares on Him, for He cares for us.
There’s a story that’s made its rounds through the email circuits about a mother who had her son pound many nails into a board. She told him the nails represented every time he sinned against someone. She then had him remove the nails one by one. The nails could be removed but the holes could not. They remained as lasting scars, reminders of the hurt.
Don’t let those holes drain your vision and faith, Christian. Let Jesus fill them up for you and restore you to wholeness. After all, He bears the real scars of your sin, and He’ll bear them for you into eternity.
Mary at Home-steeped Hope wants this post to be dedicated to her father, whose teaching on this subject is the basis for these thoughts.