“So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned.”
Some of my favorite gleanings from the Word of God is the clear picture of the unchanging character of mankind. What we struggle with today is that which we struggled with yesterday. The result of sin and the way it manifests itself in us has not changed at its root. This is why the Scriptures never lose their relevance. In this chapter we see the sin of withholding information, the sin of touching something unclean, the sin of speaking thoughtlessly, and the sin of mishandling the Lord’s holy things. The guilt offerings covered in Leviticus chapter five also required more than just the blood of the animal sacrifice. These offerings required a verbal confession as well as restitution to be made to the one the offense was against.
Leviticus chapter five begins with the sin of someone not testifying as a witness when they had testimony concerning a case. The Lord points out to us that this is a matter of guilt even if we didn’t realize we had testimony concerning a case until after the trial began or even years after it ended. The moment we realize we have testimony concerning a situation we are guilty of not speaking out and our guilt remains until we make what we know known. In the Jewish Study Bible, Baruch J. Schwartz shares in the commentary that the guilt offerings in Leviticus chapter five “aim to counter the notion that duties weaken with time and eventually cease to exist.” He goes on to say that, “the opposite is the case: severity of negligence whether physical impurity or of moral or legal obligation, intensifies the longer it lasts.”
We live in the day of the NDA, the non disclosure agreement. According to nondisclosureagreement.com, “Non-disclosure agreements are legal contracts that prohibit someone from sharing information deemed confidential. The confidential information is defined in the agreement which includes, but not limited to, proprietary information, trade secrets, and any other details which may include personal information or events.” We can sign all the legal agreements we want here on this earth, but it will not hold in heaven. If we have testimony that is truth that alters the judgment concerning a case of any kind we are obligated to the One who judges all to speak up and speak out. We are accountable and there is no time limitation on accountability to our Everlasting Father the Eternal God.
We live in a day when people swear thoughtlessly with their lips and speak thoughtlessly with promises they never intended to keep. This sin is intensified because today that thoughtless speech is typed out and posted on a world wide web that literally travels the globe. Once that click is made to share that careless and thoughtless word, there is no way for the one who spoke it to take it back. Whether it was a promise to do good or a threat to do evil we can’t erase it today, even if we realized we were the ignorant ones when we spoke it. In this day of social media, when we become aware of new facts and discover our wrong, we can’t fix it with a simple apology. We can try, but we cannot trace and erase how far thoughtless speech spreads.
Moving on to touching that which is unclean, we as Christians could brush right on past this one as we are not bound by these particular laws concerning carcasses, or we can take Leviticus 5:2 and see it from a relevant perspective. A carcass is a dead thing. In Ephesians 2:1-2 we read, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” In Hebrews 6:1-2 we read, “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.” In Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary he writes concerning Leviticus 5:2 and says, “Though his touching the unclean thing only made him ceremonially defiled, yet neglecting to wash himself according to the law, was either carelessness or contempt, and contracted moral guilt. As soon as God, by his Spirit, convinces our consciences of any sin or duty, we must follow the conviction, as not ashamed to own our former mistake.”
In 1 Peter 1:14 we are encouraged, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance.” Our God makes concessions for the fact that we are flesh. He gives us room to fail out of our ignorance, but our ignorance is not an excuse to remain in that failure once the truth has been made known to us. Sometimes we just do not realize that we have been hanging around dead things. Sometimes we don’t recognize our dead works for what they are, but once we do He gives grace to forgive us our sin and He also gives grace that we might repent and take action to make restitution for the damage our ignorance caused us and those around us.
Our God even gives us grace when it is His holy things that we have damaged. In Leviticus 5:15-16 we read, “If a person acts unfaithfully and sins unintentionally against the Lord’s holy things, then he shall bring his guilt offering to the Lord: a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation in silver by shekels, in terms of the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. He shall make restitution for that which he has sinned against the holy thing, and shall add to it a fifth part of it and give it to the priest. The priest shall then make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and it will be forgiven him.” The phrase “holy things” in this verse is the Hebrew word qodesh and it means apartness or sacredness. The Strong’s Concordance adds that it is a consecrated thing, dedicated thing, hallowed thing, holiness, most holy day, portion, thing, saint.
In 1 Peter 1:15-16 the scriptures go on to say, “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” Then in 2 Peter 2:9-10 we read, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” The holy things of the Lord are not just pieces of furniture and utensils and altars and incense that are found in the temple, they are also the people of God.
We do not have to intentionally hurt someone to be guilty of hurting them. We do not have to intentionally act unfaithfully to be guilty of doing so. Our lack of intent does not make the sin, nor the hurt it possibly caused, any less. Leviticus 5:17 reminds us that the guilt is there even if we are unaware of our sin. Therefore the moment we become aware we have a choice, we can humble ourselves, repent, and follow through with confession and restitution or we can allow our pride to keep us in our guilt. In our guilt we remain unforgiven and separated from the Lord, our sin unatoned for, and as a result the consequences of our actions continue to ripple through our life affecting not just us, but everything and everyone around us.
In Matthew 5:22-24 Jesus taught, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” The Lord has made it so easy for us to make it right. In James 5:16 we read, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” Then in 1 John 1:9 we are told, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” There is no reason, no excuse, to walk around guilty before the Lord and guilty before one another when our God has made the way for us to be forgiven and reconciled.
It is so hard sometimes to admit that we have hurt someone by our silence. It’s hard sometimes to admit that we have sinned against someone by our words, especially if it was unintentional. It is hard sometimes to admit that we have been hanging around and messing around and wasting time with dead things. It is hard sometimes to admit that we are guilty of mishandling Your holy things. It’s hard, but if we are ever to be who You have called us to be we must be willing to admit it, confess it, and carry out the action needed to address it and make restitution for it. Oh Father, might we be bold and courageous enough to face ourselves so that we can face You. My Jesus, I know that I have been guilty and I know that as I grow and mature in You that You are going to open my eyes to more and more of my actions and words that have sinned against you against others so that I, as well as those affected by my words and actions, can be set free and forgiven. Give me the strength and the confidence to see the truth You reveal to me and the heart to follow through in the power of Your Spirit.
My Jesus, I love you and it’s in Your name I pray,