“Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of The Lord…'”
Leviticus 4 addresses unintentional sins. The word unintentional means, “not being done on purpose; accidental or unwittingly”. Whether these sins are committed by the people, the leaders, or the congregation as a whole, Moses gives instructions for how forgiveness will be received. This forgiveness involved two primary factors. First, once they became aware of their sin, the people were responsible to bring an offering to the altar. Second, they were to lay their hands on the offering as an admission of their guilt. We can learn something about our reaction to sin from these offerings.
First, we no longer live under the Old Covenant. On the night before His death, Jesus established a New Covenant based upon His death, rather than a system of daily offerings. As a result, we do not need to bring an offering every time we become aware of our sins. Instead, we simply look back to the cross and once again become aware of the blood of Christ which was shed once, to forever remove the guilt and penalty of sin.
Second, while we do not need to bring an animal to the temple, we do need to take responsibility for our sin. Just as the Israelite placed his hand on the offering to show he had violated the law of God, so we must take responsibility for our actions. The New Testament word for confession is one that means to agree with. To confess is not to make excuses, blame others, or justify our actions. To confess is to agree with God that sin is sin. Once we take responsibility for what we have done wrong, we can begin the process of having that behavior removed from our lives.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”