I’m not into spontaneity. If you you look up “spontaneous” in the dictionary, my picture will be listed among the antonyms. It’s just not who I am. I need to prepare. So when an acquaintance dropped a random group lunch invitation on me this morning, I knew I needed to get out of it. I came up with a whole game plan. I had my main excuse ready and then lined up several secondary excuses in case the first one fell through. I practiced my refusals in a casual, joking manner, so as not to offend. All of a sudden, I was face-to-face with the inviter. I executed my plan. And I succeeded. I was so proud of myself!
Excuses saved me from an uncomfortable outing today, but they don’t work all the time. Prime example: when it’s time to make a sin offering or a guilt offering, as explained in Leviticus 5. God is continuing his lecture on the different types of sacrifices, and He provides the Israelites with instructions on offerings made when you find out that you’ve broken or neglected one of God’s laws. The steps are familiar: bring a lamb or ram or two turtledoves and offer them as a sacrifice. The circumstances? They’re a little different. As every single sin scenario or edge case is covered by God’s instructions, I gotta imagine the Israelites were feeling a little bit uncomfortable – and there was still more.
The Treasures Within:
Everything Is Awful
You know how sometimes we talk about “big” sins or “small” sins? These chapters in Leviticus do a lot to trample those theories when you think about it. If for every sin you commit, you have to trek to the tabernacle to make an offering, the line between “big” sins and “little” sins begins to look really fuzzy. I mean, take a look at some of the sins listed in this chapter. In verse 1, God says that people who don’t speak up when called to testify about something are sinning and will be held responsible. Even if being “held responsible” didn’t necessarily involve a whole sacrifice, just the fact that this is specifically called out is surprising! Nothing gets past the God of Israel, huh?
But even the sins that sacrifices are specifically called for seem almost pedantic! If you “thoughtlessly take an oath” and then find yourself breaking that same oath, you have sinned and must make a sin offering (verses 4-6). If you touch something unclean, whether an animal or a human, and don’t realize it until later? You are guilty and must make a sin offering (verses 2-3). Then there’s a catchall – if you find that you have broken one of God’s laws or commands in any way at all, then you are guilty and must make an offering (verses 17-18). Imagine the stress! Imagine the number of animals killed! It all just seems like too much to think about.
No Laughing Matter
The concept of being held accountable for every single thing you ever do wrong is just cringy to us today. It doesn’t seem right. It seems only fair for there to be some leeway. I mean, the number of little sins we commit each day is astronomical. Just ask the next person you see how many times they’ve promised God that they would never do A again if only God would do B – and then promptly found themselves doing A. They wouldn’t even be able to answer you because everyone has done that – that and so much more! No one is perfect, so why is God so strict with the Israelites?
Is He still that strict? Is sin still a big deal to Him? Or did His sacrifice on the cross allow us to decide which sins are “little” and don’t need to be repented of and which sins are “big” and are just unacceptable? The funny thing is, we know the answers to those questions, logically anyway. Of course sin is still a big deal to Him – that’s half of the reason He had the stories of the Israelites written down – to make it clear to us just how serious sin is. And of course Jesus’s sacrifice didn’t change the definition of sin. The problem is, and always has been, us. We ignore the truth. We make excuses on excuses. Because we don’t want to change. The thought of change is terrifying. The thought of all the sins we currently commit that we would have to give up is paralyzing. It just doesn’t seem possible.
But that’s the thing. We’re thinking about this sin thing all wrong. It’s not on us to work through our list of sins, big and little, and methodically work on conquering each one. The only One who can conquer our sin is the One who already died for our sin. When He lives in us and works through us, we will overcome all sins. It sounds impossible because it is, for us. But with God all things are possible. So what’s stopping us? It’s our faith. Do we believe that the sins we commit are wrong – even our favorite ones, the little ones, the fun ones? Do we believe that God is powerful enough to give us victory over each and every sin? Or do we just have a bunch of excuses?
God’s Message To Us:
“You are not doomed to sin forever.” God wants us to be free. That’s what His whole purpose has been, since the beginning of time – to free us from the bondage of this earth and its penchant for sin of all kinds. Sin can be simultaneously fun, thrilling, irritating, and horrifying. It can make us feel pleasure for just a moment, and then slowly drain us of hope and joy. It can make you feel like you’re drowning, panicking, slowly killing yourself. It’s the worst thing ever. Yet for some reason we cling to it, desperate to hold onto it, convinced we can never remove it from our lives. But God came to surgically remove sin from our hearts and open our eyes to a new life. What kind of person would you be if you did not sin? What kind of person would you be if you stopped making excuses? With our God, and only our God, we can find out.
What do you think? What “little” sins do you find yourself making excuses for? What message did God write for you in this chapter?