Intentional and Unintentional Sins, the Day of Atonement, and the Death of Christ - Leviticus 16

The Law of God distinguishes between intentional and unintentional errors or sins (see Numbers 15:22-29). In our study of Leviticus 16:16, we learn that on the Day of Atonement all the priests and people can be forgiven and cleansed from "all their sins" or "whatever their sins" after appropriate sacrifices have been made by the High Priest (see various translations). It seems intentional sins can only be forgiven after the Day of Atonement sacrifices; whereas, unintentional sins can be forgiven throughout the year after appropriate sacrifices are made by the priests and people. 

You might ask your class to discuss intentional and unintentional errors or sins. How do people feel if someone commits an error or sins against them unintentionally? How do people feel if someone commits an error or sins against them intentionally? How does the Law of God show the great difference between unintentional and intentional sins, since sacrifices need to be offered for both types? What do you expect from someone who sins against you unintentionally? What do you expect from someone who sins against you intentionally? What do you expect of yourself in both cases?

What do you think about God and Jesus, when, after people had sinned against them intentionally and unintentionally and before people had repented, Jesus Christ died on the cross for all sinners so God could mercifully and justly forgive all who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior?

For the love of His Word,
L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.


  • Many people who grew up in the Church are going to wonder, why look at an outdated system for the forgiveness of sin? People in general in today's times do not think in terms of 'sin'. Many people, just from human nature are going to always try to see what they can get by with. Any time they hear a rule, they wonder just how seriously it is going to be enforced. They do not think about why it was made. Is it going to be like a rule (suggestion not seriously enforced), or a real law, something the society is going to put a lot of money and effort into enforcing? They are going to have to first agree that the law is needed before they are going to take it seriously.
    Today, do people really understand the difference between sin as understood in the Bible, and not stopping for 3 seconds at a stop sign when no other cars are anywhere around the intersection? What is the difference between breaking a law of God, and a law of man? Would someone who was not a 'person of the Book', understand why the alter needs to be 'cleansed'?
    I do not think we have the same level of understanding of what Sin is, as what is reflected in the Bible. Today, we do not understand that Sin means things are so seriously messed up that something or someone has to die to make it right again. I think the main message of today's lesson, is to get across how serious Sin is, at least to God if not to man.
    We live after the one time sacrifice of Christ.Could living in His Grace lead to not understanding what life is like without it. Could it be that it is a little like our living in a first world nation, we have to travel to a 3rd world nation so see what life can be like and really understand what we have?
  • Russell, Thank you for these insights. I believe today's situation regarding the true understanding of sin in the USA is one reason we have not seen any great revivals in the USA similar to those in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
    For the love of His Word,
  • Some people I have discussed sin with feel that if they are only hurting themselves what's the big deal. They have forgotten the price that Christ paid  for our sins
  • edited May 2016
    You have made a very good point here, and I wish I knew why some people say that. After all, they are hurting themselves and why people want to hurt themselves is a mystery to me. I think when we sin we try to convince ourselves that what we will gain from the sin is a greater benefit than the bad consequences that may come from the sin. Also, from our limited human viewpoint, we have no conception really of the physical, moral, and spiritual damage we do to ourselves each time we sin, and we do not think about the possible harm we will be doing to others. Sin always tends to involve other people. Others are always involved. Perhaps others are involved in tempting us to sin or in providing the ways for us to sin; when we then sin, we are misleading them and perhaps encouraging them not to repent or to think that their sin and their providing ways for others to sin is not really harmful. Yes, Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross and did so with joy because He knew He would save many from sin and eternal death. Sometimes when we are tempted to sin we might ask ourselves some questions to help us do the right thing and follow Christ; for example; "Did Christ die on the cross so I could commit this sin?"
    Thanks so much for your comments! I am sorry that it took so long for me to comment, though I know I cannot comment on every posting here. God bless your Bible study and teaching!
    For the Love of God's Word,
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