If one person sins unintentionally, he shall offer a female goat a year old for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the people of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them. But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him. Numbers 15:27-31, ESV
The sacrificial laws that God gave to Israel are no longer binding regulations on the people of God, for Christ has become our once-for-all sacrifice for sin. However, we may continue to read of these sacrifices and learn of the character of our God and the nature of our sin.
In our passage this morning, we learn that Israel was to recognize a distinction between unintentional sins, sins of straying or mistake, and high-handed or intentional sins. While we might expect the first to be ignored by God, they are not. These sins require a sin offering to make atonement for them before the Lord. This is true even when the unintentional sin is committed by a foreigner traveling through Israel. God never takes sin lightly.
The intentional acts of rebellion are quite another thing. They are seen as acts of hatred toward God. There is no sacrifice for these. The sinner is to be sent from Israel with his guilt intact.
While we are no longer bound by these laws, we do well to consider the picture they paint of the sinfulness of sin. When our sin is revealed to us, we cannot excuse it or simply write it off as a mistake. Sin is sin. We must deal with it. We can praise God that we no longer need to do so through symbolic sacrifices. Instead, we can take our sins directly to the Son of God who bore them for us on the cross and paid the penalty for them as the perfect once-for-all sinless offering to God. We can confess our sins and know that, in Jesus, they will be forgiven, and we will be made clean (1 John 1:9).
I am praying for you. May God grant you the grace to see your sin, intentional or not, for what it is and grant you the joy of being forgiven and made clean in Christ.