When You Meant No Harm


Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sabbath, June 25, 2016

Today’s Scripture Focus: Exodus Leviticus 4:1-28

sin recovery planWe are focusing on sin recovery principle number eight of 12: “We made a list of all persons we have harmed and are willing to make amends.”

Sin is sin. Before you jump to conclusions and think I am talking about the weight or levels of sins, hold on a second. Pain is pain. I am certainly not saying that all pain is of equal magnitude here. Now let’s put these two realities together. All sin is unrighteous, whether we realize it or not, and all sin causes pain in some way or another. The effect of sin is so far reaching, we can hardly estimate it.

No Penalty Will Be Charged

The beauty of today’s passage is that it gives a balanced understanding of how our God deals with the sin problem. It shows one of many facets. Here is a valuable nugget of truth to get us started: “Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no guile” (Psalm 32:2). The psalmist is expressing the enviable state of people whose sins God does not hold against them. Notice that it does not say that if you do not realize something is sinful, God acts like it isn’t. Rather, the Bible says that it is a blessing when God does not assess the guilt or penalty of sin to one’s charge.

Think about the times you have said something in a manner that hurt someone’s feelings and did not realize it. Were the people hurt? Did what you said cause pain? Yes. Did you intend it to be so? No. What if you were texting and driving (God forbid), and you hit a pedestrian? Were you negligent? Yes. Should you have been watching the road? Yes. Did you wake up that morning intending to find a pedestrian to injure? No.

In these examples, the reality of the harm that was done is not reduced due to intentionality. There were still very real injuries to body and spirit regardless of your cognizance. The blessing is this: God’s standard is not movable based on our thoughts, feelings, or intentions. His standards are just and impartial. The beauty is that God has made provision for every type of sin when we live in a state of repentance overall.

Just In Case

While my examples were imperfect and show how our loving God has given us His only begotten Son so when we sin, whether perhaps missed certain elements of truth, my intent (there is that word again) was to intentionally or ignorantly, we have an opportunity to repent.

In the Old Testament, the priests burned sacrifices ‘round the clock to protect people from judgment in the intervening times between personal sacrifices and during times the people may have been oblivious to some of the times they sinned.

There are some of you who did not realize that God was serious when He said to remember His seventh-day Sabbath to sanctify it. You thought that as long as you chose one day of seven, it would be acceptable. The reality is that since the fourth commandment is to keep holy the seventh day, and some of you have broken the commandment in ignorance, it is a blessing when God does not lay that guilt to your charge. However, our theme text also highlights the fact that God’s provision took care of the sin of ignorance until the sinner realized what they had done wrong. It is then when God brings an awareness of our wrongs to our minds that were are responsible for making amends. There is no sacrifice strong enough to cover the faults of any of us who continue to do wrong without repenting.

You Have A Chance To Learn

The moral of this story is that God loves us so much that He gives us a chance to learn about our mistakes and then make things right. One of the things I like to do when I pray is to ask God to forgive me for things I don’t fully understand I did wrong until He brings an awareness to my mind. And when He does, I confess and turn away from the sins that I once committed in ignorance.

Is there anyone you just learned you unintentionally harmed? Pray about it, go to them in faith, and talk about it. Make amends and know that the Lord is with you during the process.

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