The Trespass Offering:Confession To God

Leviticus 5-6

Jerry A. Collins

When we are guilty it means that we have committed a breach of conduct especially violating a law and deserving punishment. We have become culpable by committing the offense consciously. We are justly charged with an offense. We stand blameworthy. None of us enjoys being guilty. But it is something we must live with because we so often are culpable for wrongdoing. What do we do with our guilt before God? How do we handle that? In the Old Testament the remedy was through the offering of a trespass sacrifice. These violations included depriving God of his rights such as eating unlawful food, defilement by not fulfilling vows or deprived of service due to him and violations which one might defraud another person such as violation of property rights or legal rights or stealing or giving false testimony. The point to be stressed here is that sin often involves the defrauding of God or of men. In these cases a man was guilty of a trespass that must be confessed and the wrong made right.


(1) Violating the Lords holy things 5:14-16 required a guilt offering. These holy things included the Lordís name. Swearing falsely by His name dishonors him. In the Lordís prayer we pray for the sanctity of the Lords name. The Sabbath was to be kept holy as well as the offerings and temple rites. An improperly trained priest could violate any part of the ceremonies associated with the temple rites for instance. National purity was also holy just as their Lord God was holy. Not maintaining purity in their worship of the one true God and by their inter-marrying they violated the Lordís holy things (Ezra 9:2). Today the Lordís name is still holy to us as well as the gospel in Galatians 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you he is to be accursed. Even our bodies are holy things 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have from God and that you are not your own. For you have been bought with a price therefore glorify God in your body.

(2) Violating sin unintentionally required a guilt offering 5:17-19. There is guilt for an unknown sin and unknown sin is unintentional sin. A sin can be unknown because a person did not know that an action violated the Lordís command. Circumstances might also hide the sinful nature of your sin from you. For instance, in Joshua 9 the Gibeonites who were to be destroyed by the Israelites dressed up and pretended to be from a distant land. they asked Joshua to make a treaty with them and he swore by the Lord to make the treaty. When the truth came out Joshua stood by the treaty but obviously was guilty of an unknown violation of the Lordís command. In this case the guilt was incurred in ignorance (cp. Genesis 26:8-10). Will any on us ever know the Word of God so well or be flawlessly led by the Holy Spirit as to never commit an unknown sin and become guilty for it? Yet Godís grace makes a provision for not knowing it all.

(3)Violating someone through extortion or robbery required a guilt offering 6:1-7. If you cheat your neighbor you need to bring a guilt offering. If you find property and do not return it you need to bring a guilt offering. Along with the guilt offering you also return what was stolen plus 20 percent. Making confession publicly, giving full restitution of what was defrauded and paying a fine all were required. These were major offenses and all involved a breach of trust. Jesus words in Matthew 5:23-24 are instructive here Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled then come and offer your gift. The point is that your offering to God is worthless because of the offense someone has received from you. Make it right first.


We are guilt of violating holy things. We are guilty of unknown sins and we have wronged others. The good news comes to us from Isaiah 53:10-11 where he prophesies that the Messiah will become our guilt offering. The moral and legal debt is canceled. Hebrews 10:10-18 teaches that Christ offered Himself for our guilt before God but you must acknowledge your guilt and accept this guilt offering He made for you by faith. Jesus Christ absorbed our debt that we might be guiltless before God. Restitution and compensation are all involved in the death of Christ. We are unclean, have broken vows, have defrauded God of His due and service, defraud others frequently. When Jesus gave his life a ransom for many the fullest satisfaction was made to God. Nothing else is required. Christ takes away the violation and removes guilt from us.


The point is that there are times when confession and forgiveness are not enough; there must also be restitution whenever it is possible. Restoration is the principle--restore what was defrauded. This was the outward sign of genuine repentance. All else was hypocrisy. It is a step out of sin into truth, honesty and righteousness. Agonies in the conscience and lack of peace may lie in the fact that we have not made things right. Noone can have the peace of conscience while living in dishonesty. Doing this is a sweet thing to do but can be desperately hard to begin. Standing right with men here will demonstrate rightness with God. So there must be restitution. The condition on which God admits a wrongdoer to the place of privilege with him in his presence is the restoration of what he has taken by false means from another. We too then must make things right but we must bow our hearts before the Lord God in the name of Christ for acceptance we desire and the restitution he demands. An example of genuine repentance by means of restitution is Zaccheus in Luke 19:8 where he states to the Lord half of my possessions I will give to the poor and if I have defrauded anyone of anything I will give back four times as much. Jesus responded to this genuine repentance by stating that Today salvation has come to this house.

1. Probably made this offering if very spiritual and dedicated.

The priest would find this offering a little harder to encourage. Most of the time it would go unnoticed. If a person found jewelry and knew whose it was and did not return it no one may ever know that it had been found. Or if a person received some benefit from the Lord and did not give a thank offering he was in violation of the law and owed a guilt offering but again no one might know that he was. This offering was one of the more significant offerings for the spiritual life because you were moved voluntarily to offer and repay and performing this was evidence of genuine repentance for he would repay more than was taken.

2. The priest received benefits from the sacrifice.

Not only does he eat of the meat offered as a sign that God had received it, but he also receives the skins of the animals offered 7:8. A lively trade could have been sustained by the number of skins taken from these sacrifices as well as clothing for the priests. God takes care of those who minister through the giving of the worshipper. the entire system was designed both for spiritual satisfaction of the worshipper and practical satisfaction of the priest for his service. Gods economy takes care of more than one need at once.

(3) Guilt is removed.

Guilt is the product of either a legal or a moral violation. What makes it different from just law-breaking is that there is an emotional component involved. God has given all of us a conscience and often it induces us to feel guilty. Sometimes we feel guilty even when there is no offense but what the guilt offering resolved was genuine guilt due to a violation of Gods law to the people. When confession was made, sacrifice offered and restitution accomplished, the guilt was formally and completely removed for the offense. you just had to decide that this is what you were going to do. For the Christian all of this has been accomplished through Christísí death. he has absolved us of legal and moral debt. We must recognize what has been done and rely on it by faith as our remedy.

(4) We must have a trained conscience.

If our conscience is going to alert us when we are guilty it requires faithful teaching of the Word of God. 1 Timothy 1:3, 5 As I urged you...command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer...the goal of this command is love which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Hebrews 5:11-12 teach us that Gods Word trains us to distinguish good from evil.

(5) Learn lesson and move on

Consider Israelite appearing before priest with property of his neighbor, plus 20% of its value in grain, plus the sacrificed ram. When all offered what else to do? Nothing. The moral/legal debt is paid.

No baggage to carry guilt is gone.