The seriousness of sin

Numbers 15.22-41

This note was originally published on Saturday 5 February 2022.

‘Remember to obey all my commands.’


Of all the sin in your life, which is the area or one thing where you are most stubborn and refuse to stop? Maybe you’ve been warned or had opportunities to ask for help and ignored them?


Numbers 15.22-41


How seriously do we really take sin? Do you agree that sometimes we focus too much on God’s forgiveness and minimise his command to live a holy life?

Here God teaches us about sin through two contrasts. The first is between community sin (vs 22–26) and individual sin (vs 27–29). We are perhaps more used to the latter – how about the former? It includes things like systemic racism, injustice, unconscious bias: they are hard to spot unless we experience them. Do you resist them, or perpetuate them (unwittingly or otherwise)? The second is between accidental sin (vs 22–29) and defiant sin (vs 30,31), part of which must be an unrepentant attitude. What do you think ‘despising’ the Lord’s word (v 31) might mean?

It is reassuring that God has realistic expectations! He knows our weakness, and graciously provides a way of forgiveness without minimising the seriousness of sin. Read verse 28 again – for us ‘the priest’ is Jesus – and rejoice in how that verse ends.


What might be the equivalent of the Israelites’ tassels (vs 38–39) for you? What could you do, or wear, or have on the wall to remind you of God’s command and call to live a holy life?