Speak to the people of Israel, When a man or woman commits any of the sins that people commit by breaking faith with the LORD, and that person realizes his guilt, he shall confess his sin that he has committed. And he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong.
God’s views on sin are described here. We see how He defines it, and how we should deal with it as a society. I think these two things are still important for us today. Mankind generally acts sinfully in all categories. It is ingrained in our actions and attitudes and embedded in all our achievements. And this state of affairs does not end until God wraps up human history into the eternal worship of Himself. Until that day, we will deal with sin and its consequences in and among us.
The way God deals with the nature of sin is important. It is clear from this context that the type of sin being explained involves personal injury or property loss between two human parties. But God makes it clear that all sin is committed against Him first and foremost. He describes it as “breaking faith with the LORD”. So all sin… any sin… every sin is an affront against God first. Our need to confess sin starts with God. And it often does not end there.
The extent to which we expand the circle of confession grows as we deal with any people we have sinned against. In cases of property or injury, God was clear in the Law: full restitution of the value of the loss plus an additional 20%. That was the standard. This was not excessive and it wasn’t solely punitive. It was meant to restore and to atone. And God wisely saw that human relationships may need such material resolution in order to see complete reconciliation and forgiveness take place.
I see this as more than a principle to use in counseling. It is a maxim for my own life and dealings with people. I will sin against people… probably will do so even today. And I need to seek confession, restitution beyond the value of the loss, and true reconciliation under God’s clear principles.