Unintentional breaking of God’s commandments can be forgiven through an atoning sacrificeSacrifice is commonly understood as the practice of offering or giving up something as a sign of worship, commitment, or obedience. In the Old Testament grain, wine, or animals are used as sacrifice. In some New Testament writings Jesus' death on the cross as the... More. Intentional sin, however, cannot.
Interestingly, the term for intentional or “high-handed” (Hebrew) sin is sometimes translated “boldly”: on the exodus, the Israelites were going out “boldly” or “high-handedly” (Exodus 14:8; Numbers 33:3). Though the verbal link is perhaps accidental, the reader is reminded of Martin Luther’s well-known counsel to “sin boldly.” Luther, of course, was not urging “high-handed” sin, but precisely the “bold” entry into God’s journey that characterized the exodus. In a 1521 letter to Philip Melanchthon, Luther wrote:
God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong [in many translations, “sin boldly”], but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says PeterThe disciple who denied Jesus during his trial but later became a leader in proclaiming Jesus More (2. Peter 3:13), are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign.(Translation by Erika Bullman Flores at https://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/letsinsbe.txt).
Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood both Luther and the spirit of Israel’s “bold” entry into the exodus, when he wrote:
“Sin boldly”–that could be for Luther only the very last bit of pastoral advice, of consolation for those who along the path of discipleship have come to know that they cannot become sin-free, who out of fear despair of God’s graceGrace is the unmerited gift of God's love and acceptance. In Martin Luther's favorite expression from the Apostle Paul, we are saved by grace through faith, which means that God showers grace upon us even though we do not deserve it. More. For them, “sin boldly” is not something like a fundamental affirmation of their disobedient lives. Rather, it is the gospel of God’s grace, in the presence of which we are sinners always and at every place.(Bonhoeffer, Discipleship [Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003] 52)
That same divine grace is present in God’s providing for ritual atonement in Numbers 15 and in God’s re-creation of the repentant sinner, apart from sacrifice, in PsalmA psalm is a song of praise. In the Old Testament 150 psalms comprise the psalter, although some of the psalms are laments and thanksgivings. In the New Testament early Christians gathered to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. More 51.