The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord. You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. Leviticus 23:26-28 NASB
The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur and the ten days preceding it (sometimes referred to as the Ten Days of Repentance), are, for Jews, a time of deep introspection on the past year, on the sin the penitent has committed, on seeking forgiveness for it, and on committing to a better (less sinful) life in the coming year.
Jesus Christ’s atoning death and resurrection has resulted in the Day of Attonment largly falling off the Christian calendar. Nevertheless, its underlying premise remains just as relevant to the Christian today. We are sin prone, no less in need of forgiveness. And we can always profit from the renewing of our minds.
Much is said about sin. Sin began in the garden of Eden, and is a theme throughout the entirity of the Bible. Sin separates us from God, and wreaks havoc in all aspects of our earthly lives.
Beyond simply being wrongdoing, sin has other attributes in our relationships with God and our fellow man. In his 2021 Yom Kippur sermon Dennis Prager (Note 1) discussed nine attributes of sin that we might not think about. And while he was speaking to a Jewish audience, the message applies equally to Christians. Here, then, nine other reasons why sin matters:
- Sin requires taking personal responsibility;
- Sin requires acknowledging “I am not a victim;”
- Sin requires being personally accountable to God;
- Sins confirms we have free will;
- Sin and atonement mean we can be forgiven and we can begin again;
- Sin means we have the ability to change;
- Sin means that God cares a great deal about how we treat other human beings;
- Sin means that behavior is everything;
- Acknowledgment of sin requires humility and forestalls arrogance.
Note 1: Dennis Prager is a devout Jew, Biblical scholar, highly regarded radio personality, and public intellectual. He has led annual Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services for over a decade.
Note 2: Prager acknowledged that sin obviously has other attributes, but that, in no particular order, these are nine of the most significant.