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G10. Approaching God While Unrepentant.    [Make a Comment]

We are not to approach God in prayer or worship while we are unrepentant of our sins.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Genesis 4:3-7
In the course of time Kayin [Cain] brought an offering to ADONAI from the produce of the soil; and Hevel [Abel] too brought from the firstborn of his sheep, including their fat. ADONAI accepted Hevel and his offering but did not accept Kayin and his offering. Kayin was very angry, and his face fell. ADONAI said to Kayin, "Why are you angry? Why so downcast? If you are doing what is good, shouldn't you hold your head high? And if you don't do what is good, sin is crouching at the door - it wants you, but you can rule over it."

Leviticus 16:11
Aharon is to present the bull of the sin offering for himself; he will make atonement for himself and his household; he is to slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself.

Psalm 66:16-18
Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth, his praise was on my tongue. Had I cherished evil thoughts, Adonai would not have listened.

Matthew 5:23-24
So if you are offering your gift at the Temple altar and you remember there that your brother has something against you, leave your gift where it is by the altar, and go, make peace with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift.

1 Corinthians 11:27-29
Therefore, whoever eats the Lord's bread or drinks the Lord's cup in an unworthy manner will be guilty of desecrating the body and blood of the Lord! So let a person examine himself first, and then he may eat of the bread and drink from the cup; for a person who eats and drinks without recognizing the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.

Supportive Scriptures

Isaiah 1:15-19
When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; no matter how much you pray, I won't be listening; because your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves clean! Get your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing evil, learn to do good! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, defend orphans, plead for the widow. "Come now," says ADONAI, "let's talk this over together. Even if your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow; even if they are red as crimson, they will be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land;"

Isaiah 59:1-2
ADONAI's arm is not too short to save, nor is his ear too dull to hear. Rather, it is your own crimes that separate you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he doesn't hear.

Proverbs 15:29
ADONAI is far from the wicked, but he listens to the prayer of the righteous.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Don't you know that you people are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? So if anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you yourselves are that temple.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or don't you know that your body is a temple for the Ruach HaKodesh who lives inside you, whom you received from God? The fact is, you don't belong to yourselves; for you were bought at a price. So use your bodies to glorify God.

James 5:16
Therefore, openly acknowledge your sins to one another, and pray for each other, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.


In the Mosaic Covenant, an Israelite would bring his animal sacrifice to the Temple (or the Tabernacle), and a Levitical cohen would assist him by slaying it, placing it on an altar, and offering it up to God in his behalf. The Israelite had to be ceremonially clean (i.e. ritually pure) to even enter the Temple's sanctuary, but whether or not he was actually repentant (i.e. the condition of his heart was right) when he offered his sacrifice was known only to God. There is another Mosaic Covenant example of the need to approach God only when repentant, and that is Leviticus 16:11's requirement that the High Priest sacrifice a bull for himself prior to sacrificing a goat for the sins of Israel on Yom Kippur. We also assume that the ten days between Yom T'ruah and Yom Kippur was for the purpose of all Israelites examining themselves and repenting of their sins (committed during the previous year) prior to their coming before the Lord on Yom Kippur.

The various commandments requiring that the worshiper be ceremonially clean in order to enter the Holy Temple were, no doubt, given in order to remind him of God's holiness, and that the house in which God chose to put His Name (i.e. where the Sh'khinah dwelt) must not be defiled. One thing is certain however - the worshipper's sacrifice was only acceptable if his heart was repentant before God (Genesis 4:3-7; Isaiah 1:15-19, 59:1-2; Matthew 5:23-24).

The Temple that stood in Jerusalem was built of brick and mortar but, in this era of the New Covenant, God's presence (The Holy Spirit) lives in Temples made of flesh (the "bodies" of believers) and, therefore, in the "bodies" of each and every one of us who will have Him (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19-20). That gives new meaning to the requirement that God's Temple be undefiled. Today, the commandment has not to do with entering a physical Temple while in an unclean state; rather, it is allowing the Temple of our bodies to fall into a spiritually unclean state, thereby making it uninhabitable by the Holy Spirit. Spiritual uncleanliness is caused by sin, and it persists if there is no repentance.

Our need for spiritual cleanness and repentance is illustrated by several Scriptures (listed above) that essentially state that God does not have fellowship with, nor does He even hear, those who are unrepentant of their sin (see Proverbs 15:29; Isaiah 59:1-2; 1 Corinthians 11:27-29; and James 5:16).

Classical Commentators

Maimonides and HaChinuch wrote mitzvot #RN77 and #C363 respectively, which state that no person who is ceremonially unclean is to enter the Sanctuary. Maimonides and HaChinuch do not offer mitzvot on spiritual cleanness broadly, and Meir is silent on both subjects.


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