As I type this, the sentencing phase of the Letalvis Cobbins trial is taking place. If the system works as it should, he will receive the death penalty. Why? Because that is what he deserves for the crimes he has committed. They were heinous, barbaric, abominable, and not simply inhumane–but inhuman. And because of the inhumanity with which he and his accomplices acted toward Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, they should all be removed from society and sentenced to death. (And before you say that the death penalty is “unbiblical” I would direct you to Romans 13:1-4).
Right now, his sister is pleading on his behalf, that he not be sentenced to death. She, along with the rest of his family, is pleading that the judge and jury spare his life. And they may succeed. They may play on the sympathies of the judge and the jury, or the judge and jury may be so soft-hearted that they will sentence Cobbins to life without parole. And as this unfolds, several thoughts come to mind.
First, is Letalvis Cobbins any worse than we are? Consider this for one moment. Letalvis Cobbins committed one of the most despicable murders in the history of Knoxville, or Tennessee, or the United States for that matter. But is that so very different from the ways we break God’s laws? Without the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in those of us who know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior; without the Holy Spirit of God holding back the wicked hearts of evil men, there is not one person on the face of the earth–past, present, future–who has not been capable of doing everything Letalvis Cobbins did–and worse. (And when I say, “not one person” I am, of course, excluding Christ our Lord.)
Second, as much as he deserves the death penalty for his crimes, are we any less deserving of eternal punishment for trampling over the laws of Almighty God? Which of us can say that we are “not as bad” as he is? We may not appear to ourselves or to other humans to be as bad. But who is the final decider on what and who is “good?” Which brings me to………
Third. On the day when we stand before God to give an account, there will only be two possible scenarios for us:
1) We can stand there, alone, with no one to plead our cause. When the books are opened, and the charges read, we will not have an attorney. We will not have friends and family pleading with The Judge that we were a “good person.” And even if our friends and family could stand there and plead for us, God will not see us as a “good person.” Why? “No one is good but One, that is, God” (Mark 10:18). Our friends will do no good pleading our cause. Our family will do no good pleading our cause. Not even the Virgin Mary will do any good pleading our cause. Without the blood of the spotless Lamb of God (1st Peter 1:18-19), the Great Mediator (1st Timothy 2:5) and Advocate (1st John 2:1), then all the pleading on our behalf is useless. Because when God judges, He does not offer compassion. He does not offer mercy. If anything, when we stand there and beg for mercy, He will say, “I offered you mercy. I gave you My Son, and you wanted nothing of Him. Now, I want nothing of you.”
And then what will they cry? “‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’” (Matthew 7:22). And they will cry, and they will weep, and they will gnash their teeth (Luke 13:28). All to no avail. For He will cast His fiery gaze at them and declare, for all to hear, “‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you worker of iniquity!’” (Matthew 7:23).
No appeal to a higher court. For there is no higher court than the one presided over by that Great and Perfect Judge, Almighty YHVH. And they will be cast into a Lake burning with fire and brimstone (Revelation 20:15), and their torment will be eternal, and the smoke of it will rise like incense to the heavens (Revelation 14:11), as a memorial to the perfect justice of a perfect and holy God. And His justice is perfect, because all men are judged by the same Law, by the same Judge, and with no respect of person (Romans 2:11; Romans 3:19-20; Deuteronomy 1:17; 2nd Samuel 14:14; 2nd Chronicles 19:7; Acts 10:34; Revelation 20:12).
So I ask you, my friend, who is pleading for you?
Your “good works?”
Unless it is the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord which is pleading to the Father on your behalf, be sure that you will receive nothing less than what you are due: eternal punishment for transgressing the eternal Law of an eternal God.
2) As guilty and as heinous as the crimes committed by Cobbins et al, , there is an even greater One who will plead for us to that eternal and Almighty God if we ask. The name of that advocate is Jesus Christ the Lord. If He is pleading for us, we can stand there, with our sins forgiven, having been paid for on the cross of Golgotha. Those who have acknowledged Christ Jesus as Savior AND LORD will have their debts wiped off the books. And when they stand before the Great and Almighty Judge of all, they can hear their final verdict read–”NOT GUILTY!!” 1st Timothy 2:5–For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. And that Mediator is seated at God’s right hand, ever ready to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). And as many as He draws, and as many enter into Him for rest, and as many as He saves, He saves to the uttermost.
We will face consequences for our actions here on earth. But be assured, friend, that there is hope even for one like Letalvis Cobbins. And there is even hope for one like you.