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Why Alex Murdaugh’s courtroom sentencing should alarm you

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Have you seen the video of Alex Murdaugh being sentenced for murdering his wife and son? The jury convicted the South Carolina lawyer in less than 3 hours. And if you are not yet prepared for your appointment in God’s courtroom, then Alex Murdaugh’s sentencing should definitely alarm you. 

Just as “the heavens declare the glory of God,” (Psalm 19:1) the courtrooms of this world remind us that everyone will ultimately appear before the Judge of the living and the dead. It is essential to enter God's courtroom having already been acquitted of all the charges against you. Otherwise, the Judge will have no other option than to “throw the book at you” so to speak.

Alex Murdaugh assumed he was above the law. That is, until the jury handed down the guilty verdict and the judge handed down the sentence of life in prison. And if a South Carolina judge and jury will hold a man accountable for murdering his wife and son, how much more certain is it that God will hold you accountable for your misdeeds? When you enter God's courtroom on Judgment Day, you will be entering it either completely forgiven, or already under condemnation.

You see, “It is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). So when God’s Word declares that “God will bring every deed into judgment,” (Ecclesiastes 12:14) you can be certain that it will happen! “It is appointed for man once to die, and after that the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

“God commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

“The Lord comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth” (Psalm 96:13). Do you seriously think you will be the only person on the planet to avoid being judged according to God’s righteousness and truth? Everyone will face their Creator and be held accountable to God, just like Alex Murdaugh was held accountable for murder.

When was the last time you were alarmed over your sins? Perhaps you say, “To be honest with you Dan, I can’t say I have ever really been alarmed over my sins.” It is critical that you experience godly sorrow. Without it, you will never “repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15).

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The Apostle Paul wrote: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Worldly sorrow is simply being sorry that you got caught. Alex Murdaugh expressed sorrow over getting caught. Godly sorrow, on the other hand, is sorrow that you have sinned against God and broken His commandments.

Paul defined “godly sorrow” this way: “See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done” (2 Corinthians 7:11). Godly sorrow is something the Holy Spirit produces in your heart as you become aware that your sins have greatly offended the Lord.

In his natural state, man never becomes alarmed over his sins against God. The only time man becomes sorry is when he gets caught, as evidenced by the life of Alex Murdaugh. And you see where that got him. The tragic reality is that multitudes of people will enter God’s courtroom having lived on Earth without godly sorrow, faith in Christ, and the free gift of everlasting life in Heaven. 

The fact of the matter is that Jesus endured the punishment you and I deserve to pay for our sins. And the good news of the Gospel informs us that we are forgiven when we turn to God in repentance and receive a free pardon for our sins on account of Christ. (Luke 23:39-43) By placing our faith in Jesus' death for our sins, we are washed clean and we escape the eternal penalty that each one of us deserves to pay.

God covers us with the righteousness of Christ when we trust Jesus to forgive us (Romans 3:21-26). God then sees us as holy in his sight on account of Christ. We are justified before God and instantly declared, “Not guilty.” But this acquittal must take place during your life on Earth. Otherwise, it will be too late for you to trust Christ to grant you a pardon. And Alex Murdaugh is a classic example of someone who chose not to do anything about his duplicitous conduct. He will now pay for the crimes he willingly chose to commit.
You can run from the law, but it eventually catches up with you. And you can run from God, but you will eventually be brought into the Lord’s courtroom. Paul wrote, “This will take place when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my Gospel declares” (Romans 2:16).

The Apostle John had a spectacular vision of future events. He wrote: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it…And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books…If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15). 

Perhaps you assume that you will never be held accountable for your sins. If so, I implore you to reconsider your misguided notion. Humble yourself before the Lord. Repent and turn to God while you still have time to do so. And then rely on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as the payment for your sins. Your name will be written in the book of life as the Holy Spirit brings you to faith in Christ. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart” (Hebrews 4:7).

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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