Suicide the Unforgivable Sin?
Suicide the Unforgivable Sin? Introduction Most of us have our own opinion and beliefs about suicide, but I’m interested in finding the truth through God’s Word. I’ve search and cross-referenced scripture, covering related topics such as Suicide the Unforgivable Sin, Is Repentance Necessary for Salvation? , Is Suicide Always Wrong? ’ What the Bible Teaches, Believers and Suicide, and Biblical Examples of suicide. This paper shall examine the concept of suicide as the “unforgivable sin” in regards to the Christian faith and the Bible and its views on suicide.
The Bible says in John chapter 16 that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth, whatever He hears from the Father. But sometimes there are answers to questions not so evident in the Bible. In that case, we need to go even further into our study by seeking the deeper mysteries of God, which He also commands us to do.
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Suicide the Unforgivable Sin? This might seem like a confusing question, but it does have an answer. Though the Christian who has committed suicide has committed a grave sin, he is still forgiven (Bible Answer).
But, in order for us to understand why a Christian who commits suicide is forgiven, we first need to understand what salvation is and what it is based upon. Salvation is the state of being saved from God’s judgment upon us the sinner (Erickson). The only way to be saved is to trust Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). All who do not trust Jesus alone, by faith (Rom. 5:1; Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9) are not forgiven and go to hell when they die (Matt. 25:46; John 3:18). When Jesus forgives someone, He forgives all their sins and gives them eternal life and they shall never perish (John 10:28).
He does not give them temporary eternal life otherwise, it would not be eternal. Salvation is not based upon what you do. In other words, you don’t have to obey any Law of God in order to become saved. This is because no one is saved by keeping the Law of God (Gal. 2:21; Rom. 3:24-28). But that does not mean that you can go and sin all you want. Rom. 6:1-3 expressly condemns such action. Instead, we are saved for the purpose of purity (1 Thess. 4:7). Our salvation is strictly from God: “By grace through faith you have been saved…” (Eph. 2:8).
Other than acting by faith in trusting and accepting what Jesus did on the cross, you don’t do a thing (John 1:12-3) in order to become saved. Since you did not get your salvation by what you did, you cannot lose it by what you do. What about the unforgivable sin? Is that suicide? Suicide is not the unforgivable sin (Sheedd). Jesus spoke of the unforgivable sin in Matt. 12:22-32. The context is when the Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of the devil. Therefore, suicide is not the unforgivable sin. Is repentance necessary for salvation?
This is a good question and the answer is yes and no. Repentance is a necessary result of the saving work of God, not the cause of salvation (Erickson). If repentance brought salvation, then salvation is by works; or rather, the ceasing of bad works. That isn’t how it works. God grants repentance to the Christian (2 Tim. 2:25). The Christian then turns from their sin; that is, they stops sinning. They are able to repent because they are saved, not to get saved. In 1 John 1:9 it says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Confession of sin and its natural result of repentance are necessary elements of the Christian’s life (Sheed). But, what about the sins that we do not know we commit? If we do not confess them and do not repent of them, are we still saved? I believe we are otherwise, we would be forced to confess and repent of every single sin we ever commit. In effect, we’d be back under the Law, living by a rule of absolute repentance of every detail lest you be damned. This is bondage, not freedom. Jesus said His yoke was light, not hard (Matt. 11:27-30. So, repentance is not the cause of salvation, but it is a result of alvation. The believer repents from his sins upon trusting in Christ and thereafter, continues to repent of further sins that the Lord reveals to him (Erickson). Back to the suicide issue Suicide is, in effect, self-murder. The unfortunate thing about it is that the one who commits it cannot repent of it (Ryan). The damage is permanently done. We can see in the Bible that murderers have been redeemed (Moses, David, etc. ), but they had opportunities to confess their sins and repent. With suicide, the person does not. But that does not mean the person is lost. Jesus bore all that person’s sins, including suicide.
If Jesus bore that person’s sins on the cross 2000 years ago, and if suicide was not covered, then the Christian was never saved in the first place and the one sin of suicide is able to undo the entire work of the cross of Christ (Sheed). This cannot be. Jesus either saves completely or he does not. Is suicide always wrong? That I cannot answer because I cannot list every possible situation. But, it seems obvious that suicide is clearly wrong, though forgivable. However, there are general categories of suicide on which we could briefly comment: Medically Assisted Suicide – I’ve never seen this as being acceptable.
The doctor is supposed to save life, not destroy it. But, lately as destroying the lives of the unborn is more common place, destroying the lives of the sick has become the next logical step (Gregory). Suicide to prevent prolonged torture – Let’s say that someone was being tortured in an excruciating manner for an unbearably long period of time, is suicide an option? Perhaps, but if it were in this situation, why wouldn’t it be all right in the medically-assisted context if the patient were also in excruciating pain for long periods of time? (Bible Answers) Quite honestly, I’m not sure how to answer that one.
Suicide due to depression – Of course, this is never a good reason for suicide. Seasons pass and so does depression. The one who is depressed needs to look to Jesus and get help (Bible Answers). Depression is real and powerful and is best fought with help. Also, severe depression robs the mind of clear thinking. People in such states are despondent, and not in their right mind. Suicide due to a chemical imbalance in the brain – The human brain is incredibly complex and the medical community is full of accounts of extraordinary behaviors by people whose “circuits got crossed. (Gregory) I don’t see how a situation like this would make it justifiable. I think it simply would make it more explainable. Accidental suicide – Sometimes people accidentally kill themselves. This could mean leaning over a balcony too far and falling to one’s death, or actually, purposefully taking a stupid risk like playing with a gun. Of course, with either, stupidity does not remove us from the grace of God (Sheed). What The Bible Teaches Instead of dwelling on what people think about suicide, let’s consider what the Bible says. First, we may well ask, “Why does a person choose suicide? Apparently there are many reasons, because, after all, we are human. Some get so overwhelmed by pressures, health problems and depression that they take their own lives in a state of deep alienation and distraction. It is difficult to know to what extent they are really responsible for actions done, when they are not themselves. I’ve been told that those who are suicidal suffer from an overwhelming sense of being alone. Their depression shrinks their horizons. Their entire perspective is reduced to being filled with their own despair. This leads to the self-deception that justifies, in their own minds, the final act of suicide (Ryan).
This may be so, but is it right? Clearly, the Bible says that human life is sacred because man was made in “the image of God” (Gen. 9:6). Suicide negates God’s estimate of life. It violates the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” either another human or yourself! (Ex. 20:13; Rom. 13:9). The Ten Commandments are a wonderful biblical standard for conduct, but not for salvation. Believers And Suicide Some Christians think that a true believer cannot commit suicide, but there is no scriptural evidence for such a claim (Sheed). Other Christians maintain that a believer may lose his salvation through such an act.
Again, Scripture does not say that. However, it does tell us that once saved always saved (Sheed). The Lord Jesus said: “Neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand … and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (Jn. 10:28-29). The apostle John wrote, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in the Son” (1 Jn. 5:11). God’s Word goes on to say: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life” (Jn. 3:36). No man, thing or act can separate us from God’s love and the eternal life that is ours through Christ (Rom. 8:35-39. ) Biblical Examples There are no examples of a believer committing suicide in the New Testament.
Judas was not a believer. In the Old Testament there might be two examples. King Saul fell on his own sword (1 Sam. 31:4). Some say Samuel’s statement to Saul that “tomorrow you and your sons will be with me” (1 Sam. 28:19), means that Saul would be in paradise (or heaven) with Samuel. Others say this means merely that Saul would soon die and go to Sheol, which included a place for the wicked dead. The other example is that of Ahithophel, David’s trusted counselor, who was the grandfather of Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:3), and who may have hated David for leading her into sin. He turned on David and helped Absalom, who decided to ignore his advice.
Greatly offended, Ahithophel hanged himself (2 Sam. 17:23). Some believe both will be in glory but this cannot be proved (Thompson). Notwithstanding these Old Testament examples, we know that believers do not lose their salvation because of sins committed after their conversion (Acts 13:39; 1 Jn. l:8-10). Yes, suicide is a sin because it is the murder of oneself (Bible Answers). However, adultery and murder of someone else are also equally unpleasant sins (Sheed). But David, who committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered Uriah, did not lose his salvation because of these sins (Ps. 2:1-5; 51:12; Rom. 4:6-8). We need to remember that if we are truly saved, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin even suicide (Erickson). Conclusion Since a believer does not lose their salvation when they commit suicide, aren’t they therefore “with Christ, which is far better”? (Phil. 1:23). True, it is far better to be with Christ, if the departure is according to God’s perfect timing (Sheed). But if the departure is out of His will, then the result is not as good as it would have been (Sheed). When death occurs, by whatever means, the believer’s service on earth is over (Erickson).
It is that service which will be examined at the judgment seat of Christ (Sheed). The outcome of that judgment does not involve the eternal destiny of the believer because that is not in question (Sheed). What is in question is reward or loss of it. The phrase “he will suffer loss” in 1 Corinthians 3:15 describes one of the significant effects of the believer’s suicide. The word “loss” means “to forfeit” the reward one might have possessed. John warns of the same possibility of losing “a full reward” (2 Jn. 8). Since suicide breaks God’s command, the one who commits it suffers loss of reward at the judgment seat of Christ (Sheed).
They do not lose their salvation (1 Cor. 3:15), because that is eternally secure through God’s acceptance of His Son’s great work of redemption at Calvary. They are saved and safe forever. No person, circumstance or thing can take away God’s everlasting gift of eternal life in Christ (Erickson). Suicide is still a serious sin against God (Bible Answers). According to the Bible, suicide is murder, it is always wrong. Serious doubts should be raised about the genuineness of faith of anyone who claimed to be a Christian yet committed suicide (Bible Answers).