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Reasons For Hope : Is SUICIDE an unforgivable sin?

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A dear Sister-in-Christ Aubrey has started delivering devotionals via e-mail, and this one instantly touched my heart when I read it. As it hasn't escaped my mind since it was read earlier in March, I deemed it appropriate to share here. It is taken from Reasons For Hope.

Is SUICIDE an unforgivable sin? 

By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope

Recently I have received more questions than I wish to count about the eternal destiny of those who commit suicide.  Therefore, this question has been moved to the top of the Got Questions? queue and we’ll look at what the Bible says about suicide.  

In addition to asking if suicide is an unforgivable sin, the reader wrote, “I can’t find anything in the Bible about suicide.  I found Judas’ hanging himself..but nothing else. Am I overlooking it? I have heard two preachers preach very different messages about suicide.”  And another reader asked, “When a person commits suicide, do they go straight to hell like most churches teach?”

Let me begin by saying, I don’t believe that most churches teach a person goes straight to hell if they commit suicide (although there are somechurches that teach or imply that).  In fact, this is not something that is often addressed in most churches, and yet with the increasing rate of suicide it needs to be addressed.  Just last week, CBS News reported these findings:

 “ The suicide rate for girls and young women in the U.S. continues to rise at a pace far faster than for young males….The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 5,178 suicide deaths among young people aged 10 to 24 in the U.S. in 2012. Suicide was the second leading cause of deaths in that age group, after accidents.The suicide rate increased for young people of both genders since 2007. And it remains three times higher for young males than young females.But the female increase has been steadier.

“Suicide rates for younger people have varied over the years, with a recent upward trend starting around 2007. There were 4,320 suicide deaths in 2007; the toll was 5,264 in 2013. Suicide rates for older adults tend to be higher, in the range of 15 or 20 per 100,000. Since 2007, suicide rates have increased for older age groups, too.” [1]

Is Suicide an Unforgivable Sin? What does the Bible say?

There are several accounts in the Bible of people who took their own lives.  Probably the two best known examples are Saul, who took his life to avoid the dishonor of being captured, abused and killed (1 Samuel 31:1-4), and Judas, who betrayed Jesus and then hung himself (Matthew 27:5).  Other people in the Old Testament who committed suicide are:

Abimelech (Judges 9:54) – to avoid the dishonor of being killed by a woman
Samson (Judges 16:28-31) – to defeat the Philistines who had imprisoned him
Saul’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 31:5) – to follow his king, Saul, into death
Ahitophel (2 Samuel 17:23) – in defeat when he realized his counsel was not followed
Zimri (1 Kings 16:18) – in defeat to avoid capture

 Although the act of suicide is clearly condemned in the Bible, these men in the Old Testament were not condemned for what they did.
It should be understood that suicide is never to be a viable option for escape in times of difficulty and despair.  There is help…, friends, churches, online (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) and the best of all help, Jesus.   Scripture teaches us that Jesus’ grace is sufficient in all things (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) and that He is faithful to provide an escape from anything that threatens to overcome us (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Sadly, many Christians experience dark seasons of the soul and fail to find the comfort they need in Jesus.  And tragically, some have taken their own life.  This is why it is important to spend time in prayer and in reading the Bible, so, when a storm threatens to overtake us, we are prepared to find comfort and strength in Jesus and His Word.   The Bible will give us the answers we need to deal with all problems in life, and in prayer our faith will grow stronger and we can find peace and comfort.   These practices will build a foundation to stand upon in our darkest days.

With all that said, we must acknowledge that there have been prepared believers who have lost their “footings” and have fallen and have taken their own lives.  So is suicide a sin?  Yes, it is.  Suicide is the taking of human life.  However, in man’s vertical relationship with God, suicide is no different than any other sin.  And, while God can forgive any sin, He cannot overlook even one sin.  All sin must be paid for in order to receive God’s forgiveness.  

If a believer (one who has been redeemed and regenerated by Jesus) has committed suicide, it must be remembered that every one of the believer’s sins were paid for by Jesus on the cross.  The believer received God’s forgiveness for every sin (past, present and future sins), including the final sin of suicide, in their salvation.   Jesus has promised that He has prepared a place for those who are His and that He will come to receive them unto Himself (John 14:1-4).

For someone who does not belong to Jesus, someone who has not repented and trusted in Jesus’ finished work on the cross to pay for their sins, they have not received the forgiveness of their sins and God will judge them accordingly.  All sin must be paid for and if someone dies in their sin, they are already condemned. 

John 3:18  “He who believes in [Jesus] is not condemned [they have been forgiven and given the righteousness of Christ]; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (bracketed information added)

 This is a great reason for us to be diligent in sharing the gospel of saving grace with family and friends, and even strangers.  People leave this earth every minute of every day and without belonging to Jesus they will not enter Heaven.  We should always share the gospel, hoping that the Holy Spirit will work on the person’s heart.  Some will repent and turn to Jesus, but sadly some are very hard hearted and will stubbornly reject Jesus their entire life.  However, even for those there is always hope that before they take their last breath they will surrender to God and trust in Jesus.  The Lord’s mercy is available to all who will call upon Him and, if a person knows the gospel,  their heart can turn to Jesus even at the last moment of life.  An example of this is the thief on the cross.  He was saved in the last moments of his life when He trusted in Jesus as Lord (Luke 23:42) and given eternal life with Jesus (Luke 23:43).  So also can our friends and family do the same.  If they have a knowledge of who Jesus is and what He has done for them, they can turn to Jesus.  Therein lies our hope.  Continue to share the gospel of the saving grace found only in the Lord Jesus Christ with all who do not know Him.  

In conclusion:  Regarding Christians who commit suicide, we can rest assured that there is no sin which is unforgivable.  Because their sins were paid for on the cross by Jesus, and they have trusted in Him, they are forgiven sinners.  

Colossians 2:13-14  And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Jesus has forgiven our sins and given us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  He has regenerated us in newness of life (Romans 6:4) and made us worthy to be citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20).  Remember always that we can find peace and comfort in Him, and when any Christian dies (under whatever circumstances) they go home to Heaven and be with Jesus (John 14:1-4).

Titus 2:14  who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed [sin] and purify for Himself His own special people…
Philippians 3:20  For our [citizenship/home] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, 
the only wise God, be honour and glory 

for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)

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  1. Yup, suicide being the "unforgivable sin" is definitely some sort of traditional belief which Christians have been passing down for centuries now, without any real basis. I can imagine the genesis of it...
    "We need to get people in the church to stop killing themselves."
    "Well just tell them that they'll go to straight to hell if they do."

    1. Which is interesting right? I suppose it goes along the lines of telling people God hates them specifically, thinking there is some standard for how a believer should look, etc. We all may have some of these man-made ideals lodged in our noggin from various teachings rooted in opinion (or just ideas we formed ourselves). From what I have read to this day there is only 1 truly unforgivable sin, which is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Which (as my interpretation/understanding goes) basically relates into speaking negatively about the Spirit of God which translates into one not being saved, so you cannot be forgiven if you haven't trusted Jesus Christ as Savior, Friend, and King.