Originally published for the members of Pueblo West Baptist Church, in the October 2022 church newsletter.
Recently a church member asked my “biblical thoughts” on suicide and salvation. Knowing some of you have had neighbors and loved ones take their own lives, I thought I would answer publicly. I’ve had to counsel families of those who’ve taken their own lives. One of the first funerals I ever conducted was for a 16-year-old boy who took his life. Seeking a right understanding from Scripture as I faced those experiences brought me to conclude what I have written below. This essay is obviously not exhaustive, but it is foundational and will strengthen you in your faith and guard you from the empty deception and despair prevalent in our crooked and perverse age.1
Standing on the promises,
The Gravity of Suicide
Suicide is the sinful act of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally.
It is a twisted form of murder, the intentional breaking of the sixth commandment – “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:13). Just as all sin promises pleasure or power or freedom but only brings pain, bondage and judgment, so too suicide.
Sin is never righteous, therefore suicide cannot be a right response to one’s circumstances. Of the seven instances in Scripture of men taking their own lives, as best I can tell, their self-inflicted or assisted deaths were the fruit of previous rebellion against God.2
Suicide is not the unforgivable sin (for that, see Mark 3:28-29). However, it is an eternally dangerous act. God commands physical death for those who intentionally commit murder (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 21:14). And if they do not repent and flee to Christ for refuge, murderers experience horrific eternal consequences.
“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
The Promises of God to the True Believer
Scripture promises that those in Christ Jesus can never be separated from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). Those purchased by Christ’s blood have been forgiven all their sins, past, present and future (Colossians 2:13-14).
So, if a true believer in a state of confused weakness would take his own life, Christ would keep him from eternally stumbling and be made to stand blameless and with great joy in the presence of God (Jude 24).3
However, if a professing believer is contemplating suicide, or threatens it, loving counsel must call him to repent, even to challenge him to examine himself to see if he truly is of the faith (Hebrews 3:13; II Corinthians 13:5). God’s Word gives no assurance they will be welcomed by Him should they willfully carry it out.
Three reasons why it would be highly unlikely believers would commit suicide
First, believers guard themselves against presumptuous sin. Planning your own murder with the expectation God will give you a free pass when you carry it out is high handed presumptuous sin against God. In love for their Lord. true believers echo King David’s prayer, “Keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins” (Psalm 19:13).
Second, saving faith is a persevering faith; there are no shortcuts to heaven (Matthew 24:13; Acts 14:22; Romans 8:18-25; Romans 5:2-5). Amidst their sufferings and disappointments true believers will acknowledge their present state as temporary and with obedient expectation wait the bodily return of Christ and the fulfillment of all God’s promises (Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; II Peter 3:13; I John 3:1-5; Revelation 21:1-4). They can reject despair because they know their present sufferings are not worthy to compare to the glory that will be revealed to them (Romans 8:18-25; II Corinthians 4:16-17).
Third, fellowship with God through Jesus Christ is always confirmed by forsaking sin and practicing righteousness, never planning for, or practicing sin (I John 1:5-8; 3:1-10).
Consider God’s warnings and His blessings
Two men in the Bible who committed suicide were Ahithophel and Judas.2 They appeared as being good men, wise, dedicated to the Lord. Yet both harbored bitterness and disgust with God’s plans that led them to revenge and betrayal against the Lord’s anointed (King David for Ahithophel, Jesus the Christ for Judas). Both had ample time to acknowledge their internal sins and repent. Yet when their sins caught up with them, they chose the most arrogant sin, suicide, rather than humbling themselves and before a merciful God.
Consider the loving warning: “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end” (Hebrews 3:12-14).
Consider the blessing and present benefit of hope in Christ: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).
1 What Partnership has Christ with the DSM-5? | The Cripplegate
2 Abimelech, Judges 9; Samson, Judges 16; King Saul and his armor-bearer, I Samuel 31; Ahithophel, II Samuel 17; Zimri, I Kings 16; Judas, Matthew 27