Author: Lori Apon
(If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States, please call 1-800-273-8255)
Within days of my husband’s suicide death, people started to give me their humble, maybe not, yet inaccurate opinions of where my husband would spend eternity! Yes—they really had the boldness to tell me that my husband would spend eternity in hell because of his choice to take his own life based on wrong theology! The circumstances of his death were horrific enough without the voice of others amplifying the tormenting questions that were already flooding my heart and soul. When my precious husband walked into eternity would he hear God say, “depart from me I never knew you” or “welcome home my prodigal son?” To this day, I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I do know this, if my husband had a saving covenant relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing—not even suicide, would separate him from God as he was saved by grace and the blood of Jesus Christ is able to keep him.
Willfully terminating human life is a sin. The real question is, is that sin mortal – is it unforgivable, consigning the victim to an eternity outside the presence of God? The short answer is no, absolutely not, based on the Word of God.
Suicide can evoke intense theological discussion. Fortunately, for the most part today, “No major religion teaches anymore that death by suicide automatically means hell, but this merciless thought persists, inferring that God punishes people for being sick. In our broken world, unspeakable tragedies occur daily, but that doesn’t mean God causes or approves of those tragedies. Sadly, some grieving people have turned away from God as their ultimate source of comfort because of such misguided belief, generally following this line of reasoning:
(1) Murder is acknowledged as sin; (2) Suicide is self-murder; (3) Suicide is the last action of the person committing it, so (4) the suicide victim goes into eternity unforgiven and therefore is automatically eternally lost.
I suppose that follows a certain logic, but it reaches an unscriptural conclusion on at least two counts:
- Eternal salvation is not based on our works but on the work of Jesus Christ!
- There is a way we can renounce our salvation, but not one of the listed requirements includes murder!
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:17, 16).
“But to him who does not work [for his own salvation] but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness. . . Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven and whose sins are covered, blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin” (Romans 4:5-8).
“Even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
We are saved by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and there is nothing we can do to contribute to the saving process. A person who genuinely knows Christ as Savior, cannot by a single act annul the covenant of God to save his eternal soul! AMEN!
God’s Word teaches differently from those who believe suicide is the sin that separates one from God:
“What the shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-37).
It is rank foolishness for any person to declare that they know what transpired between the victim and God in the minutes or split seconds before they slipped into eternity. No one knows how God may reveal Himself to the person in that moment. The scriptures plainly teach that those who call upon the Name of the Lord will be heard! Who can conceive of a victim who would not cry out with His final breath, “Oh God! Help me! Oh God, Save me!” It is not in the hand of any human to declare they know with certainty the future of any suicide victim without knowing what took place between God and that individual.
At the same time, it is vital that we acknowledge that salvation is promised to those who believe in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ to absolve their sin. The same God who made that promise also said that those who reject the sacrifice of His Son will perish. It is a serious matter. Even though suicide is a forgivable sin that will not separate one from God if they have a saving relationship with him based on the blood of Jesus Christ, choosing death over life is the wrong choice with consequences.
I submit that the “real” sin of suicide is dereliction of duty!
“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. Plans handmade for each person by the Lord Himself. Plans to bring each person to a good end and not a disastrous one! Plans which can be subverted and never fulfilled because of a human choice to surrender to deception!
The Bible says that each of us when we enter heaven will have everything we have been and done exposed openly in the presence of the Lord, and all those things will be tested by fire – meaning our “gold” won’t burn but our “wood” will (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).
The Bible says that it is possible for everything we’ve done could be classified as “wood, hay and stubble, and burned in that examining fire yet the person will still be saved. Eternal salvation is not based on our works but on the work of Jesus Christ! Perhaps the scene will look like this: Jesus says, “I love you and receive you from the pain of your failure. You are forgiven, and you may enter into the presence of the Father, but everything you were to do and be for Me has been lost. I call you to account: why did you waste a moment of the life I planned for you to have?”
The Bible says that God will “wipe away all tears from our eyes.” What occasions those tears? I think it is when we fully see what we have irretrievably squandered and fully know that “way of escape” made for us which we refused. We are accountable for every choice that we make. The day will come when we will all answer, “What have you done with the life I gave you?”
Sin is sin, each with its own set of consequences. Suicide is just that—a sin, but not the unpardonable forever separating sin. The consequences of this sin deeply impacts others possibly for their lifetime. As stated in the previous blog on The Seduction of Suicide, Satan is often involved in the decision against life because his mission in this world is “to kill, steal, and destroy.” If you struggle with depression or thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. We want you to know and experience the truth that Jesus came to give life abundant!
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” Deuteronomy 30:19.
SIGN UP FOR PERSPECTIVE MINISTRIES EMAIL UPDATES
Get practical messages for widows, volunteers, and church leaders sent directly to your inbox!