There is a great deal of words that have been written about the suicide of a recent celebrity. This blog does not intend to readdress this sad loss for his family and friends. The fact is that depression has seen another life go out into eternity. However, before I address the question at hand, I do want to make a few preliminary comments.
1) Eternity is real and each one of us will face that reality. The Scriptures remind us that “as it is appointed unto man once to die and after this will come the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). This means that no matter when we die or how we die, we will stand before God. He alone is the Judge of man.
While we can make judgment calls against another, the truth is that the Bible does give us the answer to what will happen next after death. It is our responsibility to tell others the dangers of what will come. There are only two choices. If our salvation is placed by grace through faith alone in Christ alone, then His Holy Spirit will have brought us to the point of repentance and we become a new creation in Christ Jesus. If not, then the price that will be paid is eternal damnation apart from Christ.
2) It is a sad day when people get angry when a subject matter like suicide is spoken about. People tend to follow their emotions rather than the dictates of a clear conscience. What is worse is when Christians become so divisive that the world cannot clearly see Jesus Christ working in and through us. He alone is our hope and our guide, and it is to His Word that we must seek to find our answers.
3) This post is not intended to denigrate the reality of suicide, nor the causes of what brings a person to suicide. Further, it is not meant to belittle the pain of what a family goes through when suicide has been committed. Death is a tragic part of life but it is because of the fall in the Garden of Eden that death is a reality.
4) Suicide is a reality in just about every culture around the world. The church should be stepping up with help instead of hiding behind rocks and pretending it does not happen. Sadly, pastors are not prepared to offer help, guidance, and counsel because many do not have a solid view of Biblical principles. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that the Scriptures are good for all that pertains to life and godliness. Therefore, we must correctly believe that depression and suicide can be addressed from a biblical perspective.
Now, let me address suicide and it is our desire to do so from a Biblical perspective. Tragically, there is a great deal of misunderstanding among true believers about the matter of suicide. While I do not expect our readers to totally agree with me, it is my prayer that you will give my thoughts prayerful consideration. I do not want needless rants, but you are welcome to comment or share your thoughts. As always, we ask that if you do so that you follow our rules of engagement.
1) Suicide is mentioned in the Bible. We are told of seven different people who took their own lives (Judges 9:54; 16:29-31; 1 Sam. 31:3-6; 2 Sam. 17:23; 1 Kings 16:18; and Matt. 27:5). Of course, the two most famous were King Saul in the Old Testament and then Judas Iscariot in the New Testament. The why and how is not relevant to this blog post.
2) Any time that we act in a manner that is contrary to what God desires, it is sin. Therefore, we must conclude that suicide is sin. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin, and suicide is not a step of faith.
3) Because suicide is a sin, we must address what the Bible says about sin. Sin is a reality of the Fall. We are fallen creatures and our hearts and minds are totally set in contradiction to the holiness of God, unless we have been made a new creation in Christ.
4) Sadly, in the church, we have become very adept at classifying our sin according to our own perspectives instead of how God sees sin. It has become far too fashionable in Christendom to categorize sin into certain tiers. Lying on your tax return is not as bad as adultery. Lying to your kids about Santa Claus is not as bad as the couple who got divorced and remarried. Hating somebody who writes a blog is not as bad as the person who actually took their own life.
The biblical answer to life is that we must turn to Jesus Christ. We must see sin as He does and the penalty that must be endured for that sin. If He paid it all, then it is all to Him I owe because sin had left a crimson stain, but He washed it white as snow. The sobering alternative is that those who reject Christ will pay the ultimate penalty in everlasting punishment.
5) Thus we must address another question. Can a murderer become a true believer in Christ? Further, can a true believer who takes his or her eyes off Christ respond in anger in such a way that murder is the result? Let’s go further. Christ said that if we even have hatred in our hearts, it is the same as murder.
If we had the opportunity to speak to somebody on death row, do we share with them the truth of God’s Word and His grace and forgiveness offered freely to all who will believe, or do we ask them first what type of murder they perpetrated and how they did it? Of course, any true bearer of good news would share the reality of grace and what Christ paid so we would not have to suffer the wrath of God the Father.
So, in order to share this truth we must ask another question. Is the sin of murder one of the sins that nailed Christ to the cross? The answer is unquestionably yes it was. Although, suicide is considered by many to be self-murder, it is still sin and it was still a sin nailed to the cross of Christ for all who believe.
6) Logically, we must then ask two more questions. 1) Can a person who is a Christian commit suicide? 2) Will a person who commits suicide go to heaven when they die?
The answer to both of these lay in what Christ did and not in what we have done, nor in what we deserve. Christ died for our sins almost 2,000 years ago and that means that all of our sins were in His future. Further, from before the foundations of the world, God set His love upon all who would believe and who would be brought to repent and confess their sin. This means that if you have ever truly come to Christ, every sin you have ever committed was PAID IN FULL on the cross of Calvary.
We have biblical injunction to assume that we can ever undo the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When He cried, “It is finished”, he meant that it was finished for all time. There would never be the need for another sacrifice for all who come by grace through faith alone to Him.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” This is important to correctly understand. A person who is TRULY a new creation in Christ cannot uncreate what God has created.
While I believe in eternal security of the believer, I do NOT believe that a person can do what they want, when they want, and remain in that sin if they are a true believer. If they are a brand new creation, they will be changed into the image of Jesus Christ. However, this does not mean that we cannot succumb to a particular sin with the exception of unbelief. I do not find any leeway in Scripture that shows a person who belongs to Christ can truly come to the point of unbelief in the saving work of Christ. This means that a person can be discouraged or in complete despair of their situation, but that never negates what Christ accomplished on Calvary.
7) The only sin that will ever take a person to hell is the sin of unbelief. God will not bring down the hammer of condemnation because a person is a drunkard, or a cheater, or a liar, or an adulterer, or even a murderer. Nobody will ever be able to say that God is unfair and He does not judge rightly, and the ultimate sin that brings that condemnation will be the rejection of Jesus Christ. Suicide is not a rejection of Jesus Christ, but a rejection of the life and circumstances that God has sovereignly placed in my path. Thus, if a person chooses to end their life, they have sinned but not a sin that I believe brings damnation to hell.
Let us consider a few more thoughts about suicide.
1) More times than not, suicide is the end result of depression. While we could address depression at length, let it be sufficient to say that one of the results of the fall is that our mind is not what God originally designed and created. DNA does not grow better, but it decreases with each person that is born.
This means there is a Biblical reason for mental illnesses no matter what kind it is. Our understanding of mental illness can often be skewed because we (the church) too often looks to worldly psychology instead of to the Word of God for appropriate answers.
2) Suicide is never to be an option. It is the ultimate act of selfishness against God and against those we love. Speak to a family who has gone through this and you will see the pain, grief, and shame that never goes away. Speak to the police officers, EMT workers, and funeral workers that grieve alone after the work of dealing with a suicide has been finished. Speak to the pastors and church members who struggle to know how to help a family pick up the pieces of the puzzle that have been irreversibly shattered.
3) The two greatest commandments given by Jesus Christ reiterate all that is found in the law and the prophets. First, we must love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Second, we must love our neighbor as ourselves. There is not a third command that we must learn to love ourselves. It is automatically assumed and we do that very well.
By this simple understanding of the law, it is easy to follow that doing anything in our life that does not reflect these two commands must be sin and the result of sin. Therefore, because it does not reflect a love for God or for our neighbor, suicide is sin no matter why it is done.
So, what is the answer we can present to others or how do we help those who are weak in mind and body?
1) Suicidal thoughts can inhabit the mind, but Romans 12 reminds us that we are to renew our minds by being transformed. To be transformed, we cannot conform to the standards and precepts of the world. Further, in order to keep from conforming to the world, we must present our bodies a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to Jesus Christ.
2) The church needs to wake up to the reality that people’s mind are not being renewed. Thus, the church and pastors are failing to help provide care and love to those who are depressed or suffering from ailments that are the end result of the Fall. We must love those who are in our midst and recognize that it is not drugs that will give them freedom. It is not self-help or self-awareness classes that will bring ultimate relief. It is Jesus Christ. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith and it is to Him that we must point others who are helpless and hopeless.
3) When tragedy strikes within the ranks of true believers, the true Church must be willing to render prayer and loving support. We must follow the dictates of Galatians 6 and help to bear one another’s burdens, for in so doing, we fulfill the law of Christ.
4) It is not up to us to second-guess what the state of a person’s mind may or may not have been when they took their own life. Only God knows both their heart and their mind. While we do not condone this or any other sin, we must use this to reinforce the reality of Christ and what He has done so that we will ultimately be free from the ravages of all sin.
5) In almost 8 years in the funeral industry, I also served as a chaplain in four different funeral homes. I conducted 272 funerals. I only knew two of these individuals. It was not my responsibility to preach people into hell who did not belong there, nor did I preach anybody into heaven who had not been forgiven for their sins. That was the responsibility of the Judge of the Universe. However, in times of grief, I was able to share the truths that I did here in this post. There is room at the cross for all who will but come and plead to God for mercy.
A passage to consider is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” On the surface, this paints a very bad picture for anybody who has practiced or indulged in such sins.
But Paul gives hope to the reader in the very next verse 11, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This is worth rejoicing over. Such people who committed such sins have been washed, sanctified, and justified. The power of salvation is not based on us or our reactions to emotions, feelings, or circumstances. As Jonah stated, Salvation belongs unto God. It is of Him, through Him, and because of Him alone.
We want to make one thing abundantly clear. This blog post, nor my beliefs, are to be construed in any way that a person is free to take their own lives when God allows them to go through turmoil and discouragement. I am NOT, nor would I ever say that. Suicide is ALWAYS wrong and is always sin. The power of life and death must be left in the hands of God alone. Despair can bring a person to make decisions that are regrettable.
While I do believe a true believer may come to the point where they despair completely of life and choose to end that life, I also believe that such an action would bring loss of reward when standing before God. Ultimately, we must see our lives as Job did when his world crashed down around him in Job 23:10, “When he has tried me, I will come forth as gold.”
Suicide happens and will continue to happen because we are fallen creatures in a fallen world. Until Satan is completely destroyed and all things are made right, sin will reign in the hearts and lives of individuals all around the world. However, we are assured that by His death, burial, and resurrection that Christ is the ultimate victor over death, hell, sin, and the grave.
May our hearts be filled with love and understanding toward those who are hurting. May we not make assumptions about what the Scriptures give us no leeway to make. May we show Christ to a world that is in utter darkness. May we be a light to that dark world so that those in the world will see God in our lives and will ultimately glorify our Father who is in heaven.
May we have compassion and grace toward what we do not, may not, or cannot comprehend. And finally, may we be ever thankful for the forgiveness that is offered by Christ to all who will come by faith and realize that if it was not for grace – many of us would find ourselves doomed and lost in hell.
I want to conclude with one final thought. If you are considering taking your life, seek out somebody who knows and loves Christ. Don’t look to somebody who has no answers or wants to fill your head with the Oprah Winfrey or Joel Osteen type of drivel that sends people to hell. Let them share with you the joy that comes from being found in Christ alone. There is life after despair. There is hope after discouragement. There is love where you may only know hate.
The answer is found in Christ alone!