What the Bible Says about Suicide & What It Means for Christians
- Debbie McDaniel
- 2016 25 Apr
Many who wrestle with suicidal thoughts and tendencies often feel all alone in their struggle. But the truth is, it’s more common than we may even be aware of. And it’s not a new problem. It’s been an issue for many years, even from in biblical times. If you're wondering what the Bible says about suicide, let's take a look at several questions about Christians and suicide, study seven stories of suicide in the Bible, and be reminded of 6 hope-filled promises we have in Scripture.
Will a Christian Go to Heaven if They Commit Suicide?
The question really is, can a person who has been forgiven of their sins, who has been received by God through the mercy and the merits of Jesus ... can that person do something to be unforgiven? Can they somehow lose their standing before God? That's the real question: Can we lose our salvation?
The answer to that is no. Can a Christian, one who's been born again by the mercy of God, commit suicide and go to Heaven? The answer is yes because our standing before God is not based on how well we perform. It isn't based upon our own obedience, but the obedience of Jesus.
Now, some people would suggest that a person who really is born again, who has experienced God's grace, who really has faith, that person wouldn't commit suicide. Some people reason that way. Well, a true Christian would never commit murder or would never commit suicide, which is essentially what suicide is. But I don't think you can give a fair reading of scripture without seeing men who know God, who have been the recipients of his converting grace, who have then committed horrible acts, who have done the wrong thing, who have committed murder or who have done things that we would say, "Wow, Christians aren't supposed to do that."
So a Christian who unfortunately, who tragically, in the midst of confusion and despair and loses their way, they may commit suicide, but if they know Christ ... if they've been justified ... they're received by their father." [transcribed excerpt from Crosswalk Q&A Video]
7 Different Accounts in the Bible of Those Who Took Their Own Lives:
King Saul – Because of defeat by the enemy and great fear after being wounded, Saul chose to end his life, rather than face abuse by his captors. When his armor-bearer refused to kill him at his request, he took his own life by falling on his sword. (1 Sam. 31:3-5)
Armor-bearer to Saul – Out of hopelessness and terror after seeing that Saul was dead, this assistant to the king impulsively took his life as well. (1 Sam. 31:5)
Samson – In his great drive for revenge, Samson was willing to die when he killed the Philistines in the crowded temple that day. Braced between two pillars, he used his final strength to push them down, and take his own life along with his enemies. (Judges 16:25-30)
Abimelech – This king over Israel was ruthless and cruel. His evil knew no limits, and after killing many people, and even taking the lives of 69 of his 70 half-brothers, God allowed one woman to stop him. After she dropped a millstone on his head, he was so injured that his pride led him to take his own life. So that no one could “say a woman killed him.” (Judges 9:50-55)
Ahithophel – As a one-time close companion of David, and grandfather of Bathsheba, Ahithophel eventually took up the cause of Absalom’s rise against him. But when he noticed that his advice had not been taken to lead to final defeat over David’s army, out of possible fear, rejection, or complete hopelessness, he chose to go home, “put his house in order, and then hanged himself.” (2 Samuel 17:23)
Zimri – As an evil king of Israel and facing utter defeat, Zimri saw no way out, except to take his own life. He set the palace on fire and died in it, rather than choose to face his enemy. (1 Kings 16:15-20)
Judas – In great despair and guilt after betraying Christ, the burden Judas carried led him to choose suicide. His story is probably the most well-known account in the Bible on the tragedy of suicide. He was Jesus’ own disciple, he walked with him, he was close to him, but yet he still didn’t “know” him. And instead of repenting and seeking forgiveness after betraying Christ, he allowed the great burden of sin to lead him to this terrible end. (Matt. 27:3-4)
Hope for Suicidal Thoughts from God’s Word:
One truth about each of these stories of suicide is this: they didn’t have to end the way they did. They could have chosen a different way. God reminds us in story after story in His word that He will never waste the pain we struggle through in this life, but He will turn it around for good somehow and use it to strengthen us and to help others.
Yet it’s important to note that nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that the act of suicide, no matter how tragic, is an unforgivable sin. If you are a believer in Christ, you will go to heaven. The Bible is clear that sin which cannot be forgiven is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and the refusal to believe in Christ.
“But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, he is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:29)
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16)
Some believe that because a person cannot ask for specific forgiveness after suicide that it will separate one from God forever. But there are many sins that may never be confessed before our death. And the Bible is clear that when we are in Christ, nothing will separate us from Him, not even death.
“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.” (Rom. 8:38-39)
Whatever one chooses to believe, it seems more helpful and wise for us, as believers, to focus our attention on helping those who are still here and might be struggling, rather than on debating whether one who has lost their life to suicide committed an unforgivable sin. The tragedy itself is hard enough for loved ones to grieve through. And we can offer the truth and hope through Christ that He is greater than any struggle we face, here in this life, and even in death.
6 Reminders for Those Who Are Struggling with Thoughts of Suicide:
1. Recognize that we have a real enemy whose mission is to steal, kill, and destroy.
But Christ came to give abundant life and joy.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
2. Choose not to be driven by fear.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and help someone who is struggling, or to reach out for help if you find yourself struggling. God won’t ever let you go. And He’s given you others in life to help shoulder this burden. There’s support and counsel available through many who understand or have walked this road before.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Is. 41:10)
3. Know that you’re never alone.
He offers hope and deliverance.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (Ps. 34:18-19)
4. Know that God loves you and is always with you.
He will sustain us through our greatest burdens.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” (Ps. 55:22)
5. Know that He does not condemn you or accuse you.
He offers freedom and peace.
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Rom. 8:1-2)
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
6. Remember that He has a plan for good in store
Whatever we face now, no matter how dark it may seem, will not remain the same. There’s hope still ahead.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11)
There is power in God’s Word, and in praying it back to Him. He reminds us that it won’t return empty, without accomplishing great things. (Is. 55:11) Even in the deepest struggles, He is able to bring us through to other side, by His healing and strength.
Note - If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts and tendencies, please get help. Don’t try to face this on your own. There is hope and healing, and there are many who will journey through this trial with you. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) at any time day or night 24/7, to talk to someone who understands. Or go online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org for more information and help.
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/DebbieWebbMcDaniel, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also at http://twitter.com/debbmcdaniel and http://www.debbiemcdaniel.com.
Publication date: April 25, 2016
Additional Resources on the Bible and Suicide
Related Articles for Suicide Hope
7 Lies the Enemy Wants Us to Believe About Suicide: "Maybe it's time that we as believers, who know Truth and the power of Christ that sets us free, started more discussions. That we begin to open doors, setting aside our own fears and judgments, to help peel back layers, get conversations going, and take the share out of mental illness, depressions, addiction and suicidal thoughts....Here are 7 lies that people with suicidal thoughts often think and matching truths from God's word that can set free..."
Will I Go to Heaven if I Commit Suicide? "I guess my main question is, if I were to one day give up and let in to my depression and commit suicide...would I go to heaven still?"
6 Ways to Help Prevent Suicide "The Holy Spirit gently dissolved my guilt while I continued to pray about my friends subsidies, and I realized the right way forward to stop asking God "What if?" and instead ask "What now?" So I did - and one word resonated clearing in my mind: compassion..."
A Prayer for Fighting Suicidal Thoughts "Write a prayer when you're able to express your pain and thought process, then you'll have it ready to read the next time the suicidal thoughts come. Perhaps the following prayer can be of some help..."
Bible Verses on Suicide and Finding Hope
2 Samuel 17:23 - "When Ahithophel saw that his advice has not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father's tomb."
Isaiah 31:10 - "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Romans 8:38-39 - "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
This article is part of our larger Spiritual Life resource meant to answer your questions about the Bible, God and the Christian faith. Visit our most popular questions on “What does the Bible say about…” questions answered by well known Christians and theologians to find more inspiration. Remember that as you read these articles, the Holy Spirit will give you understanding and discernment to make the right decision for your walk with Jesus Christ! If you know others struggling with these faith questions, please share and help others discover the truth on these controversial topics.
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