In light of the recent tragedy that took place in which Pastor Rick Warren’s son took his own life, I have been bombarded by questions about what the Bible says about suicide.
First off, I want to extend my deepest condolences to Pastor Rick Warren and their entire family. I had the privilege of being in a wedding party along with Matt. He was super friendly and was a pleasure to be around with. We pray that the peace of Jesus that surpasses all human understanding would be with the family during this time. Death is not the end.
I also want to bring to light what the Bible says about suicide. As a pastor, my job is to tell you the truth about all things related to life – no matter how tough or unpleasant they may be.
Suicide In The Bible:
The Bible cites six specific instances in which people ended their life, by taking their own life – ultimately committing suicide:
- Abimelech (Judges 9:54)
- Saul (1 Samuel 31:4)
- Saul’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 31:4-6)
- Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23)
- Zimri (1 Kings 16:18)
- Judas (Matthew 27:5)
Five of these were wicked and sinful men. Not enough information exists to make a judgement call about the character of Saul’s armor-bearer.
One may consider Samson as a case of suicide. But upon closer inspection, Samson’s goal was to kill the Philistines, not himself (Judges 16:26-31).
What Questions To Ask?
The wrong question to ask is this:
Will the person go to heaven if they committed suicide.
The right question to ask is this:
Under what condition does a person not get admitted into heaven and is condemned to hell.
The Deciding Factor:
Whether a person commits suicide or not – this is not the deciding factor for their admission into heaven. If a person who is outside of Christ (not saved) commits suicide, there is no Scriptural support that they will end up in heaven. But that person who was unsaved and committed suicide will ultimately end up in hell for rejecting salvation through Christ, NOT because he committed suicide.
What Does The Bible Say About A Christian Who Commits Suicide?
From the moment we genuinely believe in Jesus, we are granted eternal life (John 3:16).
Those who are in Christ can without a doubt know and be assured that they possess eternal life (1 John 5:13).
Nothing can separate a follower of Christ from the love of Christ (Romans 8:38-39). If no “created thing,” can separate a follower of Jesus from the love of Jesus, and a follower of Christ is a “created thing,” then not even suicide can separate a Christian from the love of God.
Jesus died for all of our sins – past, present and future (Col. 2:13-14).
If a genuine believer, in a time of weakness and despair, commits suicide, that is still a sin covered by the blood of Christ.
I want to be very clear: Suicide is still a serious sin against God. It is wrong. It is sinful. It is a sin equivalent to murder (Exodus 20:13; 21:23). At the same time, it can be forgiven like other sin.
What Happens To A Genuine Believer If They Commit Suicide?
If a true follower of Jesus commits suicide, he or she will be received into heaven (Jude 24). One can choose to doubt the authenticity of an individual’s salvation who has committed suicide. But that remains between the individual and God. The Bible says that just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment (Heb. 9:27). God is the judge, we are not.
I believe there are no circumstances that can justify someone, especially a follower of Jesus, to take his or her own life.
Just like we do not determine when we are born – we also do not have the right to determine when we die. The decision for us reaching the finish line is God’s, not ours.
Why Would We Question The Authenticity Of Salvation Of Someone Who Commits Suicide?
The Bible is very emphatic about providing hope to those who follow Jesus and declare Him as Lord (Acts 24:15; Romans 5:2-5; 8:24; 2 Corinthians 1:10).
In addition, one who habitually ponders upon committing suicide, is practicing sin in their heart (Prov. 23:7). The Bible says that no one who is born of God practices or lives in, habitual sin (1 John 3:9).
Very often, the act of suicide occurs when the individual denies the fact that Jesus is Lord over their life and presumes to be the appointed lord over their own life, by taking their life.
Who will hear the words of Matthew 7:23 upon meeting Jesus is a question I cannot answer in this life – but it will be posed to some people, in their next life.
Why You Should Not Consider Or Commit Suicide:
No matter how difficult your situation is, nothing is impossible with Jesus (Luke 1:37).
No matter how many times you have been rejected or despised, Jesus identifies with you and loves you (Isaiah 53:2-6). Because Jesus suffered, we do not have to.
Because Jesus gave up His life to give us a life, we do not have to take our life.
Jesus endured everything so that you would not be led to despair, because of anything (Psalm 50:15).
No sin in your life is too great for Jesus to forgive (2 Cor. 5:17).
Jesus is able to repair your life, even if it is shattered to pieces (Isaiah 61:1-3).
Jesus will never reject you when you come to him with a broken spirit and a contrite heart. He will accept your prayer of repentance and grant you forgiveness (Psalm 51:12, 15-17).
Is it possible for a true believer to commit suicide?
Yes, but I believe it is an unusual occurrence.
Is it possible for a true believer to go to heaven, if they commit suicide?
Yes (see above)
Is it possible for someone who is unsaved to go to heaven, if they committed suicide?
I cannot find any Scriptural evidence for this to be true.
Ultimately, it is not about people, but rather all about Jesus. People do not go to hell for being bad. They go to hell for rejecting Jesus and His gospel.
Conversely, people do not go to heaven because they were good. People go to heaven because Jesus was good on our behalf. Thanks be to the Holy Spirit who prompted us to realize this – that only Jesus is good. This happens not by any of our own work, will or exertion. We believe by grace through faith upon that old rugged cross where our Savior rendered to us our salvation.
Question: What have you been led to believe about suicide? Is this something that has hit close to home for you? What hope do you receive from the above promises that come directly from the Great Promise Keeper?