Suicide is both a delicate and a critical subject. It involves the taking of life, which is the most precious thing God has entrusted to humans. (Gen. 2:7) In fact, it was the life of God’s Son that had to be given to pay the price for our redemption and escape from eternal death. Life is invaluable, therefore murder is a sin (Ex. 20:13). Moreover, God has given us a way to a living hope – a substantive hope that never dies, despite the worst trials and temptations. (1 Pet. 1:3, 6-7). He does this through the resurrection of His Son over sin and death, the ultimate proof that life is the way of God.
When it comes to the ultimate outcome of someone committing suicide, the two options are the same as for any other person: eternal life or eternal damnation (John 3:36). Those are the only two existing categories for a person who leaves this temporary world and enters the next. When we try to contemplate how the sin of suicide plays into God’s judgment, we need to remember that all sin is covered by the blood of Jesus Christ for the one who truly believes in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Although the Bible does not explicitly spell out the eternal destiny of those who commit suicide, we know, indeed, that some among us who have committed murder are in Heaven. We need only to think of Moses and David (Ex. 2:12, 2 Sam. 11:15). Both these men of God murdered at one point, but neither of them made the pattern of murderous sin the way of their lives. The difference between a Christian who sins and an unsaved person who sins is that the true believer repents of his sin and hates it, while the unbeliever thinks not much of his sin and would do it again without any strain against her conscience toward Her Creator. Revelation 21:8 clearly explains of murderers that “their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” However, it is also there said of liars and idolaters, for example, that they will be in the same eternal fire. Every one of us has lied and put other people or things ahead of God (idolatry). We, nonetheless, do not conclude that our place will be in the lake of fire if we are trusting in Jesus Christ and hate what hurts Him and His kingdom rather than embracing such iniquity (1 Pet. 2:24). It is our salvation by Jesus that ensures our eternal destiny. (John 5:24)
The ultimate question here, then, is whether or not a follower of Jesus Christ can commit suicide. For, only followers of Jesus are safe in His presence subsequent to earthly death. This is an inquiry that cannot be unequivocally answered by mortals – even with full appeal to the Word of God. I think immediately of Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” How eloquently here does the Spirit express that there are things that only God can know, especially when it comes to issues of His judgment and mercy – as in the context of this verse. What we should point out, though, is that while some things are secret, the things that are revealed are to be known and obeyed. We have enough of God’s Word to understand that He gives to His people what is necessary to overcome in all predispositions, circumstances, and temptations. 1 Cor. 10:13 proclaims, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Also, 2 Pet. 2:9 declares that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials.” With these two verses alone, I am compelled to believe that I can have victory over sin and the most terrible of trials.
However, the Bible undeniably reveals a grace, a help, and a forgiveness that meets the Christian at his point of failure. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). These words bring boundless comforts, because we know that Jesus is our Defense. He took the hit in His body and His death for all our sin. “Propitiation” means appeasement. Jesus appeases the wrath of God on behalf of all who sincerely are trusting in Christ as their Savior. Nowhere does the Bible say that the sin of suicide is excluded from the practical reaches of this Scripture. However, nowhere does the Bible say that suicide is excluded from the incontrovertible promise of God’s sustaining grace in trials and provision for victory over sin in the aforementioned verses. Therefore, it seems that the question of whether or not a heaven-bound Christian can commit suicide is ultimately one of the secrets of God, but general parameters for the topic have been made known. As Matthew Henry (1662-1714), the great Bible commentator said, “We are forbidden curiously to inquire into the secret counsels of God, and to determine concerning them. But we are directed and encouraged, diligently to seek into that which God has made known. He has kept back nothing that is profitable for us, but only that of which it is good for us to be ignorant. The end of all Divine revelation is, not to furnish curious subjects of speculation and discourse, but that we may do all the words of this law, and be blessed in our deed. This, the Bible plainly reveals; further than this, man cannot profitably go. By this light he may live and die comfortably, and be happy forever.”
When asked my humble opinion on the matter, I lean toward believing that I will meet a few people in Heaven who are now truly repentant after having committed the sin of self-murder. In the Lord’s presence, they now see clearly the purpose their pain could have served, and the sustaining grace the Lord could have shown them. But is not that true of all of us, for all our mistrust and sin? I would caution, however, that judgment for Christians is real. Though we make Heaven despite our sins because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can lose eternal reward. If one cuts short his life by committing suicide, one forfeits untold reward for the days not lived on earth that had a purpose in Jesus. So much pain will have been caused, so much confusion will have been disseminated, and so many of the good plans of God will have gone unfulfilled. We simply cannot deny 2 Cor. 5:10 or 1 Cor. 3:13-15, “Each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
Finally, we must treat this subject as we should carefully treat many others – with thoughtfulness and a heart full of mercy toward others and humility toward the Lord. This is a mysterious area on which we tread. Only God Himself sees through to the core of who we are. “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). I think of the way the winsome C.S. Lewis put it, “We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man’s psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises.”
Here is the bottom line, “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). Until then, let us live according to what God has given us with every ounce of strength we have. And let us hold out all hope that the blood of Jesus Christ is fully sufficient for the sin we so awfully commit.