This question doesn’t come up in conversation very often, but it nonetheless is an interesting one. There are some Christians who have experienced a friend who’s taken their own life and wonder whether they were truly saved or not. If one stops to think about it, this issue is actually way more important than perhaps we Christians give it credit for. There are thousands of people who take their own life every year. However, is it even possible for a Christian to commit suicide if they’ve truly placed their trust in Jesus to carry them through to the end? Does the Bible support this type of thinking?
EXAMPLES OF SUICIDE IN THE BIBLE
There are actually recorded instances in the Bible where people have committed suicide. Seven to be exact. There’s Abimelech (Judges 9:54), Samson (Judges 16:30), Saul (1 Samuel 31:4), Saul’s armour-bearer (1 Samuel 31:5), Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23), King Zimri (1 Kings 16:18), and of course Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:5). Some of these people committed suicide because of total despair and loss of hope; some did it because of the knowledge of what was going to happen in the near future; some because they thought they had nothing lose; some because they realized the terrible thing they did in the past; and some because they wanted to save their reputation. Whatever the reason was, it can safely be said that at the very root cause of their action was pride. They were so focused on themselves that they eventually resolved to end their life.
WHY IS SUICIDE A SIN?
The Bible equates suicide with murder because killing yourself is still considered to be murdering someone. Since life is a gift from God, the act of suicide is essentially destroying that gift and also presuming to have the authority to determine when their life should end. Only God has the authority to determine when someone’s life should end (Isaiah 45:18).
DOES IT DETERMINE OUR SALVATION?
When someone asks whether or not Christians who commit suicide go to heaven, they’ve actually answered their own question. All Christians go to heaven; no exceptions. Sure, suicide is a terrible sin, but it’s not the unforgivable sin (which Christians can’t commit) and if it determined a person’s salvation, there would be many implications that would follow.
For example, if all the Christians who ended their own life went to hell, then this would mean salvation is by works and not by grace through faith. There’s not much heresy out there that can top this type of false thinking as the Bible clearly teaches otherwise (Romans 9:14-16; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8; Titus 2:11). There is literally no way anyone can get into heaven through their own good works because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Without Jesus, there is no salvation (Acts 4:12).
Another implication is that the last sin a Christian commits would send them to hell. If suicide was the sin that sent a believer to hell then why not other sins? Is there anything that makes suicide different from any other sin. Though there are greater sins, there is no sin that’s so great (other than the unforgivable sin) that God will not forgive. It’s not as though suicide is the determining factor of which God makes His decision on whether or not He will let someone into heaven.
However, there are many people who claim to be Christian just so they can say they have “life insurance” so to speak, in that they want to try and have a good relationship with God just so they can get into heaven. This isn’t to say wanting to get into heaven is a bad thing necessarily, but if that’s the only motive and there’s no desire to have an actual relationship with God, then one might question whether they are truly a Christian or not. This kind of thinking often leads to a works based salvation, which, as addressed earlier, is very wrong. Jesus said Himself there will be many on the last day who will say to Him, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness'” (Mattew. 7:22-23).
In other words, they will say “Lord, we did all these good works for you, now you owe it to us to let us into heaven!” Jesus will then send them away from Him forever because there was never an existing relationship. Therefore, a person who committed suicide and thought they did enough good deeds to get into heaven without having a relationship with Christ, were sorely mistaken. It cannot be stressed enough that it’s not about a person’s good deeds that will get them into heaven. It’s by grace through faith in Christ! It is impossible to pay the debt we owe; we need Jesus to do it for us. This is why everyone who claims to be a Christian must check themselves to see if they are really in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). It’s important to know.