Today I received a phone call from a precious lady from out of state whose husband of more than half a century committed suicide about six years ago. She told me that several months ago a friend of hers mailed her a copy of an article I has written about suicide for Hometown Journey Magazine. She said she had read it dozens of times in the past several months and that the Bible verses had given her so much comfort. She told me to make sure to not stop sharing those promises from Scripture with others.
The gospel truly is our hope in every situation of life we must endure. Below is the article this sweet woman read. I’m posting it so that others can benefit from God’s Word on suicide.
Question: If someone commits suicide, do they automatically go to hell?
Few questions are as painful to ask and consider as this one. Few can say they’ve lived their lives untouched by the tragedy of a loved who has taken his or her own life. I’ve had people I deeply care about attempt suicide, and some have been successful. That makes this a very common question, one with many emotions behind it.
Let me be clear: No, suicide is not an automatic sentence to hell. I can understand the line of reasoning behind the thought. Murder is a sin, and suicide is a murder. If a person kills himself or herself without having an opportunity to repent or ask for forgiveness, then how could they not go to hell?
But that line of thinking misunderstands the grace and mercy and forgiveness of God. The difference between heaven and hell for any of us is not our last act, whether it be righteous or wicked. Our eternal destination does not hinge upon whether or not we were able to make a last confession. The single determining factor in whether we go to heaven or hell is whether we know Jesus Christ.
Suicide is a sin. The book of Ecclesiastes asks, “Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time?” (7:17) There are seven cases of suicide mentioned in the Bible; none of them are praised. Yet God’s grace is greater than all our sin, even the taking of one’s own life.
When Jesus died on the cross, He suffered in our place, taking upon Himself all the wrath of God for all our sin. Peter reminds us, “He himself bore our sins in his body on that tree… By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Paul agrees, declaring that, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9). Jesus’ death justifies all who trust in Him, giving them the legal status of being “righteous” before God. In this way, we are saved from God’s wrath.
This forgiveness covers all our sins: past, present, and future. Yes, in this life we still struggle with our fallen nature. We continue to battle temptations, and sometimes we lose those battles. This is called the process of sanctification. But our struggles along the road of sanctification do not in any way compromise our justification before God by the blood of Jesus Christ. “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). You see what that says? The perfection of justification is “for all time,” even as we are being made holy. Though we may lose some battles, God will win the war.
Always remember that our forgiveness of sin and our acceptance by God is entirely a work of grace and not based on anything we have done. That’s what makes it a gift, not something we earn. If suicide suddenly disqualifies a Christian from getting into heaven, then doesn’t that mean that salvation is based on what we do or don’t do instead of on what God has already done?
Suicide is a tragic sin, but it is not unforgivable. If a person is in Christ by faith, that person is secure in His hands. Nothing will separate him from His love. The penalty for all his sin, even the sin of suicide, was suffered by Christ on the cross. Our great God and Savior, in his immeasurable mercy and in his love that surpasses all knowledge, has paid for all the sins of those who trust in Jesus. In closing, consider this: If Jesus paid for all your sin, how much do you owe?