[Editor’s Note: At no point am I saying it is acceptable or pleasing to God to commit suicide. Your family does not deserve to live in the aftermath of taking your life. Reach out, please.-JS]
Matthew Bassford posted a thoughtful article on suicide to his Facebook page last week1. I expressed my thoughts on an episode of “Grace and Truth” in August of 20202, but I have never put issued them in print. Bassford’s article inspired me to put pen to paper. This is a delicate issue. I feel certain, some will not agree with what I write. I will gladly sit and discuss the subject.
The title of Bassford’s article, “Is Suicide a Sin” is a question. Experience teaches me the question people want answered when they ask that is, “If I commit suicide, will I go to hell?” We will deal briefly with the query in his title first. The rest of this article will be concerned with question number two.
1) Is Suicide a Sin? In most instances, “Yes.” Suicide is “self-killing” or “self-murder.” Our God tells us, “for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning…From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.”-Genesis 9:5. Certainly, killing is justified in certain circumstances (military, self-defense, civil punishment) and true mental health issues can render a person incapable of, “the knowledge of good and evil.”-Genesis 2:9. But as a general rule, it is rebellion to alter the number of days in my, or someone else’s, life. Life is God’s to give, not mine to take, “in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me,”-Psalm 139:16.
2) If I Commit Suicide, Will I Go To Hell? This question arises from this scenario: Murder is sin. My final act is murder. My death means I am incapable of repentance and confession. Therefore, people who commit suicide are unforgiven and go to hell. Two thoughts leap to my mind:
1) This is a noble effort for the living.
2) It is no comfort for the surviving.
For those who teach this doctrine, there is no doubt they have love in their hearts for the suffering. I am certain they feel their approach is scriptural. It’s simple, clear, and meant as a bracing and effective damper against suicide. However, I believe it illustrates a misunderstanding of salvation itself. Let’s discuss.
The larger question is, “If I sin right before I die, will I go to hell without having consciously repented of and audibly confessed (CRAC) a clear sin?” This is referred to as, “yo-yo salvation” and it is taught like this: We are forgiven of all former sins at our baptism. Then we must CRAC any new sin in our lives to be forgiven. An appeal is made to I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” as proof. But a careful examination of verse nine, in context, will show, the Holy Spirit is making an opposing comparison. In verses six and seven, walking in darkness is the opposite of walking in the light. In verses eight and nine, “What is the opposite of, saying we have no sin?” Is it confessing an individual sin to be forgiven? No, it is confessing we have sin. In fact, if I am capable of CRAC each sin in my life and am therefore forgiven, am I not in danger of verse eight?
So, how does salvation work? At baptism I: die to sin, become a child of God, am sealed with the Holy Spirit, and come to stand in grace (John 1:12; 3:5; Romans 6:7; Ephesians 1:13; Romans 5:2). God predestined he would save those who believe in his resurrected Son and serve in his earthly kingdom (Romans 10:9). Grace, forgiveness, and mercy are promised to those who act on their faith in he who makes the promise. I am not forgiven because I keep a law of CRAC (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16). If I could do that perfectly, why did Christ have to die (Galatians 2:21)?
Meditate of these things. We fall short of the glory of God in ways we will never know. Are their ways in which I did not love my neighbor as myself? Do I know them all? If I am incapable of knowing my every sin, how can I CRAC those unknown sins? That means we will all go to our grave with unconfessed sin. If the doctrine, we discussed above, proves suicide is a sure ticket to hell because of one unacknowledged sin… Then we should all fear the measure we are using (Matthew 7:2).
Who then can be saved? Those who throw themselves at the feet of God for mercy; praise Jehovah for his unspotted lamb, and are justified by the grace paid for by the blood of his Son!
Brothers and sisters we are all guilty before a holy God. I will die lost if salvation is by my righteousness. Praise God for his grace! Thank Jesus for the cross! Beg to be strengthened by the Spirit!
Please do not even consider suicide. There is good news! “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”-Romans 4:5,8. May God have mercy on us all.
I am not attempting to say, “Because our salvation is constant, all people who commit suicide are going to heaven.” Anyone’s salvation is based on a life of faithful service to Christ Jesus as resurrected Lord and Son of God.
Like many others of my age and background, I had a view of salvation that hung in the balance of my ability to CRAC at the last minute to be saved. The Scriptures teach no such thing. Forgiveness is not based on my power to comply with a law of CRAC to perfection. God has chosen who he will forgive. Those who have the faith of Romans 1:16-17; 3:24-26 and the obedience of Romans 1:5; 16:26 are the ones whom God has chosen to save (Ephesians 1:11-14).
And no, I did not notice until my wife pointed it out, the acronym CRAC reads like, “law of crack.”
I love you. God really loves you. Don’t commit suicide or do crack. Praise the name of Jesus. Live by the Spirit.