Are People Who commit Suicide Automatically Damned?
The answer to this difficult and terrifying question is complicated.
- The Bible very clearly says, “Thou shalt not kill”. Therefore suicide is a sin. And the consequence of sin is death.
- The issue then is, you have ended your life by an unrepentant sinful act.
- Therefore if you die having not confessed a sin and received forgiveness, can you still be saved?
The answer is more than a simple yes or no. Why? Because forgiveness of sin and redemption isn’t based on a single bad act or an integrity of good acts. Forgiveness is based upon the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
To say salvation is based upon our works would be like saying that Abraham creating Ishmael, which was an act of his sinful flesh, was acceptable to God.
It was not. Ishmael was rejected. And only the gift of the miraculous birth of Isaac from a barren woman was accepted. Meaning salvation is given as a miracle of God, not because of the deeds we do as sinners.
Galatians 4:30 “But what do the Scriptures say about that? ‘Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the flesh will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.’” (Born of the Spirit)
Salvation is not an act of human ethics, but rather, of God placing the miracle of new Spiritual life within sinful people.
And so this brings us to the thief on the cross. Here was a man who was dying under capitol punishment for a lifetime of sinful living. And yet in his dying hour he realized that Jesus was indeed the Savior. And through faith alone, ￼￼it was enough to gain access to heaven.
Luke 23:39-43 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you today, you will be with me in paradise.”
Here was a sinful man dying for crimes of which he was unrepentant, yet Jesus offered Him salvation. Why? Because he admitted his guilt. And in faith, asked for mercy. And salvation was given. Simple as that.
And so all of this brings us to our question of suicide. And the answer lies in this: salvation and damnation are not based in a single act or behavior, but in the condition of the heart.
When Jesus ultimately separates the saved and the lost, it will not be based upon the good they have done, verses the bad they have done. Rather, it is based upon whether or not that person, “knew Him”.
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Jesus repeats this teaching in Matthew 25, where the ones that are saved are the ones who gave water to the needy. Who cared for others. Yet didn’t even know they had done it. Because salvation was not based in their goodness, but only because of the condition of their heart. They had a living faith, that is to say, a living relationship with God that manifested in a soft and loving heart.
As Jesus said in John 3, only those “born again, of Spirit, can enter heaven”. And that new Spiritual life, just like Isaac, is an act of God. A life that comes from above. Salvation was never based upon human goodness, or a single prayer a person once said, but rather is the manifestation of the Spirit of God in the heart.
It’s why God loved David so deeply, regardless of his many egregious sins. Because David truly loved God. Our salvation is founded upon the goodness of God, not on the goodness of ourselves.
And in this, let’s say a sincere follower of God comes into a dark place because of failure, or disappointment, or grief, hardship, or abuse. And in a moment, or over a time of struggle, backslides, and makes the unalterable choice of death. They could no longer face the monsters. And so will they be lost based upon this?
Biblically the answer is, absolutely not. They can only be lost if their life trajectory reflected an unrepentant rebellion against the God of love by choosing to live against His Word. Damnation is the result of rejecting Jesus over a long course of year after year. Not just simply a few moths or weeks of struggling with our life and faith.
Romans 5:8-10 “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.”
Does this mean it is ok to kill yourself? Of course not. You can be lost because of a sinful lifestyle. We must come to the end of ourselves; our fixing, our obsession with control. We must acknowledge our faults and repent of destructive sins in order to be saved.
We must follow Christ with our entire life. Not just as a golden parachute of convenience or reward. But those who are saved do this because they see that God is love. And that He truly cares about us. They come to trust Him and know any hard thing He asks, is only because it is the road to lasting peace and meaning.
What I’m saying is that in redemption, trajectory is more important than moments. Growth is more a measure of the condition of the heart than failure. And in this, suicide is not a guaranteed damnation, but will rather be judged on a case by case basis of God seeing the condition of each heart.
Ezekiel 18:23 “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.”
And so when someone we love commits suicide, it does not automatically determine that they are lost. God will be the judge of their heart. And in this, we can still hope in His goodness. That He will do what is actually just, based in truth, and is not simply an enabling mercy. Not as man judges, by the eyes, but as God judges, by the motives of the heart.