Does suicide keep me from heaven?

Question: I have a Christian friend who battles with mental illness. She, at times, is suicidal and has attempted suicide several times. My question is, “If one commits suicide will they be forgiven and still go to heaven? Are there any unforgivable sins?”

Answer: It is wonderful that your friend has someone like you to support her during her battles with mental illness. I trust she is also receiving counsel from one trained to deal with the suicidal behaviors you say she exhibits. As her friend, it will be important for you to alert someone who can intervene should it seem she is likely to harm herself in any way.

As to your question about suicide or any other sin that could be unforgivable, here are some thoughts. First, if your friend is a Christian, meaning she has a personal relationship with Christ believing in His death on the cross as payment for all of her sins (past, present, future), the simple answer is, “No.” No sin escapes the full payment that Christ made on the cross for her. His atonement on the cross was complete and a once-for-all-time event (Hebrews 9:25-28; 10:10; I Peter 3:18). No matter how evil our sins, there is pardon for them (I John 1:9). The unpardonable sin is actually an issue of a person so hardening his/her heart toward the truth of the Gospel that this person dies in unbelief. So, as far as your friend is concerned, if she is a Christian, there is nothing that can separate her from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39)…not even suicide.

Additionally, there are some other important, sobering aspects to consider regarding this subject. Suicide is a sign of hopelessness, which from a Christian perspective leaves God out of the picture. Hope should be a quality in the life of every growing Christian and should be strongest during times of suffering.

Another major concern for Christians is the belief that God is the source of life to begin with. If we believe that, then who are we to end prematurely what God has given us? We usually think of marriage when we read, “What God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6, NIV). But if we believe that God gives us life just as He breathed the breath of life into Adam, then we dare not take the initiative to separate ourselves from that life flow. We must come to see that essentially any problem, given a month or a year or some amount of time, is capable of being solved.

From a purely spiritual perspective, death isn’t something we should fear. In a particularly honest moment, the Apostle Paul even confessed that he had given the matter some thought: “I’m torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ. That would be far better for me, but it is better for you that I live” (Philippians 1:23-24). This wasn’t a consideration of suicide, but of the value of death over life.

Perhaps Paul’s explanation provides the best possible anti-suicide logic. As human beings, and particularly as believers, we have an obligation to look beyond our own feelings and concerns. We see in the aftermath of suicide what a toll it takes on the friends and loved ones who remain. Suicide is perhaps the ultimate act of selfishness. People who take their own lives rob their families and friends of potential years of growth and affection.

To be sure, everyone’s life contains a fair amount of suffering. In some cases, the amount of suffering is definitely unfair. Yet in the context of eternity, life, as well as suffering, is short.
Like Job, we cry out in confusion and disappointment. Like Job, the best human advice we receive might seem to be, “Curse God and die!” Like Job, we may be unaware that God sees our every injustice and hears our every cry, because all we feel is pain and frustration. And like Job, if we can persevere through the trials, God will eventually restore a sense of stability to life and reward our faithfulness.

Bill Bellican

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10 thoughts on “Does suicide keep me from heaven?

  1. I am not so sure I agree with you here.

    I agree that with repentance God will forgive all sins. But if I kill myself how can I repent if i am dead? Maybe your response should have been something like – If she has tried to kill herself maybe she has not truly given her life to Christ like she was originally lead to believe. Not to be a jerk or anything – but if she killed herself because she thought it was a forgivable sin then how would you feel?

    • Evan, your approach would be a problem for any sin we commit that we can’t repent of because we might die first. Christ’s sacrifice either covers all my sins or is ultimately useless. If it only covers sins previous to my becoming His follower, then my repenting of my subsequent sins cannot atone for them. Any subsequent sin is payable only by my death or the death of a substitute.

      Most people who kill themselves are past worrying about whether their sin will be forgiven or not. Life has become so painful that there seems no other way out. We could all be there given our life’s circumstances and/or the various mental illnesses that affect us. Christ’s death certainly covered suicide and every other sin and God is keenly aware of how we might suffer to the point of not thinking clearly or rightly.

  2. WHO GAVE THE IDEA THAT YOUR DESTINED FOR HEAVEN ???

    Joking apart if you mean the fictional heaven of christianity / which be
    somewhere beyond the clouds /then forget it its not real / utter fiction.

    Forget bible teachings old/new testament /it utter halfbaked nonsense.

    The way to heavens via meditation where one turns their senses inward
    thus in bringing their unfolding of the spiritual self / the true as only self.

    With meditation one needing a spiritual teacher at present the teacher of
    all teachers be Prem Rawat / one not wish be over dramatic approaching
    a time of xmas spirit ( a taking of alcohol ) in consuming too much alcohol.

    HOWEVER IF EVER IT ONE DESERVING THE TITLE KING OF KINGS
    it Prem Rawat thus it a xmas blessing for all the family /a family of nations.

    On PC search put (words of peace) on the site a large selection of videos as
    gifted by Prem Rawat whom informing one in turning their senses inwards
    bringing unfolding of spiritual self/thus in revealing the essence of creation.
    No longer ideas beliefs /but practical spiritual /understanding / experience.

    Give thyself the best xmas gift ever tune to (words of peace) Know Thyself.

  3. You ignored a key statement I made. Maybe your response should have been something like – If she has tried to kill herself maybe she has not truly given her life to Christ like she was originally lead to believe.

    I honestly do not believe for a second that a true Christ follower would ever attempt suicide. That’s why your post kind of pisses me off. Because pastors all around the United States make people believe they become Christians just because they said a prayer. The bible says Deny yourself take up your cross and follow Jesus which is a little bit more difficult that simply praying a prayer. Not to say that prayer isn’t involved or that salvation doesn’t start with a prayer, but it doesn’t end with one prayer either. To say that God has saved us is inaccurate. God is SAVING us as we live out our lives. The bible says the Father cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes. How can someone who is living a suicidal life bear fruit? If the tree is bearing no fruit why would god prune it? If she is living out a depression filled life – Then God obviously has not cleansed her!!

    • I didn’t intentionally ignore your statement, but wanted to focus on the most crucial aspect of your comment in my opinion. I am a Calvinist in my understanding of salvation and that includes perseverance of the saints. I understand that having prayed a prayer does not guarantee that a person gets saved. But perhaps I have seen into people’s lives a little more deeply than you have after many years of counseling troubled Christians. It is way off the mark, in my opinion, again, to say that someone who is suicidal is therefore not cleansed or saved.

      I’ve been reading and studying Job lately and one of the things that stands out powerfully is how his pain moved him to say things that were very unkind about God and very hopeless about his life. Nevertheless, God’s statement was that there was no one like Job who feared God and hated evil. And though God severely challenged and rebuked Job, in the end He also said what Job’s friends said about Him was wrong (they were trying to prove that he wasn’t what he said he was in relationship to God) and told Job’s friends that if Job did not pray for them they would not be forgiven.

      Thank you for expressing your viewpoint. I want to keep this a civil forum where the things of God can be fairly and effectively discussed.

  4. You were right to correct my statement about repentance. Salvation does start with a prayer, definitely. BUT the issue I am talking about is what that prayer means. I think a lot of people pray the prayer without any real understanding of what that prayer means for their lives thus not living any differently. So then are they really “saved”? God uses troubled times as an opportunity for us to grow and glorify Him. All I am saying is that I wish people could see that, and not get so depressed they want to kill themselves.

    • Do you think mentally ill people can control what they feel? Do you think they just get so depressed on purpose?

      They have a physiological problem, a chemical problem in their bodies and brain that prevents them from thinking clearly.

      You have to be there to understand it. You have to see it to believe it.

      I do believe that God does know that and will forgive them.

      • I have experienced that mentally ill people may have more limited control over their thinking than those who are not ill. Without medication some cannot function in a healthy manner. When depression is a part of the mental illness and is due to a chemical imbalance in their brains they may have seemingly no control over the depressive thoughts and a desperate yearning to be done with the excruciating pain of depression.

        Yes, of course God knows this and forgives them. And as I said in the article, if they have been justified by faith in Jesus Christ, God will never go back on His pronouncement that they are righteous in His eyes for all eternity. One cannot lose the salvation that God gives us. And just as being saved does not prevent us getting other bodily illnesses, so it does not guarantee we won’t get a mental illness.

  5. Pingback: Confidence in Our Rescue (Theology for Living from Philippians) « A Thimble-full of Theology for Daily Living

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