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Recently, someone asked the question will a genuine believer who commits suicide lose their salvation? Honestly, I thought it was a no-brainer, of course not, suicide is not the unforgivable sin which according to Mark 3:28-30 is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (and in context that blasphemy is attributing the spiritual authority of Jesus, during His earthly ministry, to the powers of hell). But some insisted that suicide resulted in the loss of salvation, so I asked myself am I missing something? So I decided I would examine the Scriptures to definitively and authoritatively answer the question, “can someone who commits suicide be saved?”
Before I get into the question at hand, let me say this, suicide is an act of rebellion against God, it is sin plain and simple. Every human life is the life of an image bearer of God (Gen 1:27) and because every man, woman and child bears the image of God their lives are so valuable that God proscribes the most severe and final earthly punishment available for those who take a human life (Gen 6:6). I also want to be clear that there is always hope in Christ (Rom 5:1-5) and that believers are commanded to rejoice in Christ many times in the New Testament (see for example Phil 4:4). Yet I want to be just as clear that faith in Christ doesn’t eliminate pain and suffering, either physical or emotional, from our lives, and Christians sometimes sin in their pain, often profoundly. And just as a stubbed toe does not excuse sinfully yelling in anger at your spouse, severe pain doesn’t excuse the sin of suicide, I am in no way saying it does. Consider the words of Paul:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? – Romans 6:1-2
And I should also point out that I am coming at this question from the angle of “can a true Christian lose their salvation?” For the sake of this discussion I am stipulating that the one who committed suicide truly placed their faith for salvation in Jesus Christ, His atoning sacrifice and His glorious resurrection in defeat of sin and death.
One of the arguments I heard made was that no true Christian would ever commit suicide. But to be blunt there is absolutely no hint in Scripture that saving faith precludes the believer from committing any particular sin. A corollary of this argument that I heard was that no one indwelled by the Holy Spirit would ever commit suicide. While there is no passage of scripture that speaks directly to this question, there is one that I believe sheds some light, Ephesians 4:30.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
The context of that verse is a passage about not sinning, and the seriousness of sin, specifically having sinful anger, stealing, and pouring forth meanspirited speech. In a passage abut the seriousness of sin, the believer isn’t told that being indwelled by the Holy Spirit will prevent them from sinning, rather we are admonished that when we sin we bring grief upon the Holy Spirit who indwells us as God’s mark that we are His.
I think it is fair in the absence of any explicit passage to the contrary to take the principle that being indwelled by the Holy Spirit doesn’t prevent the believer from committing sinful acts and apply it to the sin of suicide.
The other argument I heard was that sin must be repented of to be forgiven, in other words there must be an expression of sorrow over sin, before God forgives. And the logic proceeds that because suicide is a final act, there is no opportunity to express sorrow and repentance for that particular sin, and so there is no forgiveness.
But how does God forgive? Not on the basis of our expressed repentance, but on the basis of Christ’s accomplished work on the cross. From our perspective God forgave us when we were unrepentant enemies of God.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. – Romans 5:6-11
Furthermore, the notion that we have to commit any act, including expressing repentance, to be saved is a direct contradiction of the plain teaching of the Bible.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.– Ephesians 2:8-10
I am not saying that the believer need not repent of sin or express repentance, but I am saying that repentance is not the basis of salvation, rather the basis for salvation is the accomplished work of Christ (John 19:30). And of course salvation is not a result of living a transformed life but living a transformed life is the inevitable response to salvation.
So that leaves the question of “can a believer forfeit or lose their salvation?” The simple biblical answer is no.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35-39
The reason we are so secure is that Jesus Himself gives believers eternal life and hold them securely, and the Father holds them securely in His omnipotent hand. They work in concert (with the Holy Spirit who seals believers) bringing the full force and power of the Trinity to bear in keeping believers secure.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.- John 10:28-30
Some have appealed to the warning of Matthew 7:22-23 against the salvation of believers who have committed suicide, but that is not a warning to believers, but a terrifying warning to self-deceived make believers.
Putting it all together I can find no biblical reason to think that a true believer who sinfully commits suicide loses his or her salvation. It makes no more sense biblically than saying someone who dies of an anxiety induced heart attack while actively violating the command to be anxious for nothing (Phil 4:6) loses their salvation. A believer’s final destiny is not determined by the final sin or good work that they commit, but by the once and for all atonement of Jesus Christ. Jesus said “it is finished” on the cross (John 19:30) and it is. And no sin can undo the finished work of Christ.