How Should Christians Think About Suicide and Hell?
I want to talk to you today about one of the hardest topics in the world for us to talk about. And that is the issue of suicide. And because of the nature of the difficulty of this topic, and because of where I want to go over the course of the podcast here in the next few minutes because where I want to end, by the time we’re done, I need to talk about this in a couple of different ways. The first thing I want to say when I talk about suicide, and when I talk about hell, I want to talk about whether the act of suicide leads to a person’s condemnation to hell. As I do that, I want to acknowledge that I know, I am talking to people who are considering suicide. I know I’m talking to people who are thinking about this. I know I’m talking to people who are broken and troubled and burdened with a weight of care, and it is so desperate, and it is so bad, that it feels to you right now that some relief would be your own death, that that the relief would be your own death. And that temptation to end the suffering, to end the pain, to end the pressure, that temptation could feel even like an irresistible force pulling you closer and closer in as we talk about suicide and hell. And as I talk to you for just a moment, I want to be sure, as you listen, that you know that there is another solution. There are other options. I want to appeal to you if you are struggling with this temptation to not do it. I want to tell you why. I want to tell you honestly; this is a terrible sin. The Bible makes it a command in the sixth commandment that you shall not murder. You shall not murder anybody, and suicide is the murder of yourself. We’re going to talk about whether it will consign you to hell. But the reason we’re talking about whether it’s going to consign you to hell is because it’s a sin that you should not commit. It also is an act of terrible selfishness. On the other side of the loss of your life are going to be people who have to pick up the painful pieces of their shattered lives because of your loss. I want to appeal to you that this is a terrible sin, that this is very selfish.
The Hope of the Gospel
But here’s the other thing I want to appeal to you about that there really is help. And there really is hope. I know people who have moved from broken and suicidal to hopeful and encouraged. I know people who have moved from wanting to die who are being thrilled to be alive. I want to invite you to take a step towards help. If you are struggling, would you right now, pick up your phone and call for help? Send a text message to a friend, or call a loved one. Call the authorities in your area if you are in need of urgent attention. There is hope and help for you. And I want to invite you to find that, and I want you to invite you to do it right now. As we continue to talk about this issue, though, I want to talk to people for the rest of the time, not who are thinking of committing suicide. I’ve already talked to you, please don’t do this, please pursue another course. But I want to talk to those of you listening who know someone who has committed suicide, and now you are overwhelmed with care that their suicide means that they have gone to hell. The argument sometimes goes like this I don’t know their spiritual state. But I know if they were living in a place of such hopelessness, such faithlessness, such despair that their last act was a hopeless, faithless act, it was the taking of their own life, then that means they had no faith, they had no hope. And now they are in hell. That is the logic. I want to push back on that logic and give you a better, more hopeful way to think. The better, more hopeful, truer way to think is that Jesus Christ saves from all sin. Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose to pay for the sins of anyone who would turn from their sin and trust in Jesus Christ. He lived and died and rose to pay for the sins of murderers, and he lived and died and rose to pay for the sins of those even who murder themselves.
Now, it does cause us concern that many of us know people whose final act on this earth was an act of sin, a sinful act of murder. But what the Bible teaches is that our salvation is not based on what we do or do not do. Whether suicide or not. Our salvation is based on what Jesus did. And there is nothing that we can do that can undo what Jesus did. And I want you to listen to these powerful words from Romans 8:35-39. It says, “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’re being 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.” Those are powerful words to combat a powerful temptation to despair in your heart if you have lost a loved one to suicide and you are afraid they are in hell. What saves from hell is Jesus. If your loved one repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus, then they were in Jesus in their life, and they will be found in Jesus in their death, even if they pursued sinful means to bring about their own death. That’s exactly what this passage teaches us. The question is, what’s going to separate you from the love of Jesus Christ? And Paul says in verse 38 that neither death nor life is going to do it. Not even an angel can do it. Not a ruler, not a thing present, not a thing past, no power, no height, nor depth, nor anything else can separate you from the love of Christ in that comprehensive list is suicide.