Suicide has been taught to be an unpardonable sin. It is easy to see why we have tended to lump it in with the only sin that would not be forgiven because a deceased person cannot repent. So, let’s examine the examples used to support this idea, the meanings implied by this theory, and what it means for the person who does it.
A person that commits suicide is usually so heavily under a spirit of depression that he believes he has nothing to offer or that he’d improve the world by leaving it. Two of the Biblical examples of suicides are King Saul (fell on his sword to kill himself during battle) and Judas Iscariot (hanged himself after he realized Jesus would be sentenced). These two men are in hell. But are they in hell because of suicide or because of their life choices?
King Saul had become prideful and disobedient. He received clear instructions by the prophet Samuel from God, but he chose to do what he wanted. God was grieved that He had appointed Saul. “14 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.” – 1 Sam 16:14 King Saul had not been repentant after his disobedience but wanted to be viewed well in the eyes of the people. He sought to please himself rather than God.
Judas Iscariot was an unrighteous man from the time he was chosen. When the Bible mentions Judas and the betrayal it states “3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,” – Matt 27:3 I won’t speculate on Judas’s thoughts, but this phrase tells us that he was sorry and not repentant for sin.
In the first post on this topic, I pointed out what it means to be repentant. The Greek word is Strong’s G3340 – metanoeō – μετανοέω:
1) to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent
2) to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins
“Repentance (metanoia, ‘change of mind’) involves a turning with contrition from sin to God; the repentant sinner is in the proper condition to accept the divine forgiveness.” (F. F. Bruce. The Acts of the Apostles [Greek Text Commentary], London: Tyndale, 1952, p. 97.)
Judas “repented himself,” which is Strong’s G3338 – metamelomai – μεταμέλομαι
1) it is a care to one afterwards
a) it repents one, to repent one’s self
It is a self care action or another way of saying you wish you hadn’t done something. For us, it’s like the difference between apologizing because you were caught stealing cookies and admitting you stole cookies before someone says something because it bothered you so much that you had done something wrong.
These men are in hell because of their choices.
Let’s look at another Bible suicide
“28 And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. 29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. 30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.” – Judges 16:28-30
Samson was not happy at this point in his life. While he did kill enemies of Israel, he prayed to kill them and himself. He died at his own hand. If suicides mean automatic hell, then that’s where we should find Samson.
“32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.” – Heb 11:32-33
Samson is listed in the “faith hall of fame” chapter of Hebrews 11 in the same sentence as King David and Samuel the Prophet.
Jesus said, “13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
What about the soldier who throws himself on a grenade to save his platoon or the mother that tells the doctor to save her baby instead of her life? You can’t split hairs and decide one suicide is permissible and the other isn’t because the Bible doesn’t indicate that you can. They’re all technically suicides. Samson being called a righteous man and listed as a man of faith shows us that suicide does not sentence people to hell.
The second major problem with this idea is the fact that it implies that if you don’t confess all your sins before you die, you will go to hell. We’ve already discussed the fact that we sin in action, word, and thought. You would have to know the exact second of your death to make sure you are sinless if your last sin automatically sends you to hell. The majority of us aren’t going to know that. As we grow, we are continually learning how to strengthen our walk with God and become more obedient. That means that there are still things that we’re doing that are not pleasing to God, but we don’t realize it yet. For instance, we may be coveting a house and not realize we’re coveting. God works on us in different areas at different times, but we still need to ask forgiveness for sins we’re not aware we’re doing. The reality is that most of us will die having unconfessed sin. We are not “sinless.” We may sin less, but we are not sinless.
Well, we all have to give an account for what we say and do. If an unbeliever dies, the sins just pile up as a witness against him. Hopefully, the Believer has made confession of sins a regular part of his life, but we also have an Advocate to defend us. Believers don’t face the same judgments unbelievers do.
So, based on what I’ve read in the Bible, I’d have to say suicide does not lead to hell because of the examples and because we are taught that those who die without Christ are the ones who will be cast into hell. However, I wouldn’t advise anyone to die just to prove it. We still have assignments we must do while we are here. Suicide is permanent, so that is not something I’d think people would enjoy giving an account.