Is Suicide an Unforgivable Sin?

In April 2010, my younger brother committed suicide. It is always difficult to lose a loved one; however, when they die at their own hand it just leaves you feeling guilty. You wonder why you didn’t recognize the signs, why didn’t they call to talk, where is the note telling how much they care. No matter who you talk to there is a sense that you should have done more, that you should have known, that it is somehow your fault.

Over the years, I have noticed that one of the first questions people ask is about the eternal home of those who commit suicide. As if the guilt of not being there to help them wasn’t enough, now the fear of wondering if their trying to escape what seemed like an impossible situation could have led them to an eternally worse torment. You see, there are those who believe that suicide is an unforgivable sin. There is no way you can take your life and repent afterward; therefore, the soul is lost for all eternity, forever separated from God. Clearly this is a question that needs to be addressed, and there is no better place to look than the Bible.

In the New Testament, Jesus teaches that the only unforgivable sin is “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” (Mark 3.22-30). Mark says the scribes were accusing Jesus of healing people by the power of Beelzebub—the prince of demons. The scribes believed Satan and his demons were behind Jesus’ power instead of the Holy Spirit. Jesus quickly warns that to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness and carries a punishment of eternal condemnation. To blaspheme the Holy Spirit, one refuses to acknowledge God’s completed work through Jesus Christ His Son.

This idea is clarified in 1 John 5.10, “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.” Here we are told the person who does not believe the Holy Spirit’s convicting witness about Jesus as God’s Son and our propitiation has made God a liar. Clearly those who do not believe in Jesus are declaring that the message from the Holy Spirit is a lie. The Bible teaches that God cannot lie and that Satan is the father of lies (Titus 1.1-2; John 8.44). Therefore, those who do not believe are calling the Holy Spirit a liar; which is another name for Satan.

There is no forgiveness for those who reject Jesus as the only way to heaven. Since suicide is clearly not ascribing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan then it cannot be the unforgivable sin.

The Bible also helps us find hope in Christ’s finished work. There are several passages which show that at salvation we are forgiven of all sin—past, present, and future.

  • “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ”         (Romans 8.1)
  • “For He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5.21)
  • Jesus, “who does not need daily…to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself” (Hebrews 7.27)
  • Christ “with His  own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9.12b)
  • “…once at the end of the ages, [Jesus] has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9.26b)
  • “…we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10.10)
  • “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit…” (1 Pt 3.18)

These verses make it clear Jesus’ substitutionary atonement was once for all time. Those who believe in Him are justified before God. There cannot be any condemning accusation brought against them as Jesus has already taken their punishment. God has taken their sin and cast it as far as the East is from the West (Psalms 103.12). Since this is true, then the sin of suicide is among the many sins Christ has forgiven.

It has been four years since my brother’s death. Prior to his suicide I knew what I believed about forgiveness and suicide; however, in light of his death I was forced to put my faith to work in the promises of God. I spent hours studying God’s Word and praying for clarity and wisdom. In the end I simply had to trust God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and the promises of His Word to keep those secure who have trusted in Him. I know the life my brother lived and the faith he had in Christ, so today I am sure that he is with Jesus in heaven.

In closing let me say this, in writing an article of this nature there is a fear that there may be those who say, “Hey I can take my life and still get to heaven.” Please, please don’t take all this as a reason to escape the troubles of this life. I have not written this to make it easier for you to take your life, but for those who live every day with pain because of a loved one who took their own life. The pain, loss, guilt, and fear we live with every day can only be softened by the hope that is found in Jesus. If your life seems hopeless and the only reasonable solution in your mind is suicide, please do me a favor and call someone. Go to a hospital, a pastor, a family member, a co-worker, or even a good friend. Just find someone and tell them you need help. There is hope for a better life. It might take time to overcome whatever is causing you such great pain, but I promise, if you will trust Jesus, He will lead you to an abundant life here and now. Please believe me, Jesus is your hope!

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (for the hearing impaired TTY 1-800-799-4889) or visit the website.

11 thoughts on “Is Suicide an Unforgivable Sin?

  1. Suicide touches us all. I had a father-in-law, step-son and my godson and nephew commit
    suicide. Yes, you have questions. Thx for the article.

    Also, Barnabas, thx for the call. It made my day!!

  2. Hello Dr. Bob,
    Very impressive piece of writing! I’m not sure if I even remember you had a brother. Sorry for your loss. You’re right, suicide leaves everyone left behind feeling guilty.

  3. Hi Bob I’ve never shared this on Facebook, but my daddy denied Christ many times over; as well as took his own life a few months ago. In his good bye letter he said he was going to be with my mom. My mom is in heaven! No doubt about that. So I have tried to believe that from the last time we spoke until I found him that he had accepted Christ as his savior since he knew where I know my mom is now!
    Great article and definetly clears up the sin issue.
    I didn’t realize you lost your brother. I feel your pain. And I’m sure, you , like me go back to the pain and emotions all over when such a public suicide like Robin William’s happens.
    Today I heard that on average 100 people commit suicide every day. But once one so publicized happens it can make that number increase 10 fold. I pray that many people read this article and realize that there is help available.
    Great writing.
    Thanks Terri Kotoun.

  4. Absolutely brilliant article….committing suicide is just a sin that a person will be held accountable at judgement but it is not a sin that separates us from the love of our Lord…as a chaplain for our local police department (in addition to being a pastor), I have dealt with this issue too many times to keep track of. Pastor Kenny Craig, Chambersburg, PA

    • Thanks for what you do in ministering to your local officers. I have several church members who are officers and I know the ministry chaplains provide is very much needed as well as encouraging.

  5. Pingback: Is Suicide an Unforgivable Sin? | Bixby's First Baptist Church

  6. I’m still sick at the fact someone like me: kind, always grateful for everything I have, full of love, giving to the point I put myself in debt at times (all because giving makes me feel wonderful), forgiving to the point I’m told I get stepped on by doing so, is going to hell. Yet a wretched human full of hate and can murder, rape, steal over and over again can so easily be given eternal life through someone who died for his/her sins…..merely by asking forgiveness and to be saved. It’s sick to think I’m going to be the one burning. I gladly will before worshiping such an evil being

    • Anonymous,

      If we were grading on a scale as to how bad we define sin, I would concede your point; however, we are to grade sin based on God’s scale. Getting forgiveness of sins and getting to go to heaven is not a contest to see who looks better on paper. The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. God is our standard, and we have all come up woefully short. The truth is, regardless of how bad people may seem we are all dead in our sins. From the human perspective, we just see that some have decayed more than others. So when you look at your life compared to some “wretched human full of hate [who] can murder, rape, steal over and over again” and can’t understand why God would let them in, it is because you see yourself as less sinful than they are. All humanity stands before God as sinners.

      God’s standard for getting into heaven is perfection. If you have sinned once, and only once in your life then you are disqualified from heaven. The number of sins and the measuring of sins on our human scale have nothing to do with God’s standard. Therefore, the “wretched human” you described earlier is in no greater need of a Savior than you or I. We all stand guilty before God; because at some point in our lives we purposefully chose to do what we wanted instead of obey God’s Laws.

      So, where does that leave us? Without hope? NO! Thankfully, God sent Jesus from heaven in the form of a man. He lived a sinless life and kept all of God’s Law. He is the only person to ever do that, and yet God allowed Jesus to be crucified on the cross as a payment for our sins. Jesus took on Himself the wrath of God that was due the “wretched human,” you, me, and the rest of humanity. After He died, Jesus was buried in a tomb and then arose on the third day, thus showing that God had accepted His sacrifice for sins. Now all those who will acknowledge they are a sinner, believe that Jesus as God in the flesh died for their sins, was buried, and then arose will be forgiven of their sins. Part of committing your life to Christ is repenting, or turning away from your sins. This may seem difficult, but Jesus sends His Spirit to lead, guide, and direct all those who become one of His followers.

      Once you commit your life to Christ you will have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Christ. There is no sin too great that cannot be forgive except refusing to received Jesus’ free gift of eternal life. Once you receive His gift life will be different. No more guilt or worrying about your eternal future. Just peace knowing that one day you will be with Jesus in heaven.

      Thanks for your comment. I hope my reply has helped clarify God’s plan for saving you, me, and everyone else. All you have to do is ask Him to forgive you. Here is a good site to go to for more answers: http://www.needgod.com/index.shtml

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