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.

Life Saving Call

Each year at Christmas the Southern Baptist Convention takes up the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.  One hundred percent of this offering goes directly to missionaries serving all around the world.  As part of this offering, we always have The Week of Prayer for International Missions.  Sometimes, they share stories of the challenges missionaries face.  Other times, we can read about the individuals they are ministering to or the people groups they are working with.  In honor of this week of prayer, I want to share with you some of the testimonies of those who have given their lives to serve far away from home in obedience to the call of Jesus.

Today, I want to share with you the story of Kiyoshi Sugioka, a 53-year-old man from Tokyo, Japan from the IMB website:

Kiyoshi Sugioka entered the busy Tokyo train station with a single purpose in mind – to end his life. Dressed in a business suit and dress shirt, the 53-year-old looked like any of the hundreds of Japanese businessmen crowding the station.

But on that day in July 2009, Sugioka’s life was dramatically different from those surrounding him at the station. He had hit rock bottom. In one year, Sugioka had lost two jobs, his family, his home, his honor and even his identity. Sugioka was unemployed and homeless.

He stood at the edge of the platform, preparing to jump. Then he remembered a phone number he had in his wallet. IMB missionary Josh Park had given him his cell phone number when he had met him two months before. Sugioka called Park from the station.

“When I saw him … he was in really bad shape,” Park said. “He look tired, weary and worn out. “I just listened to him talk,” Park continued. “I remembered that he wasn’t interested in hearing the Gospel … then he said, ‘Tell me about God.'” After Park shared the plan of salvation, Sugioka prayed to receive Christ. Following a few weeks of discipleship, Sugioka was baptized in Tokyo’s Tama River in August 2009.

“He introduced me to God and Christ,” Sugioka recalled. “It was a world I didn’t know. I felt like I was born again.” Park didn’t learn until later that Sugioka had been on the brink of suicide when he called. Southern Baptists provide Park with the cell phone service that costs about $50 a month. Thank you for giving so Sugioka could make a life-saving call.

To read more about Kiyoshi Sugioka story click here. If you would like to follow all of the testimonies from the International Mission Board you can click here.

If you would like to help support missionaries all around the world please send a check to:  Living Oaks Baptist Church, 8855 East 91st Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 74133.  Please write “Lottie Moon” on the memo line. One hundred percent of all the gifts we receive will go to help missionaries share the good news of Jesus.