I was so saddened to hear of the suicide of Rick Warren’s son a few weeks ago. What an excruciatingly difficult thing for a family to have to face. As I read several of the comments on the story made at the LA Times web site, I was deeply troubled by the hateful comments some were making toward Rick and his family. Unbelievable.
I was also reminded again of the fact that many people assume that suicide is somehow an unforgivable sin. There were a number of comments made or allusions to this very issue. So what does the Bible say about this? Is suicide a sin that God cannot or will not forgive?
In order to answer this, we must understand two very important concepts. First is the concept of sin. To sin is to do or say anything that is not in perfect alignment with the holiness and love of God. We sin anytime we choose to not live according to God’s perfect will. Is suicide included in this? Certainly. But so too is lying, lusting, greed, pride, impatience, rage, self centeredness, hatred, racism. Sin includes any way in which we violate God’s standard. From a Biblical perspective, sin is sin. There is no hierarchy (or lowerarchy!) when it comes to sin. All of it disqualifies us from a relationship with God and the promise of heaven.
The second concept that is essential for us to understand is the nature of Christ’s work on the cross. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for ALL of our sin—past, present and future. He didn’t die for a selective portion of sins. He died for all of them.
What this means is that when a person places their trust in Jesus alone for their salvation, at that moment all of their sin is forgiven. The Biblical word for this is “justified”. To be justified is to be declared completely righteous in God’s eyes. It is “just as if I’d” never sinned.
This is a legal transaction. Jesus paid for all of our sin so that we can be declared righteous before God…permanently. If you have placed your trust in Jesus, all of your sin is forgiven—even the sins you haven’t committed yet. This is the good news of the gospel. Our standing before God is completely dependent upon Christ’s work. As Paul says in Romans 8, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The word “Nothing” literally means….Nothing!
If a justified believer in Jesus robs a bank and as they are running from the building are run over by a truck, do they still go to heaven? Of course, because Jesus’ blood paid for all of their sin. Any other view of sin minimizes the work of Jesus.
Some people assert, “Well what if they don’t have a chance to confess their sin?” That would describe all of us, wouldn’t it? Who among us on a given day is living a life that is completely without sin? To think that a death bed confession of sin is needed in order to go to heaven completely misses the point of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Jesus paid for all of our sin—not just some of it.
Let me be clear. While not an unforgivable sin, suicide is still a sin. It is to reject God’s plan and purpose for you and it leaves in its wake untold trauma for the loved ones who are left. If you are considering suicide, please, please, please get help. Call your local suicide hotline. Talk to someone. Suicide is never an answer. God has a plan and purpose for your life.