Is Suicide an Unforgivable Sin?

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.

What Do You Do When You Lack Direction?

          Anytime we experience a season in which we lack direction in our lives, it is helpful to remember two critical truths. One, you are created by God with a purpose. Paul says something absolutely amazing in Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  You are the very handiwork of God. He created you with a purpose, and He actually has things prepared for you to do with your life. What this tells us is that finding direction begins by tuning into how God has made you. What abilities or spiritual gifts has God given you? What are some things that you are passionate about? Tuning in to these things can help you begin to discern what good things God has prepared for you to pursue.

          The second truth to keep in mind is that God is a good shepherd. He loves you and longs to guide you. He has not simply given us as map. He has given us Himself! I think of David in the midst of all of his life challenges, often needing direction. He wrote this of God:

“The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and Your love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Psalm 23

This was David’s everyday reality—resting in the truth that God loved him and was guiding him. Even in times of great difficulty, he knew God was with him. What’s so cool is that in the New Testament, Jesus calls Himself our good shepherd (John 10:14-18, 25). He lives within us through His Spirit, and this Spirit longs to lead us. (Check out Acts 16:6-10 and Romans 8:14). Ask the Spirit to give you direction, to show you the next step, and then listen for His still small voice.

          Always remember that God has made you for a purpose and that He longs to lead you by His Spirit.

[This blog post is a response to the “Ask a Pastor” section at www.believe.com/ask-a-pastor]