Understanding Suicide – Is Suicide a Sin?

Why Suicide Happens

Our world can be scary. We turn on the news and the growing threats of war, expanding poverty and social issues barrage Christian believers and non-believers alike. On top of that, many of us face deep personal problems. Struggling bank accounts, stress and broken marriages are a deep problem within the church. Personal problems are more often a growing cause discouragement among the saints. And what problem seems to be at the center of the storm? The answer is loneliness.

Consider these astounding facts about suicide in the United States:

  • Every minute a person attempts suicide; every day, 70 Americans take their own lives (nearly three every hour)
  • There are 24% more deaths by suicide than by murder in the United States
  • In Los Angeles County, more people kill themselves than die in traffic accidents.
  • Suicide is the tenth cause of adult death in the United States, and the second cause among ages young people (10-24 years old)

There is no way to know the reasons behind every suicide that occurs in our country, but it’s safe to say that thousands of people take their own lives because they feel completely alone in this world. They give up because they simply don’t know how to combat the loneliness destroying their lives.

First, we must realize that we are not alone. Remember God’s promise in Scripture: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has promised to stand by us at all times. Along life’s way, we will all have days when we wonder what God is doing in our lives. We must remember that He has our best interests in mind, His timing is perfect, and He will never leave us – not even for a minute.

When times get dark and even suicide seems like an option, here are some things we should keep in mind:

God’s Grace is Sufficient

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

God’s strength is made perfect in weakness. Over and over in scripture, we can see that this is true. Remember David and Goliath? David was just a boy when he faced Goliath. The Bible says that Goliath was nine feet, nine inches tall – more than two feet taller than Shaquille O’Neal. And David defeated that giant of a man with one small stone and a sling.

And what about God using Moses to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt? And Joshua’s defeat of Jericho? And Esther’s courage to save her people from destruction? Over and over again we can see how God used ordinary men and women with human weaknesses to show His great power to the world. And He can do the same for us.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

Trust In The Lord

Charles Spurgeon, once said, “God is too good to be unkind, too wise to be mistaken, and when you cannot trace His hand, you can always trust His heart.”

God does not want our lives to be filled with despair. He allowed His only Son to die so we could live in joy and peace. He does not want bad things to happen to us. He desires to take care of us, forgive us, and restore us to a right relationship with Him.

Sometimes great lessons can come from our suffering. If we believe that the Lord has our best interests in mind and that He loves us unconditionally, then we should trust Him to turn our suffering into something He can use for His glory.

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

Walk In The Spirit

If we truly live in the Spirit, it will be very difficult for loneliness and despair to invade our lives. There isn’t enough room for those things when we have the Holy Spirit moving and working in our lives.

Walking in the Spirit requires a daily act of surrender and obedience. We must daily confess our sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

We must also resist wrong influences. Never underestimate the impact of television, music, money and possessions. These things offer temporary hope, but they don’t last.

We must serve the Lord. If our time is filled with service for the Lord, we will not have time to sink into despair. The Bible urges us: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” 1 Corinthians 15:58. When we are doing things for others “as unto the Lord,” always abounding in the work of the Lord,” we will find immeasurable happiness and contentment.

We must set our affections on things above. The key to living on earth is keeping our hearts fixed on Heaven. If we want to focus on earth, and things of the earth, we will continue to be disappointed. Instead, we should focus on the Lord and His forgiveness, grace and eternal blessings for us as His children.

Finally, we must concentrate on God’s Word. The greatest weapon we have to fight hopelessness is the Bible. We need to do more than just read a few verses now and then if we want to take hold of the power it can bring us.

Is Suicide an Unforgivable Sin?

Many people believe if a person takes his own life, it is impossible for him to go to Heaven. However, this is not what God’s Word teaches. Suicide is not an unpardonable sin.

The Bible clearly teaches that a saved person is one to whom Christ has given everlasting life, not temporary (John 5:24; 10:28). Thus, a saved person, washed in the blood of the Lamb and born of the Holy Spirit, will never lose his salvation. He has repented of his sins and has set out to live a life that will please the Lord more and more.

A saved person, like anyone else, will have physical trouble if he does not take care of his/her body. He will have other physical difficulties if he does not observe the laws of physical health which God has established for our bodies. But, he will also have trouble if he does not observe certain laws for emotional stability and health. The Christian, like anyone else, can find himself in circumstances that may cause great emotional and mental stress and strain, particularly if he does not stay close to the Lord. A Christian can even become mentally unbalanced.

Staying in the center of God’s will, in the way we live, and in the way we serve, and in the way we pray, will give us the strength to carry us through the storms of life.

It is possible for a Christian to get under such pressure from a combination of physical difficulties and emotional and mental stress and strain that he will commit suicide, if he is not close enough to God to have the strength to overcome the pressures and the stresses of his situation.

Our salvation depends, not on our sinlessness at death but on our once turning to Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, our repentance for those sins, and our acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior.

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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