By Frontline Ministries
Can a person who has committed suicide be saved? Below is my response to a woman whose son committed suicide. She said that he professed faith in Christ but allowed depression to overwhelm him and he finally took his own life.
I was very sad to learn of your son's tragedy. You asked me if you should be worried about his act. First, this, as you know, is a very difficult question to answer with certainity. In fact, I don't think it can be answered with absolute certainty. So, though we can make some attempts to determine a person's spiritual condition, ultimately God is the final judge of a person's soul. Second, let me say that I do not believe suicide is the unpardonable sin. Third, though I don't believe suicide is the unpardonable sin, I still believe that it is sin. I believe that God is the author of life and it is not within our rights to take any life, even our own.
With regard to your son, I'm not very clear on the nature of your son's Christian testimony. Let me share with you the marks of genuine saving faith.
First, the following are evidences that neither prove nor disprove one's faith:
A. Visible morality - Matt. 19:16-21; 23:27
B. Intellectual knowledge - Rom. 1:21; 2:17ff.
C. Religious involvement - Matt. 25:1-10
D. Active Ministry - Matt. 7:21-24
E. Conviction of sin - Acts 24:25
F. Assurance - Matt. 23
G. Time of Decision - Luke 8:13-14
Now, here are some proofs of authentic faith:
A. Love for God - Ps. 42:1ff; Luke 10:27; Rom. 8:7
B. Repentance from sin - Ps. 32:5; Prov. 28:13; Rom. 7:14ff, 2 Cor. 7:10; 1 John 1:8-10
C. Genuine Humility - Ps. 51:17; Matt. 5:1-12; James 4:6, 9ff.
D. Devotion to God's glory - Ps. 105:3; 115:1; Is. 43:7, 48:10ff; Jer. 9:23-24; 1 Cor. 10:31
E. Continual prayer - Luke 18:1; Eph. 6:18ff; Phil. 4:6ff; 1 Tim. 2:1-4; James 5:16-18
F. Selfless love - 1 John 2:9ff, 3:14; 4:7ff; John 13:34-35; 1 Pet. 1:22
G. Separation from the world - 1 Cor. 2:12; James 4:4ff; 1 John 2:15-17, 5:5
H. Spiritual growth - Luke 8:15; John 15:1-6; Eph. 4:12-16
I. Obedient living - Matt. 7:21; John 15:14ff, Rom. 16:26; 1 Pet. 1:2,22; 1 John 2:3-5
If the first list is true of a person and the second list is false, there is cause to question the validity of a profession of faith. Yet if the second list is true, then the first list will be also.
Now, since I don't know your son's testimony I am not in any position to say whether he was a Christian or not. You will have to look at his testimony in light of God's Word as I have shared with you and attempt to discern this as difficult as it may be.
After doing this, if you believe he possessed genuine faith, then it may be that he made the decision to take his own life in a moment of confusion without really thinking about it. In that case it's possible that the act does not necessarily show that he was not a true believer. On the other hand, it may be that though your son claimed to be a believer, this final act of suicide demonstrated his true character; that he in fact was not a true believer all along. The act may represent a final act of unbelief and a surrender to despair and hopelessness rather than a confidence in the living God.
Here is how John MacArthur, a very respected Bible teacher today, answers the question:
Can one who commits suicide be saved?
Suicide is a grave sin equivalent to murder (Exodus 20:13; 21:23), but it can be forgiven like any other sin. And Scripture says clearly that those redeemed by God have been forgiven for all their sins--past, present, and future (Colossians 2:13-14). Paul says in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
So if a true Christian would commit suicide in a time of extreme weakness, he or she would be received into heaven (Jude 24). But we question the faith of those who take their lives or even consider it seriously--it may well be that they have never been truly saved.
I say that because God's children are defined repeatedly in Scripture as those who have hope (Acts 24:15; Romans 5:2-5, 8:24; 2 Corinthians 1:10, etc.) and purpose in life (Luke 9:23-25; Romans 8:28; Colossians 1:29). And those who think of committing suicide do so because they have neither hope nor purpose in their lives. Furthermore, one who repeatedly considers suicide is practicing sin in his heart (Proverbs 23:7), and 1 John 3:9 says that "no one who is born of God practices sin." And finally, suicide is often the ultimate evidence of a heart that rejects the lordship of Jesus Christ, because it is an act where the sinner is taking his life into his own hands completely rather than submitting to God's will for it. Surely many of those who have taken their lives will hear those horrifying words from the Lord Jesus at the judgment--"I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness" (Matthew 7:23).
So though it may be possible for a true believer to commit suicide, we believe that is an unusual occurrence. Someone considering suicide should be challenged above all to examine himself to see whether he is in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
[End of MacArthur's quote]
So, to answer your question, you need to determine as best you can, by God's Word, as to whether he was a true Christian or merely a counterfeit. This will not be easy, I know. If you are convinced, by God's Word and not your emotions or any other standard, that he was a true Christian then you may hope to see your son again in Heaven. Let your confidence rest in God and His Word and once you've made your determination about your son's condition, do not allow yourself to be swayed by your emotions or the reaction of others. But in the end, our judgment concerning a person being saved or not is limited and not final. Though, we may have assurance of our own salvation (1 John 5:13), only God can make that final determination on another person's soul.
As for you, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you (2 Cor. 13:14).
Reprinted with permission from Frontline Ministries.