Dr. Henry B. Waiters: Can someone who commits suicide be saved?
If anyone commits suicide that knows Jesus Christ as their personal savior, they will be in heaven. If they don’t know Jesus they will be lost. We go to heaven not because of the manner of our death, but because of the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross. The question still lingers, can a person who believes in Christ as Lord and Savior, kill themselves and still go to heaven? Two other questions are asked:
- If eternal life is only given to a person after they receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, then what is meant in 1 John 3:15 where it says that… “And ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him”?
- If 1 John 3:15 means that a person who kills himself (which is self murder) does not have eternal life in them, wouldn’t this mean that the person never received Jesus as their Lord and Savior, which would then mean that they could never enter heaven?
These questions appear difficult to answer. I believe John 3:16 and many other verses promise eternal life to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in the Biblical sense, meaning they are convicted and convinced they are sinners, confess their sins, repent of their sins, and trust His shed blood, death, and resurrection for their salvation.
It may not be proper to describe suicide as murder. A study of the term murder in Scripture demonstrates that it means the taking of the life of another person. I don’t know any instance in which the Holy Spirit applies this term to suicide. For a believer to take his own life would be more akin to theft than murder. The Bible says we are not our own, we are bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20.) We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. For a child of God to take his life would be to rob God of the use of the rest of that life.
I do believe that it is possible for a truly born again Christian to take his own life because of despondency or because of an ailment which affects the mind or for some other reason. There is at least one example of this in the Bible, and that is the case of Samson. Hebrews 11:32 leaves no doubt that he was a true believer.
Beyond this, the Bible says practically nothing about this matter. We can cause serious problems by speculating on matters the Bible does not clearly answer. I do not believe 1 John 3:15 is referring to suicide.
Let us consider the matter of suicide from the Bible standpoint. Not a psychologist, or psychiatrist standpoint, but the Bible. The church is flooded today with amateur pseudo-psychologists and pseudo-psychiatrists who use a little Bible to make their worldly, humanistic analysis to sound spiritual.
Suicides will continue to rise. The Bible declares that society is headed away from God. Godless society is bent on its own destruction. As these last days flow steadily toward those awful tribulation days, suicides will become more and more common. As the pressures of life mount, as society increasingly rejects the only Anchor for their troubled souls, suicides will become as common as accidents. The climax will be reached in the tribulation period where it is recorded (Rev. 9:6) that society will seek death and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. Evidently, the only thing that keeps the mass of society from committing suicide in the tribulation is the sovereign, preventative power of God.
Dr. Bert Singletary records his findings on “Suicide and the Bible”: The Bible covers a period of 4,000 years from Adam to John on the Isle of Patmos writing the Revelation. Yet there are only seven suicides recorded of all the multitudes that lived (that is about the same results as in 2 hours in America today; actually 104 suicides every 24 hours.) There were probably more, but seven are all that is recorded. One needs to remember that the Bible is primarily a Jewish book, and that the Jews have the lowest suicide rate. They believed that life is God-given and is held as a sacred trust. They believed the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” (not even yourself.) After the Jewish religion comes the Catholic religion as next to lowest, and the highest of all is the Protestant religion.
The seven recorded suicides in the Bible are; Abimelech (Jud. 9:54); Samson (Jud. 16:28-31); Saul (1 Sam. 31:1-6); Saul’s armourbearer (1 Sam. 31:1-6); Ahithophel (2 Sam. 17-23); Zimri (1 Kings 18:18); Judas (Matt. 27:5).
In these seven Bible suicides we have the basic reasons for all suicides. They all believed that life was not worth living or that they were not worthy to live. Notice: Judas differs from all the others. He was under complete control of the Devil (John 13:27.) After betraying the Lord for 30 pieces of silver, and being rejected by the high priest and elders, he went out and hanged himself.
At least four (Abimelech, Saul, Saul’s armourbearer, and Zimri) were choosing the manner of their death. Ahithophel could be added to this list, because he knew that if David ever got his hands on him what would most likely happen.
At least one (Samson) was trying to rectify the past. He was trying to do something good in death. He was trying to atone for his past mistakes.
At least three (Saul, Ahithophel, Zimri) felt rejected. Ahithophel felt total rejection. He undoubtedly felt rejected by both man and God.
Only one was known to be fully under the control of the Devil (Judas). Others might have been demon possessed. Others surely were demon influenced. We will never know today the percent of suicides that are caused by demon possession or demon influence. I don’t believe a child of God will be demon possessed because he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). A child of God can be influenced by Satan and his demons. Drugs are a great tool of Satan and his demons. He has used this to influence and control many. Most were unaware, many did not care.
Not one of these seven had a recorded history of mental disorder. Since Samson is found listed in the catalog of faith in (Heb. 11:32) we must consider him a true believer, a man of great faith.
One thing found to be the most interesting: there is not one woman listed in the Bible as having committed suicide.
Far too many people consider suicide as unpardonable sin. This is due to the fact they ignore the teaching of Jesus in (Matt. 12:31-32) that the only unpardonable sin is “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost,” and they also believe that the person who commits does not live to confess their sin. Therefore they die with a sin unconfessed.
Let me give a very simple Bible argument. Every true believing sinner is justified (just as if he had never sinned, in the sight of God) the moment that he believes. His sins (past, present, future) are washed away by the shed blood of Christ. The believers hope of heaven is not in his own ability to “hold out faithful until the end” (that is a tribulation admonition), but in the finished work of Christ on the cross. My going to heaven when I die does not depend upon me confessing my daily sins, but by the fact that there was a time and place that I appropriated by faith the finished work of Jesus Christ for all my sins. Admittedly, my confession of daily sins has a great deal to do with my power, peace, influence, testimony, rewards, and most of all my fellowship to God, but not my salvation or relationship.
Dr. Waiters can be reached at 704-636-3369.