Is Suicide an Unpardonable Sin?
By David Brandt Berg
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The Lord says there is no unpardonable sin except to resist the Holy Spirit.1 I’ve even thought that it’s possible that Judas was saved. Obviously he was very repentant and sorry, and he just couldn’t stand to live with the shame and the humiliation of knowing that he had betrayed his Lord, so he took his own life.2
King Saul also committed suicide, and he was a believer.3 One reason he committed suicide was that he knew he had failed and he couldn’t face defeat and life anymore, so he decided to end his own life. In a sense it’s sort of a self-judgment.
I believe that no sin is unforgivable except to actually reject the Lord and the Holy Spirit. The Lord Himself implies that there are sins that can not only be forgiven here, but in the next world as well. He says in that same passage that “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost”—in other words, to reject Christ and the Spirit of the Lord completely—“shall not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.”4 This seems to imply that there are sins that are going to be forgiven in the next world.
Since we believe in eternal salvation—once saved, always saved, regardless of what happens—you cannot lose the Lord or His salvation. Although you might go astray, lose your way, or break His commandments, nevertheless, if you truly believe in Him and have not rejected Him and the Holy Spirit as far as faith is concerned, you’re still saved.
The Catholic Church believes that suicide is a mortal sin and that you’re eternally damned to hell if you commit suicide. There are other denominations that have a more moderate take on it, which I think is supported by a number of scriptures and Bible stories.
Suicide is not an unpardonable sin. There’s only one unpardonable sin, and that is to reject the Lord—not just His will or His plan for your life, or even His commandments, but to reject Him by rejecting His Holy Spirit.
Look at Paul, who arrested innocent Christians and delivered them over to death.5 Or King David, who had Uriah killed.6 There’s also the example of the thieves on the cross; we know the one’s sin was forgiven, and the Lord even said he wasn’t going to have to suffer any punishment at all, that he was going to go with Him to paradise.7
It goes back to doctrines of what is forgivable and what is not. I don’t think you can find any place in the Bible where it teaches that suicide is unforgivable. Jesus Himself said that only the sin against the Holy Spirit was unpardonable. That means to harden your heart to God’s Spirit and refuse to believe in Him and be against Him, like the scribes and Pharisees who crucified Jesus. They hardened their hearts to the very end, even while He was suffering on the cross, and cursed Him and denounced Him and resisted His Spirit.8 In fact, as Stephen said to them, “Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.”9 Jesus said this would not be forgiven them either in this life or the next. But I don’t find any place where He includes any other sin that is unforgivable.
The only unpardonable sin is rejection of faith in Jesus, and refusal and resistance to His Holy Spirit’s urges to believe on and receive Jesus. It doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that suicide is unforgivable. It’s a difficult position to take, because the Catholic Church is adamant that you go to hell and stay there forever if you terminate your life. But how do you reconcile that with what Jesus said, that there’s no sin that God can’t forgive except resistance to His Spirit? Of course, some people feel that if they’ve resisted the Spirit and God’s will and backslidden and gone astray, they have committed the sin against the Holy Spirit and they’re lost forever.
What is resisting the Holy Spirit? Christians may resist Him almost every day in something, but He forgives. If we repent and are sorry, the Lord forgives. Only to have always and totally resisted the Holy Ghost, God’s Spirit, is unforgivable, according to what Jesus said. “It will not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the next.”10
Some people get so depressed and oppressed that they think life is too hard and they want to end it all. Or in defeat and pride and humiliation, they just don’t think they can face life and face others, so they’d rather kill themselves and face God. Apparently they just don’t have enough faith or strength to hang on a little longer and trust the Lord to deliver them His way, so they take their life—and their death—into their own hands. I truly believe that God will forgive them and will judge them according to His perfect wisdom.
In many cases, suicide is very bad and no doubt punishable, and God is going to be the judge. I think it depends on the person, the circumstances, and the conditions. And that’s up to the Lord. In some cases suicide may be justifiable, but there are also many selfish, unjustifiable, and poor excuses for suicide. But even though they may be punished for these things, they can still be forgiven.
I’ve always felt some sympathy for the poor people who commit suicide, and I’ve hoped and prayed that they were saved, that they at least had faith in the Lord, even though they couldn’t stand life anymore. I think it’s far better, of course, that you suffer whatever it is you are facing for the Lord rather than dying at your own hand. But I can’t say that suicide is a sin that’s unforgivable, because obviously Jesus said all sins are forgivable except to always resist the Holy Ghost.
Thank God for His love! The Lord is merciful, and His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting. Forever and always.11 He can still forgive, even in the next life, no matter what it is, as long as you love Him and believe in Him.
God bless you and help you to keep living for Jesus, presenting your body a living sacrifice on the altar of His daily service, laying down your life in love for Him and others.12
Originally published February 1992. Adapted and republished May 2018. Read by Reuben Ruchevsky.
1 Matthew 12:31–32.
2 Matthew 27:3–5.
3 1 Samuel 31:4–5.
4 Matthew 12:31–32.
5 Acts 8:1–3.
6 2 Samuel 11:15; Psalm 89:30–34.
7 Luke 23:43.
8 Matthew 27:39–43.
9 Acts 7:51.
10 Matthew 12:32.
11 Psalm 103:17.
12 Romans 12:1.