When a believer commits suicide

It is a tragic thing when someone commits suicide. A life ended prematurely leaves questions, raises doubts, shakes our beliefs. Suicide touches the lives of many, either through a family relationship or through acquaintance. It is so shocking that one cannot ignore it, yet it is something, because it is so disturbing, that is not spoken about widely.

A valuable resource to help that discussion comes from Desiring God and John Piper, who have published services that Pastor Piper has led for those who have committed suicide. For the families who have graciously shared what must have been one of the most painful moments in their lives, we can be grateful in that these powerful messages can give insight, comfort and guidance to those who have or who are struggling with similar circumstances.

From one of those services, the funeral message for Luke Kenneth Anderson, Piper says this about suicide committed by someone who is a believer in Jesus Christ:

[L]et me put a biblical stake in the ground and then fasten to it a banner of hope.

The stake is this: True Christians can commit suicide. Or to put it another way: There is nothing unique or peculiar about the final act of life that makes it determinative in validating or nullifying our salvation. Or let me say it another way: The final season of faith with all its battles and failures is not the only season of faith that will bear witness in the Last Day that we were born again.

Piper, in this message and others, explains with expositional precision why he believes this way. These are questions we don’t ask ourselves or perhaps don’t allow ourselves to ask. But nonetheless they are important because, like my daughter experienced this past week, there will be times when you are confronted with a tragic suicide by someone you knew and questions will come.

The messages are all available online to read or even listen to the audio.

Funeral Meditation for a Christian Who Commits Suicide

Funeral Meditation for a Christian Who Commits Suicide (1988)

Also, this may also be helpful:

Can Christians be depressed?

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4 thoughts on “When a believer commits suicide

  1. Someone that commits suicide, has a total misunderstanding of God and the gospel.

    Someone that has been “born again” just cannot take his own life. Just because a suicide is a consequence of depression, problems, ‘unbearable situations’, etc; that for a truly born again believer are nothing more than a test, persecution trial or tribulation.

    That’s my take 🙂

    God bless.

    • Dikayo,
      I would have said the same thing not long ago, and I truly think that we cannot allow our situations to dictate our actions. But, and Piper addresses this in one of the messages I linked to, suppose you are “born again” and die after committing, in a moment of weakness, a truly terrible sin (because even when we are born again we still have our sinful nature within us). Where does that leave you? Well, “you are still saved” you say and I agree. Is there a sin that is greater than others? Is self murder (suicide) greater than hating your friend?

      Let’s be clear: It is a sin. But among us can say we have not fallen from time to time to the temptation of our sinful nature? We still fight against it, but from time to time we fall. Let’s offer grace and hope for those who struggle. God is bigger than all that, of course, but the struggle is still there for them. Pray that they don’t succomb.

      I appreciate your comments. Thank you for taking the time to read and then give comment.

  2. Great points. No one is without sin. Some days we are weaker than at other times, and we can be more vulnerable to sin. Some sin imperiles our very life, and other sin does not. Physically dangerous sin is no more sinful than the sin that lets me live to see another day. For example, the sin of running from martydom (the sin of self-preservation) and the sin of suicide are both similar, in that they are acts of cowardice, to prevent further misery. It just happens that one leads to death and the other does not. Yet, any Christian in an unexpected circumstance could fall to either temptation. As I recall, only blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was described as unpardonable.

    However, I might add that fear of Hell could be an effective means of dissuading individuals from carrying out the act. It’s a double-edged sword, though, because then the victims, the loved ones, are hurt more deeply.

  3. I have never seen in the Scriptures where God measures sins, one against another. He cannot look upon any sin regardless of it’s nature.
    We all sin and fall short of God’s glory, saved or not. Being born again just makes us more aware of our sins. Before becoming a Christian I had no consciousness of my sin, it mattered not to me, but after receiving Christ, after having His Holy Spirit come to live in me, every time I sin, His Spirit lets me know. I have repented more since being saved that I did the day I got saved.
    Unrepented sin does not effect our salvation but it may deprive you of your crown. Rev. 5:11 says to “hold fast what you have so that no one may rob you and deprive you of your crown.”
    I would certainly say that anyone who gets the thought into their head that suicide is the solution to a problem has been tricked by the evil one and is being robbed of their crown. The sorrow of this will be known only to God and to the one who has been robbed. And the sorrow will be the greatest to someone who has done great things for the Gospel’s sake.
    Many years ago, after the death of a family member I contemplated that final act. I felt totally alone, had no other relatives and had been somewhat abandoned by friends of my family because of the protracted illness and my place as care-giver to the one who had died. So I considered suicide with serious intent. But I had one stopgate and that was that I had pets and didn’t know how they would be cared for. So in a moment of great hope I dialed a suicide hotline and fortunately for me, the person who answered was a Christian of many years and guided me through quite a few Scriptures that not only gave me my hope back but renewed my own spirit and gave me strength to pray for God’s Spirit within me to be quickened again. I felt alive and hopeful and was able to turn from the thoughts of suicide and look to Jesus the Author and Finisher of my faith. That was many years ago and since then I have had an opportunity to not only give this testimony but give encouragement to the family of a young man who had committed this desperate act.
    Always be quick to listen and give encouragement to everyone you meet. That person in the checkout line, at the library or someone where you work might be contemplating taking their own life and the words you speak might be the very words that they need to hear.

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