Destined For Hell?

“There are certain topics that good Christians just shouldn’t talk about.”  Have you ever run up against that attitude?  It is avoidance.  If we just ignore it perhaps we won’t ever have to deal with it.  It reminds me of the picture of the ostrich sticking its head in the sand.  It happens a lot in the legal profession.  People refuse to address an issue until it festers and simply cannot be avoided any longer.

That attitude has no place in the Christian church because we are able to take all of our cares and concerns to our Heavenly Father.  However, despite this fact, we avoid talking about a number of topics and one of those topics brings deep hurt and consternation to friends and family.  That topic is suicide.

In my experience I have heard certain people speak of suicide as a weakness, as a path chosen by a coward who refuses to cope with life’s situations.  They say it is taking the easy way out.  Still others, and not just of the Catholic faith but also of the Protestant faith, speak of suicide as a mortal sin that consigns one’s soul to hell for all eternity.    

Suicide is the act of taking one's own life.  Read that again.  Suicide is the act of taking one’s own life.   It does not result from the natural consequences of life.  It does not result from denying life-saving measures when the end result will be death.  Otherwise, we would not be able to execute a “living will” or “right-to-die” document because it would be suicide.  Suicide is a volitional act that results in death. 

That helps but it still doesn’t make it entirely clear when suicide happens.  We characterize the soldier who dives on a live grenade to save his comrades as a hero while the terrorist who straps a bomb to his body and takes his own life (along with any around him) is a suicidal maniac.  Therefore, the act itself does not define the term.  The term is defined by the underlying intent of the person.  Hence, the soldier is a hero; the terrorist is a murderer; and the person who takes their own life because of physical, financial or emotional distress is a suicide.

While the word suicide does not occur in the Bible, we certainly see several examples of suicide.  The first example of suicide in the Old Testament is when Saul as king of Israel takes his own life by falling upon his sword.  After being seriously wounded by the Philistines, Saul begged his armor-bearer to run him through so that he would not be taken prisoner.  His armor-bearer refused so Saul took it upon himself to accomplish the deed.

1 Samuel 31:4-6

** New International Version

King James Version

4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me." But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. 6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.


4 Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. 5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him. 6 So Saul died, and his three sons, and his armourbearer, and all his men, that same day together.


There is no following statement or description addressing Saul’s eternal resting place as a result of this one act.  We do not encounter a depiction of Saul either entering into either heaven or hell because he committed suicide.  The only things that we are told about Saul following his act is that the Philistines cut his head off, stripped him of his armor and hung his body on the wall at Beth-Shan.  The valiant men of Israel then arose and reclaimed his body after which they burned it and buried his bones at Jabesh.

The next time we encounter suicide in the Bible is with Zimri, king of Israel.  He was an evil man who despaired of his own life and as a result thereof, committed suicide.

1 Kings 16:15-19

** New International Version

King James Version

15 In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned in Tirzah seven days. The army was encamped near Gibbethon, a Philistine town. 16 When the Israelites in the camp heard that Zimri had plotted against the king and murdered him, they proclaimed Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that very day there in the camp. 17 Then Omri and all the Israelites with him withdrew from Gibbethon and laid siege to Tirzah. 18 When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and set the palace on fire around him. So he died, 19 because of the sins he had committed, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD and walking in the ways of Jeroboam and in the sin he had committed and had caused Israel to commit.


15 In the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah did Zimri reign seven days in Tirzah. And the people were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines. 16 And the people that were encamped heard say, Zimri hath conspired, and hath also slain the king: wherefore all Israel made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel that day in the camp. 17 And Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah. 18 And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king's house, and burnt the king's house over him with fire, and died, 19 For his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, to make Israel to sin.


His legacy was a life of sin and opportunity squandered.  Zimri failed to follow God and led Israel to sin.  However, once again, there is no mention of eternal consequence resulting from his suicide.  We are not told that his soul was consigned to hell for all eternity because he took his own life.

In the New Testament the person who readily comes to mind when the topic of suicide is broached is Judas Iscariot.  We see that Judas killed himself in large part because of his shame and grief in betraying Jesus. 

Matthew 27:3-5

** New International Version

King James Version

3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 4 "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood."  "What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility." 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.


3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.


Peter, in the book of Acts, goes on to describe the death of Judas in extremely graphic terms.

Acts 1:18-19

** New International Version

King James Version

18(With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)


18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.


Once again, although many presume that Judas will be eternally condemned, we are not told that he was sentenced to hell for an act of suicide.  He was filled with evil and became a tool in Satan’s attempt to thwart God’s plan of salvation for mankind but there is no mention of eternal consequence for the taking of his own life.

All of that being said, voluntarily cutting your time short on this earth does not honor Him but instead breaks His laws.  While suicide is something that no one wants to talk about, we still need to recognize it for what it is.  It is a tragedy but contrary to what some denominations or individuals may teach, it is not an act that subjects one to eternal damnation.  God knows the heart and He alone may judge.  Suicide is a sin but not a “mortal sin.”  It hurts and there are consequences but for the believer, it is not determinative of one’s eternal destination.  That determination is made at the point of salvation and nothing and no one can snatch that person from the Father’s hand.

John 10:25-30

** New International Version

King James Version

25 Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one."


25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and my Father are one.


Even though suicide does not determine whether a person is going to heaven or hell, emphasis must be made that human life is sacred as we are created in God’s image.  Because we are created in God’s image on the sixth day of creation, we are unlike any other aspect of the created realm.  In the passages in Genesis dealing with the creation of man, it becomes clear that God gave special consideration to the creation of Adam and bestowed upon this aspect of creation attributes not given to anything else. 

Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7

** New International Version

King James Version

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.


Gen 2:7

7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.


26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.


Gen 2:7

7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.



In the Genesis account, God demonstrates His role as the Creator over all existence and as such, He alone should control life and determine whether it continues or terminates.  Job, through his trials and distresses of life, recognized the sovereignty of God, especially over life itself.

Job 1:20-21

** New International Version

King James Version

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:  "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."


20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.


The sovereignty of God over a man’s life is not just an Old Testament concept.  We also see it reflected in the writings of the New Testament.  Although Paul was addressing the physical body as the dwelling place of the Spirit and was therefore, to be treated as such, he also gave emphasis to the idea that it is not something that belongs exclusively to the individual; it also belongs to God.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

** New International Version

King James Version

19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.


19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.


The logo on our men’s softball team jerseys is:  “I bought you; I own you.”  He did and He does.  Life is a glorious gift to be lived each day for the honor and glory of God.  Part of that daily sacrifice is to live in obedience; another part is to love unconditionally.  During those times when we encounter the pain of loss, especially loss occasioned by the voluntary act of suicide, it is essential that we evidence the love of God.  We should because He does.  Enough said.  

** A modern language quote is provided for readability together with the accompanying KJV version which is believed by many to be a more accurate representation of the original scripture.

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