Apostasy & Suicide: A Believer’s Response
Recent social media news has many believers wondering. A couple of renowned believers abandoned (that is, apostatized) their faith in the Lord Jesus.
What just transpired? How is this possible?
The answers will often depend on someone’s preconceived theological worldview. A classic Calvinist would quickly conclude that they are not true believers because, if they were, they would have persevered in their faith (cf. Matt. 24:13). While a Reformed Arminian would undoubtedly give these former believers the benefit of the doubt that they were sincere believers who were deceived and therefore forfeited their salvation (cf. Matt. 24:24).
As you can see, it all depends on the judge’s point of view. But who are we to pass judgment? Do we understand that person’s heart? Are we attempting to usurp God’s role as judge? The Bible makes it clear that the Lord knows those who are His. We must refrain from judging because the role of judge has already been filled (cf. Jam. 4:12).
If you are directed by the Lord to remember them, it is best to pray for these former believers to return to God.
How about Christians who committed suicide? Will they make it to heaven? Is it possible for a Christian to go to heaven after committing suicide?
These questions will not go away for the next fifty years, but allow me to explain. At least six people were mentioned in the Bible as having perpetrated such a heinous crime. But let me state unequivocally that no one, save the Lord, knows the heart of anyone who committed this heinous crime. We can, however, speculate on some plausible reasons why someone would end their life. At the end of the day, only the Lord knows everything (see Rom. 2:16).
They may have been overcome with a sense of melancholy and hopelessness, which is why they desired to end their lives. Whatever their motives may be, taking one’s own life is still evil in the sight of the Lord because it is murdering one’s own physical body. The Bible is explicit when it says, “You shall not murder” (Exo. 20:13).
What if a true believer commits suicide? Can mental and emotional issues overwhelm a real believer?
It is possible for the enemy's condemning words to overcome a Christian if they are not growing in their relationship with the Lord. This could happen to those who are not reading His Word on a regular basis, are not participating in a church community, are not surrounded by godly friends, and have no accountability (cf. Heb. 10:25).
Any believer has the potential to deceive the general public into believing that he is doing good when, in reality, spiritual termites are consuming him. This can happen to anyone, whether they are a pastor, a minister’s son, a church leader, or a regular churchgoer. This is why it is critical to seek spiritual assistance if you suspect this is happening.
Let me offer my thoughts on the theological aspects of this matter. Can a true believer forfeit their salvation by committing suicide?
If a Christian accepts this, he will undoubtedly be guilty of adding works to the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is true that suicide is a terrible deed that a believer can commit against oneself in the worst-case scenario. However, no evil conduct or wicked thing can take away our assurance in Christ’s love. The Scripture says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Rom. 8:35).
But let me be clear: I am not advocating this horrible activity, nor am I urging anyone to end their life because of life’s trials, tests, difficulties, and sufferings. No!
If a Christian does this before the proper time, he will undoubtedly give account before His Lord (cf. Rom. 14:12). It will not be a believer’s salvation that is at stake, but rather one’s heavenly rewards (cf. 1 Cor. 3:15). Why end one’s life when we know there is hope in Jesus Christ? Did not Jesus Christ said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)?
I don’t know about you, but I’d like to hear my Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:23).
Having said that, let us not take matters into our own hands because our time is in God’s hands.
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? – 1 Jn. 5:4-5
It is regrettable that the following people committed suicide: Abimelech (Judg. 9:54), Saul (1 Sam.31:4), Saul’s armor-bearer (1 Sam. 31:4–6), Ahithophel (2 Sam. 17:23), Zimri (1 Ki. 16:18), and Judas (Matt. 27:5)
But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” – 2 Timothy 2:19
“I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” – Jer. 17:10, ESV
My times are in your hand… – Psa. 31:15
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