If a Christian takes their own life are they condemned to hell or will they be permitted to enter into heaven?
This is an excellent question and forces us to remind ourselves how a person is saved.
Let me start by saying that I believe suicide to be a grievous sin, and clearly an act of someone who has lost hope in this life.
Having said that, we need to start with the following question: Are we kept from heaven by our sin? The obvious answer to that question is no. All of us sin, and John says that to deny that fact means we are self-deceived. (1 John 1:8) So, if all of us sin, how can any of us ever get to heaven? The answer is that Jesus died to bear the punishment for our sins, and therefore our sins can no longer keep us from heaven because we have accepted the work that Jesus accomplished on our behalf through the cross.
The bottom line is that even though I am a sinful man, I am nevertheless on my way to heaven because Jesus died bearing my penalty.
That brings us to the next question to consider: Is there any sin that I can commit that will nullify what Jesus did for me on the cross? That’s the real question being asked here. Is suicide—or any other sin for that matter—sufficient to actually reverse the saving work that Jesus has earned for me by His death on the cross?
After studying the Bible my answer is no. For those who are trusting Christ for the forgiveness of sins, nothing can stand in the way of their salvation. As Paul the Apostle wrote: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)
One objection to this line of thinking is that the person taking their life would not have an opportunity to repent of their sin, and would therefore be lost since their final act was one of sin. But this presupposes that we must repent for each and every sin in order to remain eligible for heaven.
But sin does not nullify our eligibility for heaven, because our entry into heaven is not predicated upon whether or not we sin, or whether or not we’ve managed to repent of each and every sin. We are accepted by God for one reason and one reason only, and that is because we have received the free offer of cleansing and forgiveness that is available through Jesus Christ. That is the basis of our salvation.
So, if the threat of hell is not looming, then why should a Christian avoid suicide?
For the same reason we avoid all other self-motivated, self-centered acts. These are the opposite of the Spirit-led life that we are called to live in Christ. To take my own life is to place myself in control of my destiny rather than surrender my life to the will and purpose of God. It would be a direct violation of the revealed will of God for our lives as expressed in the following passage:
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; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body 1 Cor 6:19-20 (NIV)
Christians must daily recognize that our lives—our very bodies—do not belong to us. They belong to God who has purchased us with the precious blood of His Son.
The Christian life is all about surrendering my own will to the will of my Heavenly Father. The more I do that the more I must conclude that taking my own life is never an option.