HOW BAD IS SUICIDE? DO 2822 2/92
1. (Maria: Do you have time for a little question? It's a rather heavy, theological question! It was something that even Techi asked about the other night after listening to this wonderful new Teen song that the Brazil studio recorded on the subject of suicide, called "Don't Throw Your Life Away!" The striking thing about the song is that it's written so that the person singing it has committed suicide & is giving a warning from the Spirit World to someone who is about to do the same thing, saying, "Don't do it!" It's quite a dramatic song & very interesting.
2. (So Techi was saying, "If somebody is in such a terrible situation that that's about their only way out, why not commit suicide?" I was trying to explain to her that for non-Christians the Devil tries to get them to commit suicide, because if they hold on just a little bit more, the Lord may be able to get to them. That's what happened with Andrew, one of our Russian brothers. The Devil tried to get him to commit suicide the day before he heard about the Family!
3. (But then there are the cases of backslidden Christians who commit suicide, those who have so miserably failed the Lord or done some great harm to His Work that they can no longer live with themselves. Their remorse is so great they can't face themselves or others, & figure that since they're going to have to face the Lord some day anyway, they might as well do it now before they cause any more trouble. Some of these people, when they realise what they've done either to themselves or to others, feel there's no longer any hope. They feel there's no hope of remedying the situation & can't face themselves or others any longer. Some of them feel that if they can just get out of the way they could stop being a discredit to the Lord's Work. [EDITED: "--Like Judas.--D."]
4. (The reason I'm bringing this up right now is because we just heard that Teen Ben, after having been out of the Family for a few months, committed suicide, & I was just writing a letter to his father trying to comfort him with the fact that Ben is now with the Lord & will now certainly be able to learn the lessons he needs to learn that he wasn't able to learn while here on Earth. Ben is now where the Lord can directly control him, & he'll have to do what he is supposed to do. He can now get the training that he refused to get here.
5. (For a person's son or daughter to commit suicide is a pretty big deal, so I was trying to help his father through the sadness & condemnation that I knew he was probably feeling. I pointed out to him that Ben was not happy in the Family, he wanted his "freedom" & independence. Neither was he happy in the System. He found that "freedom" & independence didn't satisfy. It brought anything but happiness. He got involved in drug smuggling & the underworld of crime & was just being used by the World. He freely walked away from a beautiful life, but he could not so freely walk away from the System life he had chosen as an alternative. It's not so easy to walk away when you're a victim of the System, body & soul, sold to the Devil for his use & firmly ensnared in his trap.
6. (Evidently Ben decided the situation was hopeless, & even though he knew he would have to take his punishment from the Lord, he'd rather just give himself over to the Lord's mercy & go to be with Him. He probably knew he was facing the Lord's punishment, but even the Lord's wrath would be just & merciful as opposed to Man's cruel injustice in the criminal world he was involved in after leaving the Family.)
The Only Unpardonable Sin Is to Reject the Lord!
7. The Lord says there is no unpardonable sin except to resist the Holy Spirit, & that's always been my position.--Mat.12:31,32. I've even said that it's quite possible that even Judas was saved! Obviously he was very repentant & very sorry, but he just couldn't stand to live with the shame & the humiliation of knowing that he had betrayed his own Lord.--Mat.27:3-5. (Maria: Oh yes, that's a good example!) So that's been my position.
8. King Saul also committed suicide, & he was a believer.--1Sam.31:4-5. That's one reason why he committed suicide, because he knew he had failed & he couldn't face defeat & life any more, so he just decided to end his own. In a sense it's sort of a self-judgement. And I still believe that no sin is unforgivable except to actually reject the Lord & the Holy Spirit.
9. The Apostle Paul speaks of praying that someone's body should be destroyed in order that their spirit might be saved.--1Cor.5:5. Just how he meant that it was going to be destroyed, whether through his prayers or by the act of the wayward one himself, I don't know. But obviously he said that the body could be destroyed that the soul might be saved. (Maria: Oh yes, that's a good verse too.)
10. And what about Deborah? She certainly believed & received the Lord & still claims to be a Christian, & even thinks that's why she is persecuting us. The Bible speaks of those who will even kill us, thinking that they do God service!--Jn.16:2.--Which seems like an unpardonable sin, but it's not. If they are deceived into thinking they are doing God service, then they'll be judged accordingly. I don't believe it necessarily means that they'll be lost.
11. One of the first suicide cases I ever came in close contact with was when I was a young teen in Oklahoma. A very dear friend of ours, an old lady that we knew & met there, told us the story. They were fairly wealthy people who had a huge plantation there, & the husband was out in the field one day & got sunstroke, & apparently was lying on the ground in terrible agony. Remember the little boy in the Bible who said, "My head, oh my head!" & died of sunstroke?--2Kg.4:18-20. It's pretty severe. If you think you've ever had a headache, you can remember them, they died of it!--Of course, not just of a headache, but of sunstroke.
12. Anyway, this man was supposed to be a good Christian, & he had written a note or somehow indicated that he just couldn't stand the pain. So he broke his watch in order to show what time he did it, & I think he shot himself. His wife was convinced that he was certainly saved, & therefore, although it was a sin in a way, the Lord Himself implies that there are sins that not only can 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 & the Spirit of the Lord completely--"shall not be forgiven, neither in this World, nor in the World to come."--Mat.12:31,32.
13. So obviously there are sins that are going to be forgiven in the Next World! Therefore, since we believe in Eternal Salvation--once saved, always saved--I've always had the opinion that regardless of what happens, you cannot lose the Lord or His Salvation. Although you might disobey & go astray & reject His Will or His leadings or break His commandments, nevertheless, if you truly believe in Him & have not rejected Him & the Holy Spirit as far as faith is concerned, then, like Judas, who committed one of the greatest sins of all--he both betrayed his Lord as well as committed suicide--you're still saved! I've always contended that I thought Judas was saved, although he would be punished in the Afterlife for his sins.
14. It's a moot (debatable) question, & some take one side & some take another. Some are very dogmatic about it. The Catholic church believes that it's a mortal sin & that you're eternally damned to Hell if you commit suicide! There are others who have a more moderate feeling about it, which I think is supported by a number of Scriptures & Bible stories, that it is quite possible that in some cases where life has become unbearable, suicide may be justifiable. For example, cases of people who know they're about to be captured & tortured & put to death anyhow & just can't stand the thought of going through all that, have committed suicide.
15. So suicide is not on the list of unpardonable sins. There's only one unpardonable sin, & that's 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. To me, that means refusing to believe on Him. I still believe that those who believe have everlasting life. (Jn.3:36.) And sometimes believers have been known to commit suicide when they have failed the Lord & backslidden & life has become unbearable, but not interminable. In other words, it's unbearable & they figure that all that's left for them is just to terminate it.
16. They just couldn't take it! It was just too much, they just couldn't stand it in the flesh. They couldn't even stand the torture of the spirit, the torture of the Devil, so they have terminated it. I'm sure the Lord will rightly & justly judge the degree of the situation accordingly & whether they deserve to be punished for it afterwards or not.
Punishment Does Not Last Forever!
17. We still believe that for some people who are going to Hell or to Purgatory, it's only temporary. Jesus said, "And that servant which knew his Lord's will, & prepared not himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, & did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes."--Luk.12:47,48. But whether the stripes are few or many, they come to an end! It doesn't mean they're going to be punished forever.
18. We do not believe that Hell is forever! There are some terms used in the Bible, which translated from the Greek in our English Bible as "forever" & even "forever & ever," actually come from the Greek "aeon," which means an age.--Which can be a long time, but even an age comes to an end. So it's very closely tied in with that doctrine, that if you're saved & even if you die in your sins--as one Baptist minister put it, "Even if you die in the arms of a harlot, you're still saved!" Of course, the churches feel that sex outside of marriage is the worst sin of all!
19. And obviously even murder is forgivable. Look at Paul, who arrested & tortured innocent Christians, & delivered them over to death!--And David, who had Uriah killed! (2Sam.11:15; Psa.89:30-34.) And then there's the example of the thieves on the cross, we know the one's sin was forgiven at least, & the Lord even said he wasn't going to have to suffer any punishment at all, he was going to go straight with Him to Paradise! (Luk.23:43.) The only unpardonable sin is to reject the Lord--in other words, the appeal of His Holy Spirit to believe in Him. That will not be forgiven in this World, nor in the Next.
20. So obviously there are many sins which are forgiven in this World, & there are some which men apparently think are unforgivable, but which will be forgiven in the Next, probably after appropriate punishment & at the Resurrection of the Unsaved & White Throne Judgement Seat of God at the end of the Millennium. Many of those people who have been in Hell are apparently even found written in the Book of Life & are not lost forever! So there again you have the same doctrine that we believe. We come close to the group of theologians who believe in Universal Reconciliation, that in the long run, everybody is going to be saved! (See ML#1437, "A Millennial Second Chance?", ML#1441, "Will There Be Millennial Conversions?--And How Long Is Hell?", ML#1460, "Universal Reconciliation!--A Third Chance?", ML#1465, "Hell's End!" & BOF Chapter 13, "The Judgement & Hell!")
21. Although I don't know that I go quite that far as to say "everybody," because it sounds like the Antichrist & the False Prophet & all of those Mark of the Beast people who are cast into the Lake of Fire after we slaughter them are simply going to be totally extinguished!--Or as the Seventh-day Adventists call it, "annihilated." They believe that they don't stay in Hell forever, but that they burn for their sins for a long time & then finally they're just eradicated, eliminated! So there are some who are just such horrible sinners that apparently God can't even stand the thought of them being saved or forgiven, but they are punished & finally just annihilated. (See 2Pet.2:12.)
Suicide Is Punishable, but Forgivable!
22. So it goes back to both those doctrines of what is forgivable & what is not. And I don't think you can find any place in the Bible where it teaches that suicide is unforgivable! Of course, they probably will be disciplined or punished for it, depending on the circumstances & the strain & stress of the situation & all the rest. Or maybe they won't even be punished for it at all! Maybe they'll have an awfully good excuse & God will even consider it excusable, & certainly forgivable. (Maria: Hallelujah! That's wonderful!) But if they're saved & the Lord doesn't consider that they had sufficient excuse for suicide, they terminated their lives before He was ready, they therefore may deserve to receive some punishment for it. It's like any other sin.--It is punishable, but forgivable.
23. That's always been my position on both suicide & Eternal Salvation. I believe in forgiveness in the Next World for many sins that the Catholics & other hard-liners don't believe are forgivable. Jesus Himself said that only the sin against the Holy Spirit was unpardonable, both in this World & in the Next.--And that means to harden your heart to God's Spirit & refuse to believe in Him & be against Him.--Like the scribes & Pharisees who crucified Jesus. They hardened their hearts to the very end, even while He was suffering on the Cross, & cursed Him & denounced Him & resisted His Spirit. In fact, as Stephen said to them, "Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost!"--Acts 7:51. Jesus said this would not be forgiven them either in this life, nor the Next. But I don't find any place where He includes any other sin that is unforgivable. So that's where the doctrine hinges as to what is forgivable & what is not.
24. It doesn't say anywhere in the Bible that suicide is unforgivable. There may even be some cases where it was virtually justifiable, under some circumstances. Maybe the suffering was too great & they couldn't stand it, or they did it in order to keep from betraying the Lord through torture, or betraying their brethren etc. They chose death instead, feeling it was better than betraying brethren who would then all be slaughtered because of it. They didn't feel that they could stand the torture & thought that they might betray them, so they killed themselves.
25. In this case, where some have been thought to have committed suicide in order to save their brethren, to spare them from as bad or worse a death, the Lord said that if a man dies for his friends, this is the greatest Love of all! "Greater Love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends" or his brethren.--John 15:13.
26. Samson is an example of a believer who not only committed suicide, but murdered many of the Philistines at the same time, & who was neither condemned nor punished by the Lord evidently. He took hold of the two pillars of the Philistines' house of Dagon & said, "Let me die with the Philistines!"--And the house fell down & killed them all, including Samson! (See Judges 16:29-30.) In fact, it says that "the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life!" He willingly, purposely gave his own life in order to avenge himself of his enemies, & is later listed in the "Hall of Fame" of Hebrews Chapter 11! (Verse 32.)
Suicide in the Case of Backsliders
27. Of course, the backslider who commits suicide is not doing it for his brethren. It's not because of love of others, it's just because of grief over his own horrible sins & his awful state. "For the way of the transgressor is hard!"--Pro.13:15. He just can't stand it any longer, & he may somehow feel that the Lord can't forgive him & that he can't come back to the Family because of his failures or whatever.--And perhaps he's too proud to come back. But even suicide in that case will be forgiven. That doesn't mean it will go totally unpunished, but the Lord is merciful & just.
28. There are sins that can be forgiven in the Next World, as Jesus said, which men will not forgive in this World. And even if in this World God perhaps doesn't forgive, we will be forgiven after some type of discipline in the Next World. Even the Catholics believe that Purgatory is not forever. (Maria: So maybe some backsliders feel that their brethren won't forgive them, but the Lord will, & maybe that's why they take their lives. They feel like they can't be forgiven by people, but at least the Lord will have some mercy on them.) Yes, that's possibly how they feel.
29. (Maria: I can see how it could get so bad out there that in some rare cases, like Ben's for example, the Devil could convince people that there's no more hope & no other choice than to take their life. If they feel they're not strong enough to make it in the Family but are too scared to stay in the System--& not wanting to, anyway, after having seen its horrors--they may see no other way out. Ben had learned for a fact that the System would not bring him happiness. He was entangled in the Devil's trap & the Devil was little by little destroying him as he yielded to the Devil's power. Of course, the Devil's final master stroke in completing the destruction was to drive Ben to suicide. What a terrible cop-out, what a terrible testimony! How ashamed Ben must have been upon arriving in Heaven! Well, at least he knew Jesus would love & receive him even though he would have to be punished. But evidently he felt his only escape was to go to be with the Lord, the only way out of his hopeless situation. He probably wanted to go where he thought they could control him, & where they could get him straightened out.)
30. I'm certain the Lord will judge them accordingly, for Jesus said the only sin that could not be forgiven was rejection of His Holy Spirit. How could He forgive people who refuse Him & refuse to believe in Him?--Like Satan & the devils, who even in the Next World are rebelling against Him & defying Him. That's why they will all have to be finally completely destroyed, because they never repent, they're never sorry, even though they know Jesus is Jesus. They refuse to receive Him, & they reject God's Spirit, which is what the Lord said about the scribes & Pharisees, "Ye do always reject the Holy Ghost!"--Acts 7:51. He said this is a sin which cannot be forgiven in this life nor in the Next.
Jesus & the Martyrs & Ourselves!
31. So even suicide is amongst the forgivable sins, even if it is a sin. And it might be judged that in some cases it was not a sin, it was the only way out, & maybe the only way to spare the brethren. After all, Jesus laid down His life for the sheep. (Jn.10:11.) He didn't have to go. If you want to look at it that way, even the death of the Lord was a voluntary suicide! Some people would be horrified to hear me say that, but He came & voluntarily laid down His life so that we could be saved.
32. So that's a little shocking, & it might be a little hard for some people to consider it in that way, but the Lord Himself said that "no greater love hath any man than this, that a man lay down his life for his brethren." What if the suicide is laying down his life for his brethren? It's virtually suicide to go into some situations, because you may get killed for standing up for the Lord.
33. In a way, the martyrs were suicides! They voluntarily went to their death for Jesus when they could have escaped by denying their doctrine or the Lord, or whatever. They voluntarily chose to die, which amounts to suicide! Even though it was not at their own hand, it was according to their own will. So in that sense you could even count the martyrs as suicides!--Or ourselves as future suicides, because we know that some day we're either going to have to voluntarily lay down our lives for the brethren, or the Lord may have to deliver us through death, perhaps even at the hands of our enemies.
Suicide Is Possibly Justifiable
& Definitely Forgivable!
34. So in the long run, a lot will depend on people's motives, why they did it. Whether they did it as a martyr to save their brethren, or as a martyr to refuse to deny the Lord, or whether they were just backsliders who just couldn't stand to live because of their sins or betrayals. According to Jesus Himself they all can be forgiven in the Next World, because there is only one unforgivable sin. The only unpardonable sin is rejection of faith in Jesus, & refusal & resistance of His Holy Spirit's urges to believe on & receive Jesus.
35. So there you have the Scripture & my position on it! That's my opinion, & you don't have to believe it if you don't want to. It's a difficult position to take, because the Catholic church is so adamant about it, that you just go straight to Hell & stay there forever if you terminate your life. But how do you reconcile that with what Jesus said?--That "if a man lays down his life for his brethren"--& he's obviously doing it voluntarily--"no greater Love hath any man than this."
36. So whether you're going to be glorified for it or punished for it depends on the situation & the motivation. There's no sin that God can't forgive except the resistance to His Spirit. Of course, some people feel like, "Well, they've resisted the Spirit & God's Will & backslidden & gone astray, therefore they have committed the sin against the Holy Spirit & they're lost forever!" Well, that's not necessarily so, that's being too extreme.
37. What is resisting the Holy Spirit? Some Christians resist Him almost every day in something, but He forgives. If we repent & are sorry, the Lord forgives. Judas was obviously repentant & sorry & he felt he deserved to die--it was just execution at his own hand. So a lot depends on whether the situation is blamable, or whether it's excusable, forgivable & justifiable, as to whether there will be punishment for it or not. But it is not unforgivable! Only to have always & totally resisted the Holy Ghost, God's Spirit, is unforgivable, according to what Jesus said. "It cannot be forgiven, neither in this World, nor in the Next," to have resisted & totally rejected the Spirit of God.
38. So the shocking conclusion is that sometimes suicide possibly could be justifiable, & it's definitely forgivable! Some people get so depressed & oppressed that they just think life is too hard & they want to end it all.--Or in defeat & pride & humiliation, they just don't think they can face life & face others, so they'd rather kill themselves & face God. Apparently they're too weak & they just don't have enough faith to hang on a little longer & trust the Lord to deliver them His way.--So they take their life--& their death--into their own hands. God will forgive them & will judge them according to His perfect wisdom.
The Armenian Priest & Martyrdom
39. The martyrs let other people do it for them. They knew they were as good as wilfully going ahead & laying down their lives for the Lord & the brethren. You could call that wilful suicide. It wasn't at their own hand, but it was because of their own spirit, they determined by their own will to live & die for the Lord, & that's martyrdom. "They loved not their lives unto the death!"--Rev.12:11. And that's to be greatly regarded & glorified & rewarded in the Afterlife, according to many Scriptures.
40. Remember the story of the Armenian priest who was kneeling on his knees & the fanatical Muslim soldier was telling him if he wanted to live he'd have to deny his faith in Jesus? Thank God not all Muslims are that crazy, some even tend to believe in Jesus. But this was in the horrible days of the Turkish persecutions of the Armenians. The soldier told him that if he was willing to deny his faith in Jesus he'd be released. But the Armenian said, "Why should I deny Jesus? He's never denied me! He's always been faithful to me, why should I deny Him now?"--And the soldier chopped off his head!
41. Did he commit suicide? No, he was martyred. It's death at your own hand that is usually called suicide. But he did choose to die. In fact, all the martyrs chose to die! In a sense, we are choosing to die now. We are "dying daily," choosing to do so, laying down our lives for the Lord & others.--1Cor.15:31. And the Lord praises that, rewards it, exalts it & glorifies it in the long run. So who is to blame? Are we to blame for our own death?--Yes! In the case of martyrdom, all the martyrs were to blame for their own death, they chose death, & the Lord praises them for it.
42. What if someone has chosen death in order to keep himself from betraying his brethren or saying something he shouldn't? That would virtually be justifiable suicide, a man laying down his life for his brethren or because of pain or torture or punishment or who knows what.
God Is the Judge!
43. In many cases, suicide is very bad & no doubt punishable, & in others it might even be sacrificial. God is going to be the Judge. I think it depends on the person, the circumstances & the conditions.--And that's up to the Lord. In some cases suicide may be justifiable, but there are many selfish, unjustifiable & poor excuses for suicide. But even though they may be punished for these things, they can still be forgiven.
44. (Maria: In a way, you would think that if Christians do the same evil things as non-Christians, since they're much more responsible, that they would be punished much more. But on the other hand, because we as Christians have received the Lord's forgiveness, & we've even received His pardon in advance for all our sins, & if we're repentant, we can claim that forgiveness. Even if a believer gets so extremely "out of it" that he commits such a horrible act as suicide, he can still repent & receive the Lord's forgiveness, even though he has to accept the serious punishment for his actions.
45. (The saved have freely received God's pardon, which was bought for them with Jesus' blood. Whereas the unsaved folks, even though they aren't as responsible, because they don't know the Lord, all they have is the Devil's justice & judgement to look forward to! Because what they are responsible for in many cases is that they have rejected the Lord. If they have wilfully rejected Jesus, then they certainly are responsible, very responsible.--And all they have to look forward to is the Devil's justice or judgement, not the Lord's forgiveness & mercy.)
46. It sure sounds like it couldn't be any plainer than what Jesus said. He as good as said there is no sin that's unforgivable except continued resistance against the Holy Ghost. Just think, the truly wicked who become devils in the Afterlife are continuing their resistance against God & resisting His Holy Spirit, so they certainly deserve to be obliterated.
47. I think a lot of people are going to get a little surprise in the Hereafter when they see that they really had failed to do some things, & they're going to have some tears & there will be some sorrow, at least temporarily. But the Lord still forgives. Praise God! Thank God for His Love! The Lord is merciful & His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting!--Forever & always!--Psa.103:17. So He can still forgive, even in the Next Life, no matter what it is, as long as you really love Him & believe in Him.
48. But He cannot forgive if you continue to resist the Holy Spirit & refuse to believe in Him like the scribes & Pharisees did! They wound up crucifying the Lord.--Not just betraying Him like Judas did, which I think was forgivable, because he repented. But they never repented. They crucified Jesus. So I'm sure they went straight to Hell, & they're probably still there, & will probably eventually be completely exterminated, unless they really repent & learn not to resist any more, even in the Next World.
49. I've always felt some sympathy for the poor people who commit suicide, & I've hoped & prayed that they were saved, that they at least had faith in the Lord, even though they couldn't stand life any more. I think it's far better, of course, that you suffer whatever it is for the Lord & stand up for Him, & if necessary even die for Him, than dying at your own hand! But I can't say that it's a sin that's unforgivable, because obviously Jesus said all sins are forgivable except to always resist the Holy Ghost, like the self-righteous scribes & Pharisees did.
50. 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 & others! I love you! (Please also read TSM #9.)
Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family