Christians in Despair and Depression, Part 5 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #45)

TEXT: Romans 8:37-39

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Christians in Despair and Depression, Part 5 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #45)

We began this mini-series on how Christians can handle despair and depression by highlighting the number of people — Christian and non-Christian — who have sadly taken their lives after a struggle with depression or some kind of mental illness. We would be remiss if we did not tackle the subject of suicide itself as a part of this series. It is a topic that most Christians generally avoid because it is such a sensitive issue — especially for the family and friends of those who have taken their own lives. Perhaps even sadder are the tragic stories of those who kill others before killing themselves.

As you will recall, when Christian and Hopeful were chained in the dungeon of Giant Despair, Christian suggested that he and his companion take the Giant’s advice and end their own lives because, in his words, death would be better than the existence they had at the time. Perhaps, at times, you have felt the same — that you would rather die than go through whatever it is you are facing. Several characters in the Bible did.

While such feelings are well within the bounds of human experience, we as new men and women in Christ have a greater cause for not giving in to the despair that leads to suicide. We know that whatever we are facing — be it a spiritual threat, a physical threat, or even death itself — cannot separate us from the love of God. Paul writes, “We are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” We can overcome anything in life through faith in God and in our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is this knowledge that allows Hopeful to offer different advice to his companion as they are sitting in the dungeon of Giant Despair. He says, “It is a fact that our present condition is dreadful, and death does appear more welcome than this continual misery. But let us consider what the Lord of the country to which we are going has to say. He declares, ‘You shall not commit murder, no not to another man’s person.’ How much more then are we forbidden to take the Giant’s advice and kill ourselves… Also let us again consider that Giant Despair does not have authority over all the law of our Lord. So far as I can understand, others have been captured by him as well as we, and yet they have escaped out of his hand. Who knows if perhaps the God who made this world will cause Giant Despair to die? Or that at some time or another he may forget to lock us in? Or that he may shortly have another paralyzing fit right here and lose the use of his limbs? For if ever another seizure happens, for my part I am determined to pluck up manly courage and, with all the effort I can muster, attempt to escape from his hand. I was a fool not to try much earlier; however, my brother, let us be patient and continue to endure; the opportunity may arise that will give us happy relief; but let us not be our own murderers.”

Another reason why we ought not to neglect the issue of suicide is because, in the Bible, we find seven people who died by their own means. As with the rest of Scripture, God does not brush under the rug the negative things that happened in the lives of people just like us. These seven people are: Abimelech, Samson, Saul, Saul’s armor-bearer, Ahithopel, Zimri, and Judas Iscariot. We should note that at least four of these people were out of God’s will for their lives when they died. If you are out of God’s will for your life, you will likely struggle with depression and despair, and if you refuse to get things right with God, you may indeed begin thinking about death as an exit from your misery because you will find that life outside of God’s will is not worth living.

While the Bible does not include a prohibition specifically against suicide. We can look at Scripture to find God’s perspective on the matter.

First, we see that suicide is self-murder. The Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill.” Certainly, if we are commanded not to kill others, it is only right to assume that we are not to kill ourselves. Taking our own life is an affront to God because it is an assault on a being made in the image of God. If you made a sculpture or painting and put it on display, and someone came by and destroyed it, you would feel personally offended because of your connection to that sculpture or painting. You made it; you don’t want to see it destroyed! God feels the same way when we harm others and when we harm ourselves. He doesn’t want to see the destruction of His creation, certainly not a creation made in His own image.

Then, we see that suicide is selfish. Jesus commanded us, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Suicide causes a lot of pain, grief, heartache, unanswered questions, and long-term sadness for the family members and friends who must go through the aftermath of suicide. Suicide is an act of selfishness since it does not take into consideration the effect on those around you especially those who love you. If we truly love our neighbors, we would not put them through such pain. For someone who is contemplating suicide, please think about the people in your family, the people on your job, the people who depend on you in some way. Even if you do feel as though you have nothing else to live for, you can find at least two reasons to live: (1) because you love God and don’t want to offend Him by destroying His creation — yourself; and (2) because you love your neighbors, family, and friends, and you don’t want to put them through the pain that resides in the aftermath of suicide.

Finally, we come to what is perhaps the most pressing question for those who are left behind after someone commits suicide: Is suicide a one-way ticket to Hell? Can a person who is saved commit suicide? If a saved person commits suicide, do they lose their salvation? The simple answer to this question is that once a person is saved, nothing they can do — short of renouncing their faith (which proves they weren’t really saved in the first place) — can make them lose their salvation. No sin — and suicide is a sin — can cause a truly saved person to become unsaved.

As our main passage for today states: “Neither death — neither DEATH — nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The love of God is manifested to the world through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Once we accept that sacrifice as the means of our salvation, nothing can take that salvation from us. Speaking of those who believe in Him, Jesus Christ said, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” The Bible is clear: once you are truly saved, nothing and nobody can cause you to lose your salvation.

That being said, suicide is a crime with such finality — there is no confession and repentance for suicide — that it has led many to wonder if people who commit suicide can truly be saved. Listen to what Pastor John MacArthur says about this matter: “Suicide is a grave sin equivalent to murder, but it can be forgiven like any other sin. And Scripture says clearly that those redeemed by God have been forgiven for all their sins — past, present, and future. So if a true Christian would commit suicide in a time of extreme weakness, he or she would be received into heaven.” However, “we question the faith of those who take their lives or even consider it seriously — it may well be that they have never been truly saved… Though it may be possible for a true believer to commit suicide, we believe that is an unusual occurrence. Someone considering suicide should be challenged above all to examine himself to see whether he is in the faith.”

Scripture repeatedly defines true Christians as those that have hope. Acts 24 says that we “have hope in God.” Romans 5 says that we “exult in the hope of the glory of God.” Romans 8 says that we “have been saved in hope.” Second Corinthians speaks of the cause of our hope when it says that we have “set our hope” on Jesus Christ. This hope that Christians are supposed to have is at odds with those who commit suicide who typically describe themselves as feeling hopeless and without purpose. However, although we are people of hope and purpose because of our standing in Christ, this does not mean that we will not struggle with seasons of despair and darkness. John Piper said, “seasons of darkness come and go in the Christian life…true faith can have a season that is dark.”

We must recognize that the devil would love for all Christians to succumb to feelings of hopelessness, depression, and darkness. He would love for this to cause us to crawl into a hole and refuse to come out and fulfill our calling in Christ. However, we must remember that those kinds of feelings are just that — feelings. We must choose to focus on and act upon the facts of God’s word. One fact is that we are not alone, because God is always with us. Another fact is that the darkness in our lives may be real, but Jesus is the Light of the world. He has overcome the darkness, and we can overcome it through Him. Another fact is that nothing can separate us from God’s love: not the past, not the present, not the future, not earthly powers, not spiritual powers, not angels, not demons, not life, not death.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.

First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.

But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.


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