Can a person lose their salvation because of suicide based on 1 Cor. 3:17?
Is suicide the unpardonable sin?
A person who is a genuine believer cannot lose his salvation. Salvation is a free gift of God. Every person who received salvation received it by faith without the accompaniment of any good works or moral standing before God (Eph. 2:8-9). Because we could do nothing for salvation, we can do nothing to lose our salvation.
In 1 Corinthians 3:17, Paul has just described rewards and then focuses on the church. Paul writes, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?(1 Cor. 3:16) When Paul says, “you are the temple of God,” he uses the plural pronoun for “you all” referring to the entire church. Then in the next verse Paul writes, “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (1 Cor. 3:17) Again, Paul uses the plural pronoun at the end of verse 17 to indicate he is addressing the church. The word for destroy is phtheiro- which means “destroy,” “corrupt,” or “defile.”
Paul is addressing someone who defiles, corrupts, or even destroys a local church. When someone acts wickedly toward a local church in a divisive, manipulative or deceitful way, he crosses the line with God and God will impose divine discipline on the person. The context is not a context for an individual person. Suicide is not part of the context or to be read into the context.
A genuine believer, who chooses suicide for any number of reasons, retains his relationship with God (see the approaches to eternal security below). However, a person, who is a genuine believer and who commits suicide, will lose any rewards they could have earned from that time forward in the life he was were meant to have. However, he does not lose his eternal security or his salvation. What is suicide?
Suicide is a sin, but not the unpardonable sin. David writes, “Into Your hand I commit my spirit…” (Ps. 31:5) Our lives are in God’s hands. Only God has the right to take our spirit at death. We do not have that option. The unpardonable sin is described in Matthew 12,
24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub1, the ruler of the demons.”
25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
26 “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
27 “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.
28 “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.
29 “Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
30 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
32“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matt. 12:24-32)
The unpardonable sin could only be committed during the First Advent of Jesus. The unpardonable sin is ascribing Jesus’ works to Satan instead of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:24). The Pharisees were so hardened and would not respond to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit that they said Jesus’ work, which was done by the power of the Holy Spirit was done by Satan. That accusation is against Jesus and against the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31-32). That accusation against the Holy Spirit is the only sin that is unpardonable. It is saying that Jesus was not God’s representative empowered by the Holy Spirit sent to provide salvation.
How do we know that a Christian has eternal life at the moment of salvation? Below are eight approaches to that question and I use the acrostic FISHLEGS in order to remember each of the headings:
· Family Approach John 1:12; Hebrews 2:11-13
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:(John 1:12)
11For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” 13 And again: “I will put My trust in Him.” And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.” (Heb 2:11-13)
Once a believer is in the family of God, he cannot lose his salvation.
· Inheritance Approach 1 Peter 1:4
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,(1Pet. 1:3-4)
Once God promises an incorruptible inheritance, it will not be taken away.
· Sealing Approach Ephesians 1:13
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, (Eph 1:13)
Once sealed by the Holy Spirit, a genuine believer cannot lose his salvation.
· Hands Approach John 10:28-30
28And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29“My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30“I and My Father are one.”(John 10:28-30)
Once a genuine believer is in the hands of God, no one can snatch him out and he cannot slip or jump out!
· Logical Approach Romans 8:38-39
38For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)
Once a genuine believer experiences the love of God in salvation, he is eternally secure. There is nothing a genuine believer can do or become that can separate him from the love of God.
· Election Approach Ephesians 1:4
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, (Eph 1:4)
Once a genuine believer is chosen in Christ, he cannot lose his salvation.
· Grammar Approach Ephesians 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (Eph 2:8)
The Greek grammar requires a salvation that is eternal. The word for “saved” is a perfect periphrastic grammatically, and is the strongest way you can say that an action took place (being saved) and the results CONTINUE forever and ever.
· Sovereign Approach Romans 8:28-30
28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Rom 8:28-30)
Once God foreknows, predestines, calls and justifies, He will also glorify. The verbs in these verses all indicate action accomplished. So the genuine believer is seen by God in glorified state. Therefore, there is nothing the genuine believer can do, including suicide, that can hinder that glorification.
In all, God in no way allows suicide as an option for life. Suicide is a sin and there is loss of intended rewards.
Pastor Bryan, Thank you for clearing this up. So many are grieving for loved ones that have taken their lives. The word makes it very clear that once the accept our Lord they are in union with Him.My brother Philip committed suicide in 1994 by hanging due to his depression and alcoholism. I was there when he was saved and he is sanctified and redeemed.Once a person trusts Christ they are carried across the great divide and are one of God's beloved children. and John 10 makes that very clear.My brother is now with Christ and I look forward to seeing him when my time comes.And in the holiday time we need to show our love to the American soldier. So many have fought for our freedom in Christ only to never come home. Selfless act of liberty that was based on the founding our country over 200 years ago."Where the spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty" 2 Corinthians 3:17May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and mind though Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7Proudly Submitted Randy Greb