Questions from Joe on suicide and overeating:

QUESTION#1: If a person commits suicide, does he go to heaven or hell?  Is he still saved? Does Satan control a person with depression and lead him to suicide? 

 

QUESTION#2:  Does the Bible teach that overeating is a sin?

 

 

Question 1.  I read the article (about suicide being a sin) and I told my friend about it.  He didn't think so.  He said a person who is a Christian and suffering with chronic depression, which requires the use of all kinds of medications, goes through much suffering, which may lead to ending his life by suicide. 

 

·          My question is… where does he go… heaven or hell?  Is he still saved? 

 

I believe if a person is really saved, then God would not let him die like that.  After all God created us to glorify Him.  Suicide is not the way to glorify God.  I would also like to know…

 

·          Does Satan control a person with depression and lead him to suicide? 

 

Question 2.  My friend says overeating is a sin because it is bad for body.  He says anything that harms the body is sin. 

 

I looked in the Bible, I couldn't find overeating anywhere, except the conflict of the flesh against the spirit found in the context of Galatians 5:16-21. 

 

·          Does the Bible teach that overeating is a sin?

 

I am looking forward to your answer.  Thank you…  Joe

 

ANSWER:

 

Dear Joe~

 

Thanks for writing and asking these important questions.  I will answer them in order; beginning with the first part (below):

 

Question 1A: 

I read the article (about suicide being a sin) and I told my friend about it.  She didn't think so.  She said a person who is a Christian and suffering with chronic depression, which requires the use of all kinds of medications, goes through much suffering, which may lead to ending his life by suicide. 

 

·          My question is… where does he go… heaven or hell?  Is he still saved? 

 

I am strongly opposed to suicide, and I strongly believe it is a sin.  God is the Creator of life and only He has the right to say when a life should or should not be taken.  In the last 20 years I have personally known four Christians that committed suicide.  In each case it was difficult to see the warning signs, and it is my opinion that people should acquaint themselves with warning signals to prevent this horrible human tragedy.

 

One of the warning signals I saw, looking back, was that each of them had become increasingly agitated, and it was difficult discussing anything with them.  Only one of the four precious lives lost to suicide, as best as I recollect, was in therapy for depression, and she was diagnosed from childhood as being bi-polar (manic-depressant). 

 

Had the other three sought professional help from a licensed psychotherapist, I believe the outcome would have been much different.  Unfortunately they attended a church whose pastor taught them NOT to believe in psychiatry… sad isn’t it? 

 

I really cannot say whether these four Christians are in heaven, but it is my opinion that God showed all of them mercy, even though what they did is not His will.  I don’t understand how your friend can think that suicide is anything but a sin?  On this point I must agree with you.

I agree that mental health issues are very real, and often caused by physical deficiencies.  Many, if not most Christians live in denial or ignorance about the realities of mental health issues.

 

I have talked to Christian ministers who believe all psychology is of the devil.  One pastor in particular boasted the only thing people with chronic depression and mental illness need is, “faith in the Bible’s teachings as the word of God!”

 

His pomp and arrogance revealed his woefully incompetent educational background.  Regardless of the fact he didn’t even have his BA degree, let alone a PhD in psychology, this pompous, arrogant and highly self-righteous minister revels in the unending treasury of knowledge flowing effortlessly from the beginner’s psychology class he took while attending a local community college nearly 30 years ago!

 

Many Christian pastors refuse to accept an integrated approach to counseling.  They think that all they need is the Bible and their own pastoral wisdom to guide the flock.  This may work in spiritual areas, but it doesn’t work in medical areas.

 

For example, you wouldn’t take your car to be repaired at the hair stylist would you?  Of course not!  Or would you ask your car mechanic to fix a broken tooth in your mouth?  No!  Why then does the Christian pastor think he is some utilitarian all-purpose handyman that can affix every problem with his limited scope of Bible knowledge?

 

The Bible doesn’t mention every subject in the world; even John’s gospel said that if everything Jesus said and did were written in books, the world could not contain them (John 21:25). 

 

The Bible never mentions television’s polluting influence, or how to deal with substance abuse and/or addictions; even the crime of abortion (infanticide) and euthanasia are not listed in the pages of scripture. 

 

Are we so naïve then to invalidate issues such as manic-depressant (bi-polar disorder), caused by biological chemical imbalances, simply because the Bible doesn’t address the issue?  God the Father is also the Great Physician and the Source of all true wisdom and knowledge.  Does this mean He cannot and does not use mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists and psychologists to heal and treat people with mental health problems?

 

Unfortunately many hard line Christian ministers have their head stuck in the ground, refusing to acknowledge mental illness is effectively treated by qualified mental health professionals.  Ironically, these same people will run to the doctor or dentist if they have other medical/dental disease or injury.  Isn’t it total hypocrisy to say one thing and yet practice something contrary?

 

What I mean is that Christians might accept PHYSICAL sickness, such as cancer, but then they deny mental illness merely because they cannot SEE the effects of mental illness outwardly, except for behavior patterns.  Let me give you a very likely scenario:

 

A Christian man, deeply committed to God for many years, is on his way to work one day when a speeding drunk strikes his car and he sustains severe blunt force trauma to his head.  As a result, his brain is severely and permanently damaged.  The closed head injury is inoperable, and in the weeks and months that follow, the man’s behavior changes, and he often becomes agitated, erratic and even violent.  He becomes depressed and has wild mood swings, often engaging in acts of self-mutilation, cutting his flesh with sharp objects, knives and razor blades. 

 

Finally, one day, during an uncontrollable mental breakdown, he slices his arm with a razor blade, severing a major blood vessel and bleeds to death.  Where does he go when he dies?  If you say he goes to hell, you have now usurped God’s role.  Remember, this same man was a strong Christian BEFORE the car accident that injured his brain, causing the unstable and unpredictable behavior and acts of violence to self (aka mental illness).

 

The gospels teach us that mental health issues were a problem even at the time Jesus walked the shores of Galilee.  The scribes considered Jesus’ teaching to be the byproduct of a madman, possessed of a demon (Mark 3:22).  This proves that even the Jews knew about mental illness.

 

The boy possessed by a deaf and dumb spirit in Mark 9:17-29 acted mentally ill.  There are many more examples in scripture of people with mental health issues, often caused by demon spirits, but not limited to demonic origin.

 

The woman with the issue of blood for many long years was certainly depressed.  Her chronic blood loss starves her brain of oxygen and vital nutrients, which only blood can deliver to the central nervous system. 

 

·          Luke 8:43 And a woman who had suffered from a flow of blood for twelve years and had spent all her living upon physicians, and could not be healed by anyone.    AMP

 

If she had lived in this condition today, and then sought medical treatment, the doctors would not only treat her with blood clotting medication, but mercifully, they would also provide her whatever seratonin reuptake inhibitor she required to reestablish adequate endocrine levels, such as seratonin, which converts to melatonin, enabling her to get the much needed sleep she had not gotten all those years. 

 

On the subject of sleep, have you ever suffered sleep deprivation?  What if you became sick, and the sickness prevented you from sleeping.  Imagine not being able to sleep for 4,5,6 or even 7 days!  What kind of mental health would you have then?  Did you know in some Communist countries, prisoners for Christ are sometimes tortured this way? 

 

I have read stories in North Korea and Red China where evil men kept Christians awake for many days to make them break down mentally and find out where their secret house churches meet.  I read a story in the magazine, “Voice Of The Martyrs,” how in North Korea Christians were made to lie down on the street pavement, and then crushed to death from the feet first, toward their head by a giant road paving machine.  If this happened to you, are wouldn’t you be tempted to commit suicide rather than suffer such a long and horrible death?

 

What if a Christian, being tortured for Christ, could not endure the torture any longer, and then, after many days of agony and suffering, decided to take his or her life?  Do you honestly believe they would go to hell?

 

Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m against suicide.  I agree with you that suicide does not glorify God.  But neither does gossip glorify God, and yet Christians gossip ALL the time.  Do you think a Christian that commits gossip will go to heaven and a Christian that commits suicide will go to hell?  Or what about the Christian that slanders another his brother or sister in Christ; will he go to heaven or to hell?  Isn’t slander a form of hatred?  And isn’t hatred a form of murder?  Do murderers go to heaven or to hell?

 

Jesus likened the self-righteous Jews to murderers because of their attitude toward their brethren. 

 

·          Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill, and whoever kills shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously and insultingly to his brother shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You cursed fool!  You empty-headed idiot!’ shall be liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire.   AMP

 

What if a Christian has cancer of the spine or brain (two of the most painful forms), and God does not heal them?  What if the pain is so bad the person feels unable to cope with and/or endure it any longer, and then, tragically, takes his or her own life?  Does this mean God throws him in hell?  Anyone that believes this kind of logic has an entirely wrong concept about God and how He views His children.

 

It is my understanding from scripture and from the nature of a merciful and loving Father, that if the person is a Christian and has had a solid relationship with God, prior to committing suicide, this person would not be sent to hell simply because he or she had committed an irreversible sin by committing suicide.  Such thinking can only be properly governed by applying the SPIRIT OF THE LAW (as opposed to the letter of the Law). 

 

Whether or not a suicide victim goes to heaven or hell is not based solely upon the one singular act of suicide.  The topic of suicide is not specifically addressed anywhere in scripture; if suicide is a sin for which there is no mercy, and anyone who commits suicide goes to hell, why is there no mention of it anywhere in the Bible?

 

YOU CANNOT EVEN FIND THE WORD “SUICIDE” ANYWHERE IN THE BIBLE… ISN’T THAT STRANGE?  Maybe God knows a whole lot more about this complex subject than we do, and that is why He did not give any specific commandment concerning it.

 

All sin can be forgiven (except blasphemy of the Holy Spirit) and suicide is NOT the exception.  Suicide is NOT the unpardonable sin, as some Christians believe.  For example, let’s say a Christian man gets very depressed after his wife dies of cancer, and then, the day after her funeral, his twin 6-year-old daughters are raped and murdered by a serial killer.  Overwhelmed with grief, and feeling abandoned by God, the brokenhearted husband and father drinks some poison to kill himself.  After he swallows the poison, he feels his breathing difficult, and knows he is dying. 

 

Suddenly the man has a change of heart and now regrets taking the deadly poison.  He realizes it is too late to seek a paramedic to revive his fading life.  Knowing it is too late to save his own life, he turns to God in repentance, confesses his sin, and asks for forgiveness.  It was too late for him to reverse the effect of the poison, but in his heart, he truly repented and confessed his transgression (i.e. – suicide). 

 

He then dies; now if we are honest and true to God’s character, do we TRULY believe God sends him to hell?  According to the scripture, his sin is forgiven, and he is saved, even though he dies physically.

 

·          1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. NAS

 

Suicide is not mentioned by name in the scripture, although a few scripture passages in the Old & New Testaments give examples of suicide.  For example, king Saul, after being mortally wounded, asks his armor bearer to kill him so that the Philistines could not mock and make sport of him.

 

·          1 Samuel 31:4-5 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and thrust me through, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through and abuse and mock me.”  But his armor-bearer would not, for he was terrified. So Saul took a sword and fell upon it.  5 When his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he likewise fell upon his sword and died with him.  AMP

 

Saul’s situation would be akin to what happened to the U.S. Marines in Somalia in the 1990’s when Somali warlords shot down a Blawkhawk helicopter, killed the soldiers, and then dragged their dead bodies around in a chilling display of macabre violence. 

 

So did God send Saul and his armor bearer to hell for this act of suicide (i.e. - falling on their swords)?  The Philistines would surely have killed them anyway, and God’s name would have been mocked if they’d been alive, captured and tortured by the Philistines.  Was Saul and his armor bearer condemned to hell; what do you think?

 

So you see, the answer to your question is not as simple as you might think.  Remember this, God looks upon the heart.  Only HE knows what a person’s motives are, and only HE knows whether or not they are “really saved.”  We cannot make that judgment call.  Suicide IS a sin (I believe), but it is not always a sin that leads to eternal death (i.e. – hell).  Did you know there is a sin that does not result in eternal death (hell)?

 

·          1 John 5:16-17 If anyone sees his brother believer committing a sin that does not lead to death, he will pray and God will give him life yes, He will grant life to all those whose sin is not one leading to death. There is a sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that.  17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin which does not involve death that may be repented of and forgiven.  AMP

 

The Greek word for “death” in 1 John 5:16-17 is thanatos; this same word is used in John 5:24 referring to hell:

 

·          John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”  NASU

 

Question 1B:

I believe if a person is really saved, then God would not let him die like that.  After all God created us to glorify Him.  Suicide is not the way to glorify God.  I would also like to know…

 

·          Does Satan control a person with depression and lead him to suicide? 

 

You said if a person is “really saved” God would not “let him die” like this.  Perhaps you did not realize your statement is based on a false premise.  The implication is that a “really saved” person could not sin, or at least he or she could not/would not commit the sin of suicide.

 

I agree that suicide does not glorify God, but as I mentioned earlier, neither does gossip glorify God… nor does hatred, self-righteousness, anger toward your brother in Christ, abusive language, watching worldly movies or television, materialism and seeking earthly riches, apathy & not seeking God in His word, not evangelizing and never sharing the gospel, and the list goes on and on.

 

Suicide is not intended to glorify God; it is usually the result of someone that feels hopeless and despondent, and feels the only way out of his or her situation is suicide.

 

First of all, there is a false doctrine deeply entrenched in Christian thinking that is known as “Calvinism” or “hyper-Calvinism”; this is a systematic theology started by one of the reformers named John Calvin, along with his contemporary John Knox.

 

Calvinism teaches man has no choice in the matter of salvation; Calvin taught only God could choose a person’s eternal destiny.  This is contrary to the very basic precepts of scripture, which are based on man’s ability to CHOOSE.  Consider this next passage of scripture:

 

·          Deuteronomy 30:19-20 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.  So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them. "  NAS

 

You see, choosing life is OUR choice; we want to choose life all of the time, but even the most devoted Christian is bound to fall from time to time.  I’m certain you will not deny that the believer in Christ is capable of sinning by individual choice. 

 

Some sins are worse than others, yet sin is sin, and every Christian needs a Savior no matter how “really saved” they are.  The apostle John wrote his letter to the churches and exhorted them on this very point:

 

·          1 John 1:6-10 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.   NAS

 

So you see, a believer can get depressed thru a variety of circumstances, and sometimes, sadly, people get so desperate they commit suicide.

 

I suppose it is possible for Satan to control or at the very least, heavily influence a person’s feelings and emotions and thoughts in the direction of suicide.  We know this was the case with Judas Iscariot; there was actually a time when Satan entered him. 

 

·          Luke 22:3 And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. NASU

 

We wrestle not with flesh and blood, so the NT believer has got to be aware he or she has an enemy (the devil).  Satan entered Judas, but I do not believe it was capricious or arbitrary.   In other words, I am saying Judas CHOSE THE PATH OF WICKEDNESS and thus enabled Satan to enter him.  Once the devil entered Judas, he betrayed Christ, and then, unable to deal with the guilt and condemnation he hung himself. 

 

·          Matthew 27:3-5 When Judas, His betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, Judas was afflicted in mind and troubled for his former folly; and with remorse with little more than a selfish dread of the consequences he brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 Saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.”  They replied, “What is that to us?  See to that yourself.”  5 And casting the pieces of silver forward into the Holy Place of the sanctuary of the temple, he departed; and he went off and hanged himself.  AMP

 

We cannot give the devil undue credit for every case of depression or suicide, but the fact remains, he is a powerful and clever foe, intent on stealing, killing and destroying God’s people.

 

Lest you get the wrong idea, let me again reassure you, I do not support or affirm that suicide is anything but sin.  It is wrong, wrong, wrong.  Suicide is usually the most prolific act of selfishness a person can commit.  If someone is considering suicide, they need to realize that they will leave a path of ruin and devastation in the lives of their loved ones, which is very unfair.

 

This is a difficult subject, and one that has got lots of different angles.  Life would be much more simple if everything were black and white.  In principle, suicide is wrong, it is sin; you should, I believe, discourage it in any and all circumstances.

 

Question 2

My friend says overeating is a sin because it is bad for body.  He says anything that harms the body is sin. 

 

I looked in the Bible, I couldn't find overeating anywhere, except the conflict of the flesh against the spirit found in the context of Galatians 5:16-21. 

 

·          Does the Bible teach that overeating is a sin?

 

I believe your friend’s concept falls somewhat short of what the scripture describes as, “gluttony.”  Another aspect of this deals more with an over-indulgence of what pleases one’s “self” to the exclusion of God and/or the will of God.

 

For example, the passage of NT scripture below mentions those within the church whose “god” is their “belly” or “appetite.”

 

·          Philippians 3:17-19 Brethren, together follow my example and observe those who live after the pattern we have set for you.  18 For there are many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, who walk (live) as enemies of the cross of Christ (the Anointed one). 19 They are doomed and their fate is eternal misery (perdition); their god is their stomach (their appetites, their sensuality) and they glory in their shame, siding with earthly things and being of their party.  AMP

 

The issue is not so much the occasional “over-eating” at Thanksgiving or Christmas, when a feast is prepared.  The scripture condemns the LIFESTYLE of self-indulgence.  America has become OBSESSED with pleasing the senses.  Food is certainly one of these obsessions and when a person is gobbling down food and drink for reasons other than nourishing the body, this lifestyle is most definitely sinful.

 

·          Proverbs 23:20-21Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; 21 For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.  NAS

 

·          Proverbs 28:7 He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father. NAS

 

·          Deuteronomy 21:20 And they shall say to the elders of his city, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.'  NAS

 

It is interesting to note the characteristics and companions of the glutton.  He keeps company with the “heavy drinker” of alcoholic beverages, so it is likely the glutton is also an alcoholic.  He ends up in “poverty” because of the lifestyle he lives; this means he is likely to be involved with other sensual indulgences, such as pornography and gambling.

 

The attitudes employed by the person that makes his or her appetite the center of their existence are characterized in Deuteronomy 21:20 as, “stubborn and rebellious.”  The glutton is also a person that “will not obey.”  As you can see, there is a lot more behind the motive and desires of a person’s heart that engages in a lifestyle of self-gratification.

 

The verses you listed from Galatians 5:16-21are certainly appropriate; I would also like to add to this the exhortation from Romans chapter thirteen:

 

·          Romans 13:13-14 Let us live and conduct ourselves honorably and becomingly as in the open light of day, not in reveling, carousing and drunkenness, not in immorality and debauchery, sensuality and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.  14 But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for indulging the flesh put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of your physical nature to gratify its desires and lusts.     AMP

 

I think that I have adequately given you answers to your questions; all I ask in return for my labors are your prayers.

 

Yours in service & love for God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ~

 

Craig Bluemel

The Bible Answer Stand Ministry

craig@bibleanswerstand.org

 

1 Peter 3:15

Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.

AMP

 

 


 

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