Does unrepentant sin send a person to hell? What about suicide?
No. This is a common false doctrine that basically ignores all that Jesus Christ did for us and all that the New Covenant gave to us.
1. We are saved by faith alone—not by obedience. Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
2. If obedience to commands (the law) is necessary for salvation, then Christ didn’t need to die. We could have just followed the Jews in trying to be perfectly obedient. Which none were. Which is why Jesus had to come and save us. Gal 2:21 “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law (obedience), then Christ died in vain.”
Jesus is my righteousness. That means that if I’m in Christ, I cannot become less righteous or more righteous by my behavior. And I don’t go in and out of Christ each time I stumble.
3. Since obedience to commands is not how we receive salvation, then it cannot be how we keep our salvation. We are saved only by faith in Jesus Christ. And we remain saved only by faith in Jesus Christ.
4. Since our righteousness (our right standing with God) does not depend on obedience, it also does not depend on our repentance for every single sin. Most people don’t even realize all the sins they commit. Aside from visible sins, there are so many heart sins that aren’t seen, such as being rude, being irritable, being self-centered, holding grudges, and bitterness, etc.
Actually, “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). It is a sin to disobey God in any way, whether it be in life decisions, ministry callings, or neglect of spiritual disciplines. So, is it reasonable that someone would go to hell for being rude just before death? Or for not praying and reading their Bibles for the prior 6 months before they died? Of course not.
There are two kinds of repentance mentioned in the New Testament. First, it is to “repent and believe the gospel”. That means to repent from the Old means of law-keeping for righteousness and believe in salvation through Christ alone, without obedience to law. Salvation depends on this first repentance.
For the people promoting that salvation is lost when we sin and regained when we repent, they are the ones in danger of missing out on salvation through Christ alone. They are the ones who need to repent. They are the ones who have fallen from grace.
Gal 5:2-4 “Christ will profit you nothing…You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”
The second type of repentance is to change your heart and behavior. This second one does not directly affect your salvation. Certainly, repentance from sin is part of the Christian’s spiritual life. But our salvation does not hang in the balance every time we sin.
As a matter of fact, any Christian who even cares about their salvation and wants to change only does so BECAUSE they are saved and have a conscience that is alive unto God. Being born again and having that witness from the Holy Spirit is an evidence that a person is saved (Rom 8:16).
5. There are three dangers of unrepentant sin.
1) Sin opens the door to the devil to afflict or destroy your physical life (but not your eternal one). You’ll go to heaven, but your earth life may be cut short (1 Cor 5:1-5).
2 Tim 2:25-26 …grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
2) Over time, unrepentant sin will harden a person’s heart to the point that they don’t even feel guilty any more for their sins (1 Tim 4:2). This will make it easier and easier as time goes along, to stop believing in Jesus altogether. If anyone stops believing in Jesus and doesn’t care any more about being saved, they would not go to heaven. We are saved by faith in Jesus. If a person rejects Jesus from their heart and no longer has faith in Him for their salvation, they are no longer saved.
So, unrepentant sin does not directly send a person to hell. However, it could cause someone’s heart to harden enough to disbelieve and reject Christ.
3) Unrepentant sin makes a Christian’s light grow dim and sets a terrible example for Christ. Sincere Christians care deeply about the witness they are presenting to the world. Insincere Christians who are careless with their lifestyle are being a stumblingblock to others, and that is a very ugly sin.
6. Confessing sin and forgiveness of sins.
Forgiveness from our heavenly Father is best understood if we liken it to our earthly family. Earthly parents overlook their childrens’ sins and forgive them of their disobedience regardless of whether they own up to it or even know of it. It is the same with God, and more so (since He is better than an earthly father). Parents desire their children to confess their sins and acknowledge what they’ve done wrong. But that is for child training and to build honesty rather than to determine if they get to remain in the family. Parents don’t kick the child out of the family just because they didn’t yet change their bad behavior. Neither does our heavenly Father.
7. Suicide is not the unforgiveable sin. Suicide shortens a life that could have fulfilled God’s will on earth, so it is certainly a tragedy. But suicide does not send a Christian to hell. That is a lie.