I have some bad news to report. One of the members of this group, took his life this weekend. Cris, as he is known, experienced the brutal side of alcoholism, addiction, and depression. I received the news from his ex-wife, who went well beyond expectations to be the face of Christ in his life. As we all come to understand, no person or organization can make everything better. We can be of assistance, but we can’t fix problems.
Right off, let me say this about suicide. I am firmly convinced that suicide is not THE unforgivable sin of scripture. We could really dig into this, and perhaps one day we shall, but it is all summed up in this passage:
John 10:24-30 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My father who has given them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
Born-again Christians cannot lose their salvation. If you think about this passage, and many others like it, you will find that even denial by a true Christian will not negate his/her status as a child of God. “You did not choose me, but I chose you,” (John 15:16a). Furthermore, ANY sin is a form of unbelief, is it not? Who in their right mind would sin in front of the all-powerful, holy and living God? Yet we do. So, is murder the unpardonable sin? Not if the man after God’s own heart (David) was forgiven. Or Moses. It’s no different if one murders him/herself.
The real question is whether someone is or is not part of Jesus’ flock. Faith is the only requisite. Yes, it is true that we should see a post-conversion difference in a person’s life, but what does that look like? Let’s put it this way. Some people have changed a great deal, yet many would look down on what they see. Much if it has to do with our starting point. Some of us start out in the gutter. In the end, we will all stand perfect before Jesus. Let me say this, I would rather not show you my current sin list.
So, what about Cris? There is no doubt his life was troubled. He had lost almost everything. Career. Family. Home. In the end, he lost his life. He professed belief, although he failed to allow Jesus to free him of his demons. Did Cris have “enough” faith to be saved? Certainly, God alone judges the hearts of men, so He has the only say. Even so, we are commanded to test the spirits and warned about those who appear saved yet aren’t. What about Cris? Here’s my opinion. Cris had saving faith. He is on a growing list that I personally knew whom I believe were saved yet took their lives, directly or indirectly, through addiction.
Now, here’s the warning. There is great power in Jesus to free any and all believers from ALL demons, if we so choose to allow him. Cris, and all the others, could have been set completely free and have lived far different, productive, healthy, and joyful lives. You can’t tell me for one second that Jesus isn’t able to free a man like Cris. It is our unbelief that prevents us from freedom Jesus offers. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36). Did Cris have enough belief to be saved? I think so. Did he have enough belief to be set free from alcoholism? Nope.
Cris had one major unbelief that I could see. He didn’t believe he was worthy enough for God to forgive him. This is just my opinion, but my guess this is a primary reason he took his life.
How could this possibly be? Certainly, Cris knew better, yet he could not get himself to believe that he was forgiven – for everything and for all time. Past, present, and future sin – wiped permanently clean by the blood of Jesus. Cris knew all this, yet he would not believe. He could not truly get to the point of prayer like the father of the boy with the unclean spirit who cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Cris believed (incorrectly) that his mountain was too big to move. He wouldn’t allow himself to believe this to be true for him:
Mark 11:22-23 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). It is my firm belief that the bible teaches us that Jesus will rid us of any sin we sincerely ask him to remove. Why wouldn’t he? Of course, he would. It is our own unbelief that keeps our chains on. Yes, we may be saved, but we still voluntarily wear the chains we choose.
This should be a real wakeup call for all of us. What chains do you still wear? Are yours OK to have because they are not as heavy as Cris’? Perhaps you enjoy your chains? Perhaps you are blind to how heavy they really are? I have chains that need to go. Do you?
While all this about Cris is a real tragedy, we can be part of Romans 8:28 and use it for the good of the church. Will you, today, seriously examine yourself for chains and get rid of them? Will you muster the courage to help your fellow Christian see and remove his or hers? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of your sin? Will you follow his prompting to pray for others? Will you allow him to move you to get involved in other people’s lives? Just imagine if the few people who read this post will commit themselves to making a real change?
2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
I, for one, am honored to have known Cris – even though he didn’t have his life together. Who knows, perhaps the reason God put us together was so that I may write today’s letter of encouragement. Someday, all this will be revealed. What a glorious day that shall be!
Father, thank you for Cris. Let these words provide comfort for his family and friends and provide encouragement for all who read this. Let Cris’ life and death be the springboard that will move a whole continent of mountains. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers