Definition: The place of suffering for those who die in a state of grace, yet in need of purification because of sin. The atonement of Jesus only removed the guilt of sin. The temporal consequences of sin remain and we must pay for our sins while alive or after death. The soul in purgatory is entirely passive. Therefore the only way to gain heaven is by suffering in purgatory or through the intercession of the Church. The pope can mitigate the consequences of purgatory by dispensing indulgences to the faithful. The righteousness of Jesus, Mary and the Saints has been stored up by God in the Treasury of Merit. The souls in purgatory may receive infusions of righteousness from this heavenly bank account to pay for sin. The soul in purgatory gets “time off for good behavior.” It is not their behavior, but rather the actions of the living faithful who gain indulgences on their behalf.
Discussion: Jesus paid the entire penalty for our sin (Rom. 6:23). No one deserves heaven. By the perfect righteousness of Jesus we are reconciled to God (Rom. 5:18). Purgatory is a wicked doctrine, since it provides a false sanctuary for the poor deceived Catholic. It also denies the abundant grace and love of God, making Him the miserly God of double jeopardy. The idea of merit is based on the false idea that the original sin of Adam only weakened our nature. In reality, we are born in a state of spiritual death (Eph. 2:5). Jesus confirmed that no one is good but God (Mk. 10:17). Salvation is entirely a gift of God – so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:9).
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