Purgatory explained and proved. This is a long posts and will divide it into 2 parts. This is part one, definition and explanation.
PURGATORY – Explained and Proved.
For you to understand the doctrine of Purgatory, I feel you must understand two preliminary distinctions:
- Guilt and Punishment; and
- Mortal and Venial sin
God does forgive the GUILT of sin and still requires PUNISHMENT (reparation, atonement, expiation).
Ask King David. In 2 Sam 12:13-14 we read: “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan answered David, ‘The Lord on His part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die.‘ ” God forgave the guilt of David’s sin, but He still required reparation in the form of suffering. A man might forgive a teenager for breaking his window, but still insist that he repair the damages.
Scripture distinguishes between MORTAL and VENIAL sin.
1 Jn 5:16-17 proves degrees of sin, distinguishing between deadly sin and sin that is not deadly. James 1:14-15 reads: “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.” St. James distinguishes desire from sin, and beginning sin from mature sin which brings death. Sin which brings death to the soul is mortal. Sin which only wounds and disfigures the soul is venial.
A person dies with only venial sins.
The souls of those who die in the perfect state of grace, without the least sin or reparation due to sin, go directly to heaven. The souls of those who die in the state of unrepented mortal (deadly) sin go directly to hell. What about the middle sort of people: those who die in the state of grace, but with venial sin or with unpaid reparation due to forgiven sin? They do not merit hell: they are still in the state of grace; yet they are not pure enough for heaven, where “nothing unclean will enter” (Rev. 21:27).
The Bible speaks about this.
God is perfect holiness.
Is 6:3 ‘” Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!’ they [Seraphim] cried one to the other.”
We are called to that same holiness.
Mt 5:48 “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
1 Pet 1:15-16 “…as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy.'”
Without perfect holiness, we cannot see God in heaven.
Heb 12:14 “Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
What happens to the faithful who die without perfect holiness or with sin that is not deadly?
The biblical, logical, and historical answer is Purgatory. Purgatory comes from the verb “purge” meaning “to purify or cleanse.”
Catholics believe that purgatory is a temporary state of purification for the imperfect saints. The souls of the just who have died in the state of grace but with venial sins or with reparation due for forgiven mortal and venial sins are fully cleansed in Purgatory so that they may enter heaven. In Purgatory all remaining reparation for sin is made; all remaining self-love is purged and purified until only love of God remains.
- Only imperfect saints in the state of grace inter Purgatory. It is not a “second chance” for those who die in unrepented mortal sin.
- Purgatory exists for purification and reparation. The effects of sin are purged. The punishments due to sin are paid.
- Purgatory is only temporary. Once the imperfect saints are purified they enter heaven. Everyone in Purgatory will go to heaven. Purgatory will then cease to exist. Only heaven and hell will remain eternally.