The Vatican II Council (Austin Flannery, Vol. 2, 394) states:
“The doctrine of purgatory clearly demonstrates that even when the guilt of sin has been taken away, punishment for it or the consequences of it may remain to be expiated or cleansed … [I]n purgatory the souls of those who died in the charity of God and truly repentant but who had not made satisfaction with adequate penance for their sins and omissions are cleansed after death with punishment designed to purge away their debt.”
“Sins must be expiated. This may be done on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and trials of this life and, above all through death. Otherwise the expiation must be made in the next life through fire and torments or purifying punishments…” (Vol. 1, 63).
Purgatory is said to be a place (or a state) where sins which have not been discharged off on earth can be removed through fire and torments until a dead soul is totally purified of his sins and sent to heaven. What this means is, even though your sins are forgiven through Christ’s death, you must still suffer some punishment for them here in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can open for you after death.
Every Catholic looks forward to spending some unknown length of time in purgatory, but no one – even the pope – can know when his sins will be totally purged. This doctrine is rife with problems:
I – Sin cannot be cleansed from the soul by any kind of suffering. Suffering may only temporarily alter a person’s attitude to sin, but once the pain is forgotten, the old tendencies return, because sins come from the heart.
Until the heart is cleansed – by what? suffering? No! By the blood of Christ shed on the cross and renewed by God’s Spirit through faith in Christ, it will persist in sin.
II – Sins are cleansed by Christ (on earth) and not at a place of fire after death. The Bible declares that Christ “when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). It says, “the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1Jn. 1:7), in fact, “without the shedding of blood is no remission [of sin]” (Heb. 9:22).
But purgatory is said to be not a place of blood shedding but a place of “purifying fire” Can fire remove sin? The only possible purging of our sins was accomplished by Christ and it is effected on the heart by grace when received by faith.
III – The Vatican II quoted above speaks of “adequate penance.” What is adequate penance? No one knows and Rome has never defined it. This is why many Catholics have to crawl on their knees at Marian shrines, whip themselves, wear hair shirts to ‘atone’ for their sins and by-pass purgatory through suffering. This reflects a rejection of Christ’s perfect substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf.
God made Jesus “to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2Cor. 5:21). “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Heb. 10:14).
Since we have been perfected forever by Christ’s sacrifice, there is no “work” or suffering of ours that can cleanse our sins. The perfect work of Christ at the cross puts out the mythical flames of purgatory.
IV – Romans 6:23 says “The wages of sin is death [i.e eternal separation from God]” not a limited time in purgatory. Since no one can escape from hell, “working off” the penalty of sins is impossible. We would be lost forever apart from Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. We are finite beings and could never pay the infinite penalty that Christ paid. Being the God-Man, only He could pay the price.
V – Purgatory implies that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (which “is finished” John 19:30) was insufficient to purge sin, but the Catholic Mass, which allegedly repeats that sacrifice, does the purging. They claim Christ’s sacrifice is not enough to get us to heaven, but the forgiven sinner must suffer torment to add to Christ’s sacrifice to be purified.
So on one hand you must suffer to expiate your sins and at the same time, you need not suffer if enough Masses are said for you. This is a fatal contradiction. What makes the sacrifice of Christ less effectual than its alleged repetitions by priests?
VI – The Vatican II Council also says (2:205) “The Church offers the Paschal Sacrifice for the Dead so that … the dead may be helped by prayers and the living may be consoled by hope. Among Masses for the Dead is the Funeral Mass which holds the first place in importance…”
Masses are said to help the dead by shortening their time in purgatory. Thus, Catholics have to pay priests to perform Masses on behalf of their dead loved ones. A funeral Mass is often infused with big money with big shot priests and Catholic dignitaries in attendance. Like an Irish saying goes: “High money, High Mass; Low money, Low Mass; No money, no Mass!”
The Catholic church has never been able to define how much of reduction each Mass would grant a soul or when exactly the souls would leave purgatory, so the money has to keep flowing in to the men in robes for more Masses. That’s why some Catholics still hold Masses for parents who have died over 30 years ago.
While the Lord said it’s hard for a man who trusts in his riches to enter heaven, Catholicism teaches the opposite, that with money you can buy a lesser burning time in purgatory (Mt. 19:23-24). Psalm 49:6-7 says for “those who trust in their wealth … No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him.” Now, if money can’t redeem a living man, how can it redeem the dead?
The fruit of this doctrine have paved the way for priestly control and exploitation. Purgatory is not only a lie, but also a very golden lie. It’s literally “the goldmine of the priesthood!”
Purgatory “Proof texts?”
(a) 1 Samuel 31:13 “And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days”
Where’s purgatory here? It’s absent! The fasting observed was a Jewish custom of mourning the dead for some number of days eschewing food (Genesis 50:3-4, 10, Numbers 20:29).
(b) Luke 12:59 “I can guarantee that you won’t get out until you pay every penny of your fine.”
This is teaching restitution on settling monetary debt with an adversary, yet it has been snagged on to cement a deadly heresy – that one can pay the price for one’s own sin and save oneself from purgatory. “Following in Christ’s steps, those who believe in him have always… carried their crosses to make expiation for their own sins and the sins of others…[to] help their brothers to obtain salvation…” (Vatican II, 1:65, 68)
The truth is, no man can purge himself from sin because to do so, he would have to be sinless. Even in the Old Testament, the animals to be offered had to be without blemish. This symbolised Christ, the sinless “Lamb of God” who would takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).
Jesus had to be sinless to be able to die for our sins, otherwise He would have been under the penalty of His own sins. Christ “the just [suffered] for [us] the unjust that he might bring us to God”[i.e to heaven, not to purgatory]” (I Pet. 3:18). You either accept His pardon and be saved or reject it and be damned forever.
(c) Matthew 12:32 “…it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
The Greek word translated world is “aion” which means age or a period of time. The term “this world” refers to the period between the first and second advent of Christ (Mt. 24:14, 29-31) while the “world to come” most probably refers to the millennium following the second coming of Christ. The Bible calls it “the dispensation of the fullness of times” (Eph. 1:10). It takes a great deal of craftiness to link “the world to come” with purgatory.
(d) 1 Corinthians 3:15 “If his works is burned up, he will suffer the loss. However, he will be saved, though it will be like going through a fire.”
The preceding verses show that this is about a believer’s “rewards according to his labour” (v. 8). The quality works are like gold, silver and precious stones and those whose works are inferior are like wood, hay or stubble. “Every man’s work shall be manifest…and fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (v. 13). The passage is about Believers’ works tested by fire, not souls in purgatory.
(e) Colossians 1:24 “Who now rejoice in my suffering for you and fill up what is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body sake which is the church.”
Paul was not suffering to purge himself or anyone’s soul from sin neither was he claiming Christ’s sacrifice is insufficient, rather his suffering was for the sake of bringing the gospel to others (“my suffering for you”). There was no lack in the suffering of Christ rather Christ Himself said that Paul must suffer greatly “for my name sake” (Acts 9:16).
In Philippians 3:10, Paul expressed his passion to know Christ “and the fellowship of his sufferings” which he says brings him into conformation with His death and lifestyle. Therefore the suffering Paul refers to is for the sake of Christ here on earth – in the hands of sinners – not in a pagan “third state” called purgatory.
(f) 2 Timothy 1:18 “The Lord grant unto him [Onesiphorus] that he might find mercy of the Lord in that day…”
There’s not even a hint of purgatory here and there’s no evidence that this man was dead when Paul wrote this.
(g) 2 Maccabees 12:45 “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.”
This comes from the spurious apocryphal books which contradicts the Bible: “People die once, and after that they are judged” (Heb. 9:27). It’s too late to pray for the dead. Also, the dead Jews referred to that verse were guilty of idolatry:
“But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear” (2 Macc. 12:40 NAB).
According to Catholic doctrine, idolatry is a mortal sin which would land these men in hell, so praying for them would be a sheer waste of time, if not blasphemy. The book of Maccabees also admits that divine inspiration had ceased at this time. At best, it’s an uninspired story book.
In the absence of Biblical evidence, the Catholic Encyclopedia (11:1034) admits: “In the final analysis, the Catholic doctrine of purgatory is based on Tradition not Sacred Scripture.”