The doctrine of Purgatory is a complex doctrine contradicting the facts of Scripture in terms of salvation, works and grace. It invalidates the efficacy of the blood of Christ and opens the door to universalism.
False doctrines originate with misunderstandings and the trappings of a special need and context, until it grows its own apparatus and becomes a stand-alone truth.
In time, the misunderstandings, contexts and special circumstances are forgotten and new hearers just assume the doctrine originated in the mind of God. Meanwhile, adherents have searched to find some type of Scriptural justification, so they have something to argue with those who seek Biblical foundations.
The term “purgatory” is not found in Scripture but the disagreements with the doctrine go deeper.
The Roman Catholic Church formulated the doctrine of purgatory by an article of faith at the Council of Florence in 1429 and at the Council of Trent in 1545./1
They teach that we all have sinned and these sins are divided between mortal sins, which separate us from God, and venial sins, or lesser sins, for which we must seek atonement. /2
In short, if we have lived a life that is not worthy of heaven, we go to purgatory to suffer intense pain, so our sins can be burned away and we can be worthy of entering heaven. The duration depends on our sins and whether we have those on earth who can commit indulgences for us, so that we can leave purgatory faster.
“Why would anyone go to purgatory? To be cleansed, for “nothing unclean shall enter [heaven]” (Rev. 21:27). Anyone who has not been completely freed of sin and its effects is, to some extent, “unclean.” Through repentance he may have gained the grace needed to be worthy of heaven, which is to say, he has been forgiven and his soul is spiritually alive. But that’s not sufficient for gaining entrance into heaven. He needs to be cleansed completely.”/3
In an astounding admission:
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”/4
Pope Benedict XVI wrote:
“Purgatory is not, as Tertullian thought, some kind of supra-worldly concentration camp where one is forced to undergo punishments in a more or less arbitrary fashion. Rather it is the inwardly necessary process of transformation in which a person becomes capable of Christ, capable of God [i.e., capable of full unity with Christ and God] and thus capable of unity with the whole communion of saints.”/5
Finally, they teach that we must take personal action against every sin we have committed.
“The reason why we have to pass through Purgatory after death is that we have committed sins and have not made satisfaction for them. Every individual sin must be expiated–in this life or the next! Not even the slightest shadow of sin or evil can enter the all-holy presence of God.”/6
As we continue the study, we shall see that these ideas are steeped in works salvation and are completely opposed to the saving blood of Christ.
Scripture tells us:
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Christ’s blood cleanses us from all sin or it does not. There isn’t a third option. In our next study, we shall see the correlation.
2/ Printable checklists of these sins exist online.