But What About Those Tough Stains?

Maybe purgatory makes sense if sin is like routine dirt that comes with perspiration, dust, food, like going through the motions in worship:

Let’s imagine you’re dead…. But you were busy….

So we, sinful creatures all, step out of this life into eternity—and we know, more clearly than we have never known anything, that we are not worthy to be in the presence of the Almighty God. In life, we may have casually popped the Eucharist onto our tongue, drunk of the Precious Blood, then gone back to our pews to idly watch the others return to their seats, ogling the cute boys or checking out the fashion faux pax, hardly pausing to ponder the great impossibility, the unimaginable truth, that God has given Himself to us, in the flimsy gift wrap of bread and wine. Wholly. Fully.

We have ignored Him, too, when we have not bothered to pray; when we have gossiped about our neighbors; when we have shirked our responsibilities in the workplace, when we have allowed anger to govern our relationships or our driving, when we have cheated on our diets or (yikes!) cheated on our spouses.

We are earthen vessels, all of us. And we know instinctively that we cannot face the great and mighty God in our current condition. True, we have been redeemed by the Blood of Christ, and His sacrifice has made it possible for us to be with Him for all eternity. First, though, we need to wash up—get ready for the party, for the great receiving line.

That’s what Purgatory is. It’s the washroom, the hot shower, where we become like Him.

Just imagine being in a hot shower for a millennium.

But if sin is like murder or deceit, something that takes you from innocent to guilty, maybe even gets you kicked out of the Garden of Eden and forces God to position angels with fiery swords to prevent you from going back, maybe you need something stronger to remove the stain of guilt.

Something like the active obedience of Christ? No clean without it.

6 thoughts on “But What About Those Tough Stains?

  1. Jesus: He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean John 13:10

    my bible’s note: the cleansing that Christ does at salvation never needs to be repeated-atonement is complete at that point. But all who have been cleansed by God’s gracious justification need constant washing in the experiential sense as they battle sin in the flesh. Believers are justified and granted imputed righteousness (Phil 3:8-9) but still need sanctification and personal righteousness (Phil 3:12-14)


  2. Won’t the standard answer be that purgatory does nothing for mortal sins such as murder?


  3. Of course we can’t be certain that anybody now in the covenant of grace or the visible church will have all their sins forgiven. Those who only believe in Christ’s death and who know nothing about Christ having kept the Mosaic law Adam was supposed to keep….maybe these ignorant folks have hope but they don’t know why they have hope. Because Christ’s death alone is not a keeping of law…But if they have been baptized…God helps those who help themselves…

    “Thanks to church, I have a much stronger sense of the sort of person I would like to be, and I am forced to confront all the ways in which I fail, daily…. I do not impress anyone at church. I do not say anything surprising or charming, because the things I say are rote responses that someone else decided on centuries ago. I am not special at church, and this is the point…The things that I feel proud of can’t help me here, and the things that I feel embarrassed by are beside the point. I’m a person but, for 60 minutes, I’m not a personality https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/half-full-grace.”


  4. Scott Hahn—“When this FAMILIAL model is applied to the theological concepts of grace and law, we see that divine grace is always primary…Once covenant relations and obligations are reexamined in the light of the natural complexity of KINSHIP , there is no need to posit any inherent tension between grace and the conditions of law.”


    Mark Jones—”What a perversion to treat the law as a burden when we are talking in the realm of having been redeemed. Notice the rewards: prosperity, life, and righteousness! … Moses is assuming belief and thus they are in a position to be righteous as they keep his commands. There are conditional promises in Scripture. A promise doesn’t somehow lose its promissory value because there are conditions attached. Right conduct leads to blessing.”


  5. D. G. Hart says: Can’t the white robes of Christ’s righteousness even cover these stains? Or some stains bleed inevitably bleed through.

    1 John 1 5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.


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