Are we purified before death, or after?

The Roman Catholic Church teaches the concept of purgatory, whereby people who have been imperfectly purified, while saved, must still undergo purification after death.


1030 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.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611

The problem I have with purgatory is two-fold: 1) the idea that someone can pray someone else out of purgatory, or do good deeds or buy an indulgence to help them move from purgatory, and 2) the idea that we are purified after death.

I am going to address the second one in this comment.

Scripture is clear that we are each responsible to God for what we say and do.

Ezekiel 18:20

20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.

Obviously the wicked will be punished. But the righteous will not be.
Proverbs 11:20-21

20 The LORD detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless. 21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.

Scripture is also clear that we have the righteousness of Christ when we accept Christ as savior.

Romans 3:22

even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe ; for there is no distinction

1 Corinthians 1:30

30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,

We are justified (declared innocent of sin) when we have faith in Christ.
Romans 3:28

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

This justification occurs once and is everlasting.
Romans 6:10

For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all ; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

this justification includes all sins and is instantaneous.
Acts 13:38-39

38 “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren , that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

We are saved through the washing and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Titus 3:5

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit

Christ will confirm believers as blameless on the day of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:6-8

6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have been purified in THIS life.
1 Peter 1:6-8 speaks of the trials the believers were undergoing which show the evidence of their faith. The faith was being tested by fire (ie. the trials they were undergoing while alive).

6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

1 Peter 1:20-22 shows the believers have been purified through obedience to the truth (that God sent Christ to pay for our sins)

20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

That is to say, while believers are refined (as spoken of in my post on the difference between a consuming and a refining fire), it occurs in this life, not after death.

Scripture is also clear that the righteous will not be judged.
John 5:24

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life

Scripture is also clear that believers will go to be with God upon death.

2 Corinthians 5:8

we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Philippians 1:21-23

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better ;

Christ died to redeem us and to purify us from our sin.
Titus 2:14

who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Obviously Christ’s work in purifying ALL our sins is done. Is Christ’s purification imperfect or incomplete? No, because Christ completed His work and sat down at the right hand of God the Father.

Hebrews 1:3

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

1 John 1:5-7

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

Note that the previous verse, along with Isaiah 59:1-2 and Micah 3:4, tells us that God does not fellowship with sinners. Yet, we saw earlier that believers have been purified and are in the presence of the Lord upon death.

Isaiah 59:1-2

1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short That it cannot save ; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

Micah 3:4

4 Then they will cry out to the LORD, But He will not answer them. Instead, He will hide His face from them at that time Because they have practiced evil deeds.

2 Corinthians 5:10 tells us we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. But we have to realize that believers have the righteousness of Christ through faith, so our sins are forgiven. We have been purified by God through obedience to the truth (1 Peter 1:20-22), and we will not be judged (John 5:24).

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 speaks to the fact that the results of what believers do (the fruit of their faith, their WORKS) will be examined, and they will be rewarded or will lose rewards, but no where does this state they themselves will be purified.

11For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

So, believers in Christ have the righteousness of Christ. The righteous are those who have faith in Christ. The righteous are not judged, nor punished. The believer has been purified by God, and the believer goes to be with Christ in heaven (where no sin can exist) upon death. Therefore, we know believers have no further purification to undergo.

As for someone praying someone else out of purgatory, I have written on this before:

So, no. I don’t think we are using different words to describe the same thing. I think purgatory is not a biblical concept.

4 Responses

  1. Hi again. I haven’t even started on my response to your last response of an older post, yet here you are posting again.
    This response may be brief, but it is all that I have time to do.

    I will therefore just pose a question to you. Can we be saved,yet still be impure? I suspect that few people die in a total state of grace.

    Therefore we can be justified per the citations above, yet still need to be purified, per the citations you provided in your previous post.

    • The citations mentioned above show we are purified in this life. Now I will attempt to show why we have no need for further purification after what Christ has done for us and to us.

      First, we must recognize that we are ALL corrupt, by nature.
      Matt. 15:18-19

      18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.

      Rom. 8:7

      7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

      Realize that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but people who have faith in Christ are justified (declared righteous) and have the righteousness of God.
      Romans 3:20-26

      20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

      We must realize that God saves us on the basis of His mercy – washing and regenerating us through the Holy Spirit.
      Titus 3:4-7

      4But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

      Since we have been saved, we are controlled by the love of Christ.
      2 Corinthians 5:14

      14For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died

      Because of what CHRIST has done in us and for us, we are are new creations, God does not count our sins against us, and are free of condemnation.

      2 Corinthians 5:17

      17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature ; the old things passed away ; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

      Romans 8:1

      1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

      Through Christ, we have access to God and are fellow citizens of God’s kingdom and are of God’s own household.
      Ephesians 2:18-19

      18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,

      Through the blood of Christ, we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. We were chosen to be adopted to be holy and blameless. But just as important, we have been blessed with EVERY spiritual blessing in heaven.
      Ephesians 1:3-14

      3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

      The faith we have within us should be reflected in what we do.
      Matthew 23:25-28

      25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

      Luke 16:15

      15 And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.

      While we must reflect our faith in our lives, we must be careful to not try to earn what Christ offered us by faith.
      Galatians 3:1-3

      1You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

      Galatians 5:2

      2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.

      Galatians 5:4

      4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

      Our hearts have been circumcised. We have had ALL our sins forgiven – the debt of which were nailed to the cross – and our cleansing has occurred internally.
      Philippians 3:3

      3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,

      Colossians 2:11

      11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

      Indeed, Christ’s blood purifies us from all sin.

      1 John 1:6-7

      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.

      Hebrews 9:13-14

      13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

      Yet, we are also responsible for living righteously, as we have been called to do. But GOD is the one who enables us to do so, and we do so by fixing our hope on Christ. Indeed, God gives grace in accordance to HIS gift. If we are truly saved, we have no need of more grace. If God gives us grace, what more do we need?

      Acts 24:16

      16 In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men.

      1 Timothy 1:5

      But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith

      1 Peter 3:21

      Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience -through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

      1 John 3:3

      And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

      Ephesians 4:1-7

      1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

      No true believer is any different from any other believer – Christ dwells in them.
      Colossians 3:11

      11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.

      Indeed, we are all made complete in Christ.
      Colossians 2:10

      10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

      Being complete, being saved by faith in Christ, being purified, the Holy Spirit lives within us.

      Romans 8:9-11;

      9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

      1 Corinthians 3:16

      16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

      2 Timothy 1:14

      14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

      God the Father lives in believers.

      1 John 4:15

      15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

      Indeed, Christ dwells in us through faith.

      Ephesians 3:17

      17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith ; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

      But the key is whether we actually HAVE faith – whether we are truly saved or not. If we do not have a faith which has purified us, and causes us to live a righteous life, then we are not saved. There are few who are truly saved.

      Matthew 7:20-23

      20 “So then, you will knowthem by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom ofheaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast outdemons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

      Luke 9:62

      62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

      It is not our perfection we must rely on. We are to rely upon the perfection of Christ. It is not our righteousness which matters, so much as the righteousness of Christ – which is imputed to us when we come to faith in Christ.

      If we are saved, then we have no further need of purification – we are made pure and holy and righteous because of our faith in Christ. If we are not saved, we need to trust in God’s saving work of sending His Son to become human, live a sinless life, suffer and die to pay for our sins, and rise again on the third day. At that point, our sins are forgiven, we are declared innocent (justified), we are made holy (sanctified), we are adopted as children as God, we are made citizens of God’s kingdom, we are purified, we are given eternal life, we are saved.

      So no, if we are truly saved, we have no need to receive further purification upon death.

  2. […] Can we be saved and yet be impure?… we have no need for further purification after what Christ has done for us and to us. […]

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