Please help reconcile a couple of Bible verses


#1

I am trying to reconcile Psalm 103:11-13 and Hebrews 9:26 with 2 Corinthians 5:10 and
Matthew 16:27. I could use your help in better understanding them in context from the Catholic perspective.

Psalm 103:11-13
…11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. ***12As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. ***13Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.…

Hebrews 9:26
…26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

2 Corinthians 5:10
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.

Matthew 16:27:
27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Observation:
If we repent of our sins to God and they are absolved here on earth by a priest, our sins are forgiven and removed as far as the east is from the west. However, holy scripture also tells us that we will be “recompensed for our deeds in the body”.

Question:
If our sins have been absolved by a priest and forgiven by almighty God, how can we then be judged by those same sins on judgment day? In a legal sense, wouldn’t that be double jeopardy?

I would like the Catholic position on this question because I am slightly confused by these seemingly contradictory verses but I know that God never contradicts Himself. I must be misunderstanding them or taking something out of context. Please help put these verses back in context in terms of one another. Thanks again!


#2

Very good! Just like that, you have reasoned out the doctrine of purgatory! If you keep going, you’ll figure out indulgences as well.

Not bad.

Let me give you a little more philosophical framework. God is both merciful and just. At first, that might seem like a contradiction. Justice means the punishment fits the crime, and mercy means the punishment is lenient (or non-existent).

If God were only just, we could not attain forgiveness and salvation. If he were only merciful, he would just forgive everybody and wouldn’t care about what we have done.

But God is both. Purgatory is how those two concepts are reconciled.

Forgiveness is permanent. But, just because I forgive you for an offense, that doesn’t mean that you will avoid punishment. That would be all mercy, and no justice. But God is both.

Purgatory is how we expiate our already-forgiven sins. Everyone in purgatory is saved and will go to heaven.

But, why wait? The Church offers us the opportunity to expiate our sins right here on earth, at pennies on the dollar (so to speak). These are indulgences. You should get yourself one! Everyone should!


#3

Oops, sorry, you’re not Catholic. My bad. You don’t have access to indulgences (but you don’t get to skip purgatory just because you are protestant).

That doesn’t mean you don’t have options. Earthly sacrifice can help expiate the penalty for our sins, if you have this intent. “Good works” on earth won’t save you, but they can ease the experience of purgatory.

Or you can do like many, and simply expiate your sins when you get to purgatory. If I wake up and I’m in purgatory, I will dance a jig, because I know my salvation is absolutely assured.

And there’s another comfort for you. If you don’t have any Catholic family, you probably won’t have anyone praying for your soul after you die. But MANY Catholics offer prayers for the “poor souls in purgatory,” who are people who have nobody else to pray for them. The prayers of the Faithful will also mitigate your experience of purgatory. So we will be praying for your soul.


#4

Consider Ezekiel 18:20b-24:

[T]he righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. 21 “But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness which he has done he shall live. 23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? 24 But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and does the same abominable things that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds which he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, he shall die.

I could be wrong but it seems to me that the deeds recompensed at the judgment are not all our deeds but only those deeds that are remembered. Mortal sin, which makes us wicked, causes past good deeds to be forgotten; receiving the grace of baptism or the grace of absolution, which makes us righteous, causes past evil deeds to be forgotten. It seems that only the good deeds performed by the righteous since the last time they became righteous and the evil deeds performed by the wicked since the last time they became wicked are what is recompensed at the judgment.


#5

I hope the following examples make my previous post easier to understand:

Example 1. The wicked person who repented and received the grace of baptism and from then until death did only good deeds will be recompensed (rewarded) at the judgment only for his post-baptismal good deeds. His past pre-baptismal evil deeds having been forgotten when he received the grace of baptism.

Example 2. The wicked person who repented and received the grace of baptism, did some good deeds but later sinned mortally and died unrepentant will be recompensed (punished) at the judgment only for his post-baptismal sin. His pre-baptismal evil deeds having been forgotten when he received the grace of baptism; his past post-baptismal good deeds having been forgotten when he sinned mortally.

Example 3. The wicked person who repented and received the grace of baptism, did some good deeds but later sinned mortally and still later repented and received the grace of absolution and then until death did only good deeds will be recompensed (rewarded) at the judgment only for the good deeds he did after receiving the grace of absolution. His past pre-baptismal wicked deeds were forgotten when he received the grace of baptism; his past post-baptismal good deeds were forgotten when he sinned; his post-baptismal sin was forgotten when he received the grace of absolution.


#6

Hi Tommy999

As far as I can tell , the quotes you have chosen from the New Testament all correspond to what we refer to as the general judgement or Last Judgement .The Catholic position is that each person will also experience something called the Particular Judgement. One needs to have a thorough understanding of those two realities and the distinction between them first. This would provide a person with the most solid foundation to start from. After that, one would likely find oneself less confused by some of the other Catholic answers to the questions and/or the concepts they relate to.

Excerpt from the CCC:

I. THE PARTICULAR JUDGMENT

1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ. The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul–a destiny which can be different for some and for others.

1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification594 or immediately, – or immediate and everlasting damnation.

The rest of the CCC page which also describes the Last Judgement, can be read by clicking HERE


#7

Hi Needimprovement,
Thanks for the info and the links to the CCC on the matter. Very helpful indeed.


#8

Hi David,
Thanks for your thoughtful replies.

I’m not Catholic yet (still discerning) but have come to believe that purgatory may exist. If it does exist, I tend to believe it will be a short time frame to wait for most folks instead of centuries – in earthly terms.

I will feel likewise if that is what happens to me.

That is also good to know.

However, correct me if I’m wrong, but an undercurrent I see from enough Catholics on CAF to notice is a trend that indicates that many Catholics already resign themselves to purgatory as if it is their inevitable fate. Why is that?

Isn’t our eternal fate Christ’s decision at our personal judgment? Isn’t it also the Catholic position that if someone dies in a state of grace with no unconfessed mortal sins that they could go straight to heaven?

I may be wrong, but I believe that if we have a strong faith in Christ and live for Him in our words and deeds on a regular basis and die without any unconfessed mortal sins, we don’t have to resign ourselves to purgatory as our best possible fate. We can hope for something higher while realizing, of course, that in the end we will be judged by a just and merciful God and will go where we deserve to go.


#9

Thanks for the examples, Todd977. I think I understand what you are saying.


#10

#11

Thanks, Pablope. I just finished the Scott Hahn article you shared. Very informative. A lot to digest there, but he shares things in a very clear and understandable way.

Among other things, he clarifies that purgatory isn’t a “second chance” place for those who die alienated from God.

I realize this question is not answerable definitively here on earth, but I wonder sometimes what percentage of Christians pass through purgatory on their way to heaven and how many go straight to heaven.


#12

Good to be of help. Tommy.

I think many of us will pass through it, more than a majority.

Here is an article from New Advent, on the three states of way. This would help you realize where you are in your journey. From the article, I think those only in the unitive state go straight to heaven. Most of us are in the purgative, I would think.

newadvent.org/cathen/14254a.htm

State or Way (Purgative, Illuminative, Unitive)


#13

Thanks again for the good info, Pablope. Based on the descriptions of the ways, which I had never seen before, I would also classify myself as being in the purgative way, although perhaps in the consolation state.

The article makes a lot of sense. No wonder so many folks consider themselves bound for purgatory when the concept is properly understood. I just hope purgatory isn’t like getting repeatedly tased by a spiritual taser gun. Sounds like there is purifying fire involved if I understand purgatory properly, so hopefully no tasers will be there.

Are the three ways listed a teaching from Catholic tradition? I assume they have been around for a long time but I don’t remember them in Scripture, or at least by those names.

Thanks again. Sometimes I think you are a human rolodex or something. :slight_smile:
You have a talent for finding applicable articles for almost any topic at hand, or at least you have been that way for me over the past year. since I joined CAF. I really appreciate it.


#14

We may have unconfessed venial sins. Nothing unclean can enter heaven. Hence purgatory.


#15

Hi, Tommy. :slight_smile:

I think it helps if we try to remember God’s love for all of us. The image of God in the Bible, is the burning bush that Moses saw. Fire and flames are a common theme in the Apocalypse, when John is describing Jesus. And, even Paul says in Hebrews 12: [29] “For our God is a consuming fire.”. So, the fires of Purgatory are the fires of God’s love and mercy. They’re used to purify us, not destroy us.

I’m pretty sure they mostly come to us through Sacred Tradition, but Jesus did teach that He was “the way, the truth and the light”. In the three and a half years that Jesus spent with His Apostles, I have to believe that He must have taught them “the spiritual way” of life. It’s the ‘better way’ that He told Martha that Mary chose. It’s a simple way to live our daily lives, which (hopefully) leads us much closer to God. We’re taught to do it by offering Him all of our daily works, whatever they may be, and by making sacrifices and doing penance (for ourselves and others), as well as by using spiritual reflection through different forms of prayer and meditation.

Many Saints have written about this ‘spiritual way’ of living, ever since the earliest days of the Church. That’s the surest way for anyone to become a saint. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is the most perfect example of the spiritual way of life. That’s why she is so important to the life of the Church, because everything she did was a reflection of the spiritual life that always leads us closer to God. Many of the women that followed Jesus, were led to Him by Mary. They also performed some of the tasks that the men didn’t have time to do (cooking, cleaning, making arrangements), because they were too busy learning everything they needed to know from Jesus. Those ladies weren’t just tagging along like starry eyed ‘groupies’. :smiley:

Yeah, pablope sure does know his stuff. You can’t go too far wrong listening to him. :thumbsup:


#16

There are references to what the Church terms purgatory throughout Scripture, really. It’s just that they aren’t read that way in many Protestant communities. Here’s a good example from Isaiah:

Is. 33[14] The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can dwell with the devouring fire?
Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”
[15] He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
who despises the gain of oppressions,
who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe,
who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed
and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil…

God is often described as a consuming fire. For those who are pure it is warmth and light. For those who are impure it is unbearable. Aso see:

1Cor3[12] Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw –
[13] each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
[14] If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
[15] If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.


#17

The doctrine of purgatory states that it is temporal punishment for sins. Therefore whether they are confessed or unconfessed, mortal or venial, does not matter. What matters is that we have not paid the temporal cost for them on Earth, through penance or indulgences. Whatever is left will be purged on our way to Heaven.


#18

#19

[quote=Tommy999;
]2 Corinthians 5:10

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
[/quote]

I love this passage. It is an excellent definition for God’s necessarily “fair and just” judgement; because it is based on man’s own choices; choices that can be guided by God IF we permit it. [Freewill] comes at a price.

This teaching is affirmed also by the following: Heb. 6:10; Rev.2:23; 1 Peter 1:17; & Mt. 19:17, Mt. 16:27

Observation:
If we repent of our sins to God and they are absolved here on earth by a priest, our sins are forgiven and removed as far as the east is from the west. However, Holy Scripture also tells us that we will be “recompensed for our deeds in the body”

This is TRUE! However,

Time exist for our sake, not God’s to whom everything is “PRESENT-time”
We believe in the resurrection of OUR own bodies; then to be GLORIFIED, just as Christ body was raided from the Dead in a GLORIFIED state. [It’s part of our CREEDS].
Upon our death our earthly bodies will decompose, and return to dust. Genesis 3: 19; but we are promised New; perfected bodies at the Final & second Judgment. 2 Peter 3:13 & Rev, 21: 1-5.

Question:

If our sins have been absolved by a priest and forgiven by almighty God, how can we then be judged by those same sins on judgment day? In a legal sense, wouldn’t that be double jeopardy?

I would like the Catholic position on this question because I am slightly confused by these seemingly contradictory verses but I know that God never contradicts Himself. I must be misunderstanding them or taking something out of context. Please help put these verses back in context in terms of one another. Thanks again!

Thomas, thank you so very much for the kind and thoughtful post.

“legal perspective” is a very human response to profoundly Divine matters:
Isaiah 55: 3-10 “Incline your ear and come to me: hear and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the faithful mercies of David. Behold I have given him for a witness to the people, for a leader and a master to the Gentiles. Behold thou shalt call a nation, which thou knewest not: and the nations that knew not thee shall run to thee, because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel, for he hath glorified thee.

Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found: call upon him, while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unjust man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God: for he is bountiful to forgive. For my thoughts are not your thoughts: nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are my ways exalted above your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts. And as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return no more thither, but soak the earth, and water it, and make it to spring, and give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater”

Ephesians 5:6
“Let no man deceive you with vain words. For because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief”

The short answer to your question is no. WHY

It has to do with understanding a bit more about God’s very Nature; His very Self & also about the Nature of sin.

We must never forget that God both by desire and absolute need to “Be GOD” can only be “good; fair and just.” He can and does permit evil and tragedy, but is not the direct cause of it.
This understanding of God along with understanding a bit more about the nature of sin; specifically that ALL SIN has a “public nature”; because sin is never a private matter. Our sins effect the Church, and other people by our sinful example and accrues what the Church-theology terms “Temporal Punishment” due to sin.

So even If and WHEN are Confessed, forgiven and forgotten; God’s Divine need for a perfect or perfected “fairness and justice” for all our sins CAN still exist, as Confession ALONE is insufficient. Note here that Temporal punishment ALONE cannot prevent one from eventually entering into heaven. BUT unconfessed and unforgiven Mortal sins 1 John 5:16-17, can and DO.

Along with the power and authority of all “of the Key’s to heaven”; Mt. 16:15-19, God empowers Perter and his successors “unlimited Power of Governance” Mt. 16:19 “And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven” Termed the Powers to “Bind and or to Loose”; here in the bible.

So the Church; empowered, guided and directed by God [on Faith and Morals] permits the Church, in His Name, to institute a method here or earth [or purgatory after our Death W/O Mortal sin]; and She has instituted “Indulgences” that work as “Pay- back” for Temporal Punishment. The PROBLEM is that God alone knows the amount of just-punishment that He applies to each sin AND also how much of that debt is repaid by our good works, charity, prayers, suffering and Indulgences conditionally earned by us.
This “UNPIAD” debt for our sins, even if forgiven then is what you are speaking about. NOT the forgiven sins themselves. This issue is worthy of far greater discussion but limited space needs to be factored into my reply. Indulgences too is a separate discussion.

I hope and pray this information is of some help to you. Please send me a private message if you’d like more information.

God Bless you,
Patrick [PJM] on CAF


#20

It is the Cross which reconciles God’s mercy and God’s justice, purgatory is mroe to do with sanctification.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith**. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.** 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

This is saying that God is vindicated as just by Jesus’ death because He had “passed over” and forgiven so many sins (eg, why did He save Noah, Noah and His family ought to have perished as well because of their sins bu God forgave them, how is that just? It is just because Noah was just and was pardoned because Jesus paid the penalty for Noah’s sin, as He pays it for all of us). Thus the Cross is where God’s justice and His mercy are vindicated. As the Douay-Rheims has it, “Mercy and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed.”

There will be a judgement on the Last Day and I expect it will be severe indeed to us, we will “suffer loss” when we see that we have done so little in response to what He has done for us. (cf 1 Cor 3) But if you are indeed an adopted Son of God, if you have peace with God at your death while you might feel all the shame of the prodigal son you will be embraced by your Father on your return.


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