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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Success Strategy for Purgatory

"The purpose of purgatory is to cleanse one of imperfections ... souls suffer for a time of purging that prepares them to enter heaven ..."
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Broderick, ©1987

The Bible teaches that Jesus' death at Calvary paid in full the eternal death penalty of sin, but that there are still temporal penalties for sin before we get to heaven.

Sometimes, the consequences for sin have a clear cause and effect—showing up drunk and being fired, committing a crime and being arrested, having an affair and being divorced.

Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."
~ John 5:14 (NKJV)

A clear cause and effect is often less evident. When does God prevent the affair brewing by bringing a layoff? When is the person running from God halted in their tracks by a tragic accident? When does God allow the toxins bred in a bitter heart to run a physical course throughout a body?

And when, like Job, does sin have no direct role in the suffering designed for a higher purpose?

And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.
~ John 9:2-3 (NKJV)

Whether we suffer for our own sin or humanity's collective sin, one of the purposes of our time on earth is to be cleansed of sin. We suffer, for a time, the purging that prepares us to enter heaven.

That might not line up perfectly with the full definition of purgatory in my Catholic Encyclopedia, which says purgatory is a place visited after death. But the above excerpt does line up with how I've come to view the hell we've made of the earth, this purgatory we visit before death.

The success strategy for life in purgatory is to remember:

• Our purpose in life isn't to be happy, but to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

• Jesus was our substitute on the cross, in payment of sin's death penalty, and we now live as His substitute, in living testimony to God, in the place even our Master grew weary of (Mark 9:19).

• For the soul sealed by Jesus' blood and Spirit, this world is the only hell or purgatory we will know. For the soul who wills not to know Him, this world is the only heaven.

Thursday: Hell's Unpardonable Sin

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This post is part of the "One Word at a Time" blog carnival hosted by Peter Pollock. You're invited to visit his site and see what others are saying about today's one-word theme: Strategy.

Comments are welcome and will receive a reply.
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Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. Anne, you nailed it with the last paragraph. I've never thought of it like that.
    This is the life we have to make our choices and determines where we will spend eternity. This is it.

  2. I agree with the other two. Good way of presenting the purgatory issue.

  3. Cris, it helps me treat even the meanest unbelievers with compassion, grace and love when I call to mind their fate.

  4. It's so good to see you here, pretty lil bear. Praying for you always.

  5. Thanks, Caryjo. I always look for the place of agreement to cultivate unity among the people who've given their hearts to Jesus, whatever their affiliation.

  6. Some people think they are in hell here on earth. Perhaps some Christians are in a purgatory of their own doing from past sin, that causes them to suffer emotional pain while still serving the Lord. You have presented some interesting thoughts to ponder.

  7. Such a clever post! The conclusion is priceless! Keep on blessing us with your posts! May you be abundantly blessed!

  8. Hazel Moon, I think it's less important to try to understand the 'why' of suffering than to understand the 'how' of suffering. Whether our individual sin, humanity's collective sin, or a test of God is an explanation of suffering, our response can still be, "Lord, where is there unrepentant sin in my life? How do I bring honor to You as I endure this trial?"

  9. Thank you, Mari-Anna! I'm so pleased that you enjoyed this piece. :D


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