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Posts Tagged ‘Remission of sins’

As an Evangelical said to me once: “It is as if what Christ did on the cross to purify us of our sins (forgving us and cleansing us through His shed blood and sacrifice) is not enough and we must suffer ourselves to somehow earn a purification that we do not receive simply by believing in Christ alone so here”

Along the same lines Catholics could ask a fundamentalist Christian “why are we asked to keep the commandments, to be holy, to carry our cross, feed the hungry and clothe the naked,  if  faith in Christ is enough to take us to Heaven?  Didn’t his Sacrifice make up for every omission or wrongdoing that we could possibly do?  If we believe, but  fail to do all those things the Lord is asking of us, what happens, what are the consequences?”

Nevertheless, how should Catholics explain the position of the Church on Purgatory and Salvation to a protestant friend?

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 ( Catechism of the Catholic Church)

First we have to clarify that  Catholics believe that only God is perfectly good and holy. However, God is just and fair, therefore he would not ask his children “to be Holy because he is Holy” (Cf Lev 11:44) if that was something impossible for any-one to achieve. Neither would Peter echoed these words in 1 Peter 1:15-16.

 Having said that, even the great saints in the Bible, such as David and the apostle Peter, sinned against God; didn’t they? So how can it be that without holiness no one will see God (Cf Heb 12: 14)?

I suppose the Catholic answer to this would be: Contrition, Expiation and Remission of Sins.

The Bible plainly says that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die”, Ezek. 18:4. It also says that, “Without shedding of blood is no remission” of sin (Heb.9:22).  Christ said before He went back to Heaven “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). Therefore, blood redemption in Christ means nothing to the individual until he first repents.

Contrition –  Repentance for one’s sins. Perfect Contrition, on the other hand is repentance for the LOVE of GOD rather than for fear of Hell.

Isaiah speaks of it in these words,“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa. 57:15).

Expiation – “The idea of expiation has to do with reparation for a wrong, the satisfaction of the demands of justice through paying a penalty.” To make expiation or satisfaction for a sin is to make amends or reparation for it. When someone makes reparations, he tries to repair the situation caused by his sin. This is a very clear concept that  I’ve seen in the lives of the of all Catholic saints that I’ve read.

I found this catholic explanation on Catholic Answers Website:

 Certainly when it comes to the eternal effects of our sins, only Christ can make amends or reparation. Only he was able to pay the infinite price necessary to cover our sins. We are completely unable to do so not only because we are finite creatures incapable of making an infinite satisfaction (or an infinite anything), but because everything we have been given to us by God. For us to try to satisfy God’s eternal justice would be like using money we had borrowed from someone to repay what we had stolen from him. No actual satisfaction would be made (cf. Ps. 49:7-9, Job 41:11, Rom. 11:35). This does not mean we can’t make amends or reparation for the temporal effects of our sins. The claim that only Christ can atone for or expiate our sins arises from a confusion about whether the temporal or the eternal dimension of our sins is being discussed. Only Christ can provide eternal satisfaction for our sins, but we can make temporal amends or reparations for them.

Proverbs 16:6 states, “By kindness and piety guilt is expiated, and by the fear of the LORD man avoids evil” Also on expiation, Exodus 30:15-16; Leviticus 17:11; Numbers 31:50

We could put it like this, in our earthly relationships whenever we hurt someone it is good to say sorry, but it is even better if we try to put things right whenever we can, because we are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This can be done at all levels. Say that I break my neighbor’s window while playing ball, I can say sorry and apologize, but the right thing to do is to say sorry AND replace the window or pay for the damage. This would please my neighbor; wouldn’t it? The same thing with God. 

With true contrition comes the desire to put things right. With repentance comes remission of sins.

Remission of Sins –  A completely free and undeserved gift, a newness of life which we could never earn. God grants it to us out of his mercy. As Saint Paul wrote: “It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5, 18).

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