Rebuttal: Man by himself must become completely clean before meeting God
What the Bible and the Catholic Church Teaches
“Purgatory actually has nothing to do with salvation. It is a temporary phase of purification that only the saved can go through. Purgatory has to do with cleansing the already saved and preparing them for the eternal joys of heaven. Purgatory deals with the temporal effects due to sin; it does not deal with the eternal penalties merited by sin. Only Christ, through His death on the Cross, is capable of eradicating the eternal penalty due to sin. However, there are numerous effects of our sins that remain.”
Christ’s death on the cross did not eliminate the effects of sin in the temporal order. For example, two central consequences of the Original Sin (Gen 2:15-17; 3:1-19) the ‘temporal punishments due to sin’ are sickness and death. Now, when Christ died on the cross, He redeemed us from the eternal penalty due to that sin (as well as all of our personal, and actual sins), but He did not eliminate the temporal effects that were caused by that sin; primarily sickness and death. The temporal effects due to sin extend, sadly, far beyond just physical illness and death In (Corinthians 11:27-32 Paul mentions that certain sins have lethal side effects.) They include the spiritual impurities and weaknesses that cling to the soul. (CatholicAnswers.com)
After Baptism all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfect because of sin that is not deadly and the temporal damage caused by sin, are indeed assured of their salvation: but after death they undergo a purification, (this is Divine Mercy), so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven CCC 1030, ( there or two types of sin, one is deadly, the other not deadly, 1 John 16-17 ). James 3:2, "we all fall short of the glory of God". "Nothing unclean shall enter heaven", Revelation 21:27. Matthew 5:26, you must pay the last penny before you can get out. This place mentioned in Matt 5:26 cannot be the ever lasting fire. Since the ever lasting indicates a permanent state and no one will get out. Matthew 12:32, says there isn't any forgiveness of "sin against the holy Spirit in this age or in the age to come". Which indicates a forgiveness for some sin in the next age. 1 Corinthians 3:15, "But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire". This parable is like putting natural gold to the fire, it burns but does not destroy the gold, it is purified by the fire burning up all its impurities. The impurities is what the gold suffers in its loss.
When a person dies, that is, death of the human body, in the state of mortal sin, (sin that is deadly, 1John 5:16-17, example, fornication or adultery), the effect is the second death, death of the soul (Revelation 20: 14-15 ; 21: 8). The second death is a permanent one, chosen by the sinful person, it is the absence of God's love, (mercy and grace), in choosing sin we reject God, and without repentance there can be no forgiveness. This person will be resurrected on the last day to be reunited with there body. The Lord Jesus will separate as he says the sheep from the goats. The goats will be casted into the ever lasting fire, separated from God and heaven, this is the second death, (Matthew chapter 25).
Some non-Catholics say the blood of Christ covers the soul which enables the soul prepared for heaven. The problem with this theology is, it’s not enough to have a covering with goodness on the outside yet while imperfect on the inside (like pure white snow covering manure), the soul must be perfectly purified inside and out to enter God’s presence. If the soul is stained with minute stains/impurities, it must be cleansed of it. This is the correct understanding and teaching of the Catholic Church on the subject of Purgatory: http://users.binary.net/polycarp/fire.html.
St. Augustine, in his book City of God, once wrote, “This is the way which purifies the whole man and prepares his mortal being for immortality, in all the elements which constitutes a man. We have not to seek one purification for that element which Porphyry calls the ‘intellectual’ soul, at another for the ‘spiritual’, and another for the body itself. It was to avoid such quest that our Purifier and Savior, the true Purifier and the all-powerful Savior, took upon himself the man in his entirety. This way has never been withheld from mankind, either when those events were foretold as destined in the future, or when the news was brought of their accomplishment. And apart from this way no one has been set free, no one is being set free; no one will be set free.”
Again, we must be purified entirely not just covered up. Once the foundation is laid, which is Jesus, depending on one’s conduct (work) after his conversion (repentance), if his work is imperfect his soul at death is also substandard, which must be purified for heaven. The soul will be tested with a purifying fire, he will experience loss, but he himself will be saved.
St. Augustine in The City of God “It is between the particular and general judgments, then, that the soul is purified of the remaining consequences of sin.”
The Discipline of Penance
Penance is not repentance; it’s a form of discipline, similar to fasting. This is why Jesus says we must fast - once the groom is no longer with the bride we must fast (Mk 2:20). Fasting is a command, not a suggestion (Mt 6:16). Notice how Jesus said when you fast, not, if you fast, (penance/discipline). So penance, like fasting, is a practice in which one can self-impose, as a way to learn self-control. Penance is spiritual discipline, so by using other forms of discipline, we continue to discipline the body so that we grow closer to the Trinity. This is why even though Christ died in our place for the remission of our sins, we still practice penance to discipline ourselves in order to grow in Holiness.
One aspect of penance is the reparation of the damage caused by sin. For instance, a child breaks his grand mom’s window by throwing a baseball through it and so he ask for her forgiveness which she does. Notice though, the forgiveness displayed by the grand mom does NOT repair the window. To make up for misbehavior, the child does chores in order to replace the grand mom’s loss. Sound familiar (temporal punishment). The chores cause the child grief, which is a type of suffering. Regardless of how small the suffering is, the effects from the child’s sacrifices are a positive on the soul. The act of doing the chores discipline the child and are a reminder to be more careful throwing a baseball near a house. "I Paul am in my flesh filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions on behalf of his body, which is the church" (Colossians 1:24). What is lacking is in us, not in Christ.