Roman Catholics believe that besides penance, there is another means of obtaining forgiveness of sins, that is by the gaining of indulgence. This is actually a process by which the merits of Christ and His saints are applied on the person for the discharge of the punishment due to his sin. Catholics believe that the concept of indulgence is taught in the Bible. In the New Testament we read of Paul granting an indulgence to a Corinthian. That Corinthian had taken his father’s wife and Paul inflicted a penance on him and excluded him from the fellowship of the church until he performed it (1 Cor 5:12). The Corinthian submitted with sincere repentance and the following year, Paul granted indulgence by remitting the remainder of the penance (2 Cor 2:68).
Protestants believe that no saint, or any other Christian, can gain merits of works to be applied on us simply because no one is good enough for God. The Bible teaches that by God’s standard, no one is righteous.
Romans 3:10 (NIV) As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;
Romans 3:23 (NIV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Isaiah 64:6 (NIV) All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
If there is not one who is righteous, what merit is there to talk about. That is why the Bible teaches that it is impossible for one man to ransom other from sin.
Psalms 49:79 7 No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him– 8 the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough– 9 that he should live on forever and not see decay. (NIV)