A Bond of Love That We Form with Others without Considering Their Spiritual Nature Is Damaging after Death (Continued)

A bond of love like this is damaging after death, as we can see from the state of heaven, the state of hell, and the state of our spirit in relation to both.

The state of heaven is that it has been divided into countless communities according to all the different feelings of love for what is good. Hell on the other hand has been divided according to all the different feelings of love for what is evil.

After we die and become spirits, we are immediately attached to the community that shares our dominant love, based on the way we lived in the world. This community is in heaven if love for God or for our neighbor was primary among all the things we love. We are assigned to a community of hell if love for ourselves for the world was primary among all the things we love.

After we have entered the spiritual world–which happens as a result of our dying and our physical body being laid to rest in the grave–we next spend a while being prepared for the community to which we have been assigned. This preparation is a matter of our rejecting things we love that do not agree with our primary love. During this same period of time, people are separated from each other–friends are separated, followers are separated from their leaders, parents are separated from their offspring, and siblings are separated from each other. Then we all become deeply attached to people similar to ourselves with whom we are going to live a life that is both shared and is truly our own to eternity.

During the first part of this preparation people meet and talk in a friendly way as they had in the world. Little by little, however, they are separated from each other. It happens without their realizing it.

from True Christianity, Section 447

A Bond of Love That Form with Others without Considering Their Spiritual Nature Is damaging after Death

A “bond of love” is an inner friendship in which we love not only other people’s outer selves but also their inner selves without investigating what their inner selves or spirits are like. We should investigate this to see whether the feelings in their minds relate to loving their neighbor and loving God and are therefore compatible with angels in heaven or whether they relate to forms of love that go against their neighbor and God and are therefore compatible with devils.

Many people form deep bonds of love like this, for a variety of reasons and purposes. This is different from friendship with someone’s outer persona alone, which we develop for the sake of various physical and sensual pleasures and different types of social interaction. This second type of friendship can be formed with anyone, even with a jester who jokes around at a duke’s table. I am calling this latter type of friendship simply friendship” while the former type I am calling s “bond of love,” because friendship is an earthly connection but love is a spiritual connection.

from True Christianity, Section 446

How to Use It

They who, in reading the Word (Scriptures), look to the Lord, by acknowledging that all truth and all good are from Him, and nothing from themselves,–they are enlightened, and see truth and perceive what is good from the Word. That enlightenment is from the light of heaven. — Arcana Coelestia, Section 9405

from The Gist of Swedenborg, The Light of Love and Truth

A Life of Goodwill Is a Moral Life That Is Also Spiritual (Continued)

If we could see what a moral life is in its essence, we would see that it is a life in accordance with human laws and divine laws at the same time. Therefore people who live by both sets of laws as one law are truly moral and live a life of goodwill.

Anyone who wants to grasp the nature of goodwill is capable of doing so by looking at the nature of outward moral life. Just copy the outward moral life you have in civil interaction into your inner self so that your inner willing and thinking parallel the actions of your outer self, and you will see a model of good will.

from True Christianity, Section 445

A Life of Goodwill Is a Moral Life That Is Also Spiritual (Continued)

When our moral life is also spiritual, it is a life of goodwill, because the practices involved in a moral life and in a life of goodwill are the same. Goodwill is wishing our neighbors well and therefore treating them well. This is also a moral way of life. The following statement by the Lord is a spiritual law:

All things whatever that you want people to do for you, do likewise for them. This is the law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

The same law is universally applicable to a moral life as well. But listing all the practices related to goodwill and comparing them with the practices related to a moral life would require many pages. Just take six commandments from the second tablets of the Ten Commandments for an illustration–it is clear to everyone that they are principles for a moral life. (As for their containing all aspects of loving our neighbor, see Sections 329-331 above.)

The following statement in Paul makes it clear that goodwill fulfills all the commandments:

Love each other, for those who love others have fulfilled the law. The commandments that you are not to commit adultery, you are not to kill, you are not to steal, you are not to bear false witness, you are not to covet, and anything else that has been commanded, are included in the following saying: “You are to love your neighbor as yourself.” Goodwill does not do evil to its neighbor. Goodwill is the fullness of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

People who think only with their outer selves cannot help being astounded that the seven commandments on the second tablet were proclaimed by Jehovah on the Mount Sinai in such a miraculous way, given that these same rules were legal principles of civic justice in all the countries on earth, including Egypt, where the children of Israel had just come from. No country can survive without these rules.

The reason why Jehovah proclaimed them, however, and wrote them with his own finger on tablets of stone was that they are rules not only for all civic communities and therefore rules for a moral earthly life, they are also rules for all heavenly communities and therefor rules for a moral spiritual life. Acting against these rules then is acting not only against other people but also against God.

from True Christianity, Section 444


Sections 329-331: Published 11/28/2020-11/30/2020

A Life of Goodwill Is a Moral Life That Is Also Spiritual

We all learn from our parents and teachers to live a moral life, that is, to behave like civil human beings. We learn to discharge the duties of an honorable life, which are related to the various virtues that constitute the essence of being honorable. We also learn to discharge these dutiful acts through the outward forms called manners. As we advance in age, we learn to add the exercise of rationality, and we use that rationality to enhance the morality of our life.

The moral life in youths up to early adulthood is earthly. After that it becomes increasingly rational. People who reflect on the question can see that a moral life is the same thing as a life of goodwill, which is behaving well to our neighbor and regulating our life to keep it from being contaminated with evils (as follows from the points made above in Sections 435-438). Nevertheless, in the first phase of our lives, our moral life is a life of goodwill on the outermost level, that is, only in the outward, most superficial part of our life, but not deeper within it.

There are four phases to our lives. We pass through them as we go from infancy to old age:

1. The First phase is when our behavior follows other people’s instructions.

2. The second is when our behavior is our own, and our intellect restrains us.

3. The Third is when our will pushes our intellect and our intellect restrains our will.

4. The fourth is when our behavior is deliberate and purposeful.

These phases of our lives are phases of the life of our spirit, however; they do not necessarily relate to our body. Our body can behave morally and speak rationally, and yet our spirit can intend and think things that are the opposite of morality and rationality. It is clear from pretenders, flatterers, liars, and hypocrites that this is the nature of our earthly self. Clearly, people like this have a dual mind–their mind can be divided into two parts that do not agree.

It is different for people who have benevolent intentions and think rational thoughts, and as a result do good things and speak rationally. These are the type of people meant by “the simple in spirit” in the Word. They are called simple because they are not dual.

These statements clarify the proper meaning of the outer self and the inner self; they show that we cannot conclude from other people’s morality in their outer self that they have morality in their inner self. Their inner self could be turned in the opposite direction. It could be hiding the way a turtle hides its head in its shell or the way a snake hides its head in its coils. In that case their supposedly moral self is like a robber who spends time both in the city and in the woods; in the city the robber behave like a moral person, but in the woods, like a thief.

It is completely different for people who are inwardly moral, whose spirit is moral, and who attained that nature by being regenerated by the Lord. Such people constitute the type meant by the phrase “spiritually moral.”

from True Christianity, Section 443


Sections 4335-438: Published 3/18/2021- 3/21/2021

As Long as We Believe That Everything Good Comes from the Lord, We Do Not Take Credit for the Things We Do as We Practice Goodwill (Continued)

It is extremely important to realize that goodwill is closely linked to faith in the Lord. The quality of the faith determines the quality of the goodwill. For the point that the Lord, goodwill, and faith form a unity in the same way our life, our will, and our intellect form a unity, and that if we separate them, each one crumbles like a pearl that is crushed to powder, see Section 362 and following above. Also see the point that goodwill and faith come together in good actions, Sections 373-377. From those teachings it follows that the quality of our faith determines the quality of our goodwill; and the quality of our faith and goodwill combined determines the quality of our actions.

Now, if we believe that everything good that we do as if we are doing it on our own actually comes from the Lord, then we are the instrumental cause of that good and the Lord is its principal cause. These two causes seem to us to be one thing, but in fact the principal cause affects every aspect of the instrumental cause. It follows then that if we believe that everything truly good comes from the Lord, we do not take credit for what we do. The more developed this faith becomes in us, the more the Lord takes away our fantasies about getting credit for what we have done. In this state we can practice goodwill abundantly without a fear of taking credit. Eventually we sense the spiritual pleasure in goodwill. Then we become averse to taking credit because doing so is damaging to our life.

It is easy for the Lord to erase people’s idea that they deserve credit, provided those people attain goodwill primarily through working justly and faithfully in the position, business, or line of work they are in and with the people with whom they interact (see Sections 422-424 above). If, however, people believe that they attain goodwill through making charitable donations and helping the needy, it is difficult to red them of the idea that they deserve credit, because as they make those contributions their desires for reward and credit, although obvious to them at first, becomes less noticeable [to them] as time goes by.

from True Christianity, Section 442


Section 362: Published 12/26/2020

Section 373-377: Published 1/9/2021-1/13/2021

Section 422-424: Published 3/3/2021-3/4/2021

As Long as We Believe That Everything Good Comes from the Lord, We Do Not Take Credit for the Things We Do as We Practice Goodwill (Continued)

It is completely different for people who focus on getting a reward as the primary goal of what they do. They are like those who strike up a friendship to get money; they give gifts, do favors, and profess their love as if it were heartfelt, but when they do not get what they were hoping for, they turn their backs, drop the friendship, and join up with the other’s enemies and detractors.

They are like wet nurses who breastfeed babies only for the money. While the parents are looking, they kiss the babies and stroke them, but as soon as they are unsatisfied with the quality of the food they are given or do not get paid whatever they ask, they reject the babies, treat them roughly, beat them, and laugh at their crying.

They are like people who focus on their country because they love themselves and the world. They say they intend the country’s well-being and are devoting their lives to it, but if they do not receive promotions and wealth as rewards, they bad-mouth the country and become allies with its enemies.

They are like shepherds who take care of sheep only because of the money. If they do not get their money on time, they take their staffs and drive the sheep off the pasture into the wilderness. Priests who perform their duties only for the stipend involved are like these shepherds. Clearly, they do not care at all about the salvation of the souls that are under their care and guidance.

It is the same with government officials who focus only on the status and the income from their job. When they do something good, it is not for the public good but for the pleasure they take in loving themselves and the world, which they inhale as the only form of good.

The same sort of attitudes are possible in any line of work. The goal or purpose is the determining factor throughout. If the means employed in a given pursuit fail to achieve the goal, they are abandoned.

People who are looking for the reward of salvation that they feel they deserve behave similarly. After death they demand heaven with tremendous confidence. Once it is discovered that they have no love for God or their neighbor, they are sent to teachers who instruct them about faith and goodwill. If they reject what they are taught, they are exiled to be with people like themselves, some of whom are enraged at God because they have not been given their rewards. They call faith a figment of the imagination.

These are the people who are meant in the Word by “hired workers,” who were given extremely menial jobs in the entrances to the Temple. From a distance [in the spiritual world] these people look as if they are splitting logs.

from True Christianity, Section 441

As Long as We Believe That Everything Good Comes from the Lord, We Do Not Take Credit for the Things We Do as We Practice Goodwill (Continued)

On the other hand, if people think about going to heaven and decide that they should therefore do what is good, this is not the same as making rewards their main goal or taking credit for their good deeds. People who love their neighbor as themselves and love God above all else have these thoughts because they have faith in the Lord’s words that their reward will be great in heaven (Matthew 5:11-12; 6;1; 10:41-42; Luke 6:23, 35; 14:12-14; John 4:36); that people who do good things are going to possess as an inheritance a kingdom prepared since the founding of the world (Matthew 25:34); and that all are paid back for what they have done (Matthew 16:27; John 5:29; Revelation 14:13; 20:12-13; Jeremiah 25:14; 32:19; Hosea 4:9; Zechariah 1:6; and elsewhere). What these people have is not confidence in a reward because they deserve it; they have faith in the promise of grace.

The pleasure of doing good to their neighbor is their reward. The angels in heaven feel this pleasure. It is a spiritual pleasure that is eternal. It immeasurably surpasses every earthly pleasure. People who have this pleasure do not want to hear about getting credit–they love doing good and feel joy in it. It depresses them if someone thinks they are doing it to get something in return. They are like people who benefit their friends for friendship’s sake; who benefit their siblings for their siblings’ sake; who benefit their spouse and children for their spouse’s and children’s sake; who benefit their country for their country’s sake–people whose actions are based on friendship and love. People who do these good things state with conviction that they did not do it themselves; they did it for the others.

from True Christianity, Section 440

As Long as We Believe That Everything Good Comes from the Lord, We Do Not Take Credit for the Things We Do as We Practice Goodwill

It is damaging for us to take credit for things we do for the sake of our salvation. Hidden within our credit- taking there are evil attitudes of which we are unaware at the time: denial that God flows in and works in us; confidence in our own power in regard to salvation; faith in ourselves and nor in God; [the delusion that] we justify and save ourselves by our own strength; contempt for divine grace and mercy; rejection of reformation and regeneration by divine means; and especially disregard for the merit and justice of the Lord God our Savior, which we then claim as our own. In our taking credit there is also a continual focus on our own reward and perception of it as our first and last goal, a stifling and an extinction of love for the Lord and love for our neighbor, and total ignorance and unawareness of the pleasure involved in heavenly love (which takes no credit), while all we feel is our love for ourselves.

People who put their own reward as the first priority and salvation as the second, and therefore seek salvation as a reward, turn the proper arrangement upside down. They drown their inner desires in self-absorption and physically pollute them with evils belonging to their flesh. For this reason, goodness that we do to earn merit looks to the angels like a rust-colored plants disease, while goodness that we do not do to earn merit looks a rich purplish-red.

The Lord teaches in Luke that we are not supposed to do good for the purpose of getting a reward:

If you benefit people who benefit you, what grace do you have? Rather, love and benefit your enemies, and lend [to people] expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be large, and you will be children of the Highest, since he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. (Luke 6:33-36)

It is also taught in John that we cannot do anything truly good except from the Lord:

Live in me and I [shall live] in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it lives in the vine, neither can you unless you live in me, because without me you cannot do anything. (John 15:4-5)

We cannot receive anything unless it is given to us from heaven. (John 3:27)

from True Christianity, Section 439