However, many people—especially people who have convinced themselves of a faith that is devoid of caring—do not know that they are in hell when they are engaged in evil pursuits. They have no idea what evils really are, because they give no thought to them. They say that they are not under the yoke of the law, which means that the law does not condemn them. They also say that since they cannot contribute anything to their own salvation they cannot rid themselves of anything evil, let alone do anything good on their own.
They are people who give no thought to the evil within themselves and who are constantly engaged in it because of this neglect. I explained in Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Faith 61–68 that they are the ones the Lord referred to as “goats” in Matthew 41–46 [25:32–33, 41–46], telling them to “Go away from me, cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
If we give no thought to the evils within us, that is, if we do not examine ourselves and then refrain from doing them, we wind up inevitably not knowing what evil is and then loving it because of the pleasure it offers us. This is because anyone who does not know about evil loves it, and anyone who neglects thinking about evil is constantly involved in it. People like this are like blind people, people who cannot see, since thought sees what is good and what is evil the way the eye sees what is beautiful and what is ugly. We are caught up in evil if we consider and intend it and if we think it is hidden from God and would be forgiven if it came to light. This is actually thinking that we are free of evil.
If we do then refrain from evil deeds, we do so not because they are sins against God but because we are afraid of the laws and afraid for our reputation. We are still doing them in spirit, though, because it is our spirit that thinks and intends. As a result, whatever we think in our spirit in this world we do after we leave this world when we become spirits.
In the spiritual world where we all arrive after death, no one asks what our faith has been or what our beliefs have been, only what our life has been, whether we are one kind of person or another. They know that the quality of our faith and the quality of our beliefs depend on the quality of our life, because life constructs a belief system for itself and constructs a faith for itself.
from Divine Providence, Section 101