Since we all not only look toward what is useful for our lives in this world but should also look toward what is useful for our lives in heaven (after all, we will get there after life in this world, and that is where we will go on living forever), from our childhood we acquire some familiarity with what is good and true from the Word, from the teachings of the church, or from sermons, and this knowledge is relevant to our eternal life. We store this away in our earthly memory, in greater or lesser abundance depending on our own desire to know, a desire that is both inborn and reinforced by various stimuli.
All this knowledge, though, no matter how much or how valuable, is nothing more than a resource out of which a caring faith can be formed; and this kind of faith is formed only as we turn our backs on evils because they are sins.
If we turn our backs on evils because they are sins, then this knowledge becomes part of our faith, which has some spiritual life in it; but if we do not turn our backs on evils because they are sins, then our knowledge is nothing but knowledge, and does not become part of a faith that has spiritual life within it.
This resource is of critical importance because without it no faith can take form. Our knowledge of what is true and good becomes part of our faith and strengthens it. If we have no such knowledge, faith does not happen. There is no such thing as an empty faith, a faith without content. If we have only a little of such knowledge, our faith is weak and needy. If we have an abundance of such knowledge, our faith becomes rich in full in proportion to that abundance.
from Life/Faith: Teaching for the New Jerusalem on Faith, Section 26-28