Self-love and materialism produce an imitation of life and an imitation of joy, but since they are diametrically opposed to genuine love—that is, loving the Lord above all and loving our neighbor as ourselves—it stands to reason that they are not forms of love but of hatred. Notice that the more we love ourselves and worldly goods, the more we hate our neighbor and therefore the Lord.
Genuine love, then, is love for the Lord, and genuine life is a life of love received from him. True joy is the joy of that life. Only one genuine love can exist, so only one genuine life can exist, and it gives rise to true joy and happiness, like that felt by angels in heaven.
Love and faith can never be separated, because they make a single unit. This is why the sources of light when first mentioned are treated as grammatically singular in the statement, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens.” Let me report some surprising facts in this connection.
Because the Lord gives heavenly angels this kind of love, love reveals all religious knowledge to them. Love also gives them such a living and shining intelligence that it can hardly be described.
For spirits who learn the doctrinal tenets of faith but lack love, on the other hand, life is so chill and the light so dim that they cannot even approach the near side of the threshold to heaven’s entrance hall without fleeing in retreat.
Some say that they had believed in the Lord; but in actuality they had not lived as he taught. The Lord speaks of them this way in Matthew:
Not everyone saying “Lord! Lord!” to me will enter the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing my will. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord! Lord! Haven’t we prophesied in your name?” (Matthew 7:21, 22)
See also what follows there, up to the end of Matthew 7.
All this makes it clear that people who have love also have faith and consequently heavenly life. The same cannot be said of those who claim to have faith but do not lead a loving life.
A life of faith without love is like sunlight without warmth—the type of light that occurs in winter, when nothing grows and everything droops and dies. Faith rising out of love, on the contrary, is like light from the sun in spring, when everything grows and flourishes. Warmth from the sun is the fertile agent. The same is true in spiritual and heavenly affairs, which are typically represented in the Word by objects found in nature and human culture.
Nonbelief and belief without love are in fact compared to winter by the Lord in Mark where he made predictions concerning the close of the age:
Pray that your flight not occur in winter, as those will be days of distress. (Mark 13:18, 19)
The “flight” refers to the final days and to an individual’s final days before death as well. “Winter” is a life devoid of love. The “days of distress” are the person’s wretched condition in the other life.
from Regeneration, Pages 138-139