We have thoughts and we will things as if we did so on our own. This feeling that we think and will on our own is what allows for a reciprocal partnership [with the Lord]. No partnership can exist without reciprocation. For example, no partnership would exist between an active element and a responsive element if there were no adaptation or point of contact between them.
God alone is an active force. We allow ourselves to experience that active force and we cooperate with it to all appearances as if we were acting on our own, although inwardly we are actually acting from God.
From the statements just made, if you take them in the right way, you can see what human beings are like. You can see the quality of love the human will has if it is lifted up by means of the understanding; and you can see the quality of love the human will has if it is not lifted up.
It is important to know that the capacity to lift the understanding even to the level possessed by the angels in heaven has been created as a part of every human being, the evil as well as the good. In fact every devil in hell retains this ability, since all those who are in hell existed as human beings [in the physical world]. I have often been shown through living experience that this is the case.
Nonetheless, the reason the devils in hell are insane rather than intelligent in spiritual matters is that they will what is evil and not what is good. Knowing and understanding truths is repulsive to them, because truths favor what is good and oppose what is evil.
These points also make it clear that the first step in our being generated anew is to receive truths in our understanding. The second step is to intend to put those truths into practice; eventually it takes the form of actually putting them into practice.
No one can justifiably be called a “reformed” person solely on the basis of his or her knowledge of truth. By lifting our understanding above the love that resides in our will, we are all capable of grasping those truths, saying them, teaching them, and preaching them. A truly reformed person is someone who desires the truth because it is true. This desire attaches itself to our will, and if it persists, forges a partnership between our will and our understanding. Then our regeneration begins. (Later sections will deal with how our regeneration proceeds and is perfected after that.)
from Regeneration, Pages 60, 61