Every created thing in the world, both animate and inanimate, has an inner level and an outer level. The one level does not exist in the absence of the other, any more than an effect can exist without a cause. Every created thing is considered valuable if it is inwardly good, and worthless if it is inwardly bad, even where inner badness lies within outer goodness. Every wise person in the world and every angel in heaven evaluates people and things in this way.
What a person who has not been regenerated is like and what a person who has been regenerated is like can be illustrated through comparisons. People who have not been regenerated but who present themselves as moral citizens and “good Christians” can be compared to a corpse that has been embalmed with fragrant oils but nevertheless gives off a reek that overpowers the fragrances, assaults your nose, and hurts your brain. . . .
In our world, of course, the inside is sometimes valued highly on the basis of what is outside, but only by people who themselves have no inner goodness and who therefore judge things by appearances. This is not how it works in heaven, however. The body that can be turned this way and that around the spirit and can be bent from evil to good is removed by death, and then only the inner self remains, which constitutes the spirit. Then even from far away such people look like a snake that has shed its skin, or rotten wood whose shiny bark has been removed. It is different, though, for those who have been regenerated. Their inner level is good and their outer level, which appears to be like anyone else’s, is actually as different from that of the people just mentioned as heaven is from hell, since it has a soul of goodness inside.
After death it means nothing anymore whether people in this world were of high rank and lived in a mansion and walked around with an entourage, or lived in a hut and were waited on by a child. It does not matter if they were an archbishop who wore a scarlet robe and a two-tiered tiara, or a shepherd tending a few sheep in the woods, who wore a loose-fitting country coat with a hood for his head.
Gold is still gold whether it shines next to the fire or its surface is blackened with smoke. Gold is still gold whether it has been poured into a beautiful shape like that of a little child or an unpleasant shape like that of a rat. The rats made of gold and placed next to the ark were still found acceptable and pleasing (1 Samuel 6:3, 4, 5, and following), because gold symbolizes inner goodness. Diamonds and rubies that have been kept in their matrix of limestone or clay are just as valuable as diamonds and rubies set in a queen’s necklace, because they are valued for their inner goodness. And so on.
This makes it clear that what is on the outside derives its value from what is on the inside and not the other way around.
from Regeneration, Pages 65, 66