When we have been regenerated we are renewed, or new. This is something the church of today knows, both from the Word and from reason.
We know this from the following teachings in the Word.
Make your heart new and your spirit new. Why should you die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 18:31)
I will give you a new heart and I will put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you. (Ezekiel 36:26, 27)
From now on we regard no one on the basis of the flesh. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, she or he is a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:16, 17)
The new heart in these passages means a new will and the new spirit means a new understanding, since “heart” in the Word means the will and “spirit,” when it appears alongside “heart,” means the understanding.
From reason as well we know about our renewal: the person who has been regenerated must have a new will and a new understanding, because these two faculties are what make us human. They are the parts of us that are regenerated. The quality of these two faculties determines the quality of the human being. People who have an evil will are evil; if their understanding supports that will, they are even more evil. The opposite is true of good people.
Only religion renews and regenerates us. It is allotted the highest place in the human mind. Below itself it sees civic concerns that relate to the world. In fact, it rises up through these concerns the way the purest sap rises up through a tree to its very top, and surveys from that height the earthly things that lie below, the way someone looks down from a tower or a high point of land onto the fields below.
It is important to note, however, that our understanding can rise up almost into the light that the angels of heaven have, but if our will does not rise along with it, we are still the old self, not the new self. (I have already shown how the understanding lifts the will up with itself, higher and higher.) For this reason, regeneration is primarily a matter of the will, and only secondarily a matter of the understanding. The understanding in us is like light in the world, and our will is like the heat here. Without heat, light brings nothing to life and makes nothing grow; as we know, light has to act in partnership with heat. The understanding that is in the lower part of the mind is actually in the light of this world; the understanding that is in the higher part of the mind is in the light of heaven. Therefore if our will is not lifted up from the lower region into the higher region to join the understanding, it remains at the level of the world. Then our understanding flies up and down, up and down. Every night, though, it flies down and sleeps with our will below, and the two make love like a married man and a whore and bring forth two-headed offspring.
Again, it is clear that if we do not have a new will and a new understanding, we have not been regenerated.
The human mind has three levels. The lowest is called the earthly level; the middle is called the spiritual level; the highest is called the heavenly level. As we are regenerated, we are lifted from the lowest level, which is earthly, onto the higher level that is spiritual, and from there onto the heavenly level. (The existence of three levels within the mind will be demonstrated under the next heading).
As a result, someone who has not been regenerated is called earthly, but someone who has been regenerated is called spiritual. Clearly, then, the mind of someone who has been regenerated is lifted up to the spiritual level. From up there it sees what is going on in the earthly mind below.
By paying even slight attention to our own thoughts, any of us can see and admit that there is a lower level and a higher level within the human mind. After all, we can see what we are thinking. Therefore we say, “I was thinking this or that, and now I am thinking something else.” We could never do this if there were not an inner level of thought, called perception, which can carefully examine our lower level of thought, called thinking.
When judges hear or read arguments that a lawyer has laid out in a long chain, they bring them together into one view, one all-encompassing image, in the higher level of their mind. Then they direct their attention toward the lower level, where earthly thought occurs, and they arrange the arguments into a sequence and hand down a sentence or judgment based on their higher vision.
Surely everyone realizes that we are capable of having thoughts or making decisions in a moment or two that take half an hour to put into words through our lower thought.
I present these examples to make it known that the human mind has higher and lower levels.
As for the new will, it is above the old will, on the spiritual level. So is the new understanding. The understanding is with the will and the will is with the understanding. They come together on that level, and together they examine the old, earthly self and arrange all the things in it so that they obey what is higher.
Surely everyone can see what would happen if there were only one level to the human mind—evil traits and good traits would be brought together and mixed up with each other there, as well as false impressions and true impressions, and conflict would erupt. It would be like putting wolves and sheep, or tigers and calves, or hawks and doves together in the same cage. The inevitable outcome would be a cruel slaughter, in which the savage animals tore the gentle ones to pieces.
Therefore it has been provided that good things along with their truths are gathered on a higher level so that they can remain safe and ward off an attack, and can use chains and other means to bring evils under control and finally disperse them along with their falsities.
This is the point made in an earlier section, that the Lord through heaven rules the things of this world that are present in a regenerated person. The higher or spiritual level of the human mind is in fact a heaven in miniature form, and the lower or earthly level is the world in miniature form. This is why the ancients referred to the human being as a microcosm. We could also be called a microheaven.
People who have been regenerated, that is, people who have been made anew in will and understanding, are in the heat of heaven; that is, they have the love that heaven has. They are also in the light of heaven; that is, they have the wisdom heaven has. On the other hand, people who have not been regenerated are in the heat of hell; that is, they have the love that hell has. They are also in the darkness of hell; that is, they have the insanities that hell has.
Nowadays this is well known, yet in other ways it is not known, because the church as it exists today has made regeneration an appendage to its faith. It says that reasoning should not be applied to the subject of faith, and should therefore not be applied to anything that is an appendage to faith, namely, regeneration and renewal.
To people [in the church today], regeneration and renewal, along with that faith itself, are like a house whose doors and windows have been boarded up. No one knows who or what is inside the house. It may be empty; it might be full of demons from hell, or angels from heaven.
In addition, confusion has been caused by a misinterpretation of the fact that we can rise up with our understanding almost into the light of heaven and therefore think and speak intelligently about spiritual matters, no matter what the love in our will is like. Not knowing the truth of this situation has led to complete ignorance about what it is to be regenerated and made new.
From the above we can conclude that when we have not been regenerated, we see ghosts at night, so to speak, and think they are real people. When we are being regenerated, we become aware first thing in the morning that what was seen in the night was unreal. When we have been regenerated and are in broad daylight, we realize that our visions in the night were a form of madness.
People who have not been regenerated are dreaming; people who have been regenerated are awake. In fact, in the Word our earthly life is compared to a sleep and our spiritual life to wakefulness. . . .
from Regeneration, Pages 70-74