This is because we are not in the Lord. For example, if we attend church regularly, listen reverently to the sermons, read the Word and religious literature, take the Holy Supper, offer our prayers every day, and give a great deal of thought to God and salvation, if we think nothing of evils that are sins—fraud, for example, or adultery, hatred, blasphemy, and the like—then the only devout thought and speech we are capable of is thought and speech that inwardly are not devout at all, because we ourselves with all our evils are within them. We are not aware of this when these acts are happening, but our evils are still in there and are hiding from our sight. It is like a spring whose waters are impure from their source.
At those times our devotional practices are nothing but a routine that has become habitual; or we are thinking highly of ourselves; or we are hypocritical. They do rise up toward heaven, yes, but along the way they turn back and come down the way smoke does in the air. (Section 25)
I have been granted the opportunity to see and hear many people after their deaths listing their good works and their devotional practices along the lines of those just mentioned in Sections 24 and 25, plus some others as well. I also saw that some of them had lamps but no oil, and when they were asked whether they had turned their backs on evil deeds because they are sins it turned out that they had not. So they were told that they were evil, and later I saw them going into caves where there were other evil people like themselves. (Section 26)
from Life/Faith, Sections 25-26
Section 24: Published 3/31/2019