The Lord Does Not Cast Anyone into Hell: Spirits Cast Themselves In (Continued)

Enlightened people also see that good and evil are two opposite things, as opposite as heaven and hell, and that everything good is from heaven and everything evil from hell. Further, since the Lord’s divine nature constitutes heaven (see Sections 7–12), nothing flows into us from the Lord but what is good, and nothing from hell but what is evil. So the Lord is constantly leading us out of evil and toward good, while hell is constantly leading us into evil. Unless we were in between, we would have neither thought nor intention, much less any freedom or choice. We have all these gifts because of the balance between good and evil. So if the Lord were to turn away and we were left to our own evil, we would no longer be human.

We can see from this that the Lord is constantly flowing into every individual with good, just as much into the evil person as into the good. The difference is that he is constantly leading evil people away from evil, while he is constantly leading good people toward the good. The reason for this difference lies in us, since we are the ones who accept.

We can gather from this that we do evil from hell and good from the Lord. However, since we believe that whatever we do comes from ourselves, the evil we do clings to us as though it were our own. This is why we are at fault for our evil, never the Lord. The evil within us is hell within us, for it makes no difference whether you say “evil” or “hell.” Since we are at fault for our evil, it is we, not the Lord, who lead ourselves into hell. Far from leading us into hell, the Lord frees us from hell to the extent that we do not intend and love to be absorbed in our evil. Our whole volition and love stays with us after death (see Sections 470–484). People who have intended and loved what is evil in the world intend and love what is evil in the other life, and then they no longer allow themselves to be led away from it. This is why people who are absorbed in evil are connected to hell and actually are there in spirit; and after death they crave above all to be where their evil is. So after death, it is we, not the Lord, who cast ourselves into hell.

from Heaven and Hell, Sections 546-547

Notes:

Sections 7-12: Published 5/29/2017-5/31/2017

Sections 470-484: Published 8/14/2018-8/24/2018

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2. Since our life varies depending on our state, “spirit” means the variable attitude we take toward life.

For example:

a. Living wisely.

Bezalel was filled with the spirit of wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge. (Exodus 31:3)

You shall speak to all who are wise at heart, everyone whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom. (Exodus 28:3)

Joshua was filled with the spirit of wisdom. (Deuteronomy 34:9)

Nebuchadnezzar said of Daniel that [the spirit of the holy gods was in him]. (Daniel 4:8)

[Belshazzar’s queen said of Daniel that] there was an excellent spirit of knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom in him. (Daniel 5:12)

Those who go astray in spirit will know intelligence. (Isaiah 29:24)

b. Living [under the influence of some particular] inspiration.

Jehovah has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes. (Jeremiah 51:11)

Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. (Haggai 1:14)

I am putting the spirit into the king of Assyria [to cause him] to hear a rumor and return to his own land. (Isaiah 37:7)

Jehovah hardened the spirit of King Sihon. (Deuteronomy 2:30)

What is rising up in your spirit will never happen. (Ezekiel 20:32)

c. Living in a state of freedom.

The four beasts seen by the prophet, which were angel guardians, went wherever the spirit wanted to go. (Ezekiel 1:12, 20)

d. Living in fear, sorrow, or anger

. . . . so that every heart will melt, all hands will slacken, and every spirit will recoil. (Ezekiel 21:7)

My spirit has fainted within me; my heart is stupefied inside me. (Psalms 142:3; Psalms 143:4)

My spirit is wasting away. (Psalms 143:7)

I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit. (Daniel 7:15)

The spirit of Pharaoh was disturbed. (Genesis 41:8)

Nebuchadnezzar said, “My spirit is troubled.” (Daniel 2:3)

I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit. (Ezekiel 3:14)

e. Living in subjection to various evil mental states.

. . . who has no guile in his spirit. (Psalms 32:2)

Jehovah has mixed together in their midst a spirit of perversities. (Isaiah 19:14)

[The Lord Jehovih] says, “[Woe] to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit.” (Ezekiel 13:3)

The prophet is foolish; the man of the spirit is insane. (Hosea 9:7)

Keep watch over your spirit, and do not act treacherously. (Malachi 2:16)

A spirit of whoredom has led them astray. (Hosea 4:12)

There is a spirit of whoredom in their midst. (Hosea 5:4)

When a spirit of jealousy has come over him . . . (Numbers 5:14)

A man who is a wanderer in spirit and speaks lies . . . (Micah 2:11)

. . . a generation whose spirit was not constant with God . . . (Psalms 78:8)

He has poured a spirit of sleepiness over them. (Isaiah 29:10)

Conceive chaff and give birth to stubble. As for your spirit, fire will devour you. (Isaiah 33:11)

f. Living in subjection to hell.

I will make the unclean spirit depart from the land. (Zechariah 13:2)

When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it wanders through dry places, and then recruits seven spirits worse than itself, and they come in and live there. (Matthew 12:43, 44, 45)

Babylon has become a refuge for every unclean spirit. (Revelation 18:2)

g. Then there are the hellish spirits by whom we are tormented:

Matthew 8:16; 10:1; 12:43, 44, 45;
Mark 1:23–28; 9:17–29;
Luke 4:33, 36; 6:17, 18; 7:21; 8:2, 29; 9:39, 42, 55; 11:24, 25, 26; 13:11; Revelation 13:15; 16:13, 14.

from The Lord, Section 48

LOVE AND THE SELF: Freedom

All freedom is a matter of love, because what we love we do freely. That is also why all freedom is a matter of will, because whatever we love we also will to do; and since love and will constitute our life, freedom also constitutes it. This can show us what freedom is, namely, that it is whatever belongs to our love and will and therefore to our life. That is why anything we do freely seems to us to have come from ourselves.

Doing evil freely seems to be freedom but it is slavery, since this freedom comes from our love for ourselves and our love for the world, and these loves come from hell. This kind of freedom actually turns into slavery after we die, too, since anyone who had this kind of freedom becomes a worthless slave in hell afterwards.

In contrast, freely doing what is good is freedom itself because it comes from a love for the Lord and from a love for our neighbor, and these loves come from heaven. This freedom too stays with us after death and then becomes true freedom because anyone who has this kind of freedom is like one of the family in heaven. The Lord says it like this: “Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not stay in the house forever. A son or daughter does stay forever. If the Son has made you free, you will be truly free” (John 8:34–36).

Since everything good comes from the Lord and everything evil from hell, then it follows that freedom is being led by the Lord and slavery is being led by hell.

The purpose of our having a freedom to think and do what is evil or false (to the extent that the law does not prevent it) is that we can be reformed. That is, what is good and what is true need to be planted in our love and will if they are to become part of our life, and there is no way this can happen unless we have the freedom to contemplate what is evil and false as well as what is good and true. This freedom is given to each one of us by the Lord; and when we are contemplating something that is good and true, then to the extent that we do not at the same time love what is evil and false the Lord plants goodness and truth in our love and will and therefore in our life, and in this way reforms us.

Anything that is sown in freedom also lasts, while anything sown in compulsion does not last. This is because anything we are compelled to do does not come from our own will but rather from the will of the one who is compelling us.

That is also why worship from freedom is pleasing to the Lord but compulsory worship is not. That is, worship from freedom is worship from love, while compulsory worship is not.

No matter how similar they look on the surface, freedom to do good and freedom to do evil are as different and as remote from each other as heaven and hell. Then too, the freedom to do good comes from heaven and is called “heavenly freedom,” while the freedom to do evil comes from hell and is called “hellish freedom.” To the extent that we have the one freedom we do not have the other—no one, that is, can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We can also see from this that people who have hellish freedom think that it is slavery and compulsion if they are not allowed to will what is evil and think what is false whenever they feel like it, while people who have heavenly freedom loathe to will anything evil and to think anything false, and if they are forced to do so, it torments them.

Since acting from freedom seems to us to come from ourselves, heavenly freedom can also be called “heavenly selfhood” and hellish freedom can be called “hellish selfhood.” Hellish selfhood is the sense of self into which we are born, and it is evil. Heavenly selfhood, though, is the selfhood into which we are reformed, and it is good.

This shows us what freedom of choice is—namely, that it is doing what is good by choice or intentionally, and that we have this freedom when we are being led by the Lord. We are led by the Lord when we love what is good and true because it is good and true.

We can tell what kind of freedom we have from the pleasure we feel when we think, speak, act, hear, and see, because all pleasure is an effect of love.

from Regeneration, Pages 20-22