Goodness and Truth: from Secrets of Heaven

Absolutely everything in the universe goes back to either goodness and truth or evil and falsity. If it is in keeping with the divine design, or is becoming so, it goes back to what is good and true, while if it is in violation of the divine design it goes back to what is evil and false.

This holds true for our understanding and our will, since our understanding is the part of us that is receptive either to what is true or to what is false and our will is the part of us that is receptive either to what is good or to what is evil.

Nowadays, not many people know what “truth” really is in essence because so little is known about what is good. Yet everything true comes from what is good and everything good happens by means of what is true.

There are four kinds of people:

1. There are people who live lives based on falsity; some of them do so with evil intent, and some of them do so without evil intent.

2. There are people who live lives based on truth but lack good intent.

3. There are people who live lives based on truth who use that truth to focus on and move toward what is good.

4. And there are people who live lives based on truth who have good intent.

Let us take these one at a time.

from New Jerusalem, Section 20

Genesis 1:18-19 and Its Inner Meaning

. . . and to rule during the day and during the night, and to make a distinction between light and darkness; and God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. — Genesis 1:18-19

Day means goodness and night evil, so in common parlance the good things people do are associated with the day, while the bad things they do are called deeds of the night.

Light means truth and darkness falsity, as the Lord says:

People loved darkness more than light. One who does the truth comes to the light. (John 3:19–21)

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 38

Genesis 1:3 and Its Inner Meaning

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. — Genesis 1:3

The first step is taken when we begin to realize that goodness and truth are something transcendent.

People who focus exclusively on externals do not even know what is good or what is true; everything connected with self-love and love of worldly advantages they consider good, and anything that promotes those two loves they consider true.

They are unaware that such “goodness” is evil and such “truth” false. When we are conceived anew, however, we first begin to be aware that our “good” is not good. And as we advance further into the light, it dawns on us that the Lord exists and that he is goodness and truth itself.

The Lord says in John that we need to know of his existence:

Unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins. (John 8:24)

We need to know too that the Lord is goodness itself, or life, and truth itself, or light, and consequently that nothing good or true exists that does not come from him.

This is also found in John:

In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was present with God, and the Word was God. Everything was made by him, and nothing that was made was made without him. In him was life, and the life was the light of humankind; but the light appears in the darkness. He was the true light that shines on every person coming into the world. (John 1:1, 3, 4, [5,] 9)

from Secrets of Heaven, Volume 1, Section 20

Goodness and Truth

All things in the universe that are in accord with the divine design go back to goodness and truth. There are no exceptions to this in heaven or in the world, because everything good, like everything true, comes from the Divine, which is the source of everything.

We can see, then, that nothing is more necessary for us than knowing what goodness is and what truth is and how each focuses on the other, as well as how each becomes joined to the other. It is particularly necessary, though, for people of the church, because just as everything in heaven goes back to what is good and what is true, so does everything in the church. This is because the goodness and truth that are in heaven are also the goodness and truth that are in the church. This is why I am starting off with a chapter on goodness and truth.

The divine design calls for goodness and truth to be joined together and not separated—to be one, then, and not two. They are together as they emanate from the Lord and they are together in heaven, so they need to be joined to each other in the church.

In heaven, the joining of what is good and what is true is called “the heavenly marriage” because everyone there participates in this marriage. That is why heaven is compared to a marriage in the Word and why the Lord is called the Bridegroom and the Husband, while heaven is called the bride and the wife, as is the church. The reason heaven and the church are so called is that the people there are receptive to the divine goodness that is present within truths.

All the intelligence and wisdom that angels have comes from that marriage. None comes from anything good separated from what is true or from anything true separated from what is good. The same goes for [the intelligence and wisdom of] people in the church.

Since the joining together of goodness and truth is like a marriage, we can see that anything good loves what is true and that correspondingly anything true loves what is good. Each longs to be joined to the other. People in the church who do not have this love and this longing are not participating in the heavenly marriage. This means that the church is not yet in them, because the joining together of goodness and truth is what makes the church.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 11-15


For human beings, there is a constant correspondence between the stages a person goes through physically and the stages a person goes through spiritually, or developments in the body and developments in the spirit. The reason is that at the level of our souls we are born spiritual, but we are clothed with earthly material that constitutes our physical body. When our physical body is laid aside, our soul, which has its own spiritual body, enters a world in which all things are spiritual. There we associate with other spiritual beings like ourselves.

Our spiritual body has to be formed within our physical body. The spiritual body is made out of truth and goodness that flow into us from the Lord through the spiritual world. We find a home within ourselves for that goodness and truth in things that parallel them in the physical world, which are called civic and moral forms of goodness and truth. This makes clear, then, the nature of the process that forms our spiritual body.

Since there is a constant correspondence within human beings between the stages we go through physically and the stages we go through spiritually, it follows that we go through something analogous to being conceived, carried in the womb, born, and brought up.

This explains why the statements in the Word that relate to physical birth symbolize aspects of our spiritual birth that have to do with goodness and truth. In fact, every earthly reference in the literal sense of the Word embodies, contains, and symbolizes something spiritual.

The earthly references to birth in the Word inwardly refer to our spiritual birth, as anyone can see from the following passages:

We have conceived; we have gone into labor. We appeared to give birth, yet we have not accomplished salvation. (Isaiah 26:18)

You are having birth pangs, O earth, in the presence of the Lord. (Psalms 114:7)

Will the earth give birth in a single day? Will I break [waters] but not cause delivery? Will I cause delivery and then close [the womb]? (Isaiah 66:7–9)

Pains like those of a woman in labor will come upon Ephraim. He is an unwise son, because he does not remain long in the womb for children. (Hosea 13:12, 13)

from Regeneration, Pages 53, 54