Divine Providence #151

Divine Providence (Dole translation)

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151. At this point, though, I need to explain how the inner self is reformed and how this leads to the reformation of the outer self.

The inner self is not reformed simply by gaining knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, not, that is, simply by thinking. We are reformed inwardly by intending to do what our knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom tell us. When our knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom tell us that there is a heaven and a hell, that everything evil comes from hell, and that everything good comes from heaven, then if we do not intend evil, on the grounds that it is from hell, and instead intend good, on the grounds that it is from heaven, we are on the first step of reformation. We are on the threshold of hell, facing heaven. When we take the next step and intend to stop doing wrong, we are on the second step of reformation. We are outside of hell, but not yet in heaven. We see heaven as above us, and it has to be within us if we are to be completely reformed. Still, we are not reformed until both the outer and the inner self are reformed. The outer self is reformed by means of the inner self when the outer self refrains from the evils that the inner self intends not to do because they are from hell. We are more completely reformed when for that reason we abstain from them and fight against them. In this way, what is within is intending and what is outside is acting; for unless we do what we intend, there is a lack of real intention inside that eventually becomes unwillingness.

[2] These few observations show how our outer self is reformed by means of our inner self. This is what the Lord's words to Peter mean as well:

Jesus said, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in me." Peter said to him, "Lord, don't wash just my feet; wash my hands and head as well." Jesus said to him, "Those who have been washed need only to have their feet washed, and they are wholly clean." (John 13:8-9, 10)

Washing means spiritual washing, which is cleansing from evils. Washing head and hands means cleansing the inner self, and washing feet means cleansing the outer self. When the inner self has been cleansed, the outer self needs to be cleansed, which is what is meant by saying that those who are washed need only to have their feet washed. It means that all cleansing from evils is done by the Lord when it says that "If I do not wash you, you have no part in me."

There is ample evidence in Secrets of Heaven that for the Jews washing meant cleansing from evils, that this is what washing means in the Word, and that washing feet means cleansing the earthly or outer self.

(References: John 13:8-10)

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Divine Providence 244, 249

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Wash 1


Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for the permission to use this translation.


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