“All authority is given to Me in heaven and on earth... And behold, I am with you always, even to the consummation of the age.” - Matthew 28:18, 20
Kempton New Church

Third Law
Day 5

    Listen:

The Laws of the Divine Providence
No external compulsion to religion

Readings

TO COMPEL ONESELF IS NOT CONTRARY TO RATIONALITY AND LIBERTY.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed in Him, If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered Him, We are the seed of Abraham, and never served anyone; how sayest Thou, You shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Amen, amen, I say to you that everyone doing sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abides not in the house forever; the Son abides forever. If then the Son shall make you free, you shall certainly be free. (John 8:31-36)

DP 145. Inasmuch as the internal and the external of the mind are so distinct, the internal can even fight with the external, and can force it by combat into compliance. Combat arises when a man thinks that evils are sins and therefore resolves to refrain from them. For when he refrains a door is opened, and when it is opened the Lord casts out the lusts of evil that have occupied the internal of thought, and implants affections of good in their place. This is done in the internal of thought.

But as the enjoyments of the lusts of evil that occupy the external of thought cannot be cast out at the same time, a combat arises between the internal and the external of thought, the internal wishing to cast out these enjoyments because they are enjoyments of evil and not in accord with the affections of good in which the internal now is, and to bring in, in place of these enjoyments of evil, enjoyments of good that are in accord. The enjoyments of good are what are called goods of charity. From this contrariety a combat arises; and when this becomes severe it is called temptation....

When, therefore, the internal conquers, as it does when the internal has reduced the external to acquiescence and compliance, the Lord gives man liberty itself and rationality itself; for the Lord then withdraws man from infernal freedom, which in itself is slavery, and brings him into heavenly freedom, which is in itself real freedom, and bestows upon him fellowship with the angels. That those who are in sins are servants, and that the Lord makes free those who accept truths from Him through the Word He teaches in John [see above].

DP 146. This may be illustrated by the example of a man who has had a sense of enjoyment in fraud and secret theft, and who now sees and internally acknowledges that these are sins, and therefore wishes to refrain from them. When he refrains a combat of the internal man with the external arises. The internal man has an affection for sincerity, while the external still finds an enjoyment in defrauding; and as this enjoyment is the direct opposite of the enjoyment of sincerity it only gives way when it is compelled; and it can be compelled only by combat. But when the victory has been gained the external man comes into the enjoyment of the love of what is sincere, which is charity; afterwards the enjoyment of defrauding gradually becomes unenjoyable to him. It is the same with other sins, as with adultery and whoredom, revenge and hatred, blasphemy, and lying. But the hardest struggle of all is with the love of dominion from the love of self. He who subdues this easily subdues all other evil loves, for this is their head.

DP 149. Man does not wish in like manner to come out of spiritual servitude into spiritual liberty [as from natural servitude], first because he does not know what spiritual servitude is and what spiritual liberty is.... Another reason is that the religion of the Christian world has closed up the understanding, and faith alone has sealed it.... A third reason is, that few examine themselves and see their sins; and he who does not see his sins and refrain from them is in the freedom of sin, which is infernal freedom, in itself bondage.

Questions and Comments

  1. Why is truth so necessary for our spiritual freedom? And why is it necessary to believe in the Lord in order to be truly free? And what more than anything keeps us from this freedom? Notice that the basic truths of spiritual life were revealed by the Lord when He was in the world.
  2. When we are in spiritual combat can we feel the fight between the internal man and the external man? Does it feel like two parts of our mind our fighting with each other, or that it is the Lord against the hells? Do all states of spiritual temptation feel like this?
  3. What must happen first for man to enter into spiritual combat? Why can't this take place beforehand? What about the rich young man who was already obeying the Lord’s commandments from his youth? Would it be easier or harder for him than someone who did not?
  4. Looking at the steps of reformation, especially as illustrated by the man who was a thief, does this make the work of reformation look harder or easier? Do we now see how important it is that the Lord made His Second Coming?
  5. Notice how easy our life would be if we could simply shake off the love of dominion from the love of self, or to reveal its nasty head a little more clearly, the desire to control. Why is this evil so much more difficult to put away, than the others mentioned in this teaching? What is it that makes it so easy for it to hide from us?
  6. The last reading gives three reasons for why man does not want to be spiritually free. Can we identify with any of these, or has the Heavenly Doctrine freed us from these excuses?
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