How good do you have to be?
August 14, 2016 § Leave a comment
How good do you have to be to get into heaven. Perhaps you asked yourself:” Who could do all that the Lord commanded?”
As the Lord on earth said, “There is none good but one, that is God” (Mt. 19: 17, Mk. 10: 18).
Obviously, none of us can do all that the Lord commands. Truthfully, of ourselves we cannot do anything the Lord commands. This is because, like it or not, of ourselves we are nothing but evil, and everything we do is from evil and contaminated by evil. Even the apparent good we attempt is in its heart evil.
But, as if of ourselves (that is, when we allow the Lord to work through us), we can do some of what the Lord commands. And fortunately, we only have to do some of what the Lord commands. Notice what is said in TCR 520:
Man is born with a tendency to every kind of evil, and if he does not partially remove evils by repentance, he remains subject to them, and if so cannot be saved.
We can be saved if we partially remove our evils by repentance. Realistically, this is all we are going to achieve in this life, and even in the next. What is important is that we acquire a habit of repentance. This allows the Lord to work in us and through us. It allows us to cooperate with the Lord.
TCR 522 goes on to explain:
Every evil if not removed remains with a person; and if a person remains in his evils he cannot be saved. This is self-evident. What I have said before makes it obvious that no evil can be removed, except by the Lord working on those who believe in Him and love the neighbour. … But the question may be asked: how can a person enter into that union? The answer is that he cannot, unless he removes his evils, at least partially, by repentance. We say that the person should remove them, because the Lord does not bring this about directly without co-operation on the person’s part. This too was fully demonstrated in the same chapter, and in the following one on free will.
Further in TCR 523:
The saying goes that no one can keep the law completely, and this is even more difficult, because the person who breaks one of the Ten Commandments breaks them all. Yet this manner of speaking does not mean what it sounds like. For it must be understood to mean that a person who acts deliberately and from conviction against one commandment acts against the rest. This is because acting deliberately and from conviction is utterly denying that it is a sin, and if anyone else says it is, he dismisses his opinion as worthless. If anyone thus denies and dismisses sin, he pays no heed to anything which is called a sin. This is the position reached by those who are unwilling to be told anything about repentance. On the other hand, those who by repentance have removed some evils which are sins, reach the position of believing in the Lord and loving the neighbour. The Lord keeps them determined to abstain from further sinning; so if through ignorance or some overwhelming longing they sin, this is not counted against them, since they did not intend it nor convince themselves that it was allowable.
 I can support this statement by the following experiences. In the spiritual world I have met many people whose life in the natural world was no different from others’; they wore fine clothes, dined elegantly, engaged in business deals like other people to make profits, went to the theatre, joked about lovers as if lusting for them, and more of the same sort. Yet the angels held some of them guilty of sinful evils, and others they did not hold guilty of evils, declaring one group innocent, the other guilty. When they were asked why, when both groups had done much the same, they replied that what they looked for in all cases was the aim, intention or end in view, and they distinguished cases on this basis, so that those who were excused or condemned by their end in view, they themselves excused or condemned. All in heaven have good as their end in view, all in hell evil.
As you can see, if we are striving to cooperate with the Lord by repenting of some of our evils, then the Lord is holding us in the intention of keeping all the commandments.
It is worth remembering that people who die as little children and who have no actual evil in them, grow up and become celestial angels. But even they are not perfect. They get so accustomed to being good that they begin to think that it is they and not the Lord who is good. So, from time to time, they are let down into the world of spirits and into their evils enough to see that without the Lord, they are nothing but evil. And when they regain their humility they are raised up again. (HH 342)
The spiritual angels wear cloths because of their lustifulness (SD 4719).
The angels in heaven both see and perceive the evils and falsities that sometimes arise in themselves (HH 487).
We are not good of ourselves. We are not perfect. And we most certainly have not kept all of the Lord’s commands. Still we can be saved and live in heaven. All we have to do persistently try to repent, that is:
- Examine our intentions and thoughts and find some evil love
- Shun that evil love by avoiding to act on it because it is a sin against God.
- The sin against God is important.
As we strive to avoid acting on evil intentions, the Lord works in us reforming and regenerating our will and understanding. He saves us, and withholds us from our evils. We only ever partially repent of our evils. The important part is that we are trying to repent.
Now how much repentance constitutes “partial” repentance?
The answer, I believe is found in TCR 530:
If real repentance is practised from time to time, in fact as often as one prepares oneself to partake of the Holy Supper, and if one thereafter refrains from one or two sins one caught oneself committing, this is enough to start the process of making it real. Anyone at that point is on his way to heaven, for that is when a person begins to become spiritual instead of natural, and to be born anew under the Lord’s guidance.
It seems to me that partial repentance would be doing enough to start the process of making it real. It is the minimum need to be saved.
Or perhaps, the phrase partial repentance refers to easy repentance discussed in TCR 535-537. Easy repentance is done by those who do good deeds for religious reasons. The motivation, religious reasons, is essential. Without the religious motivation the good deeds are natural and not spiritual.
Easy repentance does not involve self-examination and is described as follows:
So I propose to describe an easier kind of repentance. When anyone is turning over in his mind some evil deed, and intending to do it, he should say to himself: ‘I am thinking about this and I intend to do it, but I shall not because it is a sin.’ This has the effect of blunting the thrust of hell’s tempting and preventing it from advancing any further.