The Forgiveness of Sins
The Heavenly Arcana
CONTAINED IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURE OR WORD OF THE LORD
TOGETHER WITH WONDERFUL THINGS SEEN IN THE WORLD OF
SPIRITS AND IN THE HEAVEN OF ANGELS
Translated from the Latin of
The sins done by a man are rooted in his very life, and make it; and therefore no one is liberated from them unless he receives new life from the Lord, which is effected by means of regeneration.
That from himself a man cannot do what is good or think what is true; but only from the Lord, is evident in John:
- A man can do nothing except it be given him from heaven (John 3:27).
- He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing (John 15:5).
From this it is evident that no one can withdraw anyone from sins, thus forgive them, save the Lord alone.
The Lord continually flows into man with the good of love and the truths of faith; but these are variously received; being received in one way by one person, and in a different way by another; by those who have been regenerated they are received well; but by those who do not suffer themselves to be regenerated they are received ill.
Those who have been regenerated are continually kept by the Lord in the good of faith and of love, and are then withheld from evils and falsities. And those who do not suffer themselves to be regenerated by the Lord are also withheld from evil and kept in good, for good and truth continually flow in from the Lord with every man; but the infernal loves in which they are, namely, the loves of self and of the world, stand in the way, and turn the influx of good into evil, and that of truth into falsity.
From all this it is evident what the Forgiveness of Sins is. To be able to be kept by the Lord in the good of love, and the truths of faith, and to be withheld from evils and falsities, is the Forgiveness of Sins. And to shun evil and falsity, and to feel aversion for them, is then Repentance. But these are possible only with those who, through regeneration, have received new life from the Lord; because these things belong to the new life.
The signs that sins have been forgiven are the following. Delight is felt in worshiping God for the sake of God; in being of service to the neighbor for the sake of the neighbor; thus in doing good for the sake of good, and in believing truth for the sake of truth. There is an unwillingness to merit by anything that belongs to charity and faith. Evils, such as enmities, hatreds, revenges, unmercifulness, adulteries, in a word, all things that are against God and against the neighbor, are shunned and are held in aversion.
But the signs that sins have not been forgiven are the following. God is not worshiped for the sake of God; and the neighbor is not served for the sake of the neighbor; thus good is not done and truth is not spoken for the sake of good and truth, but for the sake of self and the world. There is a desire to merit by our deeds; others are despised in comparison with ourselves; delight is felt in evils, such as enmities, hatred, revenge, cruelty, adulteries; and the holy things of the church are held in contempt, and are at heart denied.
When sins have been forgiven, they are believed to be wiped off, and washed away as dirt is with water. Nevertheless they remain in the man; and their being said to be “wiped off” is from the appearance when the man is withheld from them.
The Lord regenerates a man from Divine Mercy. This is done from his infancy down to the last of his life in the world, and afterward to eternity. Thus it is from Divine Mercy that the Lord withdraws a man from evils and falsities, and leads him to the truths of faith and goods of love, and afterward keeps him in these. And after this, in Divine Mercy He raises him to Himself in heaven, and makes him happy. All this is what is meant by the Forgiveness of Sins from Mercy. They who believe that sins are forgiven in any other way, are quite mistaken; for it would be the absence of mercy to see a multitude of men in the hells, and not save them, if it could be done in any other way. And yet the Lord is mercy itself, and wills not the death of anyone, but that he may live.
Consequently those who do not suffer themselves to be regenerated, thus who do not suffer themselves to be withheld from evils and falsities, remove and cast away from themselves these mercies of the Lord. Therefore it is the man who is in fault if he cannot be saved. This is what is meant in John:
- As many as received Him, to them gave He power to be sons of God, to them that believe in His name; who were born, not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12, 13);
“of bloods” denotes those who are opposed to the goods of faith and of charity; “of the will of the flesh” denotes those who are in evils from the loves of self and of the world; “of the will of man” denotes those who are in falsities thence derived; to be “born of God” denotes to be regenerated. That no one can come into heaven unless he is regenerated, is taught in the same:
- Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5);
“to be born of water” denotes through the truth of faith; and “to be born of the spirit” denotes through the good of love. From all this it can now be seen who they are whose sins have been forgiven; and who they are whose sins have not been forgiven.
(Arcana Coelestia 9443 – 9454)