173 If we do not accept a spiritual life--in other words, if are not newly born from the Lord--we cannot go to heaven. The Lord taught this in John: "I tell you the truth: unless you are born a second time, you cannot see God's realm" (John 3:3).
174 We are not born from our parents into a spiritual life, but into a physical life. Spiritual life is loving God more than anything else, and loving other people as much as we love ourselves. We should do this according to the rules of faith that th e Lord taught in the Bible. But physically-minded life is loving ourselves and material things more than other people, and even more than God himself.
175 We are all born with the bad traits of selfishness and materialism that we get from our parents. Every bad trait that has become second nature to us through long habit is passed on to our children. So these faults have been passed down from our pa rents, our grandparents, and our ancestors before them, one after the other, in a long chain stretching backwards. Finally, so many bad traits have been passed down to us that all of our own life is nothing but faults. The only way this continuing chain o f bad traits can be broken and changed is by living in faith and kindness from the Lord.
176 We constantly tend toward whatever is passed on to us by our parents. We are always falling into it, so we strengthen their bad traits in ourselves and add more of our own.
These bad traits go completely against a spiritual life. They destroy it. So unless we accept a new, spiritual life from the Lord, we are lost. This means we are lost unless we are newly conceived, born, and raised--meaning we are newly created. Othe rwise, all we want and think about are things that have to do with ourselves and the material world--just like people in hell.
177 We cannot be reborn unless we know about this new, spiritual life. We need to know the true things we should believe, which relate to faith, and the good things we should do, which relate to kindness.
We cannot learn these things on our own, because we only comprehend what we have received through our physical senses. This is where we get our light, which is "natural light." By this light we see only what relates to material things and ourselves. We cannot see anything that has to do with heaven and God--we have to learn about these from revelation.
Here are some of the things we have to learn from revelation: The Lord, who is God from eternity, came into the world to set the human race free. He has all the power in heaven and on earth. All faith and kindness, and all truth and goodness, are fro m him. There is a heaven and a hell. We will live forever in heaven if we have done good things, and in hell if we have done harmful things.
178 All these things and many more are part of the faith that we should know to be reborn. If we know them, we can think about them, want them, and finally do them, so that we gain a new life.
For example, if we do not know that the Lord is the liberator of the human race, we cannot have faith in him, love him, and do good things for his sake. If we do not know that everything good comes from him, we cannot possibly realize that our spirit ual well-being comes from him, let alone want to receive it from him. This means we cannot live from him. If we do not know that there is a hell and a heaven, and that we will live forever, we cannot think about the way people live in heaven, or make ours elves receptive to that kind of life. And so on for the rest of the examples.
179 We all have inner and outer selves. The inner one is our spiritual self, and the outer one is our material self. For us to be reborn, both of these have to be reborn.
When we have not been reborn, our outer, material self is in control, and our inner self works for it. But when we have been reborn, our inner, spiritual self is in control, and our outer self works for it. So you can see that our life is arranged up side-down from birth. What should be in control is just a worker, and what should just be a worker is in control. For us to be set free, this arrangement has to be turned the other way around. This cannot happen unless we are reborn from the Lord.
180 I will show through examples what it means for our inner self to be in control with our outer self working for it, and the other way around.
If pleasure, money, and pride are all we think of as good, and we feel pleasure in hatred and revenge, and search deep inside ourselves for excuses to support all this, then our outer self is in control and our inner self is working for it.
But if we feel goodness and joy in thinking and wanting what is good, honest, and fair, and in saying and doing these things outwardly, then our inner self is in control and our outer self is working for it.
181 Our inner self is reborn from the Lord first and our outer self is reborn through it afterwards. This is because our inner self is reborn by thinking things that have to do with faith and kindness but our outer self is reborn by a life in harmony with them. This is what the Lord meant when he said, "Unless you have been born from both water and spirit, you cannot enter God's realm" (John 3:5). In the spiritual meaning, "water" is the truth that goes with faith, and "spirit" is a life in harmony wi th it.
182 When we have been reborn, our inner self is in heaven, where we are angels together with the angels we will live with after we die. We can then live a heavenly life, love the Lord, love other people, understand what is true, sense what is good, an d feel happy because of this.