For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath. Matthew 13:12
Those who understand the Bible literally must be really puzzled by these words of the Lord. Literally, it means that the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. In some ways, this is true of our materialistic society. But the Lord was not speaking about material goods but spiritual goods and truths. In fact, it was in reference to why He was speaking in parables that the Lord gave this answer.
A person can come into one or the other conjunction or union, that is, into one of good and truth or into one of evil and falsity, only with difficulty in the world, for as long as he lives there, he is kept in a state in which he can be reformed or regenerated. But everyone comes into the one or the other conjunction or union after death, because he can then no longer be reformed and regenerated. He remains then such as the life he had lived in the world, that is, such as his dominant love was. Consequently, if his life had been one of a love of evil, all the truth that he had acquired in the world from a teacher, preaching, or the Word is taken away from him, and after it has been taken away, he soaks up falsity in harmony with his evil, as a sponge soaks up water. So, too, the converse. If his life had been one of a love of good, all the falsity he had picked up in the world through hearing and reading, but had not confirmed in himself, is removed, and in its stead he is given truth which is in harmony with his good.
This is what is meant by these words of the Lord:
"Profanation of what is holy" means profanation by people who know the truths that their faith discloses and the good effects of caring taught by the Word, and who in one way or another acknowledge them. It does not mean people who have no knowledge of such things or who simply reject them out of irreverence. What follows, then, is about the former people, not the latter.
There are many kinds of profanation, some less serious and some more, but they boil down to the following seven kinds.
The first kind of profanation is committed by people who make light of the Word or use it lightly, or who do the same with the divine gifts of the church. Some people do this because of habitual immorality, pulling words and phrases out of the Word and including them in conversations of questionable quality, sometimes indecent ones. This necessarily involves some disrespect for the Word, when in fact the Word is divine and holy throughout and in every detail. At the heart of everything it says, there is something divine lying hidden; and it is through this that it is in touch with heaven. This kind of profanation is more or less serious, though, depending on the recognition of the Word's holiness and on the indecency of the conversation into which the supposed humorists inject it.
 A second kind of profanation is committed by people who understand and acknowledge divine truths but who violate them in their lives. This is less serious, though, if they simply understand the truths and more serious if they actually acknowledge them. All our discernment does is teach, much the way a preacher does. It does not automatically unite the teaching with our volition. Acknowledgment, on the other hand, does unite itself. There can be no acknowledgment unless our volition agrees. Still, this union may vary, and the severity of the profanation depends on the closeness of the union when our lives violate the truths that we acknowledge. For example, if we acknowledge that vengefulness and hatred, adultery and promiscuity, fraud and deceit, slander and lying, are sins against God and still commit them, we are guilty of this more serious kind of profanation. The Lord says, "The slave who knows the Lord's will and does not do it will be beaten severely" (Luke 12:48 [12:47]). Elsewhere, "If you were blind you would not have sin, but now you say that you can see, so your sin remains" (John 9:41).
Acknowledging things that are apparently true, though, is different from acknowledging things that are really true. If we acknowledge things that are really true and violate them with our lives, then in the spiritual world we seem to have no light or warmth in our voice and speech, as though we were completely listless.
 A third kind of profanation is committed by people who use the literal meaning of the Word to justify their evil loves and false principles. This is because the justification of falsity is the denial of truth and the justification of evil is the rejection of goodness; and at heart the Word is pure divine truth and divine goodness. In its outermost meaning, its literal meaning, this does not come out as real truth except where it tells about the Lord and the actual path of salvation. Rather, it comes out in those outer garments of truth that we may call "appearances of truth." As a result, this level of meaning can be persuaded to support all kinds of heresy; and if we justify our evil loves we do violence to things that are divinely good, while if we justify our false principles we do violence to things that are divinely true. This latter violence is called "the falsification of what is true," while the former is called "the adulteration of what is good." Both are meant by "blood" in the Word.
There is something spiritual and holy in the details of the literal meaning of the Word--the spirit of truth that emanates from the Lord. This holy content is damaged when the Word is falsified and adulterated. Clearly, this amounts to profanation.
 A fourth kind of profanation is committed by people who utter devout and holy words and whose voice and body language seem to express loving feelings, but who at heart neither believe nor love what they are pretending. Most of these are hypocrites and Pharisees. Everything true and good is taken from them after death, and they are dismissed into outer darkness. People of this sort who have also become fixed in their rejection of Divinity, the Word, and the holy gifts of the church sit in silence in the darkness, incapable of speech. They want to utter devout and holy words the way they did in this world, but they cannot, because in the spiritual world speech must be in accord with thought. Hypocrites, though, want to say what they do not really think. This gives rise to a resistance in the mouth, and the result is that they can only be silent.
However, there are less and more serious forms of hypocrisy depending on how resolute the opposition to God is, and on the outward arguments in favor of God.
 A fifth kind of profanation is committed by people who claim divine qualities for themselves. These are the people meant by Lucifer in Isaiah 14. "Lucifer" there means Babylon, as we can tell from verses 4 and 22 of the same chapter, which also tell of their fate. These are the same people who are described as a harlot sitting on a scarlet beast in Revelation 17[:3].
There are many mentions of Babylon and Chaldea in the Word. "Babylon" means the profanation of what is good and "Chaldea" the profanation of what is true. In each case, it applies to people who claim divine qualities for themselves.
 A sixth kind of profanation is committed by people who accept the Word but still deny the divine nature of the Lord. These are the people known as Socinians and Arians in the world. Both kinds of person ultimately find themselves praying to the Father, not to the Lord. They pray constantly to the Father for admission to heaven (some also praying for the sake of the Son), but their prayers are in vain. Eventually, they lose all hope of salvation and are sent down into hell with people who deny God. These are the people meant by those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, who are not forgiven in this world or the next (Matthew 12:32).
The reason is that God is one in both person and essence, comprising a Trinity; and this God is the Lord. Since the Lord is heaven as well, and since this means that the people who are in heaven are in the Lord, people who deny the Lord's divine nature cannot be granted admission to heaven and be in the Lord. I have already explained that the Lord is heaven and that therefore people who are in heaven are in the Lord.
 A seventh kind of profanation is committed by people who at first accept divine truths and live by them but later backslide from them and deny them. The reason this is the worst kind of profanation is that these people are mixing what is holy with what is profane to the point that they cannot be separated, and yet they need to be separated for people to be either in heaven or in hell. Since this is impossible for such individuals, their whole human volition and discernment is torn away from them and they become no longer human, as already noted.
Almost the same thing happens to people who at heart acknowledge the divine contents of the Word and the church but submerge them completely in their own sense of self-importance. This is the love of being in control of everything that has been mentioned several times before. When they become spirits after death, they are absolutely unwilling to be led by the Lord, only by themselves; and when the reins of their love are loosened, they try to control not only heaven but even the Lord. Since they cannot do this, they deny the Lord and become demons.
It is important to realize that for all of us, our life's love, our predominant love, stays the same after death and cannot be taken away.
 This kind of profanation is meant by the lukewarm church described in the Book of Revelation: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. If only you were cold or hot! Since you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:14, 15 [3:15, 16]). This is how the Lord describes this kind of profanation in Matthew: "When an unclean spirit leaves someone, it wanders in dry places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, 'I will go back to the home I left.' Then it does go back and finds it empty, swept clean and furnished for itself. It goes off and allies itself with seven other spirits worse than itself, and they come in and live there; and the latter times of that individual are worse than the earlier ones" (Matthew 12:43, 45 [12:43, 44, 45]). The departure of the unclean spirit describes our turning; and the return of the unclean spirit with seven worse spirits to the house made ready for them describes our turning back to our former evils once our true and good qualities have been banished. The profanation of what is holy is described by the profanation that makes our later times worse than our former ones.
The following passage from John means much the same: "Jesus said to the man who had been healed at the Pool of Bethesda, 'Do not sin any more, or something worse will happen to you'" (John 5:14).
 The following passage tells of the Lord's provision that we do not inwardly acknowledge truths and then backslide and become profane: "He has closed their eyes and blinded their hearts so that they do not see with their eyes or understand with their hearts and turn themselves, and I heal them" (John 12:4 [12:40]). "So that they do not turn themselves and I heal them" means so that they do not acknowledge truths and then backslide and so become profane. This is also why the Lord spoke in parables, as he himself explained--see Matthew 13:13. The Jewish prohibition against eating fat and blood (Leviticus 3:17; 7:23, 25 [7:23, 26]) meant that they should not profane holy things. The fat meant what is divinely good and the blood what is divinely true. Once we have turned to what is good and true, we should remain turned to the end of our life, as the Lord tells us in Matthew: "Jesus said, 'Whoever will have remained faithful to the end will be saved'" (Matthew 10:22; likewise Mark 13:13). Emanuel Swedenborg [DP 231]
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