Most of us do not like hypocrites. You know, those who seem to say one thing and do another, those who appear kind and good on the outside when secretly they are selfish and cruel. Well, although we may be annoyed and disappointed by other people's hypocrisy, we are perfectly at ease with our own. Why? This is because we are in spiritual darkness and unable to perceive the discrepancies inherent in the different parts of our self. And, when we are in spiritual darkness, we continually lie to ourselves in order to rationalize our selfish behavior and not feel the remorse and pangs of our spiritual conscience.
Most human beings are presently hypocrites because a few ages ago the Lord was compelled to separate our will from our understanding so that humanity would not completely self-destruct and fall into hell. This is told in the story of Noah's ark. So, this means that many of us can think and speak about what is Good and True and continue to will and do what is evil or selfish. You may have noticed this character trait in certain preachers, politicians and dictators. They can talk for hours about what is Good and yet what they eventually will and do is completely selfish. And, whenever they do anything good, it is only to appear benevolent in front of the world and to be glorified and praised.
Our will is who and what we really are. And, if we ever want to know who and what we truly are, we should not listen to what we say or believe ourselves to be; we should watch what we intend and do in secret. In the end, the Lord will not judge us on what we have thought, believed and said but on our intentions and the works we have done. Until we do what we love and believe, our state of being will not be permanent. The only way loves, intentions and beliefs become real is when they terminate in deeds. Furthermore, we should also remember that the Good that we do is not our own; it belongs to the Lord alone. For example, the Pharisees were continuously speaking about God and performing all the religious rituals. Yet, since their intentions were selfish and they were attributing all the merit to themselves, the Lord called them “hypocrites.”
We can believe what is True and love what is Good or unselfish but we can only be transformed into an angel of Light when we consistently act upon these noble principles and good intentions by engaging in works of usefulness. Moreover, when we perform such good deeds, we should never attribute merit to ourselves and instead give all the glory and honor to God. Since we are only stewards of God’s Love and Goodness, if we were to glorify our own self, we would be acting as a thief of spiritual Goods.
The church is still hardly aware that in all our desire, thought, action, and speech, there is an inside and an outside. From early childhood we are taught to speak from the outside, no matter how the inside disagrees, which leads to pretense, flattery, and hypocrisy. People are double. The only simple people are those whose outer selves think and speak, and desire and act, from their inner selves. These people are in fact referred to as "simple" in the Word; for example, Luke 8:15, 11:34, and elsewhere, even though they are wiser than double people.
Every created thing has two-fold and three-fold design, as the human body shows. Every nerve in the body is made of fibers, and every fiber is made of fibrils. Every muscle consists of bundles of fibers, and each bundle consists of individual motor fibers. Every artery consists of three layers of sheaths. It is the same in the human mind - its spiritual organic structure is the same. As I said before, the structure of the human mind is divided into three different levels. The highest or inmost of these is called the heavenly [celestial] level, the middle is called the spiritual level, and the lowest is called the earthly level.
There are people who deny that the Word is holy and that the Lord is divine; in every case their minds think at the lowest level. Nevertheless, because these people have learned the church's spiritual teachings from early childhood, they accept them, but they put them down below earthly preoccupations, which are various things having to do with academics, politics, and the civic and moral arena. Because these preoccupations sit at the lowest level of their mind, the level that is closest to speech, these people draw on the church's spiritual teachings when they speak in church and at public gatherings. Astoundingly, at the time they do not even realize that they are speaking and teaching something they do not believe. Nevertheless, when they are at home and feeling free, the door that had closed off their inner mind opens up and then they laugh at their own talk to the crowd. They say in their hearts that theological teachings are attractive traps for catching doves. Emanuel Swedenborg [TCR 147]
From this it also comes about that an angel who excels in wisdom instantly sees the quality of another from his face. In heaven no one can conceal his interiors by his expression, or feign or in any way deceive and mislead by craft or hypocrisy. It sometimes happens that hypocrites insinuate themselves into societies. These hypocrites have been taught to conceal their interiors and to compose their exteriors so as to appear in the form of the good in which are those who belong to the society, and thus feign themselves angels of light. But they cannot stay there for long for they begin to suffer anguish interiorly, to be tortured, to grow livid in the face and to become, as it were, lifeless. These changes result from contrariety to the life that flows in and operates. Therefore, they quickly cast themselves down into the hell where their like are, and no longer seek earnestly to ascend. These are such as are meant by the man who was found, among the invited and reclining guests, not clothed in a wedding garment, and was cast into outer darkness. (Matt. xxii. 11, and following verses.) Emanuel Swedenborg [HH48]
CONCERNING HYPOCRITES AND THEIR PHANTASIES.
Hypocrites [are perceived in the other life to] have had in the life of the body no confidence in anything but themselves, and to have always had something else in their thoughts than what was said when men were speaking to them, even though they pretended to believe them, and demeaned themselves very obsequiously towards them, as if they acknowledged truths above others, while at the same time they believed nothing; not even that there was any truth, much less in eternal life, heaven, the Lord; of these things though they went beyond others in confessing them with their lips, yet they believed absolutely nothing in their hearts. Such when remitted into their interior state, wherein they believed nothing but what was obvious to the senses, are subject to direful phantasies. They can then be assaulted by things the most absurdly phantastical, as by troops of fleas, which are set in array against them and attack them, filling their minds with terror, and causing them to fly, just as if all this was as real to them in the other life as it might be in this, besides similar absurdities; for as they have not determined their thoughts to anything intrinsically true, they are brought under the influence of such phantasies. When nothing is regarded as true, then phantasy is produced, and reigns in its place. I afterwards spoke with them on this subject, when they were brought into another state, and told them that things themselves were mere interior phantasies. Being put frequently to the test on other occasions they said, in respect to eternal life, truth, and the like, that it was all as I affirmed; but yet in heart they believed nothing of it. - 1749, August 14. They are extremely prone to believe that there is nothing real: such is the genius of hypocrites; but there are also others of this stamp [besides hypocrites]. Hypocrites are those who, with the outward man, will fawn assentingly from motives of self-interest, and yet inwardly think directly the contrary. Emanuel Swedenborg [SE 4353]