142 Doing harmful things in freedom seems to be freedom, but it is actually slavery. It comes from selfish and materialistic loves, which come from hell. This "freedom" actually turns into slavery after death, since people who had this kind of freedom become worthless slaves in hell.
But doing good things out of freedom actually is freedom. It is loving the Lord and loving other people, and these loves come from heaven. This freedom stays with us after death and becomes true freedom. When we have this freedom, we become like the son of a household. This is what the Lord taught:
People who live out their faults become a slave to their faults. A slave does not stay in the household forever, but the son does stay in the household forever. If the Son sets you free, you really will be free. (John 8:34-36)
Since everything good comes from the Lord, and everything harmful comes from hell, it follows that freedom is being guided by the Lord, and slavery is being guided by hell.
143 The reason we have the freedom to think and do things that are harmful and false (when the law does not prevent us) is to make it possible for us to change our lives for the better. Goodness and truth have to be worked into our love and motivation in order to become a part of our life. This cannot happen unless we are free to have harmful and false thoughts as well as good and true ones. The Lord gives this freedom to everyone. When we have good and true thoughts, the Lord works them into our love and motivation--as long as we do not love things that are harmful and false--so that our life is changed for the better.
Anything planted in our mind in freedom stays with us, but anything planted in our mind under compulsion does not last. Things we do under compulsion do not come from our own motivation, but from the motivation of whoever is forcing us to do them. Th is is why worship offered in freedom pleases the Lord, but not worship offered under compulsion. Worship offered in freedom comes from love, but worship offered under compulsion does not.
144 Freedom to do good things and freedom to do harmful things are as different and as distant from each other as heaven is from hell, though they seem outwardly similar. Freedom to do good things comes from heaven, and is called heavenly freedom. Fre edom to do harmful things comes from hell, and is called hellish freedom. As much as we are in one kind of freedom, we are not in the other, since "no one can work for two different employers at the same time" (Matthew 6:24).
So it is clear that when we are in hellish freedom, we think that slavery and compulsion is not being allowed to desire harmful things and think false thoughts as much as we want. But when we are in heavenly freedom, we shudder at the idea of wanting harmful things and thinking false thoughts, and it is torture for us if we are forced to.
145 Since things we do in freedom seem to us as if we are doing them on our own, heavenly freedom could also be called a "heavenly self," while hellish freedom could be called a "hellish self." Our hellish self is in us when we are born, and it is har mful. We gain our heavenly self when we change for the better--and it is good.
146 You can see from this what "freedom of choice" is: it is doing good things from our own choice and motivation. When we are in this kind of freedom, we are being led by the Lord, which happens when we love goodness and truth because they are good a nd true.
147 We can tell what kind of freedom we are in by what we like to think and talk about, listen to, see, and do, since all our enjoyment comes from what we love.
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