The Seventh Commandment
Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, In what have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this, says Jehovah of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
AC 6203. In regard to the origin of the influx of evil from hell, the case is this. When a man first from consent, then from purpose, and at last from the delight of affection, casts himself into evil, then a hell is opened which is in such evil (for the hells are distinct from one another according to evils and all their varieties), and there afterward takes place an influx from that hell. When a man comes into evil in this way, it clings to him, for the hell in the sphere of which he then is, is in its very delight when in its evil. And therefore it does not desist, but obstinately presses in, and causes the man to think about that evil, at first occasionally, and afterward as often as anything presents itself which is related to it, and at last it becomes with him that which reigns universally. And when this takes place, he then seeks for such things as confirm that it is not an evil, and this until he wholly persuades himself. And then, so far as he can, he studies to remove external bonds, and makes evils allowable and clever, and at last even becoming and honorable—such as adulteries, thefts effected by art and deceit, various kinds of arrogance and boasting, contempt for others, slanders, persecutions under an appearance of justice, and the like. The case with these evils is like that with downright thefts, which when committed of set purpose two or three times, cannot be desisted from; for they continually cling to the man’s thought.
AC 6204. Be it known further that the evil which enters into the thought does no harm to the man, because evil is continually infused by spirits from hell, and is continually repelled by angels. But when evil enters into the will, then it does harm, for then it also goes forth into act whenever external bonds do not restrain. Evil enters into the will by being kept in the thought, by consent, especially by act and the consequent delight.
DP 296:4. That the delight of evil mounts up from strength to strength is well known from thefts, robberies, plunderings, acts of revenge, tyranny, unlawful acquisition of wealth and other evils. Who does not feel the exaltation of delight as he succeeds in them and as he practices them without restraint? It is well known that a thief feels such delight in thefts that he cannot desist from them, and what is amazing, that he finds more pleasure in one stolen coin than in ten that are given him as a gift....
AE 1167. Take for example the commandment not to steal. Those who resist, as if from themselves, the lust of stealing and thus the lust of gaining wealth dishonestly and unjustly, saying in their hearts that this must not be done because it is contrary to the Divine law, thus contrary to God, and is in itself infernal, thus in itself evil—people like this, after some brief combats, are withdrawn from that evil, and are led by the Lord into the good that is called integrity, and into the good that is called justice. And then they begin to think about these goods, and... to look upon integrity from integrity, and upon justice from justice. And afterwards as they shun and turn away from the evil of this lust, they love these goods, and do them from love and not from compulsion. Such goods are from the Lord, because they are goods that are good in themselves. It is otherwise when the lust of gaining wealth dishonestly and unjustly remains with man. Then he cannot act honestly from honesty or justly from justice, thus not from the Lord, but only from self. For he acts honestly and justly only so that he may be believed to be honest and just with a view to securing greater gain and honor.... Such good has evil in it, since its quality is from the purpose of making gains dishonestly and unjustly. Everyone can see that such good cannot become good in itself until the evil has been removed. It is the same with all the other commandments of the Decalogue.
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- Malachi 3:8–10. In what ways might we rob God? What is the spiritual meaning of tithing? What kind of natural tithing or contribution of time, energy and money might this point to? How do we balance the uses of our homes with the uses of the church, our country, and our community?
- AC 6203 is a scary passage! It so clearly presents the way we slide into evils: 1) Consent—it’s OK; 2) Purpose—I mean to do it; 3) Delight—and now we’re hooked. It explains how addictions take place.
- AC 6203: What are some examples today of people trying to make evils look “allowable and clever, and at last even becoming and honorable”?
- AC 6203e: How are we meant to take the last part, about a person becoming unable to desist from thefts? What other teachings might apply? What does this say about the notion of “once a thief, always a thief”? Compare DP 296 on the next page.
- AC 6204: We are not blamed for evils that just enter our thoughts. It’s the ones we give consent to that are serious.
- AE 1167. See how important it is to do the combat against evils early, so that evils do not get out of hand!