14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
3 And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. …
9 And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
The Lord protects those who are in truths and goods, that they may not be harmed by those who speak from seeming illustration, and yet have the disposition and intention to lead astray. He who believes that Balaam could harm the sons of Israel by enchantments is much deceived; for enchantments could have availed nothing against them; this Balaam himself confessed when he said: Divination avails not against Jacob, nor enchantments against Israel (Num. 23:23).
Balaam could lead that people astray by craft, because that people were such in heart; with the mouth only they worshiped Jehovah, but in heart they worshiped Baal-peor, and because they were such this was permitted.
It is to be noted, moreover, that a man can be in illustration in respect to the understanding, and yet in evil in respect to the will; for the intellectual faculty is separated from the voluntary with all who are not regenerated, and only with those who are regenerated do they act as one; for it is the office of the understanding to know, to think, and to speak truths, but of the will to will the things that are understood, and from the will, or from the love, to do them. The divorcement of the two is clearly manifest with evil spirits; when these turn themselves towards good spirits, they, too, understand truths, and also acknowledge them, almost as if they were illustrated; but as soon as they turn themselves away from good spirits, they return to the love of their will and see nothing of truth, and even deny the things they have heard.
To be able to have the understanding illustrated is granted to man, for the sake of reformation; for in man’s will every evil resides, both that into which he is born and that into which he introduces himself; and the will cannot be corrected unless man knows, and by the understanding acknowledges, truths and goods, and also falsities and evils; in no other way can he turn away from the latter and love the former.
It was among the statutes where sacrifices were instituted that some part of the sacrifices, especially of the thank-offerings, should be burnt from the altar, and some part eaten in the holy place. The “sacrifices” themselves signified worship from love and faith, and the “eating” of them signified appropriation of the good thereof. As the eating of things sanctified to Jehovah signified the appropriation of good, so the eating of the sacrifices offered to the gods of the nations, and which were called “idol-sacrifices,” signified the appropriation of evil.
To “commit whoredom,” in the spiritual sense, signifies to become imbued with falsities, so also to falsify truths, can be seen from many passages in the Word. The same was signified by the whoredoms of the sons of Israel with the daughters of Moab; for all historical parts of the Word involve spiritual things and signify them. And as the eating of idol-sacrifices by the sons of Israel and their whoredoms with the daughters of Moab involved such things (for what things signify they involve), therefore it was commanded that the heads of the people should be hung up to Jehovah before the sun; and for the same reason Phinehas the son of Eleazar thrust through a man of Israel and a Midianitish woman in the place of their lust, and for doing that he also was blessed; and for the same reason there were slain of Israel twenty and four thousand (as may be seen, Num. 25:1 to the end). Such punishments and such plagues merely because of the eating of idol-sacrifices, and committing whoredom with the women of another nation, would never have been commanded to be done, unless they had involved heinous offenses against heaven and the church, which do not appear in the literal sense of the Word, but only in its spiritual sense. The heinous offenses involved were the profanation at once of the goods and of the truths of the church, and this, as has been said above, was the appropriation of evil and falsity.
Those who separate truth from good, or faith from charity, turn away from themselves all influx of heaven into the goods they do, in consequence of which their goods are not good; for heaven flows in, that is, the Lord through heaven, into the good of man’s love; he, therefore, that rejects the good of charity from the doctrine of the church, and receives instead only those things that are called matters of faith, is shut out of heaven; truths with such have no life; and it is the life of truth, which is good, that conjoins, but not truth without life, or faith without charity.
Repent, signifies dissociation from these. This is evident from the signification of “repent,” as being in reference to the things signified by “the doctrine of Balaam,” and by “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans,” to be dissociated from them. Nor is repentance anything else; for no one repents unless he actually separates himself from the things of which he has repented; and he separates himself from them only when he shuns them and turns away from them.