He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. Thomas Jefferson
Today, many people are impressed by so-called experts who seem to possess a great amount of knowledge about a particular subject. For example, they tend to revere scientists who know more than they do about the universe or admire philosophers and intellectuals. But it would surprise us to learn that knowledge or intelligence by itself may not necessarily lead us to what is wise, meaningful, useful and True. In fact, some of the most brilliant minds in history eventually became some of the most notorious evil criminals, while others eventually committed suicide. In contrast, some farmers, shoemakers or laborers who led a simple, useful and uncomplicated life are now in Heaven. Why?
Man is not just an intellectual being. And most of these intellectuals speak a great deal about morals while they continue to live a life that is in accord with their self-love, self-intelligence, self-righteousness and love of the world. Man was created to will what is Good, to understand what is True and to do what is useful and just. Wisdom informs us about why we exist, and real Intelligence is knowledge about how we should accomplish this purpose. Our WILL is who we really are and we become who and what we are by what we do, not just what we know and say. It is only when we do what is wise and intelligent that we may be transformed into an angel of Light and enter the harmonic fields of Heaven.
But it shall be briefly told what is meant by “wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, and work.” They who do not know what the internal man is and what the external, and also what the understanding is and what the will, cannot apprehend in what manner wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, and work are distinct from one another, for the reason that they cannot have a distinct idea of the one and of the other. Wherefore they who have not this knowledge call him wise who is only intelligent; nay, who merely has knowledge. But he is wise who does truths from love; he is intelligent who does them from faith; he has knowledge who does them from knowledge; and “work” denotes that which is done from all these; thus “work” denotes their effect in which they conjoin themselves together.
Wherefore in the genuine sense no one can be called wise, nor intelligent, nor as possessing knowledge, who does not do these things. For wisdom and intelligence and knowledge are all of life, and not of doctrine without life; for the life is the end for the sake of which these are. Such therefore as is the end, such are the wisdom, the intelligence, and the knowledge. If the end is genuine good, which is the good of love to the Lord and of charity toward the neighbor, then there are wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge in their proper sense; for then they are with the man from the Lord. But if the end is for the sake of the good of the love of self and of the world, they are not wisdom, intelligence, and knowledge, because in this case they are with the man from himself. For the good of the love of self and of the world as the end is evil, and of evil as the end it is by no means possible to predicate anything of wisdom and of intelligence, or even of knowledge; for what is knowledge unless there is in it the intelligence of truth and the wisdom of good, seeing that in this case it causes the man to think that what is evil is good, and that what is false is true?
With those who are in the good of love to the Lord, wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, and work, follow together in order from inmost to outermost. With such men, wisdom is inmost, for it is to will well from love; intelligence is second, for it is to understand well from willing well. These two are of the internal man. Knowledge consists in knowing well, and work in doing well, both from willing well. These two are of the external man. From this it is evident that wisdom must be in intelligence, intelligence in knowledge, and knowledge in work. Thus work includes and brings to a conclusion all the interior things, for it is the ultimate in which they close.
From all this it can be seen what is meant by “works” and “deeds,” which are so often mentioned in the Word, as in the following passages:
The Son of man shall render unto everyone according to his deeds (Matt. 16:27).
I will recompense them according to their work, and according to the deed of their hands (Jer. 25:14).
Jehovah, whose eyes are open upon all the ways of man, to give to everyone according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his works (Jer. 32:19).
Return ye everyone from his evil way, and make your works good (Jer. 35:15).
I will visit upon him his ways, and will recompense to him his works (Hos. 4:9).
Jehovah doeth with us according to our ways, and according to our works (Zech. 1:6).
I will give unto everyone of you according to your works (Rev. 2:23).
They were judged every man according to their works (Rev. 20:13, 15).
Behold I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every man according to his works (Rev. 22:12).
By “works” in these passages are meant all things that are in man, because all the things of man that are in his willing and understanding are in his works; for it is from these that he does them. From this, works have their life; for without these, works are like a shell without a kernel, or like a body without a soul. That which proceeds from man proceeds from his interiors, consequently works are the manifestations of these, and are the effects by which they appear.
It is a general law that such as a man is, such is all his work. For this reason it is that by the “works according to which there will be reward and retribution,” is meant the quality of the man in respect to love and to faith, for the works are of the love and of the faith with the man. (That man is nothing but his own love and his own faith, or what is the same, his own good and his own truth.)
Moreover, the very willing of man is nothing but work, because that which anyone wills he does, unless he is prevented by some irremovable obstacle. Therefore by being “judged according to the deeds,” denotes to be judged according to the will. They who do good from willing good are called in the Word the “righteous,” as is evident in Matthew 25:37, 46. Of such it is said, “They shall shine as the sun in heaven” (Matt. 13:43). And in Daniel:
They that be intelligent shall shine as the brightness of the expanse; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars (Dan. 12:3).
“They that turn many to righteousness” denotes those who from willing well do what is good. Emanuel Swedenborg, Arcana Coelestia n. 10331