9014. Thou shalt take him from Mine altar, that he may die. That this signifies damnation even although he flees to the worship of the Lord, and supplicates for forgiveness, and promises repentance, is evident from the signification of "the altar of Jehovah," as being the chief representative of the worship of the Lord (n. 921, 2777, 2811, 4541, 8935, 8940), and because it was a representative of worship, therefore "to flee to the altar" denotes to flee to the Lord, and to supplicate for forgiveness, and also to promise repentance, for the one follows the other; and from the signification of "dying," as being damnation (n. 5407, 6119, 9008).
 How it is in regard to this can be seen from what was shown in the paragraph above (n. 9013), namely, that in spiritual things, deceit, that is, hypocrisy, cannot be forgiven. The reason is that deceit is like poison, for it penetrates even to the interiors, and kills everything of faith and charity, and destroys the remains, which are the truths and goods of faith and charity stored up by the Lord in the interiors of man, which being destroyed nothing of spiritual life any longer survives. (With respect to remains, see n. 468, 530, 560-563, 660, 661, 798, 1050, 1738, 1906, 2284, 5135, 5342, 5344, 5897, 5898, 6156, 7560, 7564.) Wherefore when such persons supplicate the Lord for forgiveness, and promise repentance, which is signified by "fleeing to the altar," they supplicate and promise nothing whatever from the heart, but only from the mouth. Therefore they are not heard, for the Lord looks at the heart, and not to words abstracted and estranged from the heart. Consequently for such there is no forgiveness, because no repentance is possible with them.
 It is believed by many within the church that the forgiveness of sins is the wiping out and washing away thereof, as of filth by water; and that after forgiveness they go on their way clean and pure. Such an opinion prevails especially with those who ascribe everything of salvation to faith alone. But be it known that the case with the forgiveness of sins is quite different. The Lord forgives everyone his sins, because He is mercy itself. Nevertheless they are not thereby forgiven unless the man performs serious repentance, and desists from evils, and afterward lives a life of faith and charity, and this even to the end of his life. When this is done, the man receives from the Lord spiritual life, which is called new life. When from this new life the man views the evils of his former life, and turns away from them, and regards them with horror, then for the first time are the evils forgiven, for then the man is held in truths and goods by the Lord, and is withheld from evils. From this it is plain what is the forgiveness of sins, and that it cannot be granted within an hour, nor within a year. That this is so the church knows, for it is said to those who come to the Holy Supper that their sins are forgiven if they begin a new life by abstaining from evils and abhorring them.
 From all this then it is evident how the case is with hypocrites, who through deceit are filled with evils as to the interiors, namely, that they cannot do the work of repentance; for the very remains of good and of truth in them have been consumed and destroyed, and therewith everything of spiritual life; and because they cannot do the work of repentance, they cannot be forgiven. This is signified by the statute that those who kill the neighbor with deceit should be taken from the altar that they may die.
 The damnation of such is described by the prophetic words of David with respect to Joab, when he had slain Abner with deceit:
There shall not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue, or that is a leper, or that leaneth on a staff, or that falleth by the sword, or that lacketh bread (2 Sam. 3:27, 29).
"One that hath an issue" signifies the profanation of the good of love; "one that is a leper" signifies the profanation of the truth of faith (n. 6963); "one that leaneth on a staff," or that is lame, signifies those in whom all good has been destroyed (n. 4302, 4314); "one that falleth by the sword" signifies those who are continually dying through falsities (n. 4499, 6353, 7102, 8294); "one that lacketh bread" signifies those who are destitute of all spiritual life, for "bread" denotes the sustenance of spiritual life by good (n. 6118, 8410). As such were signified by "Joab," therefore by the command of Solomon Joab was slain at the altar whither he had fled (1 Kings 2:28-32).