614. From what has been presented it can be seen that the forgiveness of sins is not their being rooted out and washed away, but their removal, and thus their separation; also that every evil that a man has actually appropriated to himself remains. And since the forgiveness of sins is their removal and separation, it follows that man is withheld from evil by the Lord and kept in good, and this is what is given to man by regeneration. I once heard a certain person in the lowest heaven saying that he was exempt from sins, because they had been washed away, adding, "by the blood of Christ." But because he was in heaven, and was in that error from ignorance, he was let into his own peculiar sins, and as they returned he acknowledged them; thereby acquiring a new belief, namely, that every man, as well as every angel, is withheld from evil and kept in good by the Lord.  This shows plainly what the forgiveness of sins is, that it is not instantaneous, but follows regeneration according to the progress thereof. The removal of sins which is called the forgiveness of them, may be likened to the casting forth of the filth from the camps of the children of Israel into the desert which was round about them; for their camps represented heaven, and the desert hell. It may also be likened to the removal of the nations from the children of Israel, in the land of Canaan, and of the Jebusites from Jerusalem; these were not cast out, but separated. It may also be likened to what occurred to Dagon the god of the Philistines, in that when the ark was brought in he first lay upon his face on the ground, and afterward, with his head and hands cut off, upon the threshold; thus he was not cast out, but removed.
 It may also be likened to the demons sent by the Lord into the swine that afterward plunged into the sea; "the sea" there and elsewhere in the Word, signifying hell. It may also be likened to the throng that followed the dragon, which, on being separated from heaven, first invaded the earth, and was afterward cast down into hell. It may also be likened to a forest where there are wild beasts of many kinds which when the forest is cut down flee to the neighboring thickets, and then the ground in the midst being leveled it becomes by cultivation a field.