Is it possible to know where you are in the process of rebirth? Swedenborg learned that really God is the one who reforms us, and the phases we go through relate to the acceptance of that truth. We explore the phases of rebirth right now in the NCE Spotlight - your home for fresh insights from the ongoing translation of the New Century Edition of Swedenborg’s Theological Works.
Featured quotations from Emanuel Swedenborg's Secrets of Heaven:
Ephron said, “The field I give you; and the cave that is in it—to you I give it” (verse 11). These words meant that they wanted to prepare themselves on their own, so far as the requirements of religion and faith went, or in other words, to reform themselves. This is what the first stage is like for people who are reforming (see §2946). When they learn more truth, or more about the faith, however, they reach a second stage, in which they agree [to let the Lord reform them] but still want to do it themselves. That is the stage the current verse focuses on, but a third is soon depicted, in which they really believe that the Lord reforms them.
 . . . the reasons why they still want to reform themselves—even when they progress in their knowledge of truth (or faith) and acknowledge that the Lord does it—are these: The cloud of ignorance breaks up only gradually. It takes time to confirm and strengthen the truth. And goodness is perfected as we absorb knowledge of the truth. Real goodness, which forms the receiving ground for truth, enables us not only to acknowledge but even to believe that the Lord is the one who reforms us. This stage is the third, and a fourth follows it: We actually perceive that the Lord does the reforming. There are not many who reach this stage during bodily life, because it is an angelic one, but people who have been reborn enter it in the other world.
 With human beings the case is this: When we are being reborn, the Lord instills goodness—benevolence toward our neighbor—into our rational mind, and into this benevolence, or goodness, he introduces truth brought up out of our earthly self. At that point our earthly level has not yet been reborn, and we can recognize the fact from our inner or rational self’s frequent battles with our outward or earthly self. As long as they fight, our earthly part is not regenerate, and when it is not regenerate, the truth we have in our rational part is infertile. As in general, so in every particular: on any issue over which our rational thinking conflicts with our earthly thinking, the truth in our rational mind is said to be barren.
 The main thing on which the work of regeneration hinges is the effort to bring our earthly self into correspondence with our rational self, not only as a whole but also in particular, and it is through our rationality that the Lord reduces our earthly self into correspondence. His method is to instill goodness into our rational mind, plant seeds of truth in the soil of that goodness, and then through rational truth reduce the earthly plane to obedience. When it obeys, it corresponds; and the more it corresponds, the more we are reborn.
This is how matters stand with the rebirth of spiritual people: First they learn the true ideas that belong to faith, and from then on the Lord maintains in them a desire for truth. The goodness that faith calls for, which is charity toward their neighbor, is instilled in them at the same time, but in such a way that they hardly realize it, since it hides within their desire for truth. The purpose is for truth, which belongs to faith, to unite with goodness, which belongs to charity. As time passes, their desire for the truth belonging to faith grows, and they look to truth for the sake of the goal, which is goodness, or (to put it another way) life. This they do more and more. In this way, truth is instilled into goodness, and when that happens, their life becomes steeped in goodness that accords with the truth instilled into it. So they act (or seem to themselves to act) out of goodness. Up till this time, the truth constituting faith is the most important consideration to them, but afterward, the goodness constituting life is. When the two switch, the person has been reborn.