Is Salvation Conditional Based on the Committing of Continual Sin?

Self-ImprovementSpirituality

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published July 15, 2023
  • Word count 5,224

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Is Salvation Conditional Based on the Committing of Continual Sin?

Some believe that a Christian can lose the indwelling Spirit along with additional blessings if they choose to live in habitual sin. There could be five reasons that they base their reasoning. Let’s take a look at each one.

●The on-resting Spirit

In the last chapter, we learned that the Holy Spirit departed from King Saul because of habitual disobedience to God’s commands. Prior to his death, before an upcoming battle with the Philistines, it was revealed to him that his spirit would reside in the same place the prophet/judge Samuel, who was summoned by the witch of Endor at the king’s request. As we’ll see in a verse from the book of Psalms, there was another king that was concerned with the on-resting Spirit departing from him.

Psalms 51:11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

Even King David asked God not to take away the Spirit from him because of his decision to commit adultery with a woman named Bathsheba, along with having her husband Uriah killed in battle.

What we’ve learned from the Old Testament was that the Spirit influencing a believer was on-resting (temporary) and not indwelling (permanent). His effects were conditional based on whether the respondent continually rejected God’s directives. But this didn’t affect an Old Testament saints’ salvation which was based on believing what God or in Him as He revealed himself (James 2:23).

The idea of what salvation meant in the Old Testament was that a believer would go to a place in hell upon physical death called Abraham’s bosom. Those that didn’t believe in Him would go to a different compartment described as torments. Abraham’s bosom was a temporary place where the God-believed spirits of the human dead resided. Are these spirits still there? A verse from the book of Ephesians will clarify this.

Ephesians 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Scripture indicates that following Christ’s resurrection, when he ascended up on high, the spirits of the human dead that resided in Abraham’s bosom accompanied Him to heaven. What we can conclude is that the on-resting Spirit did leave a believer because of perpetual sin, however, their salvation remained secure.

●The forgiveness of sins

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Some believe when Scripture says that we must confess our sins to God the Father so that He would forgive us of them; this is because all sin wasn’t forgiven at the cross. Therefore, if a believer continues to commit sin and doesn’t confess them, then they’d lose their salvation. Is this scripturally accurate? Please turn to the book of 1 John, and we’ll find out.

1 John 2:1 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

First of all, Jesus is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for the sins of believers and unbelievers alike, having paid the penalty, thus appeasing or satisfying the wrath of God whose standard had been violated.36

But what about the forgiveness of sins concerning us who are saved?

Let’s go to the book of Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Second, all of our sins were forgiven on the cross prior to when we repented and believed in Christ. This verse beautifully states that in whom (Christ) we have redemption (to let one go free; separation from all of the consequences of our transgressions) from the judgment of all our sins through his blood (the price paid to divine justice) and the forgiveness (to blot out; not to remember any longer; to throw a person’s sins behind one’s back; to carry away our sins so that they might never again be seen) of sins.

The verb have in Koine Greek imply that because we had repented of our sins and believed in Christ, we are subsequently in whom (in Him). Furthermore, this is in the form of a present active indicative. The indicative mood tells us that the action of the verb is of certainty or fact. What this tells us is that every believer has redemption and forgiveness continuously in effect in their new life that’s in union with Christ.

If this is the case, then why do we need to confess known sins to God the Father? Good question. In 1 John 1:9, we’re told that when we confess our sins, He chooses to forgive us our sins. The word forgive means a few things, such as to remove discipline (chastisement) from God the Father, to recover the filling of the Spirit, and restoration to the fellowship [with God the Father] that was broken by that sin.37

So, on the cross, the debt of sin owed was paid, and the record of it was erased forever. In time, the forgiveness of sins has to do with restoring fellowship with God the Father and recovering the filling of the Spirit. Do you get it?

You might say, I don’t agree. Where does it say that all sins were forgiven at the cross? I think Ephesians 1:7 clearly delineates this. However, if you’re still not convinced, then let’s attempt to provide further evidence of such by answering the following question.

What about the forgiveness of sins concerning those who are unsaved?

Let’s turn in our Bibles to the book of Colossians.

Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

If you read this verse without Greek glasses on, it would say something like this: And you, the believers at Colosse, who before you were saved, were spiritually dead in your sins (the sin nature) of your flesh (body), of which uncircumcision is a sign. However, when you responded to the gospel, he (God the Holy Spirit) has quickened (made you alive) together with him (Christ), having forgiven you (wiped away) all trespasses (all deviations from the truth).

I think you’d agree with me when I say that this appears to be saying that when you were made alive with Christ following your conversion, all of your sins were forgiven. Some would even go so far as to say that the forgiveness of sins occurred at the time when a person was subsequently baptized in water (Acts 2:38). However, what we’ll soon find out is that the correct interpretation of this verse will nullify each of these conjectures. Are you ready to find out why?

As I said initially, you need to have Greek glasses on in order to understand what is meant by the phrase having forgiven. The Koine Greek will once again help us in this regard. The phrase having forgiven are denoted as being in the form of an aorist middle participle. When a verb is designated in the aorist tense with the description of being a participle, this tells that the action of the minor verb, i.e., having forgiven precedes the action of the main verb, i.e., quickened. As you can see, translating any verse according to the English structure wouldn’t yield this unique relationship.

So, what this tells us is that all of the sins of the Corinthian believers were forgiven at a point in time before they were made anew, i.e., when they were unbelievers. The only place prior to salvation where all of their sins were already forgiven was at the cross. Therefore, the perspective that not all sins were forgiven at the cross isn’t accurate.

●Chastisement

Some believe that chastisement (discipline) from God the Father has only to do with punishment for the committing of certain sins. And that if a believer continually commits certain ones, then the ultimate consequence is the loss of salvation. Is this indeed the case? Let’s let Scripture reveal to us what God’s purpose is in implementing correction. Please turn to the book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

This Scripture conveys to us that no chastening (discipline) seemeth (appears) to be joyous (pleasant), but grievous (painful); nevertheless, afterward (in the end; in the future) it yieldeth (produces something in us if we allow it to). What is it God desires that correction will produce in us? That it hopefully will produce the peaceable fruit of righteousness in our lives. What is this all about?

This is otherwise known as actual righteousness in ourselves,38 i.e., peace, calmness, submission in the soul,39 those fruits by which we gain much, and through which [we’re] made happy.40 The effect is seen in a pure [life] and in a more entire devotedness to God.41 Oh my God! But wait, this is conditional, right?

In other words, what takes place in our lives only gets produced within us as the Word says unto them which are exercised thereby. This means when discipline comes, we, just like someone in the ancient athletic games trained for a contest, so we must exercise ourselves in spiritual matters,42 such as naming and citing our sins, putting off the old man and putting on the new man, etc. And furthermore, this is also an exercise to give [experience] and make the spiritual combatant victorious.43

So, what have we learned concerning chastisement? We found out that correction concerning the sinful decisions we’ve made and not confessed to God the Father might involve the implementation of uncomfortable consequences by Him but not toward us as a criminal who has no way out, but for us as His sons and daughters for our spiritual recovery.

●Salvation and sanctification

There are those who believe that a believer’s walk with God will affect their salvation. As verified in the last chapter, salvation is a once and for all event with present continuing results. Sanctification is a daily process that involves recognizing and confessing sinful thoughts, words, and actions and choosing whether to apply God’s prescription of His Word. While sanctification will not impact a believer’s standing with God, it will surely reveal whether they’re walking in the Spirit or walking in the flesh.

●Scripture interpretation

Those who believe that the Spirit can leave a believer because of habitual sin, or who believe that not all sins were forgiven at the cross, or who believe that chastisement is punishment for sin with severe consequences, or who believe that sanctification affects salvation, then most likely they’ll support the view that salvation can be lost because of habitual sin. And if that’s so, then the following verses presented will be interpreted by them in order to justify any of these perceptions. However, following this rendering, we’ll analyze the same verse or verses according to the view that salvation cannot be lost due to habitual sin. But before we do, let’s attempt to answer this question.

Did you know that in most instances, there are at least three reasons why there’s such disparity concerning any doctrinal view?

The first has to do with the method used in interpreting a verse of Scripture. If proper hermeneutics (exegesis) is applied, then the true meaning will have a better chance of being found. What is hermeneutics? Hermeneutics has to do with scriptural interpretation based on an analysis of the grammatical features of the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek, along with the historical background (context).

The second reason has to do with whether the person interpreting a verse or verses is dispensational or non-dispensational in their approach. The dispensationalist is aware that God employs a unique plan for different people living at different times under different biblical covenants for salvation and sanctification. And whatever the protocol for salvation and salvation is for a particular era, only verses from such will be used to verify it. On the other hand, the non-dispensationalist could interpret a verse or verses from other dispensations and apply their meanings to a different dispensation with respect to sanctification and salvation, thus distorting their translation.

And the third one has to do with comparing Scripture with Scripture. What we shouldn’t be doing is use only one verse to establish any doctrinal view. In most cases, there should be other verses contained in the writings of a particular dispensation that can clarify and substantiate what we believe is the correct interpretation of a particular biblical passage.

With that said, let’s take a look at some verses that are interpreted to indicate that salvation can be lost, and likewise, reinterpreting them again, supporting the view that salvation can’t be lost. We’ll begin by analyzing verses from the book of Galatians.

Salvation Can Be Lost Because of Habitual Sin

Galatians 5:1-4

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

The Apostle Paul was instructing the saints at Galatia, saying that whosoever you are that adheres to the admonition that you are justified (made righteous) by obeying the commands of the law, then you are fallen from grace. The phrase fallen from grace are interpreted to mean fall out of grace or lose one’s salvation because of consistently committing sins that are contrary to that which is delineated according to the Mosaic Law.

Salvation Cannot Be Lost Due to Habitual Sin

The Apostle Paul wasn’t speaking about the Galatians’ believers’ standing but their spiritual lives, i.e., their walk with God. The phrase fallen from grace is the idea that these Christians by putting themselves under the law have put themselves in a place where they have ceased to be in that relation to Christ where they could derive the spiritual benefits from Him which would enable them to live a life pleasing to Him, namely, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Christ [had] no more effect upon them in the living of their Christian lives.44 Another way of saying this is that Christians had lost their hold upon the grace for daily [living,] which heretofore had been ministered to them by the Holy Spirit.45 Thus, the phrase fallen from grace means not depending on the grace that teaches us about denying ungodliness and worldly lusts (Titus 2:12).

The next group of verses that we’ll take a look at is taken from the book of John. Please turn there in your Bibles.

Salvation Can Be Lost Because of Habitual Sin

John 15:1-2

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Every believer in Christ that continually bears no fruit, and thus lives in continual sin, will be taken away. Taken away interprets every branch which has been in Him by true faith - such as have given way to iniquity and made shipwreck of their faith and of their good conscience: all these he taketh away,46 i.e., they have lost their salvation.

Salvation Cannot Be Lost Due to Habitual Sin

Every believer who is in me (attached to Christ) and bears no fruit, thus living in continual sin, will be taken away which can also be interpreted to mean lift up. With that said, we can reinterpret this part of the verse and say that those Christians who bear no fruit will learn how to do so through the teachings of the four-fold leadership (Ephesians 4:11-12) and ministry of the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27) in respect to who they are in Christ and how to be conformed to His image.

The next verse that we’ll take a look at is found in the book of 2 Peter.

Salvation Can Be Lost Because of Habitual Sin

2 Peter 3:16

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

In 2 Peter 3:3, the Apostle Peter talked about people who were scoffers. They were unbelievers who disregarded the predictions about the second coming or return of the Lord Jesus and the truths about the end of the world. After this, he mentioned that there are doctrines in the epistles of the Apostle Paul that were hard to be understood (not easy to be comprehended). And that there were those who are unlearned (uninstructed; of people who [haven’t] received sufficient instruction in the interpretation of [Scripture]47) and unstable (prone to error) that wrest (the act of distorting or misinterpreting the Scriptures through faulty methods of interpretation48), which some infer will cause them to live an ungodly sinful life. Subsequently, this would result in their own destruction ([consisting of] the loss of eternal life, eternal misery, perdition, [and] the lot of those excluded from the kingdom of God).49

Salvation Cannot Be Lost Due to Habitual Sin

Before we attempt to determine what the word destruction means, we need to know just who they are who are the unlearned and unstable. Are they unbelievers? Probably not. Why not? Because if they were, it wouldn’t matter whether they were instructed in the interpretation of Scripture because salvation isn’t based on this but on repenting of one’s sins and believing in Christ. Therefore, what we can deduce is that they are believers.

If this is the case, then is there another way to interpret the word destruction? Yes, there is. What else could it mean? It can also, in Koine Greek, mean ruin. Is there a way to substantiate this meaning? Yes, there is. It’s found in the next verse.

2 Peter 3:17

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

Here, the Apostle Peter was talking to a group of believers whom he called beloved. As we’ll see, I believe this connotation pertains to their walk with God. He points out to them that what he just said was made known to them at an earlier time. He reminds them to beware (be alert; take extra precaution) so that they’re also not led away (seduced; lured) by wicked men (lawless; those who want to sweep large groups of people away from the correct doctrine of Christ50). And if this were to be the case, he told them what the result would be, i.e., they would fall (be separated) from their own stedfastness, i.e.,from being “established in the present truth” (2 Peter 1:12)]. Therefore, the stability of the Christian comes from his faith in the Word of God, his knowledge of that Word, and his ability to use that Word in the practical decisions of life.51

This question remains. Does it seem unlikely that one group of Christians who were unlearned and ignorant would lose their salvation while another group of Christians who were seemingly more mature but who likewise went astray would not also lose their salvation? Therefore, by comparing Scripture with Scripture, the scriptural conclusion is that those who are unlearned and ignorant would fall into spiritual ruin if they engaged in committing habitual sin. Simply put, they wouldn’t grow spiritually and walk in newness of life. While they wouldn’t lose their salvation, their life wouldn’t evidence the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

In order to hammer home the contrast of scriptural interpretation in respect to salvation, let’s take a final look at another group of Scriptures. Please turn to the book of 2 Peter.

Salvation Can Be Lost Because of Habitual Sin

Suggested Reading: 2 Peter 2:1-22

1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

The Apostle Peter was instructing the Christian Jews to watch out, because there would be false prophets and teachers, who privily (privately; the metaphor is that of a spy or traitor; the introduction of false teaching alongside the true52) shall bring in damnable heresies (self-chosen doctrines) and deny (denounce) Jesus (they held doctrines which were in denial of the Lord), who bought them (Jesus’ blood is the ransom paid to divine justice for the debt of sin).

Before we continue, is there any way to determine whether these imposters were Christians? We’re told that Christ bought them. What Scripture conveys to us is that everyone, past, present, or future, was bought by Christ (1 John 2:2). I think the key word that will help us in this determination is denying.

Another way to describe this word is to say that thisdisavowal seems to have consisted of an inadequate view of the Person and Work of Christ, and their relation to the problem of human sin.53The consequence of such was that they will bring upon themselves swift (impending) destruction (eternal destruction). It appears that Scripture supports the view that these prophets and teachers were unbelievers.

Furthermore, the apostle informs us that some believers had already decided to follow their teachings. If this were indeed the case, and it is, then here’s what he had to say about what was contained in the messages that drew them in.

18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

When those (Christians) that were clean escaped (those who are in the early stage of their escape) from them who live in error (wrong [opinions] relative to morals or religion54), heard great swelling (pretentious; sounding impressive) words of vanity (devoid of truth), they were allured (enticed; deceived) by teachings that promoted the lusts (desires) of the flesh, which included immoral sexual acts that are presented as legitimate expressions of Christian freedom.

20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

Then, the Apostle Peter goes on to say what impact this will have in their life. For if after they (those whom converted to the Christian faith) have escaped (the moral and ethical [influences] of the Word of God had acted as [a deterrent]55) the pollutions (licentious passions of the flesh56)of the world through the knowledge (of one that truly knows Christ, who has been taught by him to put off the old man and to put on the new man57) of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and are again entangled (as they persisted in the false teaching that grace gave license to sin) therein to their former immoral lives, and are overcome (trapped again by the powers of these worldly lusts58), then the latter end (the current state they’re in) is worse experientially (because when they found the answers to address their eternal state and help them overcome the weaknesses of their flesh, they chose to go back to living their life that offers no solutions. And along with this, they also became a witness to others that they’re no longer under the restraints by which they had professedly bound themselves59)than the beginning (of their new life in Christ).

21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

It had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness (a life lived according to the will of God60) than to have fully known about it and turn from (be unfaithful to) the holy commandment (the gospel; Christian teaching as a whole) in which they were instructed.

There are two ideas to be considered here. The first is what is meant by the statement that it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness. Some might say that what is being implied is that it would have been better if they hadn’t been saved in the first place. This rendering would negate God’s desire for all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4). My personal opinion is that what is being expressed here is the sentiment that the life they’re now evidencing dishonors before others the new way of life they used to follow. It discredits it.

The second has to do with their eternal state. Under this view, the phrase turn from the holy commandment means that they have fallen away from the gospel, i.e., they’ve lost their salvation.

Salvation Cannot Be Lost Due to Habitual Sin

Did they lose their salvation? A couple of verses later in 2 Peter chapter 2, we’re told what the consequences are for any believer if they choose to live according to the lusts of their flesh.

22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Like the offensive habits of a dog that will eat their own vomit, so does a believer who has decided to abandon the way of righteousness. They had vomited their former way of life at salvation and have determined to be committed to that which they detested. This has to do with their walk with God and not their standing (salvation).

We have one more Scripture to look at from the book of 1 John. However, this one won’t have to do with a believer losing their salvation. But rather, what it has to do with is the perspective that if someone is committing habitual sin, then this reveals that they weren’t saved in the first place. This Scripture is probably the primary one which those who believe this premise use to support it.

A Believer Can’t Commit Habitual Sin

1 John 3:9

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

This is a fascinating verse pertaining to the chronic committing of sin by a Christian. It says that whosoever is born of God (has been made the recipient of divine life61) won’t continually choose to sin as they formally did because God’s seed (divine life) remaineth (abides) in him. Therefore, he cannot continually commit sin because he is born of God. It can be deduced that if someone professes to be a Christian and lives in perpetual sin, then they can’t be saved.

Both of the verbs, doth commit and cannot, in Koine Greek, are in the forms of a present active indicative and present passive indicative, respectively, indicating that what’s being emphasized here is the continual committing of sin in the present. Based on the wording of this verse, it does appear that this is what’s being said. That someone, who’s a believer cannot continue to commit sin and if they do, then they were never saved. However, I think of the adage, never let one verse be used to substantiate a doctrinal view.

A Believer Can Commit Habitual Sin

Whosoever is born of God doth not continually commit sin; for his seed (God’s divine nature) remaineth (abides) in him. In order to interpret this correctly, we need to apply Koine Greek.

The verb born is in the form of a perfect passive participle. The perfect tense speaks of the completed act of regeneration in the past, at salvation, with present continuing results. In other words, the person who has been made the recipient of divine life [is,] by nature, and that permanently, a spiritually alive individual.62Therefore, they cannot commit [sin] because his higher nature, as begotten of God, doth not sin.63

This isn’t saying that a believer can’t habitually sin. They can. However, when they were born again, they became a perfect new creation with a supernatural nature. Therefore, sin can never spring from what a Christian truly is at the level of his regenerate being.64 Our who and our do are a million miles apart. Our do cannot affect our who, i.e., the new person we’ve become. Likewise, there’s nothing that can undo our who as the following verses testify.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I could mention more Scriptures, but I hope what has been studied is enough to assure you that your salvation and the additional blessings associated with it can never be lost due to sin. Furthermore, if you’re a Christian and are living in habitual sin, you’re still a Christian living in reoccurring sin. And God will be working on your behalf for the purpose of restoration.

Now, it’s time to introduce you to all of the blessings you have received at salvation. These will surprise, encourage, and ground you in your new standing in Christ. Are you ready to find out all about them? Let’s go.

Endnotes

35Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005. BIBLESOFT.

WEB. 21 October 2022

˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

36IVP Bible Background Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005. BIBLESOFT. WEB.

22 October 2022

˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

37Weust’s Word Studies.

38The Pulpit Commentary.

39Barnes’ Notes.

40Adam Clarke’s Commentary.

41Barnes’ Notes.

42The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.

43Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown Commentary.

44Weust’s Word Studies.

45Weust’s Word Studies.

46Adam Clarke’s Commentary.

47UBS New Testament Handbook Series Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 27 October 2022

˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

48UBS New Testament.

49The Online Bible Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright © 1993, Woodside Bible Fellowship, Ontario, Canada. Licensed from the Institute for Creation Research.

50Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament.

51The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.

52Wuest Word Studies.

53Wuest Word Studies.

54Wuest’s Word Studies.

55Wuest’s Word Studies.

56UBS New Testament.

57Calvin’s Commentaries.

58UBS New Testament.

59Barnes’ Notes.

60UBS New Testament.

61Weust’s Word Studies.

62Weust’s Word Studies.

63Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary.

My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).

Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

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