Grace and freedom have replaced the Law! The two don’t mix; we cannot hold onto law and at the same time believe we can live under grace. Grace and freedom have taken over. John 1:16-17 says: “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” As Christians, we know that the Law was given through Moses, but truth and grace came through Jesus Christ. This is a revelation that the Church needs not only to understand but to live, so that everyone can walk in total freedom. The Bible says that before the Law came through Moses, God had already given a promise to Abraham and his seed. The Law, therefore, could not annul the promise because it came from God. I believe, today, the Church is full of law and that in many subtle ways God’s people are being manipulated by it. Without Christians even realising it, law is being imposed on them. Yet the Bible is clear; the Law was given to Moses for a time but now grace has come through Jesus Christ to replace that law. In Galatians 3:15-16 we read “Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.” The promise made by God to Abraham and his seed was the promise of salvation. The seed that God spoke of to Abraham was none other than Jesus Christ himself. The promise was made before the Law was given and no one could change it. Even if the Law had come hundreds of years later no one could have changed the promise, it was sealed. God’s Law, given to Moses for the people of Israel came 430 years after the promise was made to Abraham and his seed! At that point, they could have put the promise behind them, believing the Law would now reign forever. The Bible continues, however, “the Law…cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ.” (Galatians 3:17) God gave the promise in Christ before the Law came. Should the Law make the promise of no effect? If the inheritance comes by the Law, it is no longer a promise. But God gave it to Abraham through a promise. What did God give to Abraham through a promise? Our inheritance – salvation for whoever believes. That’s why Abraham is the father of faith because anyone who believes in Jesus inherits the promise and is saved. God’s prophecy to Abraham and his seed came to pass when Christ died on the Cross. Abraham was justified by faith, the same way that anyone who believes today is justified by faith. The promise, given before the Law, came into effect the day Jesus died on the Cross opening the door for grace and freedom to replace law. In Galatians verse 19, Apostle Paul says, “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions…” He says, “It was added…” He is saying that the Law ‘was added’ to the promise. It did not cancel out the promise, because the promise was in God’s heart before He gave the Law. The only reason that the Law was given was because of our transgressions. It was a means for God to show the people of Israel that He was their Father, that He was Holy, and that He loved them because He had made a covenant with them. The Law was powerless to change and perfect them, but it reminded them that they could not do as they pleased. We know that when Christ died on the Cross He conquered sin in the flesh – he defeated sin. But, when sin was defeated at the Cross, was there still a purpose for the Law? No! None whatsoever. Sin was defeated and no longer has any power over us so we do not need law. Praise God! Freedom and grace have replaced law. Isn’t that exciting? Continuing with Galatians 3:19: “Law… was added to the promise because of transgression until…” What does this word ‘until’ mean? ‘Until’ means ‘up to’. For example, if I tell you I’ll stay at your house until you come home, it means the moment you arrive I’m going to leave. As soon as you arrive, I’m out of there! The Bible says the Law was given for our transgressions until the seed came. So, once the seed has come, there’s no reason for the Law to remain. This is not something I have dreamt up, it is what the Bible says. It may be the first time you’ve seen it that way. Thank the Lord, because He is the One who reveals these things to us. Galatians 3:19-21 says, “…till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.” So if righteousness could have been attained by the Law, why did Jesus Christ have to die? There would have been no reason, but God knew before he gave the Law, that the Seed, Jesus, was to come and die on the Cross to redeem us from our sin. God still gave the Law, but only for a time. When the Seed came, grace came. “The Law came through Moses, but truth and grace came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Freedom and grace replaced the Law. We no longer need the Law because we live under grace, we are a free people. We don’t need anyone putting us under law or pressure or obligation. There are no more regulations, no more ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’, ‘you have to’, ‘you should’, or ‘you shouldn’t’ – these should be excluded from a Christian’s vocabulary. I’m free to decide if I have to, if I want to, or if I don’t want to do something. No one should impose something on me and I should not impose anything on anyone. The moment I put pressure on you to do something I bring you back under the Old Covenant. Who wants to live under the Old Covenant when we are under the New Covenant? If you want to go and live under the Old Covenant, under the Law of “dos and don’ts”, then you are backsliding. Unfortunately, in many subtle ways, law still creeps in. We don’t even have to say anything, but it can be felt. It’s in the atmosphere, in the spirit. I’m not talking about demons here, I’m talking about an attitude of heart, a way of thinking and behaving. For example, I don’t have to say to you: “you must do such and such”, for you to feel that I’m expecting you to do it. I don’t have to say it or to write it down, but it’s as if it’s there and you’re hearing or reading it. If the church or the pastor doesn’t have any written laws that I must adhere to, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t any. It’s an attitude that is around and felt clearly by everyone. The truth under the New Covenant, however, is that there is no longer any obligation, any pressure or regulation. It simply does not exist anymore! Maybe you are thinking, ‘Am I really that free?’ My answer is – Yes! Absolutely! That’s what the Bible says! You cannot compromise or add to the Bible. Even if your mind or logic tells you otherwise, you can’t add to it. Even if you refuse to believe something written in the Bible, you can’t change it. It’s impossible. You may desire to, but you cannot. What the Bible says is the truth, and we must respect, obey and submit to it. If I remove the Law, but at the same time I make people feel that they must obey the Law, then it means that somewhere I’m still under law. The real problem is that I don’t trust the power of the Word of God, the power of the Gospel. If I trust God and the power of the Gospel, then I give you your freedom. I understand that the power of the Gospel can set you free and cause you to obey God without me putting any pressure, law or obligation on you. If I don’t understand and trust the power of the Gospel, I will try to stop you from sinning or from doing what your flesh desires to do. But that is not my responsibility. As a pastor or leader, my responsibility is to show you what God desires, it’s not to try and chain you up. I need to understand that the power of the Gospel can deliver you and bring conviction and repentance to your heart without my intervention. If, as a pastor, I don’t understand this, I will apply the Law, I will put pressure on you, telling you that you are not allowed to do something because that’s what it says in the Bible, and if you do it, you will be cursed. This is why we need to understand that freedom and grace have replaced the Law. ‘Replaced’ does not mean that they were added to the Law. No, it means the old was removed and something new was put in its place. The New Covenant removed the Law and brought grace. This was God’s promise thousands of years ago. God kept His promise; He sent Jesus Christ who came and dealt with sin completely. That’s why the Bible says: “what the Law could not do God did by sending his son in the flesh, so as to conquer sin in the flesh.” Sin was therefore conquered. You’re probably thinking, ‘That’s not true because I still sin’. That’s right, but the reality is that you are no longer under the power of sin. We will still sin and fail because we are not God; we are imperfect. The difference is that now, when we fail, grace comes and brings us to repentance and, once we have repented, it’s as if our sinful act never took place. That’s the power of Christianity. It’s the only faith where the sin of man has been dealt with. If we, Christians, fall we are not condemned, because the blood of Jesus Christ purifies us as we repent. We do not need the Law or to feel under pressure from anyone. As believers, there is nothing that we are obliged to do. There are things we are called to do, but we are not under pressure to do them. If we were obliged, we would be continually condemned. Already we feel condemned and unworthy when we fall, and we are tempted to go and hide. How much worse then, if we have the pastor coming after us, in his big boots, asking: ‘What have you done? Have you failed?’ as though he’s perfect. And while he goes off to discuss your ‘great sin’ with the elders before coming back to you with their decision, you’re shaking like a leaf. You’re terrified of what will happen to you, and you’re thinking: ‘Am I going to be allowed stay in the church? Will they still consider me a true Christian?’ Sadly, this happens in many churches today. It’s terrible! We need the Lord to give us light, and bring revelation to our hearts as to what happened on the Cross when Jesus Christ died. In Galatians 3:22 we read: “But the scripture has confined all under sin…” Isn’t that amazing? It’s saying that sin has taken hold of everything and that our entire being has been subject to the power of sin from the day we were born. As we continue to read we see that there was a reason for this, “…so that the promise (given to Abraham and his seed), by faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those that believe.” In other words, we who believe get the inheritance, and when we fall, sin no longer has power over our lives. We read that in Romans. Why does sin no longer have power over our lives? Because we are no longer under law, but under grace. As long as law exists, sin has power, but when law is removed, sin is powerless. We might sin, you might even break one of the commandments, but the Law is no longer there to condemn you. You are under grace, not under law. That’s the New Covenant in a nutshell! All Christians, not just pastors and leaders, need to understand this, so that we all come out from under the power of law. Every regulation, law, or obligation must be removed. ‘You have to’, or ‘you don’t have to’, or ‘the Bible says’, or ‘the Bible does not say’. The New Testament is not a book of law. It’s the Old Testament that is the book of the Law. The Apostle James says that the New Covenant is the law of liberty, of freedom. So we must not allow ourselves to be under the Law’s power any longer. We must understand that it is an attitude we carry, it’s not what we say, it’s the state of our heart. We may not say anything, but still communicate much. Our looks speak loudly and they show people what’s in our heart. Our face changes, we look down our nose… Everything we’re feeling inside is reflected on the outside. We can’t hide it. Some poor guy may come to tell me something. I don’t need to say anything but he feels condemned anyway because of my attitude. And he leaves not knowing what to put his faith in, he just wants to go and hide. It’s my attitude of heart that matters more than anything else. In the Old Covenant, it was ‘written’, but in the New Covenant everything comes from the heart. This is why, under the New Covenant, we simply can’t try to please God when our heart is not right. If our heart is not right before God, we shouldn’t even go before His throne because He won’t see us. If your heart is impure – for example, if you can’t forgive your husband or your wife, then don’t pray for anything else. The only prayer you need to pray is, ‘Lord help me to forgive’. You shouldn’t pray for anything else because God won’t hear it. Don’t go and fast and pray on the mountain, because unless you are fasting for God to reveal Himself to you and show you your state of heart in the situation, it will be worthless. The New Covenant is a covenant of the heart. It has nothing to do with our heads. Our heart speaks louder than anything we say. We all know that we can’t hide anything from the Lord. We may be able to hide it from people, but not from God. That’s why the Bible says that if Jesus Christ were on earth He would not be a priest. Jesus Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant. In Hebrews 8:4 it says: “For if he were on earth he would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the Law.” He would not be a priest! He would not identify with that because he came for another purpose: to remove the Law and bring grace and freedom. If we try to live under the New Covenant without freedom it will be very tough indeed, we will struggle. But Jesus Christ came to set us free! Not only from sin, but so that we can walk in the freedom of Christ, free to serve Him according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I always say that the Holy Spirit does not need a stand in. You don’t have to help Him by offering Him a bit of law. He doesn’t work like that. You can’t add anything to the Holy Spirit or give him some tips or good ideas about how to deal with your fellow Christians. It’s useless; it’s as if we’re wanting to help God out, by trying to add to what only God can do! But God wants to help us. He’s an all-powerful God! Yet often we want to add something, or bring law in as a substitute for the Holy Spirit. If you think about it, it’s ridiculous! Who are we to do such a thing? The only reason we do this is because we are blind and the light of the gospel has not shone in our hearts; we don’t understand. But the moment we see, we say, ‘OK, I’m backing out, I surrender.’ That’s the truth. That’s why those who see, do not try to manipulate what God wants to do. Unfortunately many still try, and it’s a pity. If only we would understand, and trust Him. We try to help God out because we don’t trust Him. I’ve found, every time I want to give Him a helping hand, it fails. Have you found that too? Every time we try to help God, we mess up. But when we leave Him to do the work, we can just relax. He’s more than capable of doing it! Unfortunately we find many Pharisees in the Church today. ‘Pharisee’ is not a title under the New Covenant, like it was under the Old Covenant. Let me remind you that for us under the New Covenant, our ‘titles’ are written on our hearts. I don’t have to wear one on a badge, or write it on my business card, it’s written on my heart. That’s the unfortunate thing; we don’t consider ourselves Pharisees, but we are when we put ourselves and others under pressure, and when we want to bring law, principles and techniques to the Christian life. That’s why I preach about grace all the time, because I myself forget. I find myself taking over. It’s true for all of us. That’s why we need to hear the message of grace and of the Cross every day, all the time! If these two messages are etched onto the tablets of my heart then I’ll be fine. Grace is like the main course. Everything else can be added to it. For instance, the cup of coffee you have when you’ve finished your main course. You can’t live just on coffee. You need the main course first. But afterwards you can have your coffee and chocolate. They are not essential, they’re just an ‘extra something’ for your pleasure. Do you understand what I’m getting at? When you’ve received the revelation of grace and of the Cross, and you understand your need to hear it all the time, then you’re fine, you’re on the way to victory! I love discovering what God has for my life. My desire is to see Christians set free, no longer manipulated by anyone or by any law or obligation. Nothing! I truly believe in the power of the Gospel to set people free! Not only do I believe in it, but I am a witness to it. I’ve experienced it in my own life and in the lives of many people. I’ve seen the change, and the miracles that have happened. I’ve seen Christians being set free from their old way of life, without me interfering. The only thing I have to do is guide them. And, I’m sure the Holy Spirit can guide them better than I can. But we are called to preach the message through which the Holy Spirit will work. We need the message – the True Gospel. We need the preaching of the Cross that will convict Christians to stop their carnal ways and repent before God. When we bring Christians the true message, the Holy Spirit does the rest, but when we don’t understand how the Lord and the Gospel can set people free, we try to invent things. We start to think about what we’re going to do to get this guy delivered? We start inventing things, new doctrines. We don’t see the power of the Gospel changing people’s lives, so we start believing they are demon possessed. We think: ‘I’ve preached to him every Sunday and nothing is happening in his life’. And so we try to cast the demon out of him. Week after week we cast the demon out of him and the poor guy is left totally confused. He doesn’t understand what’s happening in his life. He’s told that he has a demon because he’s not free. And then, we start deliverance meetings and we cast demons out of everyone that is not walking a true Christian life. Why does this happen? Because the gospel being preached has no power, so instead many techniques are applied and much law is preached. People are led to believe that if they do such and such, this or that will happen; there are formulas, techniques and all sorts of things to fix every problem. But they don’t work! Only when the True Gospel, and the message of the Cross are preached, are people set free, and set increasingly free. They repent. They understand that they need to deny themselves. They understand that the problem is their flesh rather than demons. They start repenting under the conviction of the Holy Spirit; the Lord sets them free and they are able to walk continuously in victory. When we understand the Gospel’s power, then we have the freedom to give others their freedom. Even if they fail, it’s not a problem. You and I fail too. We all fail, but we are not condemned because when we fail, the Holy Spirit convicts us that we cannot continue like that, and we repent sincerely before God. It’s not a technical repentance. It’s not because the Bible says we must. Even if I didn’t have a Bible, I would know that I need to repent because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit. It’s not because it is written that I do it. No, it’s because I love God. It’s because I see my state and I know that the Holy Spirit is moving me to kneel down and repent. I don’t need the Bible to repent. I think you’ll agree that in the days of the Early Church and Apostle Paul, they didn’t have the New Testament. They had no verses to confess. However, they were better off than many of us. They continually repented of their ways. Repentance was part of their lives, not because it was a law, but because the Holy Spirit convicted them when they heard the preaching of the Gospel – the message of the Cross. No one forbid them to do certain things, they just knew and felt convicted to repent whenever they did. Men of God were preaching the True Gospel to them and they were hearing the Apostolic Gospel every day. They couldn’t let their heart stay rotten for 2 weeks. Never! The conviction of the Holy Spirit was strong and the message they were hearing brought them to their knees. They were not under the Law. Yet, they did not have the New Testament. They only had the Old Covenant and the old Law as a written reference, but as we’ve seen the Law was powerless to perfect anyone. Under the Old Covenant, God would continually have to send prophets to bring the people back to the right path, and they would repent before God of their rebellious ways. Although the early Christians under the New Covenant didn’t yet have the New Testament, they had the message and it was enough for them. That’s why when those Christians went to church they had the fear of God in their hearts. They didn’t come with an attitude like some do today, thinking, ‘What am I going to get from the Lord? I’m going to ask Him for something.’ Or like the guy who, after just having had a big fight with his wife, comes to church, proud, as if he’s an angel, and proceeds to say: ‘Lord, I want this, I want that, I want the other.’ At church he hears that God wants to bless him, and bless him above all things, that the Lord will multiply his seed… and all the rest! He then goes back home, having had no opportunity to repent, kneel down and say to his wife, ‘My darling, I’m sorry, I repent for my wrong attitude and bad character. I messed it up. Help me, pray with me, that God will heal me.’ He hasn’t had the opportunity to do that because his eyes and his heart were fixed on material things. That’s all he’s looking for. He arrives at church with that attitude of heart, he doesn’t hear the right message; and he returns home in exactly the same state. What’s more, he goes home with a bit of law, in fact his problem has doubled. He has a twisted, unrepentant heart. He comes to church wanting to get wonderful things from God. He’s received a promise from the preacher that he’s going to receive something wonderful in a few days. When he doesn’t receive it in a few days he thinks, ‘maybe next week’. And then he becomes discouraged. Add a bit of law to that and you find he gets so fed up that he ends up in a bar having a beer… He messes up his life because he’s so discouraged! His heart is twisted and the door is open for the devil to come and tempt him, and mess up his life. He’s in a place where he doesn’t know what to do with his life. The end result of it all is that one day he leaves the church and goes into the world; his life is ruined. Can you see how by having a book of law in his pocket, combined with a twisted, unrepentant heart, and coming to church looking for material blessings, he ends up ruining his life? We can understand why preachers tell people what they can and cannot do – it’s because the gospel the people are hearing is not powerful enough to bring them to repentance. The preacher has been preaching to the people for years, and nothing has changed. He doesn’t know what else to do so he starts to apply some law. He tells them, ‘the Bible says that you’re not allowed to do this. The Bible says you must do that. And it says, husband you must love your wife’. When the guy says he can’t love his wife, the preacher says he must or else God will deal with him! And the guy is left feeling totally condemned because he doesn’t know what to do and he doesn’t know how to love his wife the way God wants him to. All he knows how to do is give her flowers and chocolates or whatever. The Gospel is powerful enough to break and change everything! Either we believe in the power of the Gospel or we’re just playing at church, and if we’re playing at church then we’re putting a set of laws in place: ‘You are allowed to do this, you’re not allowed to do that’. That’s why worldly people believe that Christians are not allowed to smoke and to drink. There’s nothing that I’m not allowed to do, I’ve been set free! There’s a big difference between being ‘set free’ and ‘not being allowed’. It’s like this in many areas of our lives. I became a Christian many years ago and for many months after I was born again, I confess, I liked my beer, and I continued drinking it. At times I felt a little convicted and so I would drink shandy – half and half – it’s like being half delivered! But I was still bound, until the day that the Lord set me free. One day, I asked the Lord to set me free. I hated being bound. And that was it, finished, over with, I was free! The Bible declares that when the Lord sets us free we are free indeed! The people of the world believe that Christianity is a set of laws like ‘You’re not allowed to smoke’. Who says you are not allowed to smoke? You are allowed to smoke, but you know what’s best for you, and when the Lord sets you free you don’t like smoking anymore. That’s what happens to you and I when we’re free. When I’m set free I hate anything that binds me and is not good for me. The Lord wants to set us free from everything that can harm us and that doesn’t bear good fruit in our lives. He wants to do it by the Word of God. We need to hear the Word of Truth in order to be convicted. One day I was sitting on the beach in Mauritius where I live; coconut trees, sunshine, nice beaches, white sand, all the good stuff! It was about 6 o’clock in the evening and I used to smoke these strong French cigarettes. I loved them. As I was sitting there, I suddenly thought: ‘I’m a Christian and I’m still smoking…’ The Holy Spirit spoke to me in that instant: ‘I want to set you free.’ All I knew is that I suddenly had a desire to be free of cigarettes. I took the cigarette that was in my mouth and put it into the sand. I took the packet that was at home and tore the cigarettes to pieces and threw them in the bin. That was it, finished. You may wonder if there are times I ever want to smoke, the answer is no. I hate it. From that very day, I was completely set free. Nobody had to tell me as a Christian, I was not allowed to smoke. That doesn’t exist in the Bible – that would be law. The Holy Spirit is able to show me, direct me and set me free. That’s what the Bible says: ‘When the Son sets you free you are free indeed’. There were those who didn’t understand what had happened to me, and they challenged me saying, ‘Why don’t you have a beer? Come on, just one beer’. At the time I was under so much law myself that I would say: ‘No, I don’t want to’. But today, if someone challenged me, I would have no problem to drink a beer. I would dislike it intensely, but I would do it just to show him that I am not under law, that I am free to have a beer. Now, listen carefully, I’m not telling you to go and do the same thing; what I am telling you is that Christianity is not a set of laws. There’s nothing of the Law in it. I cannot understand, how there are so many preachers today imposing things from the Old Covenant on Christians; laws that came from being under the Levitical priesthood. Some people will even tell you that if you don’t do something, you’re going to be cursed! The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ has set us free from the curse of the Law. We were under a curse. How can we want to be under one again? I don’t want to be under any curse, or law, or obligation. The New Covenant lifestyle is a one of the heart; it deals with my heart and it’s my heart that speaks. I am where I am today, and the Holy Spirit leads me according to how spiritually mature I am; and I’m able to humble myself and obey Him. Today, you may be able to humble yourself and obey God in something, but if God asks the same thing of me, I may not be able to obey. It depends on our level of maturity. As Christians, we are all different; we are where we are, but the good news is that there is room for growth. There is room for us to become men and women of the spirit. Not by law, not because the pastor tells me that I need to do something. I hate that! I prefer, and God prefers, to see a Christian fall and repent, than to see a Christian bound in his heart; to see him not do something simply because he’s afraid of the pastor. Can you see the difference? That’s the fear of man as opposed to obeying God under the conviction of sin through the Holy Spirit. The brother or sister who falls but who is hearing the True Gospel, might fall again, but one day, they will be free! They will grow. One day they will come to a point where the Lord will set them free of the thing that keeps them captive, and bound. God will do it! In the mean time, we will love and help them by bringing the Word of God, the Gospel, the true message of the Cross to them. And when there is true repentance, freedom follows. Do you see the pattern? In John 8, we read of the woman caught in adultery by the Pharisees. They had only one thing in mind; they wanted to challenge the Lord. They brought the woman before Jesus and challenged Him, saying, ‘According to the Law this woman should be stoned to death.’ Jesus faced this group of Pharisees who wanted nothing other than to have the Law applied there and then. Jesus had them stand in front of the woman and He bowed down and wrote something on the ground. We don’t know what He wrote, but one thing He said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And all the Pharisees went away. She was a sinner and had sinned against God many times, but Jesus looked at her and she felt one thing, the love of God for her. Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more.” How many of you believe that this woman was set free? I believe that the words of Jesus Christ, the love that flowed from His heart and the life that He imparted, brought her to repentance. I’m sure she’d never seen her sin in the way she saw it at that very moment. That’s why when you bring the Gospel of the Cross, a person will repent and be set free. How many preachers today would have caused her to feel guilty, or cast the demon of adultery out of that woman, and without success? But she was set free! The Law wanted to finish with her, to deal with her right away. But Jesus Christ came with Truth and Grace. He spoke the truth. He did not cover up her sin, no, he brought her to repentance, and that repentance brought the miracle of freedom into her life. She was set free of the sin of adultery. That’s what I believe. The Law came through Moses, but Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ. That’s the Good News! That’s why today we must have the fear of God in our hearts, so that we don’t allow the Law to come back into our lives. It’s much easier to walk by law than by the Spirit. It’s much easier to have a set of laws and to try and fit our lives around them, but at the same time we will not be free, we will remain bound. Yet, the Bible says that the Son of God came to set people free; not only free from sin, but free to please God, free to accomplish the Law by the Spirit. If you try to use the Law to accomplish the Law you’ll never make it. Never! But, by grace, with the Holy Spirit you will; He is able to deal with our lives and set us free!
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