Lesson Twelve – The Law of Life

The Law of Life

Lesson Aim:  To show the value of the law of life for Christians and the support of its fruit for their future spiritual growth.


Christian preachers and teachers have much to say about the law of sin and death but many are silent on the subject of the law of life.  The Apostle Paul gave equal space to all three laws in the following scripture:

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  Rom. 8:2

The Apostle John assumed Christians in the first century understood the law of life; therefore, he felt free to explain sin by stating: “Sin is lawlessness.”  I John 3:4.  In other words, sin is everything the law is not.  What is the law of which John spoke?  We know it is not the Law of Moses because he and Peter went to prison for preaching Jesus should be heard instead of Moses (Acts 3:22).  In this lesson we will identify the nature of the law of life and show how it enriches the environment for those of us who are “in Christ.”

The subject of the law of life has been introduced twice in this series of lessons, previously.  A review of those lessons will be helpful.  In Part One, Lesson Three, life was defined, as the word has been translated from the Greek word ZOE.  Also, in Part Four, Lesson Six, we learned the laws of life can be found by a study of Jesus Christ.  In this lesson we will study some of the blessings resulting from Christian’s relationship to the law of life.

Since a complete lesson on the law of life for mankind would be as large as the Bible, we will explore only three areas in which the law of life affects Christians’ lives.  One will be the value of our awareness of a law of life.  Another value is having our minds programmed with the law of life; especially, the part affecting the work of our conscience.  Finally, we will consider the value of the fruit of this law to our spiritual growth.  However, before we study these three points, we will establish that the law of life is a Biblical subject.


The Apostle Paul used the term “law of the Spirit of life” in his letter to the Roman Christians (Rom. 8:2).  In Romans 8:7 he used the term law of God” as a synonym for the law of life.  In the Corinthian letter Paul used the “law of God” and “law of Christ” interchangeably (I Cor. 9:21).  Also, he told the churches in Galatia to “bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfil the law of Christ.”  Gal. 6:2.  The Hebrew writer speaks of a law that can be written on Christians’ hearts and minds (Heb. 8:10).  James has the following to say about the law that describes the life of God’s heavenly society:

But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.  James 1:25

If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well.  James 2:8

So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.  James 2:12

From these scriptures we see the law of life, or the law of God and Christ about life, is a Biblical subject.  In fact, we cannot identify sin until we have defined the law of life because “sin is lawlessness.”  It is the law of liberty in that our awareness and application of the law of life frees us from sin and sin’s consequence, death.  “’Everything is permissible for me’ – but not everything is beneficial.”  I Cor. 6:12.  “’Everything is permissible’ – but not everything is constructive.”  I Cor. 10:23.

The law of life is a different type law than the law God gave to Moses.  It belongs in a different category altogether.  The failure to grasp this point can give Christians a lot of trouble.  This difference becomes evident from a study of Romans, chapters seven and eight.  The Law of Moses condemned the sinner but Paul concluded: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Rom. 8:1.  The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus does not condemn.  In order to get ourselves in the right “line of thought” about the law of life, we must think in terms of the law of nature rather than the law of state.  When we think of the law of state we usually think of condemnation and punishment.  State law belongs in the same category as the Law which God gave to Moses to write on the tablets of stone.  See Ex. 20:17; Rom. 3:19; II Cor. 3:1-11.

The law of nature does not give orders or commands, nor does it condemn.  It describes the phenomena of growth in things of nature.  For instance, the first law of thermodynamics is, “in an ordinary physical or chemical process, energy is neither created nor destroyed, but merely changed from one form to another.  There is nothing condemning about this type of law.  If we do not know about it, we may make some costly errors, but it will not condemn us.  Similarly, sin was not imputed from Adam to Moses because there was no condemning law like the Law of Moses; however, the people made some costly errors.  They violated the law of life and death was the result (Rom. 5:12-14).

Adam possessed life, zoe, when God made him a living soul, psuche (Psa. 66:9).  One principle of the law of life is; we keep the commandments of God (John 12:50).  Adam broke this principle when he disobeyed God’s commandment concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  As long as Adam followed God’s commandments he enjoyed a quality of living described as ZOE.  This life was destroyed when he broke the commandment.

 God’s commandments lead us in ways of life that best satisfy our natural drives.  We must have a hope of satisfaction for our needs before we can develop characteristics of life, as in eternal life.  In other words, the commandments of God direct our activities in relation to Him and mankind in a way that is good for us.  When our course of life is satisfying, we can develop healthy emotional attitudes.  People who do not obey the commandments of God, especially where their basic needs are concerned, will not be able to develop a healthy personality.  Isaiah’s parable illustrates this point in Isa. 5:1-7.  God arranged for the satisfaction of the basic needs of the Israelite nation.  This was done so they could be upright people, in spite of the fact they chose not to be.

Mankind cannot hope to function properly without the commandments of God and the law of life.  This would be tantamount to trying to live on earth without some understanding of the law of nature; therefore, God has always taught His people the law for their lives (Gen. 26:5).  The law of life was God’s law for mankind at the time He added the Law of Moses.  It should be noted the Law of Moses was added to something already existing (Gal. 3:19).

Jesus came that we might have life (zoe) and have it more abundantly.  He laid down His life (psuche) that we might have zoe (John 10:10, 11).  Since Jesus had life (zoe) and His life became the light of our lives, we can conclude “light” in this context, describes the condition where a law of life has been learned by a Christian from Jesus’ life or His teachings.  This person is enlightened (Eph. 5:7-13).  The Apostle John declared these things in the following scriptures:

In Him (Jesus) was life; and the life was the light of men.  John 1:4

On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.  I John 2:8

I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness.  John 12:46

And this is judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.  John 3:19

Again therefore Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.  John 8:12

The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.  I John 2:9

We will not attempt to list the laws of life in this lesson but we can see we can learn these laws that describe life, as it is translated from zoe by getting to know Jesus Christ.  To know Christ is one definition of eternal life (John 17:3).  One value of a Christian’s knowledge about the law of life is it frees us from the cultural traits of our society that are not life.  These undesirable traits are identified in the Bible as death, the result of sin (I Cor. 15:56).  When a child is born, it is born into a society and conforms to the norms of that society because of its passive learning capability.  This is one way the character and personality of people are developed; however, the norms of their respective society may be death rather than life traits (Col. 3:5-7).  People who do not have the Bible – or read it if they do have it – may think death is life and conform to a society where sin reigns in death (Rom. 5:21).  When we read about life in the Bible; that is, when we read about the description or law of life for human kind, our minds are renewed from the norms of the world society to the heavenly society.  The value of having knowledge about the law of life is that we can choose between life and death principles.  This is what Paul had in mind in the following scriptures:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  Rom.  12:2

For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.  Eph. 5:8

We become children of light and prove the will of God is good and acceptable.  The law of life for mankind will be included in subjects like the “will of God” for man and the “truth” about man.  Christians are given a choice between the norms of life, as they are defined by the world, and the norms, or the laws of life, as they are defined by Jesus.  We become enlightened because God tells us the truth about how He put us together.  We do not have to conform to the world.  We can “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness.”  Eph. 4:24. 

Enlightened Christians are free to make choices; therefore, the law of life, that is, our king’s law, is our law of liberty (Jas. 2:8, 12).  It is the truth and truth makes men free.  Similarly, the people of the world were not freed from the use of animals for transportation until our scientists determined the law of nature concerning energy.  When we use our fossil fuel in the way the law of nature describes the phenomenon of energy, we will get the most use from it.  Before certain scientific discoveries were made, we had fossil fuel without understanding the law of energy.  In other words, we did not have a workable description of the phenomenon of energy; consequently, we walked or rode an animal.

Another value of our enlightenment about life is it frees us from our personal or genetic flaws.  In other words, people who do not know the truth about life may think they must make their own life.  They do not realize Jesus Christ is the description of their potential as a human being (Col. 3:4).  The way God created mankind will allow us to develop like Jesus.  If we apply ourselves to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus we will conform to His image (Rom. 8:2, 29).  This does not happen to a select few, nor is it a quality within us.  We all have the potential, but we must know and apply the law of life to have the fruit thereof — and be happy (Gal. 5:22, 23).  It is the same with the farmer.  The seed in his hand has no power within itself to produce its potential unless he applies it to the law of nature.  If the farmer makes the proper application, the seed will produce its kind.

Human beings’ spirits were given by God in our bodies to produce sons of God.  The potential is within each of us but the difference in our story and the story about the farmer is that we play both the role of the farmer and the seed.  We must find the law of our lives, and then apply ourselves to it.  We must find Jesus, the author of life, in order to attain our potential (Acts 3:15).  When we suppress the truth about God we suppress the truth about the law of our lives and spiritual death is the result.  Spiritual death is the kind of character described in Romans 1:18-32.  In times past, the Gentiles suppressed the truth, or the law of life, and developed twenty-three characteristics of death.  They fell short of their potential to be children of God.

As Christians we learn from the Bible there is more to our lives than what we can make of it.  Jesus ask: “Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?”  Matt. 6:25.   Paul said, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”  I Cor. 1:21. “Saved” means much more in several scriptures than the forgiveness of sins.  It means to be saved from weak character.  We have the potential to be sons of God.  God has the law of how we develop as His children.  We can find it by a study of Jesus (II Cor. 4:4).  We have an innate need for glory and He shows us how to be glorious individuals.  It is nice to know that all we need to do is apply ourselves to the law of life and all will be well with our spiritual growth.  Paul may have had these things in mind when he said, “That, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”  I Cor. 1:31.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Eph. 2:10.  Glorious people practice righteousness (Rom. 6:19).

A second point we will consider in relation to the value of the law of life for Christians will be about information or data stored in our memory banks which interact with our consciences.  According to W. E. Vine the word conscience, as it is translated from the Greek word suneidesis means “knowing with oneself.”  The chief job of the conscience is to bear witness.  Our consciences bear witness as a result of something like a court room drama.  Following a specific behavior of an individual, the witness of the conscience is the mark it receives as a result of his or her own judgment on this behavior.  Christians judge ourselves on how we behaved according to the way we believe we should have behaved (Rom. 14:23; Jas. 4:17).  This happened to mankind after Adam and Eve got the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3:22).  They became aware.  We need to train ourselves “to distinguish good and evil.”  Heb. 5:14.

It works like this:  Our thoughts know how we actually did perform during a recent encounter.  When the previous information we have stored in our memory about how we should have behaved is compared with the new information about how we did behave, we are accused or excused.  Our conscience is left in a good and pure condition, or it is defiled with guilt (I Tim. 1:5; 3:9; Titus 1:15).  The condition of our conscience after our “mind court” adjourns is the witness.  Paul gave us some information about ourselves in his discussion of Gentiles without the Law of Moses.  He said, “In that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.”  Rom. 2:15.

Information begins to be stored for the “mind court” scene in the memory portion of our minds at a very early age.  Our parents, teachers and peers supply us with much of the data we use to make judgment on ourselves.  This data has pre-programmed the judicial department of our minds.  The information we have gathered may be correct, or it may be incorrect.  Regardless of its validity, we use it for court action on ourselves after each significant encounter and emotional behavioral response in our lives.  Paul is an example of one who had the wrong information about correct behavior at one point in his life.  He said to the Jewish council, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.”  Acts 23:1.  However, he told Timothy he was formerly a blasphemer, persecutor and a violent aggressor (I Tim. 1:13).  How did his conscience escape the defilement of guilt before he was converted to Christianity?  It escaped because the information stored in his memory, used to make judgment on himself about how he treated the Christians in Palestine, was incorrect (Acts 9:13-15).  If Paul had persecuted the Christians after Jesus appeared to him, he would have had guilt on his conscience.  His conscience would have born witness he had violated the way he believed he should have behaved.  A guilty conscience would have been the result; therefore, we can see how guilt on the conscience serves as an effective witness.  Our guilt is our witness against ourselves that we are not OK.  Paul declared to the church of God in Corinth:  “Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in holiness and sincerity that are from God.”  II Cor. 1:12.

Happily, Paul continued to maintain a good conscience because he was obedient to his vision.  Sinners receive accusations from themselves because of their behavior.  In some cases, their conscience has become seared (I Tim. 4:2).  The result is a hardened heart.  Only the blood of Jesus can remove the guilt and restore the heart (Heb. 9:14).  A Christian who does not have the correct information for judging his or others behavior has a weak conscience (I Cor. 8:1-13).  Paul explained to the Corinthian Christians that because of a lack of knowledge, it is possible to strengthen our conscience to do the wrong thing.  In other words, our conscience does not make a good witness because it does not show guilt when it should, or it may show guilt when it should not.  The solution to a weak conscience is more Bible study and understanding.  Through Adam we became aware; therefore, we need training “to distinguish good and evil.”  Heb. 5:14.

The point we want to understand about the law of life is; it makes excellent data for our own use in holding court on our own behavior.  This is true because the design of mankind is compatible with the law of life.  The Christian’s faith is; God understands us and is able to give us a law of life descriptive of the life for which He created us – sons of the Most High (Luke 6:35).  A conflict can develop within us when our judgmental department is programmed with data against our nature.  For instance, one of the laws of life stated directly by Jesus is that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35.  When we judge our behavior with our consciences’ judgmental department programmed with this law, we will not be apprehensive about giving as we have prospered.  There will be no conflict between what we are doing and what we believe we should do.  Of even more importance, there will be no conflict between the witness of our conscience and our nature.

Jesus taught that we are happier when we give than when we receive.  We may doubt it; however, if we experiment with this law of life we will find it is compatible with our nature.  People who believe and judge themselves based on “it is more blessed to receive than give” may have a conflict within themselves.  The conflict exists between their conscience and their behavior if they give as they have prospered and exist between their nature and their behavior if they don’t.  Their conscience will bear witness to this conflict by the guilt it bears.  Their character will be weakened by the conflict within them.  It is very important for Christians’ “judicial department” to have, for its court work, memory banks programmed consistent with the law of life.  This will prevent inner conflict and give us a dependable conscience.

We will not have space here to investigate the relationship between the conscience and our personality but we know there is a sensitive relationship.  For instance, it is impossible to have a defiled conscience and escape a defiled mind (Tit. 1:15).  Ignorance of God’s law of life can strengthen the conscience to allow godless behavior without the repercussion of guilt (I Cor. 8:10).  The course of a futile mind is traced in Eph. 4:17-19.  A negative testimony from our conscience can destroy our confidence of attaining our goal as sons of God (II Cor. 1:12).

The greatest hurt we can do to ourselves is to wound our conscience.  How many times have we behaved in a manner we knew would cause guilt to infest our conscience?  Just think, we do it to ourselves.  In order to protect our conscience, we must have our minds programmed with correct information about life.  David said, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.”  Psa. 19:7.  Our conscience is a vital part of our steering system in sanctification.

The last point we will make in this lesson in relation to the value of the law of life for the Christian’s life will be concerned with the fruit of the law of life.  We will apply the fruit of our past spiritual growth to our present sanctification program and consider its impact.  The road to glory is “from glory to glory.”  II Cor. 3:18.  In other words, we need the fruit of our progress to have more fruit (Rom. 5:3-5).  We need the spiritual achievements of yesterday’s life to build upon today.  Life is not done in one act plays, but a continuum of plays.  Jesus said, “Therefore every one who hears these words of mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock.”  Matt. 7:24.  We can be “as a house on a rock” in times of turmoil, but only after we have heard the words of Jesus and acted upon them.  The following scripture shows that Jesus Christ is the only foundation or life, Christians should build our lives upon:

For we are God’s fellow-worker; you are God’s field, God’s building.  According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it.  But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.  For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  I Cor. 3:9-11

We can clearly see how Christians build upon, or add to, what we have already accomplished from the following scripture:

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, Christian love. II Pet. 1:5-7

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against these there is no law because this is the fruit of applying the law of life to ourselves (Gal. 5:22, 23).  In this sense the Spirit gives life and liberty (II Cor. 3:6, 17).  We are free to grow and attain our potential.  When the law of the Spirit of life is keeping Christians free from the law of sin and of death, the Holy Spirit is at the same time leading us by our study of the word of God.  He emphasizes spiritual things over fleshly things (Rom. 8:5-8).  Paul said, “For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”  Rom. 8:13.  Christians are continually moving from the fleshly to the spiritual way of life (Gal. 5:16, 17).  It is a dynamic life, in that change is constantly taking place; therefore, the putting to death of a deed of our flesh today will aid in our becoming “imitators of God” tomorrow (Eph. 5:1).

Before we proceed further with our point about the value of our past spiritual growth on our present life let us consider another important thought.   We can see by the components of the fruit of the Spirit how the law of life deals with relationships among people.  A person does not conform to the likeness of Jesus and be indifferent to other people (Rom. 8:29).  For instance, kindness means we are of service to others, we are useful.  Goodness means we are of such moral quality that we are beneficial to others.  In fact, to find life, as in eternal life, we must look at what is going on among people rather than in people.  We recognize what is going on between two people is generally the result of their character and personality.  Many of the components of life describe what is happening among several parties.  Love is not manifested unless something good happens between two parties (I John 3:16-18).  Therefore, we can conclude the law of life describes the life of the society of God’s kingdom.  This includes all of the parties in this kingdom.

One benefit of the fruit of the law of life is; Christians get along with other people.  With this thought in mind, and getting to the second part of our lesson aim, let us consider one way our spiritual growth of yesterday aids our present growth process.  Consider this, our inherent drives, or needs, push us into a conscious relationship with other people and the natural world in our quest for satisfaction of these needs.  Our personality and character are developed as a result of the experiences we encounter.  If we are successful we develop healthy emotional attitudes such as love and faith.  If we are unsuccessful we may become angry or fearful.  The value of seeking a program to satisfy our needs with the law of life in our hand is obvious.  A wise man is able to find satisfaction, or at least a hope of satisfaction, for his innate drives.  Satisfaction of our drives will improve our personality.  Certainly, this is a simplified version of man’s pursuit of life and his resultant character, but it is a working model.  Imagine a person in pursuit of satisfaction of his or her inherited drives armed with the commandments of God and the law of life!

With the foregoing in mind, let us note how life becomes a cycle.  Our personality is usually consistent with our routine behavior; that is, if we are patient, we wait.  If we are merciful, we do what is good for the future of mankind.  If we behave properly toward other people, they will usually help us find satisfaction for our needs.  The golden rule applies here; “Therefore whatever you want others to do for you, do so for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”  Matt. 7:12.  We have needs and other people have needs.  If we do for others what we want them to do for us, we will help them find satisfaction for their needs and we can hope they will help us in the same area.

Please note we have completed phase one of the cycle.  Remember, if our needs are properly satisfied, or if we have a hope of satisfaction, healthy personality is the result.  Since a healthy personality produces proper behavior toward others, they will help us with our needs and the cycle continues.  The healthier our personality, the better our behavior; therefore, the more satisfaction we attain for our inherited drives.  The more our personality develops like Jesus, who is the law of our life, the more righteous our actions.  Our good behavior is rewarded by our earthly society and also in the kingdom of God.  We have food, clothing,  shelter and a hope for security and eternal glory.  A life, zoe, cycle is possible because spiritual growth contributes to spiritual growth.

The Beatitudes, or emotional attitudes, set forth by Jesus in Matthew 5:3-12 are the result in Christians’ lives when we live our lives with satisfaction for our inherent needs.  We follow the commandments of God in order to assure ourselves we will attain satisfaction.  For instance, God’s commandment for our satisfaction of our sex drive is one woman and one man in marriage (I Cor. 7:1-5).  If we do not follow the commandments of God we can see how our life cycle can become degraded.  Our natural healthy drives push us into the world to find satisfaction.  If we go without God’s guidance we must use the wisdom of men.  When we fail, and we will more often than not, our frustration will develop into fear and anger.  This becomes our personality.

This type of people do not use Jesus’ golden rule in their interactions with other people.  Their improper behavior decreases their opportunities for attaining satisfaction for their needs.  No satisfaction produces weak character and unhealthy personality.  Weak character and unhealthy emotional attitudes produce bad behavior and the cycle continues.  This is a death cycle where sin reigns.  Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can free people from its force.

The law of life is a description of life (zoe).  Jesus Christ has life in the absolute form.  Since mankind was created to be sons of God, Jesus is our light of life.  If we are blinded to this truth we are in darkness and perishing (II Cor. 4:3, 4).  There is no place in God’s eternal kingdom for us unless we have life.  We cannot afford to wait until judgment to know the truth about ourselves.

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test?  II Cor. 13:5

Questions for Discussion

  1. What did the Apostle John assume the recipients of his letter understood, when he said; “sin is lawlessness?
  2. List scriptures that show the law of life is a Biblical subject.
  3. Explain the difference between the category of laws in the law of life and the Law of Moses.
  4. Explain how the law of life is like the law of nature.
  5. What principle of the law of life did Adam break?
  6. How does Isaiah’s parable explain the relationship between personality and our basic needs?
  7. What kind of law was transgressed when God added the Law of Moses?
  8. What happens when a Christian learns and applies a law of life from Jesus?
  9. Explain how the knowledge of a law of life frees Christians from cultural traits that are not life.
  10. How can people attain their potential?
  11. How does knowledge of the law of life help a Christian overcome personal or genetic flaws?
  12. What happens when people suppress the truth about God?
  13. What is the chief function of the conscience?
  14. Where do we get our information in our minds to which our conscience reacts?
  15. Explain how our conscience is a witness.
  16. How did Paul’s conscience escape guilt during the time he persecuted the church?
  17. What is the remedy for a guilty conscience?  A weak conscience?
  18. Why does the law of life make good data for “mind court” on ourselves?
  19. How does the information in Romans 5:3-5 show how our daily program of sanctification is enhanced by our past spiritual growth?
  20. Explain why Christians’ sanctification can be described as dynamic rather than passive.
  21. What point has been made in I Cor. 3:11 in relation to our lesson?
  22. Why can we conclude the laws of life include interaction between all parties in God’s kingdom?
  23. What is the value of a Christian’s past growth on our present sanctification program?
  24. What is the relationship between the commandments of God and our development of life?
  25. How can we tell if we are following the commandments of God and applying the laws of life?

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