5 minute read

Are You Repenting the Wrong Way?

Last Updated: October 6, 2015

Jon Snyder
Jon Snyder

Jon Snyder is the author of the Mighty Man Manual and founder of Mighty Man Ministries. After battling with lust and pornography since childhood and trying everything under the sun to quit, it was a unique encounter with the love of God and its subsequent lessons that began to unravel a lifetime of bondage and bring about true freedom. Jon now sees these same lessons radically set men free world-over.

How You Respond After Sinning Affects “The Next Time”

As crazy as it sounds, did you know that there’s actually a wrong way to repent?

The Bible teaches us that there is a right way and a wrong way to respond and relate to God after we’ve sinned. In my experience many well intentioned Christians are “repenting wrong” because they’ve never been taught the Bible’s way to repent.

Are your repenting the wrong way

Not only is this wrong repentance extremely emotionally unhealthy, but it actually produces more death and more sin. The damage this mentality does to your soul and your intimacy with God is far worse that the consequences of your sin itself, so in His wisdom, God will not help you overcome your sin if it means it affirms this mentality.

Right and wrong repentance is a much bigger deal than most people realize, and if you master the Bible’s way to repent after you sin, you’ll eliminate the spiritual rollercoaster of highs and lows. What’s more, you’ll be positioned for victory in a way you never had been before.

Godly Repentance

2 Corinthians 7:10 teaches us, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” The passage goes on to teach that godly sorrow produces zeal, indignation, vindication, vehement desire, and a host of other healthy spiritual and emotional fruit.

The fruit of right repentance is healthy emotion that brings us closer to God! Immediately after you’ve sinned, there are earmarks of a mature believer. Immediately after sinning, you should have a desire to run to God without shame and with confidence in the blood of Jesus. You should be more on fire for God after sinning than deflated, discouraged, and diminished. If these are not characteristics you see in your life when you’ve sinned, then you are wallowing in the dangerous waters of worldly sorrow.

The Sorrow that Produces Death

Of the 1000s of men who have come through Mighty Man Ministries, I’d say that all of them are struggling with worldly sorrow at the outset. After they’ve sinned, they come and say, “Help me. I can’t believe I blew it again. I thought I was past this,” etc., etc. They feel far from God. They are down in the dumps. Often they spiral downward into a season of sin that lasts days or weeks after a fall.

Then when they can’t stand wallowing in filth any longer, they try to pick themselves up, “put some distance” between themselves and their sin, get back into prayer, back into church, start walking the walk again, and vow they’ll never mess up again. Then crash. Back to it and the cycle starts all over. This is the model of a man stuck in worldly sorrow.

Worldly sorrow or “wrong repentance” produces more death. Why? It takes away God’s influence and power in your heart.

  • It shows that you trust the power of your sin more than you trust the power of Christ’s sacrifice for sin.
  • It shows that you trust your acceptance before God based on your works more than you trust your acceptance to be based in Christ’s works.
  • It shows that you are trying to clean up your own act rather than living as though you are already righteous and being sanctified by God.

You aren’t experiencing the intimacy and fellowship with God that heals the heart and gives you the ability to overcome sin. In the end, you are destined to forever get the same results—because apart from God’s grace, love, power, and work in your heart, you don’t have the tools for change. Spirituality comes from the Spirit and is not manufactured by man. This is why the Bible can say this worldly sorrow produces more death—it is hopelessly rooted in and relating to the old, dead man. Death produces more death.

Keep the Dead Man Dead

The apostle Paul struggled with sin too. In Romans 7 he talks about the fact that he doesn’t understand why he doesn’t do the good he wants to do but rather does the thing he hates. He concludes in verse 17 that it is no longer he who sins, but it is sin dwelling in his flesh. Paul at different times said that he was the chief of sinners—yet he was able to forget the things which are behind and go forward in Christ. He was able to do this because he stopped relating to himself and to God through “the old man” and started walking in the new man.

Too many believers keep resurrecting the dead man.

Over and over the Bible tells us to count ourselves dead to sin (Romans 6, Colossians 2-3). In this life, you’ll never be perfect in your natural self. After you overcome this sin, and the next sin, and the one after that, God will always have something new to work on in you. By making Christ a sacrifice for all sin—past, present and future—God, in His wisdom has made a way for us to never let sin interfere with our relationship with Him. This takes away the power of sin and gives you the ability to run to God as the new creation that the Bible says you are so that you can learn from your mistakes and receive everything you need from God to overcome and never fall for the enemy’s same tricks again.

Cultivating Godly Repentance

I made the decision long ago that I’d never let sin—something that has already been paid for by Jesus—cost me another moment of intimacy with God. You can and must make that decision also. A fall shouldn’t take away fellowship with God. It should propel us into fellowship with Him, and the amazing grace we have received should make the joy of our salvation more precious every time we receive it.

So we don’t come to God each time we sin as some lost man again needing to be saved—as though this sin wasn’t foreseen and already covered by the blood of Christ. So step 1 is to confess your sins to God (1 John 1:9), but then move on to greater things.

Step 2 in mature repentance is to remind yourself of God’s promises. I have a few life verses that I’ve called upon time and again after sinning. When I would be tempted to relate to Him in an unhealthy way, I would run to the throne of grace to find help, and I would “remind God” of His word (really I am just reminding my own soul). These are some of the things that I rehearsed to keep myself walking in the Spirit:

  • Right Now, Jesus, you are interceding for me! (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25)
  • Father, You love me as much as you love Jesus! You are radically in love with me! (John 17:23; 15:9)
  • You’d die for me all over again if it were possible (Romans 5:8,9)
  • That wasn’t the real me; that was some dead guy sinning (Romans 7:20)
  • You aren’t condemning me and never will (Romans 8:1)
  • I am the righteousness of Christ and I can relate to You, Father, with the same confidence that Jesus has. There is nothing between us (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Praise God for these truths! This may seem so alien to you if you have been under shame and condemnation for a long time. But rehearse the truth until it goes deep into your heart. Something transformational happens when you run to God and begin to relate to Him in this way. You stop wallowing, and you start experiencing all the fruit 2 Corinthians 7 talks about: zeal, righteous indignation, fervent desire begins to spring up in your heart!

What’s more, you enter the place of intimacy with God that is absolutely necessary for Him to heal the heart issues that made you slip up in the first place. This is how we get over sin. This is how we mature. This is how we start to walk in the new man—even after blowing it! This is how grace becomes a tool that stops enabling sin but actually empowers us to stop sinning. This is how we receive the love of God in a powerful, meaningful way that causes a slip up to actually fuel our love for God rather than inhibit our love for God.

The Bible teaches that if anyone is able to keep God’s word, truly the love of God has been perfected in him. Until this love enters your heart, you don’t have the tools to get out of sin. This is how you start to get that love rooted in your heart so that God can do exceedingly and abundantly above all that you can ask or imagine!

If you want to go deeper in these truths, read my Mighty Man Manual to guide you in your journey into real and lasting freedom from pornography.

  • Comments on: Are You Repenting the Wrong Way?
    1. Rod

      I have been praying for months that the Lord would teach me true repentance. In my struggle I have not been repenting and I knew it. Today, I have an answer to my prayers. Thanks for the insight in this article.

      • Joe Stavrou

        “This is how you start to get that love rooted in your heart so that God can do exceedingly and abundantly above all that you can ask or imagine!” The thing I hate about the endless advice about what we must do in order to be delivered, including repenting correctly, is summed up in this quote from Jon Snyder. Namely, that God’s almighty power, that can do more than we ask or imagine, is somehow utterly impotent and dependent upon us doing something first. Justification we had nothing to do with, but sanctification is basically up to us and THEN God can rush in and do something. If I have to have confidence in myself to help God help me, I’m doomed.

      • We struggle with the flesh I pray to you heavenly father Jehovah God to change me give me a clean heart so that I may not be a slave in bondage to sin that equals death in Jesus my lord and savior name amen.Troy B

    2. After some difficult times of rejection by my wife and vicariously experiencing my roomate’s finalized divorce, I’m feeling pretty beat up. I felt suicidal (no, I won’t seriously do it, because I have kids that I need to care for), depressed beyond what I can handle, and just pitying myself for the life that I have had to live, and the damage and results of the in-grained sin. Everyone keeps telling me that I need to take responsibility for my sin. Well, I am, and it’s more than I can handle. I’m trying to realize the Godly sorrow in this article, I am trying to give my selfishness to God, and I am trying to realize the new creation that God has put in me. It’s difficult when you have tidal waves of failure and consequences crashing over you. I have done more weeping in the last few weeks than I have ever done. I just don’t see any purpose to any of this pain at all, and I pray that God will make things more clear in my life, so that I can be of some use to His kingdom in this life.

      • Kay Bruner

        Jeremiah, I’m sorry that things are so tough for you right now. I’m glad to hear that you’re able to remember that your kids need you, even when you feel hopeless.

        I hope you’ve been able to find a personal counselor–preferably someone who is a certified sexual addiction therapist (CSAT). Groups are also very helpful. SAA is probably a good fit for you. Even AA could be helpful.

        Godly sorrow is a good thing when it leads to repentance, which is just a fancy church word for CHANGE. And change is a thing that takes place, slowly, over time. It can take YEARS to rebuild all that has been broken by your pornography addiction. That’s going to be a long, hard lot of work.

        The purpose in that pain, the reason you do this work, is to bring you to a place where you can live free and clear, with open, honest, loving relationships unburdened by addiction.

        Even though, YES, it is your responsibility to do this work, there is support through counseling and groups that can help you keep moving forward in these tough times.

        Blessings, Kay

      • Glad this article encouraged you!

      • Kim

        I got into sexual sin..holy spirit kept convicting me..I even said in my heart I don’t want to hear u right now
        .I was diberately sinning..I repented but only due to torment..my repentance was all about me..I feel the death of it now
        .and feel I’m lost from scriptures in Hebrews about deliberate sin..and the one about you who have tasted of the heavenly gift..I can’t get back to god..feel so lost..feel hard..I feel he has closed the door..I rejected him do he rejected me..I’m bearing the fruit of it now..my repentance was just worldly..have so much fear..no matter what I do or try he won’t come back..only shower once a week..can’t hardly function..if anyone else has ever went through this and came out,would u please please talk to me..feel like God has turned me over to a reprobate mind too..have such perverted thoughts.

      • Moriah Bowman


        Do not give up! James 1:2-3 says: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” You may be struggling now, but keep praying and reading Scripture. Keep asking God for the strength to fight against sin. And, turn to others for wisdom! You may find that by sharing your struggles with others, you are more equipped to overcome sin and heal your mind.

        Blessings! YOU are worth it!

    3. Griff

      This post really spoke to me. I have bookmarked it and plan to use these scriptures.

      • I hope it encourages those you teach!

      • Your work in Christ is formidable. It has hugely impacted the overall feel of my spirituality. May God give you energy to go on changing more lives.

    4. That wasn’t the real me; that was some dead guy sinning (Romans 7:20)

      ^^^^ This is striking me in a particularly strong manner lately. ^^^^

      We are a new creation in Christ, and only that which lives to serve Him and His kingdom is going to survive into eternity. The more we feed, nurture, and grow into this new creation, there is so much more that we have to look forward to, and the sinful moments become less and less as we realize the true fulfillment of our new nature.

      Alternately, the more that we are dedicated to sin, the less likely that we either have the new creation within us, and thus the scriptures that tell us to not lie to ourselves and show that those that are dedicated to sin will not inherit the kingdom of God.

      Like the modern parable of the man that had two dogs and was able to successfully know which one would win the dog fight, we need to feed the dog that we want to have win. Somewhat of a shortfall of a parable, but if we truly love God, then we will love that which He has started in us and want to nurture and feed it into strength and predominance within our nature, that everything we do should glorify Him. Feed the new nature, not the old. And when the old wins occasionally, we have a mediator that is willing to stand in our place, shelter and mend us. He also lifts us up, renews and energizes us, and puts us back into the battle. I guess if we don’t care about the battle, we need to question what’s within us.

      • Right on, Jeremiah. It’s all about Romans 6:11, reckoning ourselves dead to sin (past tense), knowing we are united to the One who is dead to sin and alive to God. If the Spirit of the risen Christ is in us, then we have a new master, a new identity, and a new trajectory in life.

    5. Angel Galvan

      Thanks for the article. I now know more about true repentance than I had before. Knowing this helps me be more motivated to serve and submit myself to God, having recently fallen in sexual sin and having repented of it, so that I can be sure I have repented the right way since I am not relying in my own strength and power to quit looking at pornography but in God’s.

    6. Christine L.

      While not battle a sin of the sexual nature, I am devastated by the sin of anger. I finally realized through study of Romans today that I was not, in fact, sure of what repenting was. I did a google search of what real repentance looked like and your blog post popped up. I am so grateful as it has given me back my hope that I can get on my knees and cry out to God and finally let this go. I know what I’m looking for now. The scriptures you have highlighted are ones that I have read over and over but it was my heart that wasn’t right. It just needed the extra push. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, to being a mother, to being a daughter in Christ. I haven’t felt that way in so long, years even. Thank you.

    7. Bryanna

      i don’t know how to have godly sorrow or to believe in what Jesus has done for me. i am like the dog that returns to its own vomit. i just recently did research on what a reprobate is and i believe i am doomed. i had been toying with God to long and i believe He has had enough. i want to have godly sorrow for my sins but i believe that my heart has hardened to the point to where it is only a matter of time until i go to hell and receive a horrible punishment. i am scared to pray or talk to God anymore because i feel as though my tears and words will be empty. After reading this article i am not 110% sure that this whole time i have been coming to God with worldly sorrow. i am afraid to tell Jesus that i love Him because i don’t believe that i ever truly loved Him and how horrible is it to lie to the Jesus. i do not want to give Him empty words or tears, that annoys Him.

      • Kole


        Know that anytime you feel like God will not listen or does not want you to come to him, it is Satan telling you these things. We have freedom in Christ and He allows us to have a relationship with a loving God. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. God loves you, and it sounds like you have a desire to love Him, but your own condemnation is keeping you down. If Christ will not condemn you, why then would you condemn yourself. He paid for your sins on the cross. Turn your focus on Him, and don’t be focused or discouraged by your sin. Focus on service, loving God, loving others and doing things that please God. You will find joy and rest in knowing this is the Truth! God Bless You!

      • Jacob H

        God loves you the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. You are not condemned. Jesus says play your games while I sit here and wait. He is waiting for you to come to him with an open heart . Let go of our doubt and enter the presence of God fearlessly and he will be there ready to cleanse you of every iniquity. God bless you man!


        Bryanna, I can totally relate to what you are saying.I have been deep in sin for over three years now(sexual sin) on and off. always to the point of fear and sorrow. this last time something was different,It was a small still voice said to me you have left your first love my son. My gift from the Lord is I am an encourager . When I fall into my sin I am so sad, broken and guilty that I cannot use my gift because of my desire to isolate and not be found out. This time I immediately repented. I reached out to many people and started by asking them how they were then I would ask them if it was OK if I prayed for them. The power of the Holy Spirit came upon me and spoke through me. What was amazing most the people said that my call was exactly what they needed. Then what happens is Healing and I get my desire to worship him and him alone. which strengthens me which causes me to boldly go forward and use the gift he has given me. When I do this It gives me confidence to do his will and that gives me peace and rest.

    8. dolly

      This type of theology has allowed my husband to walk away from our marriage for no reason saying God knew all his sins past, present, future and he’s still saved so it doesn’t matter, God will restore him even though he has left his wife and three kids with barely even an explanation. You honestly are saying this is ok …. This is also what your article suggests.

      • patricia

        Just popped in here to have a look and saw this comment. I don’t think this theology is at all intended to give permission to sin as if grace is a licence to carry on in a lifestyle of sin and selfishness with a free pass.

        The author is speaking about how proper repentance gives one the ability to get free of sin whilst worldly sorrow entraps us in it. Nowhere does the author state it is just fine to carry on sinning.

        The apostle Paul says that we are to reckon ourselves dead to sin. He is speaking to those who have come to Christ in faith and believed on Him for salvation and who want to know how to have victory in their lives.

        The whole point of saying this is some dead guy sinning is to do what Paul is saying.

        Your husband will not be justified if he does not repent and trust Jesus. I seriously doubt that your hubby can claim that he loves Jesus and knows him and yet not care a whit about what Jesus says or about wanting to obey Him or please Him. The fact that he said what he said to you is likely proof that he in fact is NOT regenerated.

        No one who knows God wants to make a practice of casually sinning as if it didn’t matter or delights in moral failure.

        Jesus Himself specifically stated that many would come to Him in that day and say Lord, Lord, did we not do x or y and that He would say to them “Depart from Me you workers of inquity, for I do not know you”. Your husband is doing the very thing Paul refuted, where some were saying that Paul was teaching that we ought to sin freely that grace may increase”. Paul responded with ” May it never be”.

        I would like to see the author of the post respond to you if he hasn’t already. Having your husband do something so treacherous and heartless and then try to use what Jesus did to make it seem as if God is okay with it, must be heartbreaking for you. I am sure the author would have some words for your husband for the way he is twisting grace to justify his sin.

    9. Justin

      I feel like Judas that can’t find forgiveness I feel like the young rich ruler that is seeking to be saved. I first got saved in 2009 I was 29 I felt saved but backslided.Many years I return felt it it went away I began to sin. Return same way many times. Went back and fourth 100 times. I recently got saved again in April or May 2017, I felt the spirit. Spirit went away before church was over. Then ever since then I feel convicted day an not Goin to to sleep wake up . So I begin to sin again. I so I made my mind up I must not b saved so now every time I’m convicted at a altar call I go to b saved pray with a preacher. But I feel no different an no spirit afterwards . Idk what I’m doin wrong. Maybe it’s pride maybe I need to make my preacher understand and tell him but every time I tell him he doesn’t understand, he cuts me off an says it’s the devil but I keep sinning. I been saved or repented billion times. Baptized probably hundred times.bc I felt maybe I need to be baptized again too bc I’m feeling this way, but it didn’t help. Please pray for me I wanna go to heaven, Idk if I’m holding on or just not believing Jesus can save me. I pray every night all night I can’t sleep I cry all night. Sometimes at church bad thoughts enter my head devil tells me God and Jesus is laughing at me, they don’t want me, I can’t get saved and I almost cry . When I feel like I need to be saved my preacher I’ll tell my preacher but he just tell me I’m ok.And prays with me and it hurts my feelings bc I know I’m still sinning. And stuff I try to tell him but.he doesn’t understand. I only feel comfortable talking to one preacher bc he said he went many times before he felt it and was saved. But I’m kinda too embarrassed to tell him it didn’t take or I feel lost bc I got saved at his church 2 times already. But in know the end is any second now. The eclipse made me repent and come back. Now I don’t wanna wait a few years and tell people I wanna b saved again. Maybe I’m doin it out of fear of the end. That’s y I’m not being saved but I really do wanna be saved I’m scared and I just wanna b ready and saved

      • Chloe Hyde


        I have kind of felt the same way for a while now. I am not 100% sure I got saved when I was 13. I didn’t know what to say then but I bowed down in an altar and gave my heart to the Lord. Since I have renounced that I have gotten saved 3 or 4 times and I feel so stupid because something keeps taking me back to that morning when I was 13…..But you don’t need a preacher to pray with you if God is knocking on your heart bow down and just ask him to save you and He will….there was a service a while back I felt a heavy burden to go pray and I didn’t and I worry that God might have been dealing with me as lost and I didn’t move and I haven’t felt that same “knock” again and i worry…I do know that the Bible says we must come when the Spirit is Drawing us. Ask God to save you. My email is hyde.c2010@yahoo.com if you want to discuss this anymore.

    10. Robyn Quinn-Hakeem

      Ive been in a constant cycle of worldly sorrow. I’m also on an addictive medication that i know is keeping me from Gods presence. I have been crying nonstop as im in a cycle of this worldly sorrow. .. but i know 100000% I Was saved at 1 point. I was filled with overflowing with the Spirit.

      Is it too late for me? I dont have a clue of how to break free. Please HELP i don’t want to sin anymore but i can’t stop on my own. I’m in a downward cycle. Im so desperate and in despair.

      • Kay Bruner

        Hey Robyn,
        I wonder if it would be helpful to you to find a therapist to talk with?
        Of course it is not too late for you! You are God’s precious child, chosen, safe, and wholly beloved.
        Peace to you,

    11. Glad to find such an interesting post. We are mere flesh and blood and so vulnerable to sin and the devil’s crafty devices. There is only one way and that is to allow the Holy Spirit to reside in us. Christians should never feel shy to confess their sins to God and repent. Salvation is ours through Christ Jesus. Amen.

    12. David Hannwacker

      Well said Luke, I agree with you on your point here!

    13. Dustin

      Hello All,

      I have a problem in that I have had sexual sin and sometimes I like it.
      I know it is wrong and the guilt comes and I repent, but then again I go back.
      How can I break free? I want out of this, I want to hate this and get a possible soul mate. I try to break free but always go back and sometimes enjoy it.
      I want Christ to use me in the way he wants, How can I separate from this flesh and let the spirit win? I have prayed and read scripture. I know I am on the wrong track somewhere, but cannot get it quite right.

      • Moriah Bowman


        Thank you for your honesty in sharing your desire to change. Wanting to change is the first step towards recovery. Are you in this fight alone? Many others have shared with me their struggle to break free from addiction, simply because they are trying to heal by themselves. If you have a close friend, leader, or mentor whom you trust, reach out to them and ask them to pray for you, hold you accountable, and encourage you. This can be as simple as a daily text or using Covenant Eyes Screen Accountability to monitor your Internet activity.

        Keep fighting, friend! Freedom is achievable.

    14. Wow, this article was really a much needed wake up call for this worldly human. As someone who has been under the influence of my own flesh for 9 years now, I have tried and employed almost every trick in the book to keep myself from falling back into porn. And of late, after continuing the fall again and again, I have felt like my repentance comes with a surgical calm and coldness, devoid of the fruits of genuine repentance, which terrified me. Athough I manage to go a month or two without Porn, I constantly end up breaking again and wondering why God would even want a person like me, which was exactly where Satan wants you and I to stay.

      A month ago, I had this bizarre nightmare, a detailed and colourful apocalypse of my own making. In that dream, I felt like God had really left me to the whims and reprobate urges of my flesh. And then, without God in the equation, I was taken down by a LUCID set of events in a reality where the full extent of my lustful fantasies were realised. I saw my fantasies play out into sick and twisted encounters with women driven by their own carnal lusts, indulging in every sacrilegious and perverted act under the sun with yours truly. Did I like it? No. I’m fact, I was terrified. At one point, the dream ended where my desires caused pain to the other party and at the crux of all these temptations, the belle of the ball was an old flame from my past that I used to date (who was no longer in touch with me). And when the dream got to its climax, pun unfortunately intended, I found myself calling upon Jesus and suddenly being woken up from the nightmare at around 3 AM in tense shock. I could feel the Holy Spirit leading me to pray and read my Bible even at that hour as this dream felt different. And that was truly where, I felt that I had to make the conscious choice of picking a side of the fence where I’d like to be. For too long, I’ve been jumping back and forth not heeding God’s warning in Revelation 3:15-16, where Jesus says, “I wish you were cold or hot, but because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.”

      I had to make a choice and it was only then when I suddenly comprehended and came to realise why Jesus was constantly warning us to practice sexual purity and righteousness. It dawned on me that it wasn’t for the sake of merely following rules or to be a ‘better’ person but to protect us from the monster that we could become if we let Satan take 100% control over our flesh. And when that happens and walk away from God, there are no more boundaries that can’t be broken or practices that are ‘out of bounds’. It’s open season, you’re Bugs Bunny and unlike Yosemite Sam, Satan’s shotgun will not miss it’s mark.

      To my shock and suprise, after praying that morning, I slept like a baby, knowing that my salvation was true because this time, I recognised the fruits of Godly sorrow and repentance. Quite to my shock, the next morning, that girl from my past texted me out of nowhere with a smooth compliment, probably intending to dig up our past romance, only to find her chat in my archive list of chats on Whatsapp. :)

      Thomas (With Jesus) – 1
      Satan – 0 (Clean Slate :) )

      So I agree one hundred percent with the author. We have to leave the dead man from our pasts dead. This article beautifully touches upon the VITAL role of genuine repentance and I pray that all of you who are reading this article learn to give up worldly sorrow for Godly sorrow as we have enough baggage and stress these days as it is, without adding on weight of this behemoth of a load that sexual guilt carries.

      Warm regards,

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