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Stolen Treasures from legalism

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Stolen Treasures

Dr. David Orrison

11 March 2014

 

A recent article ... prompted me to think about the reason it is so difficult to move forward after being victimized by legalism. As I have worked with those hurt by legalism over the years, I have often heard stories about what happened five, ten, maybe thirty years ago. These folks still struggle against the lies they were told and the anger they continue to feel toward those who misused them. I have come to the conclusion that a great deal of the difficulty of moving on has to do with the treasures that were stolen.

 

Each of the following could be an article in itself, but let me just introduce the problems legalism created by stealing these treasures. You may think of more precious things that were stolen, but these are the ones that have come up most often as I have communicated with victims.

 

The character of God. Legalism presents an angry and vengeful God who wants to see us fail and then will punish us when we do. He rejects us when we sin and puts us into situations to test our faithfulness. He even punishes us for the things our great-grandparents did. ... The Lord may be a strong tower for His people, but the victims of legalism can’t run to Him and feel safe because they think He is angry with them.

<snip>

 

The message of the Bible. So many times people have told me that they simply cannot read the Bible anymore because all they see in it is condemnation.

<snip>

 

The new heart of the believer. How many times did we hear, “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked”? Victims of legalism are told never to trust their hearts, which meant never to trust their own judgment. Sadly that meant that they were only to trust the judgment of those above them, which opened them to all kinds of abuse. . . . The truth is that the believer has a new heart, one which the Lord uses to communicate with us. When He connects to the new spirit in us, He connects to the new heart (See Ezekiel 11:19). But when legalism stole away our ability to look within and trust our hearts, it took away our opportunity to hear the voice of our Lord.

<snip>

 

The love and joy of others. Legalism is a system of condemnation and comparison. It sets us up to put others down. If I can’t ever be good enough, I can at least be better than you. We learned to judge and condemn others, rather than to understand them. We learned to compare ourselves with them, rather than to listen and care. We learned to keep them at a distance just in case, rather than to love them.

<snip>

 

Read the full article here

 

 

 

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This is a great article Neb! Thanks for sharing. :thumbsup:

These are good reminders:
God loves you.
The Bible consistently tells of this love.
Those who have come to Jesus have received from Him a new heart.
Others are good for you.

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Stolen Treasures

Dr. David Orrison

11 March 2014

 

A recent article ... prompted me to think about the reason it is so difficult to move forward after being victimized by legalism. As I have worked with those hurt by legalism over the years, I have often heard stories about what happened five, ten, maybe thirty years ago. These folks still struggle against the lies they were told and the anger they continue to feel toward those who misused them. I have come to the conclusion that a great deal of the difficulty of moving on has to do with the treasures that were stolen.

 

Each of the following could be an article in itself, but let me just introduce the problems legalism created by stealing these treasures. You may think of more precious things that were stolen, but these are the ones that have come up most often as I have communicated with victims.

 

The character of God. Legalism presents an angry and vengeful God who wants to see us fail and then will punish us when we do. He rejects us when we sin and puts us into situations to test our faithfulness. He even punishes us for the things our great-grandparents did. ... The Lord may be a strong tower for His people, but the victims of legalism can’t run to Him and feel safe because they think He is angry with them.

<snip>

 

The message of the Bible. So many times people have told me that they simply cannot read the Bible anymore because all they see in it is condemnation.

<snip>

 

The new heart of the believer. How many times did we hear, “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked”? Victims of legalism are told never to trust their hearts, which meant never to trust their own judgment. Sadly that meant that they were only to trust the judgment of those above them, which opened them to all kinds of abuse. . . . The truth is that the believer has a new heart, one which the Lord uses to communicate with us. When He connects to the new spirit in us, He connects to the new heart (See Ezekiel 11:19). But when legalism stole away our ability to look within and trust our hearts, it took away our opportunity to hear the voice of our Lord.

<snip>

 

The love and joy of others. Legalism is a system of condemnation and comparison. It sets us up to put others down. If I can’t ever be good enough, I can at least be better than you. We learned to judge and condemn others, rather than to understand them. We learned to compare ourselves with them, rather than to listen and care. We learned to keep them at a distance just in case, rather than to love them.

<snip>

 

Read the full article here

First of all, the Bible does show a God who can be angry and vengeful.  Look at Ananias and Saphira as well as Herod in the book of Acts.  It does show a God who tests us.  Look at Job.  Look at David and the census.  Look at the poor man who reached up to steady the ark of the covenant.  That side of God does exist in the New and Old Testament.  Turning a blind eye to that side of God won't change anything. 

 

I absolutely don't believe in "trusting our heart."  The Bible doesn't teach us to do so.  We have the Bible as our authority, and when our heart doesn't match up with scripture, it is our heart that is wrong.  How many times have you heard a person who left their spouse for another say something like, "The heart wants what the heart wants."  That doesn't make it right. 

 

We are actually taught in scripture not to compare ourselves to others, so I agree that is wrong, but that is not so much a teaching as something people sometimes learn to do on their own.  I don't have long hair, so I think I am better than the guy who does.  I don't drink, so I think I am better than the guy who does.  I don't work on the Sabbath, so I think I am better than the guy who does.  I don't know of any churches that teach that.  Most simply teach their doctrine, and Satan will sometimes come in and cause the people doing right to be filled with pride.  Pride is a sin.  Legalism is not the problem.  Pride is, and you can think yourself better than others because you are not legalistic when others are.  That happens too. 

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First of all, the Bible does show a God who can be angry and vengeful.  Look at Ananias and Saphira as well as Herod in the book of Acts.  It does show a God who tests us.  Look at Job.  Look at David and the census.  Look at the poor man who reached up to steady the ark of the covenant.  That side of God does exist in the New and Old Testament.  Turning a blind eye to that side of God won't change anything.

 

You missed something here:

 

"who wants to see us fail"

 

"but the victims of legalism can’t run to Him and feel safe because they think He is angry with them."

 

Knowing God can be angry and vengeful is not the same as believing that He is always angry, that He is waiting for us to sin so that He can discipline us for it.

 

 

What do you tell a Christian who says, "I'm afraid of God because I am not perfect?" Do you tell them about God's love and grace, or do you tell them that if they just do a, b, and c, and quit doing x, y, and z, then they wouldn't have anything to be afraid of?

 

 

"So many times people have told me that they simply cannot read the Bible anymore because all they see in it is condemnation."

 

 

I absolutely don't believe in "trusting our heart."  The Bible doesn't teach us to do so.  We have the Bible as our authority, and when our heart doesn't match up with scripture, it is our heart that is wrong.  How many times have you heard a person who left their spouse for another say something like, "The heart wants what the heart wants."  That doesn't make it right.

 

Perhaps you should read what the author wrote (the full quote) and understand what he is saying, which is not what you presented above:

 

"Victims of legalism are told never to trust their hearts, which meant never to trust their own judgment."

 

Are you against people trusting their own judgement? After all, we are often faced with situations that are not spelled out black and white in Scripture. The Bible doesn't tell us which English translation of Scripture to us - that's your own judgement, is it not? The Bible does not tell Christians how to to be involved in a democratic-republican system of government - that is our own judgement, is it not? The Bible does not tell us which car we should purchase - that is our own judgement, is it not?

 

 

"...why we should delight in the Lord. The Scripture says that if we delight in the Lord He will give us the desires of our hearts. But if our hearts were as wicked as we were taught, why would God give us those desires? Of course, we were told that He would change the desires of our hearts to the right thing, but that didn’t really help much. The truth is that the believer has a new heart, one which the Lord uses to communicate with us. When He connects to the new spirit in us, He connects to the new heart (See Ezekiel 11:19)."

 

Do you believe you have this new heart? What do you do with this new heart He gave you? Regard it as deceitful and wicked?

 

Can you not see that he is not talking about "emotions" the way the example you gave does? A Christian in the above scenario is not listening to his 'heart" - where the Holy Spirit is sending him messages of conviction, which he is ignoring; he is listening to his "flesh".

 

 

We are actually taught in scripture not to compare ourselves to others, so I agree that is wrong, but that is not so much a teaching as something people sometimes learn to do on their own.  I don't have long hair, so I think I am better than the guy who does.  I don't drink, so I think I am better than the guy who does.  I don't work on the Sabbath, so I think I am better than the guy who does.  I don't know of any churches that teach that.  Most simply teach their doctrine, and Satan will sometimes come in and cause the people doing right to be filled with pride.  Pride is a sin.  Legalism is not the problem.  Pride is, and you can think yourself better than others because you are not legalistic when others are.  That happens too.

If you are saying that you are "better than" anyone for any reason, that is pride - yes.

 

But did you read this part:

 

"We learned to compare ourselves with them, rather than to listen and care."

 

Are you more interested in a person "following the rules" of externals or healing the brokenhearted and setting captives free?

 

Do you judge people based on hair length and attire, or do you judge them based on the fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance?

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First of all, the Bible does show a God who can be angry and vengeful.  Look at Ananias and Saphira as well as Herod in the book of Acts.  It does show a God who tests us.  Look at Job.  Look at David and the census.  Look at the poor man who reached up to steady the ark of the covenant.  That side of God does exist in the New and Old Testament.  Turning a blind eye to that side of God won't change anything.

 

You missed something here:

 

"who wants to see us fail"

 

"but the victims of legalism can’t run to Him and feel safe because they think He is angry with them."

 

Knowing God can be angry and vengeful is not the same as believing that He is always angry, that He is waiting for us to sin so that He can discipline us for it.

 

 

What do you tell a Christian who says, "I'm afraid of God because I am not perfect?" Do you tell them about God's love and grace, or do you tell them that if they just do a, b, and c, and quit doing x, y, and z, then they wouldn't have anything to be afraid of?

 

 

"So many times people have told me that they simply cannot read the Bible anymore because all they see in it is condemnation."

 

 

I absolutely don't believe in "trusting our heart."  The Bible doesn't teach us to do so.  We have the Bible as our authority, and when our heart doesn't match up with scripture, it is our heart that is wrong.  How many times have you heard a person who left their spouse for another say something like, "The heart wants what the heart wants."  That doesn't make it right.

 

Perhaps you should read what the author wrote (the full quote) and understand what he is saying, which is not what you presented above:

 

"Victims of legalism are told never to trust their hearts, which meant never to trust their own judgment."

 

Are you against people trusting their own judgement? After all, we are often faced with situations that are not spelled out black and white in Scripture. The Bible doesn't tell us which English translation of Scripture to us - that's your own judgement, is it not? The Bible does not tell Christians how to to be involved in a democratic-republican system of government - that is our own judgement, is it not? The Bible does not tell us which car we should purchase - that is our own judgement, is it not?

 

 

"...why we should delight in the Lord. The Scripture says that if we delight in the Lord He will give us the desires of our hearts. But if our hearts were as wicked as we were taught, why would God give us those desires? Of course, we were told that He would change the desires of our hearts to the right thing, but that didn’t really help much. The truth is that the believer has a new heart, one which the Lord uses to communicate with us. When He connects to the new spirit in us, He connects to the new heart (See Ezekiel 11:19)."

 

Do you believe you have this new heart? What do you do with this new heart He gave you? Regard it as deceitful and wicked?

 

Can you not see that he is not talking about "emotions" the way the example you gave does? A Christian in the above scenario is not listening to his 'heart" - where the Holy Spirit is sending him messages of conviction, which he is ignoring; he is listening to his "flesh".

 

 

We are actually taught in scripture not to compare ourselves to others, so I agree that is wrong, but that is not so much a teaching as something people sometimes learn to do on their own.  I don't have long hair, so I think I am better than the guy who does.  I don't drink, so I think I am better than the guy who does.  I don't work on the Sabbath, so I think I am better than the guy who does.  I don't know of any churches that teach that.  Most simply teach their doctrine, and Satan will sometimes come in and cause the people doing right to be filled with pride.  Pride is a sin.  Legalism is not the problem.  Pride is, and you can think yourself better than others because you are not legalistic when others are.  That happens too.

If you are saying that you are "better than" anyone for any reason, that is pride - yes.

 

But did you read this part:

 

"We learned to compare ourselves with them, rather than to listen and care."

 

Are you more interested in a person "following the rules" of externals or healing the brokenhearted and setting captives free?

 

Do you judge people based on hair length and attire, or do you judge them based on the fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance?

 

The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  I think it is a good thing to fear God.  I don't think he is always angry at us, but I know he does get angry.  I know what he is capable of doing.  Look at Lot's wife. 

 

I am against trusting our own judgment in any case where there is scripture that says something is right or wrong.  Of course the Bible won't tell us what translation to use, but common sense tells us to use a real Bible.  Since I believe the TR is the real Bible, as opposed to the manuscripts used by the new translations, I know to only use a Bible that starts with the TR as its foundation.  It is going to be assumed I know to use the real scriptures.  The Bible doesn't say I shouldn't accept the Apocrypha as inerrant.  The Bible doesn't say the Book of Mormon is a fraud.  The Bible doesn't say what we call the canon of scripture is the finished product.  I just know those things are true. 

 

The Bible doesn't tell us which political party to join, but I know not to join any group that openly supports the murder of children and homosexual marriage.  I know that based on scripture.  This isn't grey to me.  I don't necessarily believe Christians have to be Republicans, but I don't believe any real Christian would join themselves to the Democratic Party and support their platform. 

 

The length of our hair and the clothes we wear are a reflection of what is on the inside.  I can't separate them.  If I see someone dressing in a way that is against scripture and having a hair style that is in opposition to scripture, it shows something isn't right.  It is not one or the other.  It is not like in a sales pitch where I give a person only two choices and they have to make the one I am leading them to make.  You can see things from the outward appearance and the fruit they bear. 

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The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  I think it is a good thing to fear God.  I don't think he is always angry at us, but I know he does get angry.  I know what he is capable of doing.  Look at Lot's wife.

But there is a huge difference between having the fear of the Lord and actually being afraid of the Lord - like the child who accidentally knocks over and breaks a vase and deals with it by hiding in the closet because they know the parent will beat them black and blue and/or yell demeaning things at them.

 

I am against trusting our own judgment in any case where there is scripture that says something is right or wrong.

No one is asking anyone to go against Scripture with this.

Of course the Bible won't tell us what translation to use, but common sense tells us to use a real Bible.  Since I believe the TR is the real Bible, as opposed to the manuscripts used by the new translations, I know to only use a Bible that starts with the TR as its foundation.  It is going to be assumed I know to use the real scriptures.  The Bible doesn't say I shouldn't accept the Apocrypha as inerrant.  The Bible doesn't say the Book of Mormon is a fraud.  The Bible doesn't say what we call the canon of scripture is the finished product.  I just know those things are true.

You just "know" based on - what?

 

The Bible doesn't tell us which political party to join, but I know not to join any group that openly supports the murder of children and homosexual marriage.  I know that based on scripture.  This isn't grey to me.  I don't necessarily believe Christians have to be Republicans, but I don't believe any real Christian would join themselves to the Democratic Party and support their platform.

Right, you are following what is on your heart to follow with this - yes, based on your understanding of Scripture, but it "witnesses" with your heart/spirit.

 

 

The length of our hair and the clothes we wear are a reflection of what is on the inside.  I can't separate them.  If I see someone dressing in a way that is against scripture and having a hair style that is in opposition to scripture, it shows something isn't right.  It is not one or the other.  It is not like in a sales pitch where I give a person only two choices and they have to make the one I am leading them to make.  You can see things from the outward appearance and the fruit they bear.

I know of a woman with short hair who has poured out more love and ministered blessing and healing to more lives than I can possibly imagining. Will God judge her on her short hair? Really?

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The Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  I think it is a good thing to fear God.  I don't think he is always angry at us, but I know he does get angry.  I know what he is capable of doing.  Look at Lot's wife.

But there is a huge difference between having the fear of the Lord and actually being afraid of the Lord - like the child who accidentally knocks over and breaks a vase and deals with it by hiding in the closet because they know the parent will beat them black and blue and/or yell demeaning things at them.

 

I am against trusting our own judgment in any case where there is scripture that says something is right or wrong.

No one is asking anyone to go against Scripture with this.

Of course the Bible won't tell us what translation to use, but common sense tells us to use a real Bible.  Since I believe the TR is the real Bible, as opposed to the manuscripts used by the new translations, I know to only use a Bible that starts with the TR as its foundation.  It is going to be assumed I know to use the real scriptures.  The Bible doesn't say I shouldn't accept the Apocrypha as inerrant.  The Bible doesn't say the Book of Mormon is a fraud.  The Bible doesn't say what we call the canon of scripture is the finished product.  I just know those things are true.

You just "know" based on - what?

 

The Bible doesn't tell us which political party to join, but I know not to join any group that openly supports the murder of children and homosexual marriage.  I know that based on scripture.  This isn't grey to me.  I don't necessarily believe Christians have to be Republicans, but I don't believe any real Christian would join themselves to the Democratic Party and support their platform.

Right, you are following what is on your heart to follow with this - yes, based on your understanding of Scripture, but it "witnesses" with your heart/spirit.

 

 

The length of our hair and the clothes we wear are a reflection of what is on the inside.  I can't separate them.  If I see someone dressing in a way that is against scripture and having a hair style that is in opposition to scripture, it shows something isn't right.  It is not one or the other.  It is not like in a sales pitch where I give a person only two choices and they have to make the one I am leading them to make.  You can see things from the outward appearance and the fruit they bear.

I know of a woman with short hair who has poured out more love and ministered blessing and healing to more lives than I can possibly imagining. Will God judge her on her short hair? Really?

 

If you sin, you should go to the Lord for forgiveness.  You can't cover it up, as the eyes of the Lord are upon everything that takes place.  At the same time, look at what happened to some people because of their sins.  Look at what happened after David took that census.  Look at what happened when the man steadied the ark of the covenant.  Look at what happened to Lot's wife.  Look at what happened to Ananias and Saphira.  Look at what happened to Herod.  What happens if you commit that one sin that leads to instant death or severe punishment? 

 

I know the Bible isn't going to come out and say what translation to use.  It is just expected we use actual, reliable scriptures.  I know they aren't all equal, because they don't always agree.  There has to be a right or wrong.  Under your belief system, there is no 100 percent true translation.  I hold to the view that my Bible is 100 percent trustworthy.  I don't believe it is 95 percent accurate or even 98 percent accurate, but 100 percent accurate. 

 

I can say with 100 percent certainty, that based on scripture, and what it says about homosexuality and abortion, no Christian has any business joining themselves to a political party that supports those things in their platform.  This is beyond my heart and my feelings. 

 

If the Bible said the length of a woman's hair was a sin issue, I would say absolutely yes.  However, it doesn't say that.  It says that if a woman or man want to be contentious in this area, they are free to do so.  I do believe there could be consequences, but it is not a salvation issue.  I don't buy into your arguments that because someone is doing so much good in so many areas of their life, other areas will be overlooked.  It just happens that in the case of hair length, it is not a salvation issue.  Had you asked me about her wearing pants or getting a tattoo, I would say those things will most definitely matter, regardless.  Now, that is based on my view of how certain scriptures apply to the way people conduct themselves in today's culture.  I admit I could be wrong, as those on your side could be wrong.  Only God knows for sure, but I can only go by my best opinion based on what I see in the Bible. 

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If you sin, you should go to the Lord for forgiveness.  You can't cover it up, as the eyes of the Lord are upon everything that takes place.  At the same time, look at what happened to some people because of their sins.  Look at what happened after David took that census.  Look at what happened when the man steadied the ark of the covenant.  Look at what happened to Lot's wife.  Look at what happened to Ananias and Saphira.  Look at what happened to Herod.  What happens if you commit that one sin that leads to instant death or severe punishment? 

 

Exactly, when this is what you preach, this is how you view God - the God to be terrified of. Unless you spend at least as much time preaching on the love, mercy, and grace of God,you will be walking on egg shells.

 

Someone is careless on the road and you blurt out words of rage at the person (cursing), you had a rough day at work and you grumble and complain about the day rather than "giving thanks in all circumstances," you enjoy that lust you feel watching a sex scene during a movie, .... These are all sin, and they are struggles and temptations of the flesh that are not so easy to just shut off. You can't shake them off, you find yourself stumbling over the same sin over and over and over, . . . . Do you feel safe running to God, or are you afrain he will strike you dead ad he did to Uzziah or Lot's wife or Annanias and Saphira?

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If you sin, you should go to the Lord for forgiveness.  You can't cover it up, as the eyes of the Lord are upon everything that takes place.  At the same time, look at what happened to some people because of their sins.  Look at what happened after David took that census.  Look at what happened when the man steadied the ark of the covenant.  Look at what happened to Lot's wife.  Look at what happened to Ananias and Saphira.  Look at what happened to Herod.  What happens if you commit that one sin that leads to instant death or severe punishment? 

 

Exactly, when this is what you preach, this is how you view God - the God to be terrified of. Unless you spend at least as much time preaching on the love, mercy, and grace of God,you will be walking on egg shells.

 

Someone is careless on the road and you blurt out words of rage at the person (cursing), you had a rough day at work and you grumble and complain about the day rather than "giving thanks in all circumstances," you enjoy that lust you feel watching a sex scene during a movie, .... These are all sin, and they are struggles and temptations of the flesh that are not so easy to just shut off. You can't shake them off, you find yourself stumbling over the same sin over and over and over, . . . . Do you feel safe running to God, or are you afrain he will strike you dead ad he did to Uzziah or Lot's wife or Annanias and Saphira?

 

If you are still alive after you sin, of course you should confess your sins to God.  Why wouldn't you do so?  He obviously had compassion on you and allowed you time to repent.  Of course you should take advantage of it.  In the case of some of the people I mentioned, they weren't given that chance.  It is not like Ananias, Saphira or Lot's wife had a chance to go to God and ask for forgiveness. 

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If you sin, you should go to the Lord for forgiveness.  You can't cover it up, as the eyes of the Lord are upon everything that takes place.  At the same time, look at what happened to some people because of their sins.  Look at what happened after David took that census.  Look at what happened when the man steadied the ark of the covenant.  Look at what happened to Lot's wife.  Look at what happened to Ananias and Saphira.  Look at what happened to Herod.  What happens if you commit that one sin that leads to instant death or severe punishment? 

 

Exactly, when this is what you preach, this is how you view God - the God to be terrified of. Unless you spend at least as much time preaching on the love, mercy, and grace of God,you will be walking on egg shells.

 

Someone is careless on the road and you blurt out words of rage at the person (cursing), you had a rough day at work and you grumble and complain about the day rather than "giving thanks in all circumstances," you enjoy that lust you feel watching a sex scene during a movie, .... These are all sin, and they are struggles and temptations of the flesh that are not so easy to just shut off. You can't shake them off, you find yourself stumbling over the same sin over and over and over, . . . . Do you feel safe running to God, or are you afrain he will strike you dead ad he did to Uzziah or Lot's wife or Annanias and Saphira?

If you are still alive after you sin, of course you should confess your sins to God.  Why wouldn't you do so?  He obviously had compassion on you and allowed you time to repent.  Of course you should take advantage of it.  In the case of some of the people I mentioned, they weren't given that chance.  It is not like Ananias, Saphira or Lot's wife had a chance to go to God and ask for forgiveness. 

 

 

God didn't kill you, so take advantage of it . . .

 

That brings no comfort to convince someone that God is not an ogre.

 

Nor does it convince someone away from the view that God just can't wait for someone to sin so that He can punish them.

 

Rather, this response affirms the belief that God's mercy comes at a whim rather than that He sympathizes with our frailties.

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