I. Introduction: (Matthew 5:10-12)
1. To be persecuted for the sake of righteousness means to be persecuted for choosing to live by the principles of God’s Kingdom.
2. Although it seems paradoxical, everyone who chooses to go the way of
God should know they may face persecution.
3. Persecution may even come from our own household (Matthew 10:34-39).
4. Righteousness means innocent in the eyes of God.
A. Ancient Faith-Walkers:
1. Those who live righteously before God have always been persecuted by
2. Righteous Abel presented a sacrifice that was pleasing to the Lord, Cain objected.
3. The result was that Cain, in a jealous rage, lashed out and took the life of
Abel his brother.
4. Every faith-walking person mentioned in our Bible has suffered at the
hands of the unrighteous. i.e. Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, etc.
5. For some reason, it seems that righteousness is a magnet for persecution.
6. From Apostolic time till now those who hold to faith in Yahweh God as
the only God are fair game – confiscation of property, life, family, etc.
B. Remaining Faithful:
1. Are we to be happy when we are being persecuted?
2. Are we to rejoice and be glad when people speak evil of us?
3. This requires a two stage answer:
a) Satan may come to us and say: (like Job experienced) “my
persecutions are too difficult to endure.”
b) Walk away from Jesus and enjoy life in the flesh.
c) Jesus’ answer is: The persecuted for righteousness belong to His Kingdom.
d) Jesus says: “rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great.”
C. Nothing New or Unexpected:
1. Paul writes: we will face persecution for living a godly lifestyle (2 Tim 2:12).
2. Paul personally faced persecution frequently.
3. John The Baptist and others were persecuted (Hebrews 11).
a) Their crime: Live righteously in an unrighteous world.
b) Conflicting worldview if you will – our worldview must (like Paul) focus on God and what He has done and what He will do.
4. Jesus our Christ was the most righteous and He suffered great persecution.
5. The persecuted should receive it joyfully – thinking of the company they are in.
6. To be persecuted for righteousness is a sign that we are unwilling to
compromise God’s Kingdom Principles for life.
D. Reaction To Persecution:
1. We should copy Jesus in our reaction to persecution and hardship.
2. We should maybe also copy Paul in his reaction to persecution and hardship.
3. Read Paul’s Tribulation Catalog.
a) 2 Corinthians 4:7-18.
b) 2 Corinthians 11:16-32.
4. Paul describes his persecution as momentary and light.
a) He is measuring time with eternity.
b) Our short lived lives, persecution is light.
c) In our context, persecution is relatively non-existent.
d) In many parts of our world God’s people are suffering extensively –
our prayers go to God for them to remain faithful.
e) We too must keep our faith sharp and focused on the heavenly reward.
5. Jesus’ thrust in His message is to explain the nature of true righteousness.
a) He is opposing the works oriented self-righteousness of the religious
leaders of His day.
b) The righteous Jesus has in mind – those who have been made righteous by the working of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:11).
c) It is the Holy Spirit that leads us in righteousness and holiness (Psalm 23:1-3; John 10:27-30.
III. Deserved and Undeserved Persecution:
A. Deserved Persecution:
1. Read 1 Peter 2:12, 20.
a) Make sure when evil is spoken against us that it really is slander.
b) Live righteously despite the slander.
c) Faithfulness is a reason for people to take notice of our life.
2. 1 Peter 3:17.
a) We gain nothing if we suffer for wrong done.
b) The righteousness of God in us is to attract attention to God and His glory.
3. Read 1 Peter 4:12-16.
a) Here we are being discouraged from viewing suffering as a mark of
our spirituality (i.e. like a grade point).
b) Some persecution is deserved because of a sinful lifestyle.
c) Our objective needs to be:
i) Truly spiritual people desire to conform to the image of Christ.
ii) Truly spiritual people desire to help others to conform to the
image of Christ.
d) When we tell others about Jesus we need to be respectful and courteous
– not obnoxious.
i) When we are obnoxious we deserve to be ridiculed.
ii) Jesus Christ in us should be the only thing that brings offense.
iii) Jesus’ holiness seen in us will reflect peoples Christlessness in
e) When we are offensive (obnoxious) in sharing the Gospel we become
guilty of obstructing the message of God’s love.
f) The blessing Jesus is talking about is suffering for righteousness sake only.
B. Undeserved Persecution:
1. The nature of true righteousness – it provokes the unrighteous.
a) The Jesus message in itself provokes hostility in many societies.
– Jesus in us is the true brightness against a dark background.
b) The sad part – the greatest persecutions against the righteous has come from those in the church.
2. We must not allow Christianity to degenerate into only a system of does
and don’t s/rules.
a) God loved us so much that He came and dwelt among us as Jesus the
incarnate One (John 1:14).
i) He lived a sinless life.
ii) He died on a Roman cross – public humiliation.
iii) He rose from the dead on the third day – like He said he would.
iv) He has power over death.
v) He is who He claimed to be.
vi) He now offers eternal life to all.
vii) No system of religious works required to earn our way to heaven.
viii) Praise the Lord for His goodness and grace.
IV. Rejoicing In Persecution:
A. Remember The Reward:
1. Remaining faithful we gain the Kingdom of Heaven.
2. Notice: The Beatitudes begin and end with the same blessing – the
Kingdom of Heaven.
a) Persecution comes because of the characteristics of true righteousness
in our lives.
i) Poor in spirit, mournful, meek, hungering and thirsting after
ii) Merciful, pure in heart, peacemaking.
b) Kingdom Principles come out of a regenerated heart.
i) Our aim is to become more like Christ.
ii) As we become more like Christ –
iii) The world will begin to react to us in a similar fashion as it did
c) Jesus said in John 15:20 – A slave is not greater than his master. If
they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My
word, they will keep yours also.