I. WE HAVE A DESCRIPTION OF THE CHARACTER OF THE CHRISTIAN IN THESE BEATITUDES.
A. He is a man that is poor in spirit. i.e. Not self asserting, aggressive, not a braggart.
B. He is meek. i.e. does not have an exalted opinion of himself.
C. He hungers and thirsts after righteousness. He longs to do the right thing. He seeks to treat others as he would like to be treated.
D. He is merciful. Not seeking revenge, or is not possessed by a get even mentality.
E. He is pure in heart. These things are not just outward facades, but come from his heart.
F. He is a peacemaker. He does not go around stirring up strife, but rather seeks to bring opposing parties together.
II. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE WORLD'S ATTITUDE WILL BE TOWARD SUCH A PERSON?
A. Will they admire him?
B. Will they seek to make him the president?
C. How revealing this next beatitude is, "Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness' sake."
1. These characteristics are righteous characteristics, and if you possess them don't expect the world to honor you.
2. Rather the opposite, the world will persecute you.
III. A FEW OBSERVATIONS HERE, JESUS DID NOT SAY BLESSED ARE THEY WHO ARE PERSECUTED FOR BEING DIFFERENT.
A. It is true that a person that is different is often persecuted, but there is no particular blessedness attached to that.
B. I know some people who have been positively obnoxious in their aggressive witnessing, they push people for a decision, they can get insulting.
1. Such witnessing creates resentment and anger.
2. They by their methods create persecution, but there is no blessedness for that kind of persecution.
C. When I was in college in Los Angeles years ago there was a woman with a very tanned face, whenever you saw her, she would be standing on the sidewalk just looking up into the sky. I once went up to her and asked what she was looking at and she responded that the Lord said, "Look up for your redemption draweth nigh." I reminded her that the Lord also said, "Occupy till I come." She went away saying, "Thank you Lord for the persecution."
1. But Jesus didn't say blessed are they who are persecuted for being weird.
D. Jesus did not say blessed are they who are persecuted who stand for a political cause.
1. There is a real danger of being drawn into the political arena.
2. Politicians are masters at using people to promote their cause.
3. If you want to get persecuted just get into the political scene.
4. The spin masters of the world and the world's media can make good look evil and evil look good.
5. There is no particular blessedness promised to those who are persecuted because of their politics.
IV. WHY ARE WE SURPRISED WHEN THE WORLD PERSECUTES THE RIGHTEOUS?
A. This has been the pattern of the world from the beginning.
1. It began with Cain and Abel.
a. This week we are studying I John 3
. There John tells us of Cain killing his brother Abel, and why? Because his works were evil and his brother's were righteous.
b. In the next verse John writes, "Marvel not if the world hates you."
2. Jeremiah is another example of being persecuted for living righteously and speaking God's truth to the people.
3. Daniel was persecuted for righteousness sake.
a. When the Persian king Darius choose 120 men to be princes and of those three to be presidents and the first of these was Daniel, because of his excellent spirit. The others conspired against Daniel and sought to find some charge to make against him.
b. He was so without fault and diligent and faithful in his work, such a righteous man they finally said,
We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find [it] against him concerning the law of his God.
c. So they devised a scheme to create a situation where the king would sign a decree that would force Daniel to either obey the king's order or violate his convictions.
4. When Stephen was making his defense before the religious council in Jerusalem, he asked, "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?"
5. The greatest example of all is Jesus.
a. When Peter was speaking to those Gentiles about Jesus, who had gathered in the house of Cornelius, he said,
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
b. Mattthew said of Him,
Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
c. His main exhortation was to love God with all your heart mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself.
d. Peter wrote concerning Jesus,
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously:
e. The writer of Hebrews said of Jesus our High Priest, that He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.
f. Yet they persecuted Him and finally crucified Him.
7. In Hebrews 11
we read of the Old Testament saints,
And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and [of] Barak, and [of] Samson, and [of] Jephthae; [of] David also, and Samuel, and [of] the prophets:
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
And others had trial of [cruel] mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and [in] mountains, and [in] dens and caves of the earth.
8. Read Foxes book of Martyrs and see how the early church was persecuted by the world.
9. We should note that the persecution does not always come from the world, but often from the religious people.
a. It was the religious leaders who conspired to crucify Jesus, and forced the issue when Pilate was determined to let Him go free.
b. In Russia today the greatest persecution of our missionaries is coming from the Russian Orthodox Church.
c. Our missionaries in Mexico find the greatest persecution comes from the Catholic priests.
d. In India the great persecution is coming from the Hindu's.
e. In Iran, and Saudi Arabia, and other muslim controlled nations the great persecution is coming from the Moslems.
f. It would seem that the most intolerant people in the world are the religious people.
g. When our daughter Cheryl attended Westmont College she was persecuted and made fun of because of her strong commitment to Jesus. When she transferred to U.C.I. she said it was much easier, for there they respected her for her faith and devotion, though they did not necessarily agree with it.
V. Why does the world hate Christians and persecute them?
A. Because we are not of this world.
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
B. Because they do not know God.
They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.
C. Because they love evil and hate good.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
VI. WHAT IS THE FUTURE FOR THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE?
A. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. You are the citizens of the heavenly kingdom.
1. Note that this is the same promise as in the first beatitude.
2. I believe that this is an indication that this is the last of the beatitudes, we have gone the full cycle and that next blessed is an amplication of this particular beatitude.
3. Jesus said,
a. "You are not of this world."
b. "Woe when the world speaks well of you for so did the fathers to the false prophets."
4. Paul said, (or citizenship)
For our conversation /is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
5. John said,
Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
B. Next time you find yourself being persecuted, seek to analyze it to see if it is for righteousness sake, if so, rejoice, for you belong to the kingdom of heaven.