THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT -- LESSON EIGHT
"Blessed Are The Persecuted"
I. Society has always persecuted its best and prosecuted
its worst citizens, for refusing to conform to the middle
of the road.
II. There is unceasing conflict between good and evil, right
and wrong, truth and error raging on earth, and
frequently in our hearts.
III. The eighth beatitude reminds us that being a Christian
in the sinful world will inevitably cost and bring
tribulation (John 16:33).
I. WHAT IT MEANS TO BE REPROACHED AND/OR
A. Reproach means a cause or occasion of blame,
discredit or disgrace; the act or action of reproaching
or disgracing; an expression of rebuke or
disapproval. To reproach another person means to
speak abusively, to censure, rebuke revile or
upbraid. It may include false statements invented
and told because of prejudice and/or malice which
led those who invent them that nothing is too evil to
believe/tell against the object of their malice.
B. To persecute means "to harass in a manner
designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specif: To cause
to suffer because of belief. To annoy with persistent
or urgent approaches (as attacks, pleas, or
importunities): PESTER." --Webster's New Collegiate
Dictionary, p. 848.
1. To persecute means to vex, or oppress; torment
2. "The continued infliction of unjust pain or
punishment; especially, a period of ill treatment
and opposition on account of religious beliefs; the
state of being unjustly treated, repeated repeated
injury of any kind"-- F.L. Cox, Sermon Notes on
the Sermon on the Mount, 1955, p. 31.
II. WHAT ARE ITS CAUSES?
A. Intolerance and prejudice. The righteous person is
different and has no fellowship with the unfruitful
works of darkness. (Ephesians 5:11); hence, this
causes a feeling of resentment in the heart of the
wicked (John 15:19).
B. Pride. A Christian, by his very manner of life, is a
constant rebuke to sinners (Hebrews 11:7b). Some of
them he wins; some he offends. "He makes the
worthless and self-centered uncomfortable." "Pride
wounded writhes in pain:" Herod and John the
Baptist (Matthew 14:1ff; Mark 6:24-28). Elijah and
the widow: "Are you come to call my sin to my
remembrance?" (I Kings 17:18).
C. Envy or Jealousy. Sinners as a rule do not rejoice
when godly people in the same line are favored above
them (Genesis 4:1-9).
D. Selfishness. The genuine, vital Christian must often
work for that which works against the profits of
vested interests (Acts 16:16-23; 19:23ff; John 2:13-17).
E. The very aggressiveness of a Christian in
carrying out God's will (John 14:6; Jude 3; 2
1. Living goodness provokes opposition by those
unlike Jesus--the ungodly, sensuous, profane; etc.
Christianity is a warfare (2 Corinthians 10:3-5;
Ephesians 6:12; 1 Timothy 6:12).
2. Jesus said, He who loves darkness hates the light
which exposes his evil works (John 3:19-21; Luke
6:22-26: "Woe unto you when all men shall
speak well of you! ...."
3. Although persecution is inevitable to him who is
determined to live a Christian life (2 Timothy
3:12), this does not mean that all people
universally will hate or harm the Christian
(2 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Peter 2:11,12; Acts 2:47).
III. IN WHAT FORMS DOES PERSECUTION COME?
A. Material or physical loss or injury: By hand, fist,
sword or flame.
1. Jesus; Stephen; Paul; Fox's Book of Martyrs; etc.
2. See also Hebrews 11:34.
B. By tongue or pen: Verbal or written abuse or
1. Most persecution in our land has shifted from
scaffold, stake and whipping post to classroom,
gym, office and shop (Matthew 5:11).
2. It may come in the form of ridicule, slander,
derision, scoffing, sport/rejection (Luke 6:22).
3. Jesus was accused of being a friend of publicans
and sinners, a glutton, winebibber, mad, in league
with Satan, etc., to discredit and destroy his
influence and name (John 15:18,19).
C. See 20th Century Christian, 8/67, p. 33, Paden;
McCord, Happiness Guaranteed, p.58.
IV. HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND? WHAT IS THE RIGHT
ATTITUDE TOWARD PERSECUTION?
A. We must avoid unchristian response, such as
1. Do not yield to the temptation to complain, to
whine, to succumb to self-pity. Decide to win, not
lose. Becoming full of self pity instead of faith in
Christ guarantees defeat and loss (Colossians
2. There is great danger in allowing a persecution
complex to develop: This allows one's
misfortunes to become the champion of his life,
rather than his faith in the Lord and worthy
achievement through Jesus Christ our Lord to be
the champion (Romans 8:37).
3. Do not yield to the temptation to take vengeance
4. Do not become so discouraged that you give up
the fight for right, saying, "What's the use?" (Mark
4:16,17; 1 Corinthians 10:13).
B. We must adopt and follow the Christian response
1. "Arm ye yourselves:" "Forasmuch then as
Christ suffered in the flesh, arm ye yourself
also with the same mind; for he that hath
suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that
ye should no longer live the rest of your time
in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will
of God" (1 Peter 4:1,2).
2. Bless/pray for your persecutors: Do not curse,
censure, revile, slander or speak evil against your
tormentors (Romans 12:14; Matthew 5:43-45).
3. "Rejoice and be exceeding glad:" "Leap for
joy;" "Let me congratulate you; " "Be of good
cheer;" for two reasons.
a. A big reward awaits you: "Great is your
reward in heaven" compare Revelation 3:21.
b. You are in wonderful company: "For so
persecuted the prophets that were before
you." You are now in the company of Abel,
Isaiah, Daniel, Stephen, Jesus, the apostles,
and a multitude of other righteous souls.
4. Bear patiently: Return good for evil (1 Peter
2:21-24; Romans 12:21).
a. Be fearless, settled and strong in the Lord:
Follow Jesus, Paul and others like them (1
Corinthians 15:58; 16:13; 11:1).
b. "Wait for Jehovah: Be strong, and let thy
heart take courage; Yea, wait thou for
Jehovah" (Psalm 27:14: Isaiah 40:31; 41:9-11).
"The tide will come in:" "No person ever really
lives until he has found something worth dying
for. You can never really possess the
Kingdom of God until the cause of God become
more important than you own life" -- Allen,
God's Psychiatry, p. 158.
5. Remain firm for the right: John 12:23, 27, 28;
17:5; Hebrews 12:2.
a. Stay in the struggle for right, in the stream of
b. Keep on going: Never give up! Right will
prevail! (1 Corinthian 10:13).
6. Remember that it is better to suffer for well-doing than
be praised or to suffer for evil doing
(1Peter 2:20-25; 3:17, 18; 4:14-16). Boyce, Power to
Become, p. 43-46.
V. BLESSINGS DERIVED FROM PERSECUTION
A. Strength. Though being a Christian costs, it is the
pathway to growth in compassion, steadfastness,
approvedness and hope (Romans 5:1-5).
1. Although the trial or testing of faith is seldom
pleasant from the human viewpoint, the proving
of faith works patience, and it develops and
reveals stronger, Christian character which
includes greater trust in God and dependence
upon Him (James 1:2-4).
2. That is how we learn and grow in the grace that
is in Christ (Luke 21:12,13; 2 Timothy 2:1; 2 Peter
B. Purity: refining power (1 Peter 1:6-9). "When he
hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10-12).
C. Opportunities increase: Larger usefulness.
Opportunities to glorify God and exalt Christ
increase (Philippians 1:12; Acts 8:4; 1 Peter 3:16).
D. Concern of Christ and angels: Matthew 5:10-12;
E. Final blessings: Crown, eternal life: A great
reward in proportion to, yet much greater than,
the sacrifice (2 Timothy 4:6-8; Matthew 5:12; Cf.
Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18). Yet this
promise is not to him who avoids, despises or merely
observes the contest, whining "they criticize me,"
etc., etc., when the going gets tough, the sun is hot,
or the battle is crucial.
VI. TO PARTAKE OF CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS HERE
IS TO SHARE HIS GLORY WHEN HE COMES (1
Peter 4:12, 13; Romans 8:17,18).
VII. WE ARE "MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH
HIM" BECAUSE "ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER
FOR GOOD TO THEM THAT LOVE GOD, EVEN TO
THEM THAT ARE CALLED ACCORDING TO HIS
PURPOSE" (Romans 8:28, 33-39).
--Charles E. Crouch