The Beatitudes
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Lesson Eight • You Have Got to Stand for Something
Pastor Roy Townsend

Have you ever wondered if you are doing the right thing then why does everything go wrong? In my family, we were taught that you have got to stand for something, or you will fall for anything. The Scriptures give us backward sounding advice directly from Jesus. 

Matthew 5:10 reads, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Really, the Kingdom of Heaven is promised to people who are persecuted not for their own wrongdoings, but for “righteousness’ sake.” People will suffer for doing right. The Scripture goes on to say that these people are blessed or happy. Many commentators say that blessed really means we are to “leap for joy.” So, those believers that are “persecuted for righteousness’ sake” are going to leap for joy. Does this not sound backward?

1. Have you ever heard the saying that a “church persecuted is a church pure?” What do you think that means?

 

Luke 6:22-23 reads, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”

We were taught that when the church is truly being persecuted for doing the right thing, then you know that those continuing to serve are for real or pure. The persecuted church is standing up for what is right. The religious leaders of Jesus’ time had a fake righteousness that they put on for others to see, but Jesus reveals that a true righteousness comes from the heart. True righteousness comes from the inside. Barclay wrote, “The Pharisees were concerned about the minute details of conduct, but they neglected the major matter of character. Conduct flows out of character.”

Matthew 24:9 reads, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.”  

Christ teaches that as the world moves further and further from the teachings of the Scriptures, we as believers will become more offensive to the world.

     2. What does it mean to be persecuted?

 

     3. In what ways do you see the persecution of believers growing in our world?

 

According to the dictionary, persecuted means hostility or ill-treatment toward a person, especially because of their race, political, or religious beliefs. Further, it can mean to harass or annoy persistently. What is crazy is that this persecution for righteousness leads to a double blessing, but the Scriptures further reveals the type of actions that will befall His children.

Matthew 5:11-12 reads, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

     4. Have you ever had someone falsely accuse you of something?

 

     5. Is there someone who reviles you? Why?

 

     6. So why does the world respond to the followers of Jesus in this way?

 

John 3:19-20 reads, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.”

The world hates the righteous life because it exposes the world’s unrighteousness. When the world sees how you are living, they do not like what they see because it reveals what is wrong in their lives. The Apostle Paul tells his spiritual son, Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” The principle is clear that we will be persecuted.

However, we know that Christ has told us how to respond. We are told to “rejoice and be glad” (1 Peter 4:13). Again, this is where it sounds backward. New Testament believers prayed for boldness to tell others about Christ when they were persecuted. Christ’s followers rejoiced after they were beaten in Acts 5:41, “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”

     7. Does persecution make you care more for the lost?

 

     8. Why is it hard to rejoice when persecuted?

 

Paul and Silas sang when they were beaten for Christ. In Acts 16:25, we read, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”

MacArthur writes, “If we never experience ridicule, criticism, or rejection because of our faith, we have reason to examine the genuineness of it.” Paul wrote, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer on His behalf, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me” (Philippians 1:29-30 NASB). 

     9. If you are not persecuted, can anyone tell that you are a follower of Christ?

 

Luke 9:26 reads, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

We have been warned. You have got to stand for something, or you will fall for anything!



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