Beatitude 9 could also be labeled Beatitude 8b because it deals with the same basic topic—persecution. But, we designate this passage as Beatitude 9 because it starts with “Blessed.” So, let’s have a look.
Matt. 5:11 Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous— with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of your outward conditions) are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things against you falsely on My account.
Matt. 5:12 Be glad and supremely joyful, for your reward in heaven is great (strong and intense), for in this same way people persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The difference between 8 and 9 is quite subtle, but certainly real, none the less. In 8, the persecution is for righteousness sake—that is being persecuted for doing what God asks us to do. In 9, the blessing comes to those who are persecuted, as Jesus says, “on my account.” In other words, we will be persecuted because we believe in Jesus, or because we tell others of Jesus, or write about Jesus, or in any way, shape, or form acknowledge Jesus in our lives.
Again, we should expect this type of persecution. Jesus knows the heart of man, and gave us this warning/statement of fact: If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would treat you with affection and would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world [no longer one with it], but I have chosen (selected) you out of the world, the world hates (detests) you (John 15:18-19).
Notice the reason that the world hates us: we are not of the world. I like the way Peter put it: Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you were unpitied, but now you are pitied and have received mercy. Beloved, I implore you as aliens and strangers and exiles [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges (the evil desires, the passions of the flesh, your lower nature) that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may by witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock] (1Peter 2:10-12).
We are aliens! So if anyone asks you if you believe in aliens, say yes, and then tell them why. Well, the point really is that we should consider ourselves to be separated from the world (the nature and functioning of man without God). We need to consider ourselves for what we really are. And what is that? Saints. Not sinners.
Saint = child of God; one who lives in a relationship with God; made so by the reliance of that person on Jesus Christ for his/her salvation, having asked God for that salvation and “confessed” (said it) with their lips (Rom. 8:17, 27, 10:9-13, Eph. 1:1,).
Sinner = anyone that has not made Jesus the Lord of their lives and therefore lives outside a relationship with God (Matt. 6:24, Rom. 13:2, 14:23, Eph. 2:2, Heb. 11:6, 1Peter 3:12).
Paul carefully explained this to the believers at Ephesus: Therefore you are no longer outsiders (exiles, migrants, and aliens, excluded from the rights of citizens), but you now share citizenship with the saints (God’s own people, consecrated and set apart for Himself); and you belong to God’s [own] household (Eph. 2:19). Rather amazing. We have not only been extracted from the slime and ooze of this world, but we have been made citizens of God’s own household. This does come with a cost, however, and that cost is envy, jealousy, fear, bitterness, and hatred of the world toward us. Now, hold on just a minute. This does not mean that people are immediately going to come against you. It does not mean that friends will abandon you (although that may happen). It does not necessarily mean that everyone you meet that is not God’s child will immediately get their hackles up and begin persecuting you. There are plenty of people around who will persecute just by saying that they just want to “live and let live,” and so don’t want to be around “intolerant” Christians that are always talking about Jesus, not realizing that they are being intolerant by having such an attitude.
We need to always remember that Satan has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING GOOD for humans. His “job” (as he sees it) is to “kill, steal, and destroy,” while Jesus’ job is to give us life full to abundant overflowing (John 10:10). We need to remember that God is not capable of being tempted with evil, nor does He temp anyone with evil. We are tempted when we are drawn astray by old, worldly lusts, emotions, and attitudes (James 1:13-15). This is why we need to renew our minds (Rom. 12:2, 1Cor. 2:16), fill our brains with God’s Word, seek His ever-presence, and concentrate on the “good stuff” (Phil 4:8). Further, we need to remember that ALL GOOD THINGS come from God (James 1:16-17), and ONLY FROM GOD. And still further, we need to remember that in our worldly existence we WILL HAVE trials, temptations, and frustrations, and that we can escape from them though Christ Jesus (John 16:33, Phil. 2:13, 4:13, 19, 1John 4:4, 5:4-5).
When we are persecuted on account of Jesus in our lives, then we need to go to God, open our hearts in praise and thanksgiving (Eph. 5:20, 1Thes. 5:18), knowing that He has provided a way out for us (1Cor. 10:13), and give Him thanks that He always sees and hears us when we are operating in His will (1John 5:14-15). Then we need to move forward, leaving the garbage of persecution piled on yesterday’s trash heap.