“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10.
Then the LORD said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.” Genesis 7:1.
For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness. Psalm 11:7.
Today your LORD (יהוה) God (אלהים) says:
Righteousness. I am righteous. I love to see you acting in righteousness. And for you who have received My gift of righteousness by faith, I am your righteousness as well.
What is righteousness? It is walking in the light. It is doing the right thing at every moment whether anyone is watching or not. It is a matter of an upright heart that is open to My goodness and grace. It is a position of authority. It is a light in the darkness. But above all it is freedom from the oppression of sin. “In righteousness you will be established; you will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; and from terror, for it will not come near you. If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me. Whoever assails you will fall because of you.” Isaiah 54:14-15.
Sin has no part in a righteous heart. Sin is not attractive to a righteous person. The Sermon on the Mount is a sermon on righteousness. But it is a sermon that can only be achieved by a person who has been born again and made righteous in My Son with My righteousness. To live it, you must have My love poured into your heart by My gift of the Holy Spirit. For the Sermon on the Mount is a sermon about what is going on in the heart, a new level of righteousness from that under the Old Covenant. A new age of grace and a new level of righteousness for a new creation in Christ. You are now to imitate Me as My dear children and walk in love. You are to be just like Me. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29. Wake up to righteousness!
The apostle John had much to say about Jesus and what being born again does for you. “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:4-10.
And the beatitude for today’s life lesson is “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake (on account of, because of) of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10. The first beatitude My Son spoke on the mountainside to His disciples that day was “Blessed are the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and now we see the Kingdom also belongs to those persecuted for righteousness.
There are two components to this. First, those who are persecuted for living lives of righteousness in the midst of the ungodly, the worldly minded, and/or the wicked because righteous living convicts and infuriates these ungodly people as it does the devil who is blinding their minds. They are not satisfied until they entice the righteous to stumble and to sin at their level or, if that does not work, they try to find something to accuse them of and with which they can destroy them, like the Pharisees were constantly doing with Jesus, and as the other government officials did with Daniel by craftily having the king pass a law they knew Daniel would refuse to obey because it would cause him to violate My laws.
“It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they would be in charge of the whole kingdom, and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one), that these satraps might be accountable to them, and that the king might not suffer loss. Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary spirit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom. Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful, and no negligence or corruption was to be found in him. Then these men said, “We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.” Daniel 6:1-5.
Daniel walked in righteousness, and no corruption or lack of integrity could be found in his conduct by those who wished to destroy him. But they knew he was faithful to Me so they plotted to have the king pass a law against worshipping Me that they knew Daniel would break. That says a lot about Daniel. In a pagan nation where he lived as one of the prisoners of war deported to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, even under a new empire, he was valuable because of his excellent conduct and wisdom and he had no fear to show his faith and commitment to Me even though not politically correct. He never backed down or hid what he believed from the first day he was brought to Babylon. He was determined to keep My commandments first and above all. He was willing to suffer death rather than back down from obeying My Word.
But when he was thrown into a den of hungry lions for having kept faithful to his daily prayer to Me, he found out what David wrote by the Holy Spirit some years earlier was true: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19. And I did, promoting him to even higher honor and favor before the king. And I am the same yesterday, today and forever, the One who is, who was, and who will be. I surround the righteous with the shield of My good will. For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield.” Psalm 5:12.
I tell you that Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation, and that Noah walked with Me. Genesis 6:9. He found favor in My eyes. I call him a preacher of righteousness. “God did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher (herald) of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.” 2 Peter 2:5. And yet he did not preach to people. But his life preached and proclaimed righteousness in a world filled with evil and darkness. “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.” Philippians 2:14-16.
Notice that Noah walked with Me. That is the key. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8. For how can two walk together unless they agree? Remember Enoch? “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” Genesis 5:24. I deliver the righteous. I took him with Me sixty-nine years before Noah was born and one hundred sixty-nine years before the flood.
If you walk with Me you must walk in the light, in the way, the truth and the life, for He is the Light of the world and no follower of His will ever walk in darkness but will have the light of life. And you do not hide a light under a bushel basket but set it on a lampstand for all in the house. Your glow will show in a dark world if you walk in righteousness and the wicked will persecute you for your life convicts them.
“For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” 1 Peter 4:3-5.
If no one is noticing your righteousness, you may be hiding it under a bushel basket by living an unrighteous type of life though in your heart I have made you righteous with My righteousness when you were born again in Jesus. But if you do not renew your mind to it and offer your dominion authority to working for My Kingdom so My Will can be done on earth, your walk will not be righteous and it will be stout against Me. You will grieve and quench My Spirit as I said about the people of Noah’s generation. At that time My Spirit was striving with man but I foretold a time would come when He would not. But at that time, the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. I was grieved in My heart and was sorry that I have made man. But Noah found favor in My eyes. He was righteous at the time of his generation.
And in Jesus you find favor in My eyes. You are righteous in Him with My own righteousness. It is time you woke up to righteousness and began walking in that authority. “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the LORD will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isaiah 60:1-3.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also preordained to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He preordained, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30.
So the first component of persecution for the sake of righteousness is your living a righteous life and the wicked trying to make you stumble or to destroy you and discount your life. Many scoff today at a righteous lifestyle. They will even call it showing discrimination and hate speech if you stand up for righteousness.
The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth. Psalm 34:12. The wicked spies upon the righteous and seeks to kill him. Psalm 37:32. Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:13.
“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:11-12.
My Son had no unrighteousness in Him. The devil had no place in Him and could not touch him. Why? “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of joy above Your fellows.” Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:9. The hope of the righteous is gladness, but the expectation of the wicked perishes. Proverbs 10:28. My joy is your strength, it is the anointing.
The second component of righteousness for which you will be persecuted is teaching My kind of righteousness, that is, righteousness by faith in Jesus and not by your works of the law. It is easy to get mixed up on this. The righteousness I sought under the law was the keeping of the commandments, an outward righteousness, by which you obtained the status of righteous. It came from outside restraint you imposed on yourself but it did not rectify the problem of your heart being dead to Me and alive to sin. This is where Adam had put the entire human race when he transferred his allegiance to Satan and the kingdom of darkness as his place of citizenship and heirship. But even under this standard, men such as Noah, Joseph, Daniel, Job and others were called righteous by Me for their generation.
But the righteousness I seek under grace, is first the cleansing of your heart in the blood of My Son from all sin and your regeneration by My Spirit into your new birth into My Kingdom and inheritance as My child and heir resulting in a new heart alive to Me and dead to sin in which I can put My Spirit so you can walk in My ways from the inside out. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13.
Paul who at one time relied on his own merits and righteousness became one of the greatest preachers of grace of all times. And he lamented over the hard hearts of his countrymen, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” Romans 10:1-10.
Even believers in My Son do not understand the gift of righteousness and that they have it by faith without working for it. “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” Romans 4:5. Grace, as you find in the Sermon on the Mount, demands a higher level of righteousness, to the very core of the motives and thoughts of your heart, but it starts from already being made righteousness in your born again spirit and then by the enabling of grace to walk in it at a whole new level of life. Walking as who you are in Christ. Righteous in a life of good deeds prepared for you in advance in Christ Jesus. “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:17-19.
Preaching this is what got Paul in so much trouble with the Pharisees and teachers of the law. As in the parable My Son told about the Pharisee and the tax collector that went up to the temple to pray, the Pharisees took great pride in their own self-righteous keeping of the outer components of the law while inside they were filled with greed, jealousy, and lust. They had no love in their hearts for Me or their fellow man but they made sure to keep every point of the law outwardly by their rituals and observances. My Son took them to task for this and that made them persecute Him all the more. They wanted their own righteousness and not My kind of righteousness. The took pride in it. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33.
I love you and that is why I gave you Jesus to make you righteous. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10. Live righteousness, love righteousness, and preach righteousness–My kind that you receive by faith and then walk in forever.