The Benefits of Holiness

It is by holiness that we are made like unto God, and his image is renewed again in us.

John Owen, Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Part 2, Chapter 81

Owen lists three benefits of holiness in chapter 8:

  1. Honor
  2. Peace
  3. Usefulness

Honor

As quoted above, holiness makes us like God, with respect to our character. Of course, there are some of God’s attributes we cannot, and will not, ever attain: transcendence, omnipotence, etc. However, God is holy, and he wants us to be holy, too (1 Peter 1:16).

Peace

People who live in rebellion against God often have no peace. Living a holy life, however, can bring peace. We can enjoy fellowship with God (cf. 1 John 1).

Usefulness

Owen seems to distinguish between people’s usefulness when serving God’s providence, and another kind of usefulness. Political, military leaders, or even pastors may be examples of the first type. I’m not positive what Owen was getting at when he describes a second kind of usefulness. He mentions that people who are useful in a second sense serve the common good. Owen says that people can provide some benefit to others in God’s providence, while being good for nothing in themselves. Perhaps he has something like Jesus’s words in mind: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people‚Äôs feet” (Matthew 5:13). People can do seemingly great things, while at the same time bearing little to no spiritual fruit.

1 Owen, John. Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Public domain. Republished by CCEL. https://ccel.org/ccel/owen/communion/communion.i.vii.viii.html. Accessed August 8, 2021.