We live in a world where morality is constantly evolving. Sins once frowned upon are now celebrated as liberating and legitimate. And those who consider themselves spiritual demand a god who is flexible and accommodating to our shifting moral standards.
But the Bible teaches that God is not susceptible to change. He is unchangeable and unchanging. Psalm 102:25–27 says,
Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.
In Malachi 3:6, God explained the reasons He had not totally destroyed the disobedient sons of Jacob: “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” James wrote, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).
God does not change. Change is either for the better or for the worse. Both are inconceivable with God—He couldn’t get any better and wouldn’t change for the worse. There is nothing about Him that needs to change.
God’s Immutable Character
When we say that God doesn’t change, we mean that He never changes His character or His will. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent.” He may, however, choose to react differently to man’s varying responses. For example, God commanded Jonah to preach to the city of Nineveh that they would be destroyed. But at the preaching of Jonah, the whole city repented. The Bible says, “God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10). Instead of destroying them He blessed them. Did God change? No, it was Nineveh that changed, and God responded to their repentance with a blessing, which is consistent with His nature.
Genesis 6:6 says that when God looked at the debauchery of the human race in pre–flood civilizations, He “was sorry that He had made man on the earth.” God had made humanity to be blessed and to be a blessing, but Adam’s fall turned God’s blessing into a curse. God’s will and His character were unchanged. He would reward good and punish evil. But humanity had changed, and God was sorry for what His creatures would suffer in judgment. He has no joy when judgment falls (2 Peter 3:9).
When the Bible says God was sorry, it doesn’t mean that He thought He had made a mistake. The King James Version uses the word repented. That doesn’t mean He changed His mind. The Bible simply expresses in terms we can understand a divine attitude of grief over sin. It means God responded to man’s iniquity with sorrow and altered His treatment of mankind in accordance with how they were behaving. His will never changed. He never varied from His course (cf. Jeremiah 13:17).
God’s immutability sets Him apart from everything, because everything else changes. The whole universe is changing. Galaxies die and begin. Even the sun is slowly burning out. Our world is constantly changing. The seasons change. We grow old and die, and from the beginning to the end, all we know is change.
Not God. He is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
The Blessing of God’s Immutability
That God does not change is a great source of comfort to believers. It means that His love is forever. His forgiveness is forever. His salvation is forever. His promises are forever.
In Romans 11:29, Paul writes, “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” God doesn’t change His promise. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). If our faith runs low He doesn’t change toward us. The security of salvation, then, is based on God’s unchanging character.
For the Christian, the knowledge that God is immutable is reassuring and exciting. We belong to Him, and He has promised to supply all our needs. We are secure in our relationship with Him. His love for us will never diminish; He will indeed finish the work He began in us (cf. Philippians 1:6).
For an unbeliever, however, the knowledge that God does not change can be terrifying. God has said that the soul that sins will die. He will not alter His decree. His Word says that the wages of sin is death, and that will be just as true at the final judgment as it was when it was written. Although He may express a divine sense of grief in the execution of His judgment, God is in no way vacillating, and He will not soften His position on sin. The Bible says in Psalm 119:89, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.”
Worshiping Our Unchanging God
We worship an unchanging God. If that makes Him seem far beyond your ability to comprehend, that is good. If you think of God as someone simple enough for the human mind to understand, your god is not the true God.
What is your concept of God? Do you see Him as a timeless, infinite, all–powerful, unchanging, glorious being? Or do you, like many, tend to minimize God’s greatness, preferring to think of Him as one who may be manipulated or fooled by human hypocrisy, or a utilitarian being like a genie who may be mandated to do what we want? All such views of God are utterly pagan.
A vision of the steadfastness of our immutable God brings a sense of security and stability to our unsettled lives. In a world full of uncertainty, we can live our lives fully assured of God’s unwavering love for His children. And that will result in lives overflowing with worship.