“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
You’ve been in this situation plenty of times before. Your spouse is simply too fickle. He can’t make up his mind; she doesn’t really know what to think. One day he says one thing, the next day the other. It’s an never-ending cycle of confusion which results in a severe lack of trust.
This is an all-too-familiar dilemma that humans go through. This is nearly a universal experience in relationships because humans experience such volatile emotions. In short, we change–daily. It’s part of what makes us human.
Changing–whether it be our minds, character, desires, physical stature, etc.–is something we do 24/7. But it is not, however, what God does. God does not change. Indeed, He is unable to change. He is immutable. As James 1:17 says, “there is no variation or shadow due to change” in God.
But let’s imagine the unthinkable for a moment: what if God could change?
There are a myriad of things that would be different if God could change, but one thing should stick out: trust. Trusting God would be the same as trusting a fellow human. It would be agonizing to trust him sometimes. If God could change then we really wouldn’t be able to trust God at all. We wouldn’t be capable of trusting his Word or his promises. Knowing he may change his mind or have a second thought about something would leave us with no choice but to not trust him altogether. Furthermore, if God could change in nature or character, we may not understand who we are even attempting to trust.
There would be no reason to trust God. One day he might be happy with us. The next day he might display his wrath. It would be rather difficult to trust God who is capable of having “just one of those days.” I wouldn’t want the God I serve, worship, and obey to be capable of having the Monday blues.
Simply put, if God could change then he would not be worthy of our trust.
Our Salvation Would be in Shambles
If God could change, we’d all be doomed to Hell. Salvation in pieces. Forget about eternal security. Forget about all the promises of redemption God made. Forget about all things pertaining to salvation. There would be no salvation. If God changes, salvation changes.
How so? Because if God changes–whether in his emotions, character, etc.–then he could easily take salvation back anytime we misbehave. Salvation from a mutable God sounds like works-based religion on steroids. There would be no assurance God has saved us since we wouldn’t know how God felt that day.
Salvation is dependent on God. Therefore, if God is able to change then our salvation is wobbly at best. God could decide any moment to change his mind and not save us.
God Would not be God
God would simply not be God if he could change. This is the foundational issue. The very definition of God implies that God is not able to change. If you have a God who is capable of change, then you have a false god.
However, the biblical reality is that God doesn’t change. He is immutable. He is outside space and time. He doesn’t get bigger or smaller; he doesn’t get smarter of dumber; he doesn’t have mood swings. God is transcendent, eternal, and stays the same forever.
RC Sproul wrote:
God’s plan never changes because He never changes and because perfection admits to no degrees and cannot be improved upon.
Or ponder these rhythmic words from Shai Linne in his song “Immutable”:
We change many times in one life span / I’ve changed even since this song began / Lord, I’m so glad that you’re not like us / All that You do will certainly last / You are the Rock that we can trust / Shows us back in eternity past
These beautiful truths are why we can trust our Lord. He’s trustworthy. He’s not going to take back his promises. He’s not going to revoke our salvation. He keeps his word and his word is true. He is our unwavering Rock.
So you may ask yourself, “Great. God never changes. But how does that impact me?” It impacts everything. All aspects of the Christian life–salvation, sanctification, prayer, etc.–hinge on God’s immutability.
Our salvation will not change (if we are indeed in Christ) because God has purchased our salvation in the cross. It is finished (John 19:30).
We will become more like Jesus because God will not take back his promise to conform us to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29).
Our prayers will always be heard and answered because the God to whom we pray is always there and remains the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
When everything around us is unstable, God is steady. When everything in life is falling to pieces, God doesn’t waver. When things continue to shift, God never does. He is our steadfast anchor in the storm, our mighty fortress in salvation. He is our Rock.
Friends, the doctrine of God’s immutability is crucial. Let us praise God for who he is and what he has done for us through the cross. Our God never changes, and that’s a good thing.