The Attributes of God: Immutability

by John Henson
My wife and I decided (OK, it was mostly my decision) to buy a car.
We needed a car that would last us several years. Our family at the time was small and so I bought a subcompact. Since the car was almost brand new, I was sure it was the right choice.
But, things began to happen. There were several problems with the motor. We were sure those problems had been solved. However, soon, the car was damaged beyond repair when a drunk driver ran a red light and slammed into it while it carried my wife and son. They were not injured, but our long-term transportation solution unraveled.
Things change. What is true with human beings one year is not true the next. We elect presidents and then, four or eight years later, we boot them from office.
Our God, however, does not change. Ever. The Attribute of God’s unchanging nature is called immutability. Charnock, in his wonderful work, “The Existence and Attributes of God, wrote, “Unchangeableness doth necessarily pertain to the nature of God. It is of the same necessity with the rectitude of his nature; he can no more be changeable in his essence than he can be unrighteous in his actions.”/1
For the purposes of this study, we will assume the scriptures are the inerrant, inspired word of the Almighty God as described in 2 Timothy 3:16f. The word of God alone is sufficient to prove this, and any other, attribute of God.
God does not change. In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul was ordered by God to destroy all of the Amalekites. Saul disobeyed God by not destroying all of the enemy. In an attempt to urge the Prophet Samuel to ask God to change his mind about taking the kingdom away from Saul, Samuel said, “The Preeminent One of Israel does not go back on his word or change his mind, for he is not a human being who changes his mind,” (1 Samuel 15:29, NET).
As so many people today, Saul thought God would change his mind about sin. Saul readily confessed his sin, but wanted the consequences of his actions averted. God forgives sin, but has never prevented its consequences from the sinner. In this, the Lord is not like a man that can change.
The inspired writer of James tells us, “All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change,” (James 1:17).
A college professor of mine used a metaphor to describe what the phrase, “shadow of turning,” in the King James rendition of this verse meant. He compared the position of the sun to a sundial. The sundial’s shadow continued to change every hour of the day. Evidently, the sun was not in the same place.
But, God doesn’t change like a shadow’s turning. He remains the same always. One of the great consolations God’s people have is they can always expect that God will be the same way every day, every year and every age. His promises are always true and will be kept. The proof of this is in the history of Israel and the church.
More to come.
1/”Discourses upon the Existence and Attributes of God,” by Stephen Charnock, B.D., p. 318 Baker Book One House.

One thought on “The Attributes of God: Immutability

  1. Well, brother, your article has inspired a number of thoughts, articles, and prayers, both in Portuguese and English. So thanks for this, and know that your good thoughts have been extended and applied in a number of ways.

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