God is Immutable

God is Immutable

The Study of God

Today we continue our series on the nature and character of God. As I prepare these messages and chew on these attributes, I find that sometimes my mind seems to be doing acrobatics as I try to understand things that are seemingly incomprehensible. Charles Spurgeon said, “No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God.”

In wrestling with the vastness of God – a deity who is, in a sense, otherworldly – we quickly realize the limits of our human perspective and logic. As I search for more answers, I often am left with more questions. God is not one to be boxed in; and it’s extremely humbling to realize that no matter the time or effort we put into comprehending who God is, we will never know more than the tiny sliver He has chosen to reveal to us.

Last week we saw that God is infinite – limitless and without end. Today we look as another theological word. God is immutable.

Immutable Means Unchanging

You may not be familiar with this term, and it doesn’t mean what you might think. It doesn’t mean that God can’t be “muted.” (If that were what it means, my geese would be immutable, too!)

Immutable means unchanging, or unable to change.

This is a pretty clear-cut doctrine when we consider verses like Malachi 3:6, where God says, “I the Lord to not change” or James 1:17, that says, God “does not change like shifting shadows.” This is another attribute of God that is totally different from anything else on this earth.

Everything changes. Our bodies change. Our minds and our opinions shift as we grow and mature. Plants grow. Seasons change. Society evolves and devolves. Technology marches on. From beginning to end, all we know is change. In fact, if you come across something very old that hasn’t changed much, it probably piques your interest – something like an old building in Europe or a favorite spot on a lake that never seems to change much.

However, if you met a person who never changes, who never grows up or grows older, you would consider that very odd. We expect some level of change from nearly everything. Even our spouses change through the years, and our marriages shift.

This is where God is different. God doesn’t NEED to change because God is already perfect. When we humans change, it is typically to improve something – to grow up. If we change something in our houses, it’s because what was there wore out and grew old. But God is INFINITE and everlasting; so He has no need to be restored or to mature to a refined form. He has already reached the pinnacle.

In fact, if God DID change, it would prove either that His previous position was imperfect and He needed to be different to reach perfection OR that He moved off of perfection to something “less than.” With this logic, it makes total sense that a perfect being would never change, because any change would be to something less than perfect, or less than God.

How Is God Unchanging?

When we say God is unchanging, we face the question, “How is He unchanging?” In what sense? This is an important point to tease out from scripture because a belief that God could change is as incorrect as a view that God is so stoic, so fixed, that nothing we ever do could impact Him in any way. If that were true, why would we bother to pray? If God is going to do what He decides anyway, why bother?

Maybe you realize the complexity of this topic: we worship a perfect God who never changes, and yet we hope to change His actions through prayer. This is what we look at next.

  • Unchanging Essence What God is, whatever He is made of, His very nature can never change. As an eternal being, He is not growing or aging like a human. He never has. He is who He is. From eternity past to eternity future, the essence of God is completely the same. We deal with the same version of God Adam did thousands of years ago.
  • Unchanging Character We also see that God’s personality and His traits – the things that make up His character – are completely steady and reliable. In the ancient world, other nations believed in gods who tended to have mood swings, who were unreliable, and who made their lives a challenge because the people never knew what they were dealing with.

We, however, put our trust in a God who “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). This means our God’s love, mercy, justice, fairness and goodness never change. We don’t have to worry about God losing His love or His mercy because He had a bad day! That might happen to us with people at work who got up on the wrong side of the bed, but it will never happen with God! He’s not like us; we can be inconsistent and prickly based on how the earlier part of our day or week went. God’s attributes – His character – are perfectly consistent at all times.

  • Unchanging Plans – All through scripture God says what He is going to do. He is going to make Abraham a blessing to the nations. He is going to bring Israel into the Promised Land. He is going to curse those who disobey His word. These statements in scripture go on and on. In all these cases, God does not deviate from what He says He will do.

His promises will not be revoked. They will not change. However, neither will His threats. When He says there will be consequences, there will be torment; there will be judgment. He means it!

God always follows through on His words. They don’t change, although they are sometimes conditional. In those cases, if the people he is dealing with change their ways, God will choose to deal with them differently.

Deuteronomy 28:1If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all the commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.

Deuteronomy 28:15However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you.

Unchanging, Not Unresponsive

So that is how God is unchanging. As I already brought up, though, we hope to influence God to move His mighty hand every time we pray. While we recognize that God is immutable – unchanging –we hope He is not unresponsive! We see in scripture three times God changes His mind.

  • In the book of Jonah, God sends the prophet Jonah to the city of Nineveh to proclaim that in forty days their city would be overthrown. However, in response to his message, the people repented and turned from their wickedness. When that happened, God relented.
  • Jonah 3:10 – When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
  • Here’s where there’s some confusion. Numbers 23:19 says, God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being that he should change his mind.

Numbers clearly says God does not change His mind, and then Jonah says God changed His mind. So which is it? Or does this just prove we can’t trust the Bible? (Remember, I told you that the study of God will stretch your thinking and expand your appreciation for God.)

In the story of Jonah, God doesn’t change His essence, His character, what He loves or hates, or even His plan. His plan is to destroy a wicked people, but the people make the change! They repent and seek forgiveness, so they are no longer a wicked people who need to be destroyed. God, in His fairness and mercy and His unchanging character, responds to the new situation and the people’s repentance.

And that’s a very good thing! It takes God from being a robot locked into an unchanging nature that makes all our efforts null and void. Instead, it puts us into a relationship with God where there is a back-and-forth responsiveness based on God’s unchanging nature, character and clearly defined plans.

It also means that our prayers serve a purpose and carry immense weight. Through prayer we can influence God to respond. We don’t cause God to become something different than He already is, but our faithful trust in Him brings a response of blessing us and meeting our requests.

What About Jesus? After hearing about how God doesn’t change, some of you might be wondering about Jesus. He was born as a baby, grew up, matured, and experienced life like one of us. He clearly had a body that changed and a mind that comprehended life differently from one moment to the next. However, as we wrestle with this nuance, we have to recognize that Jesus is the fusion of humanity with divinity.

Yes, in His humanity, He experienced change like we do. Yet, in His divinity, the nature of God inside of Him never changed. His perfect, sinless life demonstrates that the character of God was inside of Jesus, unchanged from the beginning of His life to the very end. His plan to die for the salvation of the human race was never in doubt.

Hebrews 13:8, which I quoted earlier, says specifically, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Jesus, the Son of God, by whom the whole world was formed, never changed in the aspects we have discussed. Yes, He came to the earth and responded to the situation into which He was placed as a human, but His divine nature and character remained unmovable.

Culture May Change, But God Never Does.

Here’s where today’s message is most important in our lives. We live in a culture that has shifted in profound ways. What our society celebrates today is completely different from what was even mildly accepted fifty years ago. Some see these changes as an advancement; but in many regards, these changes to our society bring us further and further away from God’s truths and from how He teaches us to live.

His Word is still His Word. His blessings and curses are still there. His foundational rules for us to live by do not change: you love God above everything else, and then you love your neighbor as yourself. You seek to live a life of obedience and share the gospel with everyone. These never change.


We live in a world full of change. Your spouse may leave you or pass away. Your friends may move away. Your family may cut you off. Your job may change and your health may decline. Yet there is one constant that will never move, never change, and never treat you any differently. Because of God’s immutable nature, He is consistent, reliable and trustworthy.

We are able to live in a world that makes sense because we know that truth and values, regardless of what society says, are grounded in the unchanging nature of God. In this world of shifting sand, as Christians, we have bedrock; and that makes all the difference in the world.


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