“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.Malachi 3:6 (ESV)
We would do well as modern Christians to learn to reflect and meditate on the characteristics of God. God’s immutability is one such characteristic that most Christians fail to properly comprehend or fathom. We have a tendency in our fast paced world to simply accept statements as truths without ever taking the necessary time to allow that truth to work its way into the inner recesses of our heart. But if we were to take that time, to consider the implications of the doctrine of immutability, we would certainly be forever altered. Just as God as a being is in some ways ultimately far beyond our mere human capacity for full understanding, so is this one attribute of God so full of wonder that if considered properly, we ourselves would be caught up into that which is greater than our capacity to fully comprehend. Charles Spurgeon once said:
Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity… I know nothing which can so comfort the soul, so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow–so speak peace to the winds of trial–as a devout musing upon the subject of the GodheadCharles Spurgeon. Sermon Title: The Immutability of God
When we speak of God’s immutability, we are speaking of his unchangeableness. In our world, everything changes all the time. It has been improperly stated that ‘the only thing that is certain is that change is inevitable.’ While that is true of our world, it is not true of God. In our world and in our everyday moments of life, we experience change constantly. Our environment changes as people we know and love come and go, enter our lives and leave as quick as they came. Our society changes as policies develop and civilizations rise and decline. Our families change as young children grow up into young adults, and we ourselves grow older each day. It is a running joke between my wife and I to find the newest gray hairs sprouting on the sides of our head. To age is to change.
Change is often painful in the present moment for the simple reality that to change is to enter into the unknown. It is to press into the uncertain and the hidden. Certainly this is why the fear of death is so prevalent even among Christians. In one of the more startling and breathtaking passages of Paul’s letters we read:
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (ESV)
On the one hand we believe Paul’s words, and yet on the other hand there is an appropriate shuddering at that verse. A shuddering not in the sense of horror, but rather in the sense that in that verse God has permitted us to glimpse into a reality that is far beyond our finite human comprehension.
It is for this precise reason that God’s immutability provides a steadfast, certain rock of refuge for Christians. There must be some unchanging hope to latch onto, otherwise even the promises of God are simply shifting sand sliding through our fingers. If God is mutable, that is to say that if he is one like us who is capable of change, then our greatest hope is but a mere uncertainty. But the very fact that is God unchanging provides a basis for reality, for grounding, and for life itself. The Christian exists with a certainty that despite the momentary changes and their accompanying fears of any given moment, we rest fully and confidently in the unchanging presence of Christ in our life.
God’s attributes do not change. The same just judge of all the Earth that judged Pharaoh by one standard, will judge the whole Earth by that same standard. And oh how precious that knowledge for those who rest in Christ. What certainty this fixed standard provides for sinners like us who find themselves saved by the grace of Christ. His blood was enough yesterday and it will certainly be enough tomorrow and for eternity to come. The same wisdom that God granted Solomon is the same wisdom recorded for all ages in the book of Proverbs, and is the same wisdom sealed in our heart by the presence of the Holy Spirit. What is right is right, because what is right is founded in the unchanging nature of God Himself. Therefore we do not find ourselves in the position of wondering what God expects of us on any given day, uncertain of His pleasure in us as His adopted children.
While we change our plans every day, God’s plans are unchanging. We write our futures in our minds without any knowledge of what tomorrow will bring. We set our hearts to accomplish goals that may be washed away with the winds of tomorrow. As new variables come into our purview we adapt and we modify and we survive. But not God. God is not ever taken by surprise. God is not writing history based on the outcome of today. He has written history and it will certainly unfold as He has declared. Before the foundations of the world, God declared His plan of redemption. He committed to a covenant and because He is unchanging He saw the ratification of the terms of that covenant through at the cross, and will bring it to its final wonderful completion on that day of glory yet to come. As Romans 8:32 says,
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”Romans 8:32 (ESV)
This is certain, because God is immutable.
I have only provided a glimpse of the implications of God’s immutability above. But in providing this glimpse I hope to have inspired further reflection. In times of trial, of doubt, of fear, of uncertainty, the Christian resolves themselves to fix their gaze upon that which is immovable and unchanging, and in such a resolve the Christian spirit is uplifted and encouraged and properly redirected so as to live more confidently for Christ.