“Divine immutability” refers to the unchangeableness of our perfect God. Many of the pagan gods, both throughout history and still today, are not perfect. They change, often in very human ways. They lie, they intentionally hurt people, they commit what are by human standards crimes and sins, and they break their promises.
For Christians, God is perfect and His perfection includes His immutability. Unlike every one of His creatures, our God cannot and does not change, He is “immutable.” Such an immutable God “transcends” His creation – He is beyond (in a divine sense, not in a spatial sense) all that He has made, He is not “mutable,” He does not change.
Immutability in Holy Scripture
The Bible refers many times to this unchangeableness of God.
[In God] “there is no change, nor shadow of alteration” (James 1:17)
“They [God’s creations] shall perish, but You shall continue: and they shall all grow old as a garment. And as a vesture shall You change them, and they shall be changed: but You are the selfsame and Your years have no end (Psalm 101:26-28) (quoted in Heb 1:10-12).
“Surely I the Lord do not change. ”(Mal 3:6).
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” (Heb 13:8).
God Cannot Change
For something to change, it must in some way increase, or decrease, begin or end. Change happens in time. From the moment each of us is conceived, we are changing, growing, and then declining, from life to physical death. Every seven years or so, every cell in our bodies is replaced. All of this is in God’s good time, but God does not change through time because He is eternal and not in time.
God cannot change by learning something new. In His perfection, God knows everything. He cannot be educated as we can. He cannot learn, He cannot forget, and He does not ever remember something previously forgotten.
Any change in us makes us “different,” “better,” or “worse,” however these two words are defined. Since God is perfect, such change is not possible for Him. There is no “better” or “worse” applicable to our perfect God. He cannot change from sick to healthy, or fearful to courageous, or from bad to good.
But You Promised
Often for us, the most important thing about God’s immutability is that He will always keep His promises. We know we have not always done what we have said we will do, but our hope and our faith rely on a promise-keeping God. Like a child arguing with a parent who changes plans, we will never be able to say to God “But you promised!” because He always keeps his word. Once God says He will do something, it will be done. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Is. 40:8).
If you do a web search on “God’s promises,” you will discover there are over three hundred scriptural verses which can be interpreted as God making a promise to each of us. These go beyond the promise of “I will be your God and you will be my people.” These are the loving words of a good God who wants us, each of us, back with Him forever. He has promised to provide us: everything we need (Rm 8:28; Ph 4:19); sufficient grace (II Cor 12:9); help in temptation (I Cor 10:13); victory over death (Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38; I Cor 15:57); and eternal life (Jn 10:27,28).
To summarize, God has promised us that He will do all He can to help us choose to be with Him in heaven forever, and we know He will keep His word.
I Will Always Love You
An insightful psychiatrist once told parents that one thing they should always do for their children is to be there. Be a parent. Let them know that in their world, which could be in turmoil or chaos, when they are in desolation, despair, or distress, that Dad is there, Mom is there, home is and will be a safe harbor for them, always, unchanging, loving, no matter what.
This is what God our Father is for us. When Moses first asked God who should I tell the people you are? God told him “I am who am.” Not I was, not I will be, but right here and now, present tense, now forever present, I am. I am your God, I always was and I always will be your God, and you have been, and will be my people, and each of you is and always will be mine. In God’s own words in Genesis:
“And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in all places wherever you go, and will bring you again into this land; for I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken to you.”
All God asks in return is that we exercise our free wills and honestly echo His “I will always love you.”
I was trying to come up with a “hook” for a title for this article. With a number of adults giving me input, my nine-year-old Grandson, Julien, who had been listening to us, came up to me and said, “If God is perfect, He will be nice to me.” From the mouths of babes – the impact of God’s immutability for each of us.