There is a controversy simmering online about whether or not God can change. Some argue that God changes because he enters into history and appears to do something at one point and to do another action at a different time. God is angry with someone for sinning on Monday. Then he is happy with someone for obeying on Tuesday. The Bible seems to describe God changing.
So is the classical view that God is without change wrong?
No. God is unchangeable, and we should thankful for that!
The Bible Says God Is Changeless
The Bible teaches that God is changeless, or immutable:
- “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind” (Numbers 23:19).
- “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
- “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret” (1 Samuel 15:29).
- “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).
- “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
The Bible Says God Consistently (Immutably) Acts
How can God be immutable (changeless) and yet be angry with your sin on Monday and graciously forgive it on Tuesday? Jeremiah answers this question:
If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it. (Jeremiah 17:7–10)
God’s character never changes. He always punishes sin; he always gives grace to those who repent. In any situation, God does not change. People do. God always acts the same way. He always hates sin; he always loves faith. When a person sins, God hates it; when a person believes, God loves it.
Understanding God’s immutability is not an esoteric doctrine that can be rejected because it feels un-intuitive. The doctrine of immutability highlights God’s everlasting faithfulness to us. His always and forever love that he set upon those who have faith. God always punishes sins and always forgives those who seek him. It’s the heart of our faith.
If God could forgive one day and then change his mind the next, our assurance would be in shambles and God would be faithless.
But he cannot change. Thank God!