We live in a world that is continually changing, even our moral standards are changing. Change is part of life. It is part of what it means to be human. Without change we cannot progress. Simultaneously, because of it we all have the potential to regress. This is one of the biggest distinctions between God and us. For God doesn’t change. He is what theologians call immutable. And this is what I will be reflecting on in this article.
Unlike everything else, which will perish and fade with time, God isn’t subject to change.
Reflecting on the distinction between God and creation, one psalmist writes: “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end” (Psalm 102:26-27; Hebrews 1:10-12). This passage shows the unchanging nature of God contrast with creation. It shows that unlike everything else, which will perish and fade with time, God isn’t subject to change.
How Does an Immutable God Relate to Changing Beings?
The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) says that God is “working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory” (3.5). This is important for our understanding of how God can relate to us, forever changing beings, when he does not change. Especially when we consider how in the Bible he appears to change how he feels and acts depending in different situations (Jeremiah 18:6-10).
For example, after creating everything God saw that “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). But in Genesis 6:5-6 we see a shift in how God feels towards the creation: “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” Does this not mean that God changed?
Everything God does, is determined by his immutable character and will.
The simple answer is no. As the article in this series on simplicity states: God doesn’t change morally. In other words, and linking back to the WCF, God is never the subject of external forces (James 1:17). Circumstances don’t dictate who he is or what he does. Everything God does, is determined by his immutable will. His reaction (if we can call it that) to events are always the expression of his immutable character.
Choose the Unchanging God over the Shifting Moral Landscape
As I said at the beginning of this article, we live in a world that is constantly revising its moral and ethical norms, usually in favour of progressivism. We’ve even come to a point where it is contentious to offer a definition of the word ‘woman.’ While society celebrates its insistence that everything is plastic, malleable, and in flux, God’s standards don’t change with the times. He is and forever will be just and holy, to pick just two of his attributes. Therefore even if the world continues down the road of increasingly skewed ethics, especially around sexuality, we can be sure that what God finds pleasing and consistent with his will hasn’t changed.