“The only thing constant is change.” This saying is attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, one of the most significant Western thinkers to have lived before Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. In making such a statement, Heraclitus captured what many others have also recognized, namely, that there is precious little that is stable in the world around us. Even the mountains, which appear to be so unchanging, are over millennia subject to erosion and other effects that slowly but surely alter their shape. But it is not just the world outside us that is unstable. Over time, we ourselves also experience physical, mental, moral, and spiritual changes.
Such realities drive us to seek stability. Because of sin, however, we tend to look for permanence in things that are also changing. Whether it is a relationship, our bank balances, familiar surroundings, or something else, we all too readily seek stability in the created realm. And, moreover, we are eventually disappointed by such things, for everything in creation is subject to change.
To find true stability and permanence, we must look beyond the created order to its Creator, for as Scripture tells us, God is unchanging. As we read in Malachi 3:6, the Lord God Almighty does not change. And as the prophet tells us, that should be a great comfort to God’s people. Jacob was not consumed because of the Lord’s unchanging nature. The old covenant community deserved destruction because of its great sin, but God did not utterly destroy them. He had made a covenant with them, and because He is unchanging He could not break His promises to preserve them (see Gen. 15). As Christians, we serve the same unchanging God who kept His promises to Israel.
Summarizing the witness of Scripture, question and answer 4 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism states that God is “unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” Our Lord is immutable—His character and being can experience no change or mutation (see Heb. 1:10–12). God cannot grow more or less powerful. He can never cease to be holy, just, good, or true. His wisdom and knowledge cannot be increased or decreased.
God’s unchangeability is bad news for impenitent people, for it means the Lord will not overlook their sin. But our Lord’s immutability is good news for those who trust Him. It means that He cannot fail to keep His promises to forgive us and to protect us forever (Ps. 46; Isa. 55:6–7).