The Unchangeableness of God
James 1:17-18
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no ficklenss…

I. CONSIDER GOD, AS HE IS UNCHANGEABLE IN HIS OWN NATURE AND PERFECTIONS. This Author of all must be unchangeable. He cannot change for the better, because He hath in Himself all excellences. He cannot change for the worse, because neither can He have a will or a power to hurt Himself, nor can other beings be able to diminish His perfections, since they have no other strength than He gave them, and receive their nature and qualities from Him. Thus reason teacheth us to conclude that God is unchangeable. The Holy Scriptures also teach us the same.

II. CONSIDER GOD IN HIS DEALINGS WITH US, AS HE IS OUR RULER, AND SHOW THAT HE IS UNCHANGEABLE IN HIS WILL, HIS PURPOSES, AND DECREES. This is a manifest consequence of what has been said; for, if God is unchangeable in His nature and perfections, whatsoever He decrees and resolves concerning mankind in general, or any of us in particular, He must and infallibly will accomplish. To resolve and not to perform is a certain mark of imperfection,


1. "When God is said to repent, and to be grieved, it is manifest that such popular expressions are to be understood as spoken in condescension to the weakness of our apprehensions.

2. We learn from the Scriptures that God gave the Jews ritual laws, which in themselves and of their own nature were not good, and which He afterwards repealed by His Son. The gospel is the natural and the moral law in full perfection; but, as we are imperfect, and cannot live up to it, it was suitable to perfect goodness and mercy to use some abatement and condescension. Therefore God, in compassion to our infirmities, to exact unsinning obedience, substitutes repentance, which is accepted through the propitiation and mediation of Christ.

3. We find in the Scriptures some promises and threatenings, which are so expressed that they seem to be absolute and irreversible; which yet, as the event showed, were not accomplished; and this seems not to agree with the unchangeable nature of God. The following observations may serve to explain this matter, and to set it in a true light.

(1) All the promises and threatenings contained in the New Testament are conditional, and the condition is plainly expressed. Thus our happiness or misery is made to depend upon our own choice and behaviour. In the Old Testament likewise, the far greater part of God's promises and threatenings are of the same kind: they are conditional, and the condition is named expressly.

(2) Some of God's decrees concerning societies or particular persons have no dependence upon the moral behaviour of men; and these consequently are absolute and irreversible.

(3) These decrees excepted which are prophetic and providential, all other declarations, though they may seem absolute and unchangeable, yet are not so; for God reserves to Himself a power of altering them, or suspending their execution.Application —

1. The consideration of God's unchangeable nature compared with our changeable condition, may teach us to entertain humble thoughts, and to know ourselves to be most imperfect creatures in all respects.

2. Since God is set forth in the Scriptures as the bright and perfect original which in all things we should resemble, His unchangeable nature reminds us that we must endeavour, like Him, to be constant in all that is good, in our love of virtue, and in our lawful promises to one another.

3. The unchangeable nature of God suggests very powerful dissuasions from vice. There is a law which declares that impenitent vice shall end in destruction. This law is eternal and unchangeable.

(J. Jortin, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

WEB: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow.

The Father of Lights
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