Immutability: Sin

The thoughts of God’s immutability and a particular doctrine are not put together very often. We can think of the reason of this as being because it is not that important or perhaps we should think of it in terms of the modern man as not being quick to think of things in relation to God. In a nation and world where man is thought to be the measure of all things, the nature of God is relegated to inferior status and perhaps even thought to be non-existent. However, for whatever reason that man ignores the connection of the character of God with the nature of sin, it is to the ignorance of man regarding sin and to the poverty of the nation and the Church. The immutability is a foundation for the thinking of humanity regarding sin whether it is recognized or not. To the degree that man ignores the doctrine of God as related to sin is to that same degree for darkness to dwell in man. To the degree that man ignores the immutability of God in relation to sin is the degree that man will look to the changes of time and man as the standard for sin which is no real standard at all.

While this subject was covered to some degree in the doctrine part and the evangelism part, we will look at it in more detail here. The very definition of sin is that it is against God (Psalm 51:4) and that sin is falling short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). These are the two main verses that make up the main point of what we will explore. First, sin is against God. That statement makes some people laugh and others scratch their heads. But for some it is like a blow to the stomach as it shows the true nature of sin. To say that sin is against God is to make an enormous statement with virtually an infinite amount of ramifications. While we have but a short space, let us dig in.

God made man in His own image and likeness. Many wrestle with what that means, but at least part of what it means is evident and clear. Jesus Christ came and was the very outshining of the glory of God (Heb 1:3). He was the tabernacle of the glory of God (John 1:14). He is also called “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). In some way, then, to see Christ was to see the Father (John 14:7-14). We can wrestle through many of these issues, but it is plain that to see Christ and His glory was to see the Father. That is why the Gospel is the Gospel of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (II Cor 4:4, 6). As the image of God Christ came to be the shining forth of the glory of God and in that people could see the character of God.

Man is to be like Christ. That does not sound like much unless you read and meditate on the paragraph immediately preceding this one. But to be like Christ is to be an instrument by which the glory of God shines through you and in that people will see the character and glory of God. In that way man is the image of God in that God dwells in that person and reflects His glory through that person. God created man to be the instrument by which He would shine forth His glory in the world, or to say it another way is to say that man would be the instrument of God’s expression of His glory in the world. Now we can see what it means to fall short of the glory of God. It is not that man has failed to be good enough or to do enough good works, but that man has failed to be the instrument of the glory of God in the world. Man has failed to be what he was created to be. In doing this man has sinned against God and has violated his Creator. That is one aspect of the hideous nature of sin.

Another aspect of the hideous nature of sin is that man has traded the image of God to be like the devil. It was the devil that deceived Eve and she bit on the promise of being like God (Genesis 3:1-5). What happened at that point? Man became the child of the devil. In John 8:44 Jesus told the Jews that they were like their father the devil and they wanted to do the desires of their father. In other words, they were children of the devil and were made in his likeness and followed after his desires. Man is born with a sin nature which reflects the proud and selfish nature of the devil in us and outward sin is to carry out those desires. With every sin that a person commits s/he is using self to display the character of the devil rather than the love of God. Every sin is against God in that every sin is carrying out the action and desires of the devil. In sin man is like the devil who hates the glory and likeness of God and so does things for himself and his own glory. In man’s pride and selfish nature man is being a child of the devil and so all that he does is against God.

But we must return in a more explicit way to immutability. God’s holiness is seen is His love for Himself and His love for His own character and attributes. God’s holiness is to be like Himself and for Him to be unholy would be for Him to be unlike Himself. Immutability, then, is necessary for God to be holy and for God to be God. If God changed, He would then be unlike Himself and so not holy. If God changed, the whole nature of holiness and of righteousness would be something unlike what we know of today. But since God is immutable, He is always holy, that is, He is always like Himself and always exists in love within the Trinity. If God ever changed, He would be more like the devil than like God. Sin would no longer be sin and holiness would no longer be holiness. If God changed we might not fall short of His glory any longer, but instead be more and more like the devil which is an aspect of hell itself.

If God changed from being perfectly holy and loving within the Trinity, nothing would be safe. If His love became other than for Himself, sin would be a matter of what He set out for the moment. But instead, because of the immutability of God, the nature of sin will always be that it is against God and He is always the same. Until people understand that sin is against God, they will not understand the nature of sin at all. Sin is not just doing something bad or going against some arbitrary command of God, it is against God and will always be against the character of God because He is immutable and will never change. Sin is so hideous that it is to be like the devil and will end in hell which was created for the devil and all those like him. The punishment for sin is eternal because it is against an eternal God who is immutable in His hatred of sin. The nature of sin is seen in that it is against God and will be against God for eternity. Why is that? Because God is immutable. When man changed from being the image of God to being the child of the devil, God stayed the same and will forever be the same. That is why man must be born from above in order to be renewed into the image of God. “And that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Eph 4:23-24). That God is immutable so the new birth will always be according to Him as He is now.

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