We often regard God as an eternal, incorruptible, righteous, and all-powerful Being; yet we as His creation actually have the ability to do something He cannot. Rather than making Him weaker, this “disability,” for lack of a better term, sets us apart as weaker beings and Him as the stronger.
Many regard deception as the primary weapon Satan yields. From that, he causes and amplifies disappointment, discouragement, and depression. Solidifying the idea, the apostle John calls Satan the “father of lies” (John 8:44). In opposition to that, Christ describes Himself as “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Paul boldly proclaims in various verses throughout the New Testament that God “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), and that indeed “it is impossible for God to lie” (6:18). God’s “disability” is His incapability to lie.
Christ states that words are the “overflow of our heart” (Matthew 12:34-35). A pure heart is without falsehood, and this exemplifies God. But it begs the question, what if God could lie, and thus change?
As an example, many make mention the Old Testament account of 2 Chronicles 18 [synonymous with 1 Kings 22] which seems to vindicate the idea of God as a deceiver. As the passage details, Israel’s King Ahab had rejected God and His authority. Sitting on the brink of war, he and Judah's King, Jehoshaphat, brought forward 400 prophets to “seek the counsel of the Lord.” Not satisfied, Jehoshaphat requested Ahab call the Prophet Micaiah among them to aid in the decision of combat. In this context, Micaiah speaks in contrary to the other prophets, telling the kings, “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you” (2 Chronicles 18:22). This seems to run contrary to the idea that God is truly honest, yet a deeper examination of the context proves helpful.
Many commentators agree to the fact God Himself did not command “deceiving spirits” to lie and speak falsely, but that God allowed this as a means to an end. One commentator notes, “It’s an idiomatic way of speaking which the entire context of 1 Kings 22 demonstrates. ‘The Lord hath sent a lying spirit’ is a stronger way of including God’s overall power than merely stating. ‘God has allowed a lying spirit.’”
This is comparable to the story of Job. As one of the few detailed conversations we have recorded of beings in the spiritual realm, Satan came to God, leaving with permission, not a command, to bring calamity to Job. The comparison is that God did not come to Satan, or ask him to tempt Job; but rather, Satan came to God, who allowed him to tempt Job within bounds.
Furthermore, the previous commentator makes mention of the fact God allowed King Ahab go down the road he set for himself, which was to reject God’s previous warnings and speak poorly regarding Micaiah for the previous messages he had given. “God extended even more patience toward Ahab by having Micaiah tell the king exactly what evil spirits had been doing to plot his downfall, but Ahab rejected this further warning as well. If God’s intent was to command demons to lie and deceive Ahab, why would He bother warning Ahab about it? What would be the point of trying to warn Ahab against the very disaster to which he was trying to entice him?”
As previously discussed, theologian Wayne Grudem wrote in his book Bible Doctrine, “[I]f God changed for the better, then He was not the best possible being when we first trusted Him. And how could we be sure that He is the best possible being now? But if God could change for the worse (in His very being), then what kind of God might He become? Might He become, for instance, a little bit evil rather than wholly good? And if He could become a little bit evil, then how do we know He could not change to become largely evil—or wholly evil? It is hard to imagine any thought more terrifying. How could we ever trust such a God who would change? How could we ever commit our lives to him?”
Because God is trustworthy and is wholly good, we do not have to fear the outcome of the truths and promises expressed in His Word. Perfection is an attribute of God. An attribute is something essential about one’s being. We cannot try to be more or less human; we just are. In the same way, God cannot be more or less perfect, more or less honest, more or less holy. Those are attributes, same as infinite, eternal, etc. God’s “disability” is what serves as His ability to be the righteous Being He is.