I've been reading through Exodus the last 2 -3 days and this jumped out at me. Not the passage itself, but the whole concept of God relenting and Pharaoh hardening his heart. Specifically, the whole concept of God relenting from a punishment/judgment and our response to it.
In Pharaoh's case, God tells him to do something; he refuses. God sends the promised results; Pharaoh “repents” and God relents. Pharaoh then decides not to follow through—in other words, he just wanted off the hook. His concern wasn't what God's will was, but what the results would be for him. Once the “ouch” of the results was removed, he kept on with the behavior.
I wonder if maybe we aren't the same? I think we might misinterpret God's relenting, in order to give us space to really act out our repentance, as his giving us permission to continue the behavior?
Pharaoh certainly kept up his behavior throughout—even after the death of the firstborn. He sent an army after the Israelites to bring them back even after the final plague. Do we do the same thing with our continued rebellion after becoming Christians?