God punishes sin with sins. This means that because of their self-confidence, lack of repentance, and willful sins, He later punishes with hard-heartedness and blindness those who had been converted. This punishment should not be interpreted to mean that it never had been God's good pleasure that such persons should come to know the truth and be saved. For both these facts are God's revealed will:
1. God will receive into grace all who repent and believe in Christ.
2. He also will punish those who willfully turn away from the holy commandment and entangle themselves in the world's filth, decorate their hearts for Satan, and despise God's Spirit. They will be hardened, blinded, and eternally condemned if they persist in such things.
Even Pharaoh perished in this way. This was not because God had begrudged him salvation.
God caused His Word to be preached and His will to be proclaimed to Pharaoh. Nevertheless, Pharaoh willfully stood up against all rebukes and warnings. Therefore, God withdrew from him, Pharaoh's heart became hardened, and God executed His judgment on him. For he was guilty of hellfire. The holy apostle also introduces the example of Pharaoh to prove God's justice by it, which He exercises toward the unrepentant despisers of His Word. (pars. 83-86)
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.