When Sin Bubbles Up
by Kelly Givens
A few weeks ago, after realizing I had somehow missed reading this children’s classic as a child, I found myself speeding through the entire Anne of Green Gables series. The books captivated me, and for good reason. Written in the early twentieth century by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, the series chronicles the life of red-headed Anne Shirley, an orphan adopted by a brother and sister pair who really wanted a little boy to help on their farm. Eventually, they learn to love the little girl brought to them, as do all readers of Montgomery’s classic. Anne is a true literary heroine. We identify with her weaknesses: her spiritedness, quick-temper and vanity, and we strive for her strengths: bravery, generosity, and a heart overflowing with love for life and people.
As I read through the books, I was struck with the number of times Montgomery used Anne’s character to illustrate deep truths about the human condition. There were many examples, but one stood out in particular to me. After being picked up from the train station by Matthew, Anne begins describing her life in the orphanage. Realizing she was exaggerating just how badly things were, Anne apologizes, saying, “It’s so easy to be wicked without knowing it, isn’t it?”
Indeed, it is. Throughout the Green Gables series, Anne repeatedly found herself unexpected moments of “wickedness,” forced to repent to neighbors, family and friends for some fiery retort, vain action or other impulsive sin. We can all relate to Anne- I know there are days I have to apologize over and over for the same sin- it just somehow keeps “bubbling up” in me.
The Apostle Paul dealt with this too. In his letter to the church in Rome, he wrote “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19). What causes us to do the very things we don’t want to do? Why does our sin seem to bubble up in us—overflowing like a pot of boiling water? Paul understood: it is our indwelling, sinful nature fighting against our desire to do what is good. He goes on to say:
“For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
Thankfully, Paul’s question is rhetorical; he knows the answer. “Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!” After acknowledging God to be our ultimate rescuer from sin, he writes some of the most encouraging verses of scripture found in the Bible, reminding us that through Christ’s death on the cross we have all we need to fight the wickedness that bubbles up in us.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Praise God! Our sinful nature is no match for the redemptive power of the cross. Yes, as Anne said, it is easy to be wicked- in fact, it’s unavoidable. Thankfully, Christ has already taken the punishment for our wickedness, and even more- he has credited his righteousness to us, giving us all the means we need to conqueror the sin in our lives.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Are you like me and Anne, feeling the weight of your sin and maybe a little powerless to stop it? Then cling to the encouragement that Paul gives us in Romans - through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross we are justified and are being sanctified from our sin.