Teaching English as a Second Language has taught me something about English: There are loads of rules. People from other countries who just have to learn the rules and then all the rules about the rules (meta-rules?) can feel utterly overwhelmed with the complexity of the language we speak naturally. They can even become resentful. They could wish that English were their first language, but of course that cannot be.
But if you grew up in a home where English is spoken all the time, and spoken correctly, then it will seem natural, and the rules will come easily. In fact, you’ll be able to intuit rules you’ve never even heard. “Oh yes, I see. I thought so.”
Just so, the Language of Love has rules. The rules in the New Testament can seem overwhelming. You can make a long, long list and say, “All right, now I’m really gonna keep these rules,” but to keep everything straight and to remember them all can make us end up just feeling resentful against God.
But when the Language of Love becomes your first language—which can happen only by the miracle of new life by grace through faith—then that Language comes naturally, and the rules fit into the schema you’ve already developed by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the rules are helpful, but mostly to give form and shape to something you have already basically understood by faith.
This is the Gospel. This is the Good News of Jesus Christ. He takes helpless people who are dying in their own blood and cries, “Live!” He transforms hearts that are dead-set against Him and fills them with His own Love, which transcends all language boundaries. In His glorious New Covenant He sets rules, but not so much for restraints as for clarity. “This is the way it is in My Kingdom.”
And we who are His leap up to cry out, in our Love for Him, “Yes, Lord! I see! I thought so!”