John 5:39-40 : “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me. Yet you will not come to me, that you may have life.”
The Law of Moses was a legal system of religion. It provided a set of rules for how to live life on earth with God and gain merit with Him in this world. Here Jesus says that the Law is unable to provide eternal life. In the end, a Jew still dies. Evidently, these leaders were seeking the Scriptures for rules that would give them eternal life. The way to eternal life was written there, but it wasn’t by rules but by the sacrifice of a Man. The sacrificial system in the Law of Moses was always pointing to Jesus and many prophets predicted Jesus’ coming. Here is one famous prediction that was made hundreds years before Jesus’ birth in the Bible of that time (the Old Testament):
Isaiah 53:5-6 : But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
These words were in their Bible before they actually happened. As Jesus spoke with them, they were there for the reading. It was to be by the sacrifice of a future Man that God’s righteous judgments would be satisfied and eternal life would be, again, offered to man.
Rules would not be enough because rules have to be kept by sinful men. As we have already talked about, men cannot be good enough. If there was to be salvation, it would have to come from God. This idea of self-healing is really the basic problem. The sacrifices of the Old Testament speak of the death that is required as payment for sin. If these were not required, then maybe there would be a kind of man-made righteousness, but they were required because mankind was unable to keep the law.
We are no different than the Jews were. We make our own laws about not lying and taking care of our environment, etc. And we don’t keep our own rules either. We accuse others and then do the same thing. This is hipocracy and it is a sin. Before God we are guilty of not taking care of our world, not loving our neighbors, telling lies to protect our own selfish interests and more.
Although it is commonly attributed to the Bible, the quote: “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible at all. On top of that, it really doesn’t make sense. Why would a person need help if they have already helped themselves? Evidently, someone looked so intently at the scriptures looking for eternal life by rules and just decided to make up a verse. This is very much like a thing that would come from mankind.
We had to look outside of our own ability to be good to find a way to God. That is why we need Jesus.