Biblical text appears to affirm that Nicodemus eventually understood what Jesus taught. If we look keenly at how Jesus explained the Holy Spirit to this Jewish scholar, we can more easily put the Satan Particle into perspective. Apparently, this member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish authorities that found Jesus guilty of blasphemy, not only believed Jesus, but was moved by the Spirit to actually attend the body of Jesus after the crucifixion.
John 3:5-12 (NLT)
Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
John 19:38-39 (NLT)
Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes.
Proximity to Jesus, and belief in Him, opens the path for the Holy Spirit to do His saving work. It is worth noting that at immediately after the crucifixion would have to be the hardest time to believe in Jesus Christ in all of history. The source of eternal life had been killed, and had not yet resurrected or ascended. Much of Scripture testifies to the power we draw from Jesus based on our faith in Him, and staying close to Him. Two texts come to mind that speak to this. The first comes in the words of Christ, right before He was arrested, and it speaks to how much power Satan has over Jesus:
John 14:30 (NLT)
“I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me,
The next text speaks to the power imputed to the believer because of the faith they have in Jesus. It is His strength in the believer that gives the believer their strength. If you ever wanted to call something the God Particle, this would be it:
The real God Particle, is the Holy Spirit living in the believer. He gives us the power over Satan because, as we just read of Jesus’ words in John 14:30, “[Satan] has no power over Me.” Now that we understand the true God Particle, we can better understand the Satan Particle. What comes from the “ruler of this world” carries the Satan Particle, and He has even tried to tempt the One who is fully God, and fully man with it:
1 John 4:4-6 (NLT)
But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.
Matthew 4:1 (NLT)
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.
As we read in Matthew, Satan was unsuccessful in tempting Jesus, who told the prince of this world:
Matthew 4:10-11 (NLT)
“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’”
Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
If we live in and for the world, Satan has no reason to attack. Those not living for Christ are already in the prince of this world’s grasp. It is when there is an opportunity to tempt one of Christ’s followers that we see the evidence of the Satan Particle. We see it in believers in several predictable places:
- The moment just before a mean-spirited comment comes out of our mouths
- The moment an addict gets a reminder of the environment of their drug of choice
- Just before our pride gives us permission to cheat or steal
- The suggestion in our heads, just before we decide a lie would be better than the truth.
I recommend that my counseling clients journal daily. They are instructed to write down significant instances that happened, the good and the bad, which occur each day. When we write them down, we can begin to see a pattern of impulsive behavior. Then, we isolate what happens just before the impulse occurs. It is in the moments before the impulse occurs that we can find the Satan Particle.
John 13:1-2 (NLT)
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.