Being a Christian and growing in my faith as the years passed by, I always dealt with spiritual battle. I could identify it easily by the lies that were being told to me by the devil, and I could conquer it easily with the truth I knew was real. But this year, I faced a kind of spiritual battle that I did not expect and did not even realize was being fought until I was deep in the middle of it. When I fell into a depression, I didn’t know what hit me. When I got scared by what was happening to me, I didn’t realize that my struggle was the perfect opportunity for the devil to attack me, and he sure did!
I really wish someone had told me to put on the full armor of God, because that was exactly what I needed. When you’re battling with mental illness, and the only thing you can really think about is how to be alive, the last thing you want is someone to pile up rules and instructions on how to live your life. I was scared to be a Christian when it was really bad because I felt too dirty for God, too messed up, too much for God. I found the deep dark scary place where I KNEW God couldn’t be…
But really, he was there with me the whole time. He was there holding my hand as the devil slapped me across the face, over, and over, and over again. But I felt like there was nothing I could do to defend myself, I was too weak. I know you know how that feels.
But God did protect me. He knew everything that was going on, I didn’t need to explain or defend myself, he just knew. Still, I wish that I had known how to fight, even a little bit. I wanted to fight! I really wanted to find the strength in myself to fight back! That fight, is a battle between the devil, and the truth. The truth, the word of God was the weapon I was looking for but couldn’t find. It was so obvious but hidden at the same time.
So now that’s I’ve taken my life back a little, I want to prepare myself for future battles, battles of the spirit and of the mind. One way that really helps me fight my battles is to visualize it as a real battle. I like to go to my favorite anime and put myself in their shoes as they fight evil, and compare my struggles to theirs. One of my favorite characters that I feel represents me and my struggle is Naruto.
No, don’t roll your eyes, here’s what I got to say. Naruto has the nine tailed fox living inside of him, a demon who wished him no good. I like to pretend that I am Naruto, and the nine tailed fox is my mind. I am the jinchuuriki for my mental illness. It is both my greatest weakness, but… my greatest strength. For when it causes me to be weak, I am strong because then I have to rely on the Lord’s power. Once I get rid of my own foolish strength, then I am more powerful then even Naruto.
How exactly, specifically tell me how I can be strong. (You Christians like to say things like that without giving any specific details, you’re so spiritual…)
Here’s how, the armor of God! And Naruto will explain it to you.
Ephesians 6:10-18 “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
I read an article that said the devil is a terrorist. He’s a zombie that wants to eat your brains, he’s a vampire that wants to suck your blood. The armor isn’t just something to protect you, it’s a weapon to use to proactively fight against the forces of evil! Doesn’t that sound exciting! It’s just like an episode of Naruto! (Well, maybe not just like…)
Satan worked with lies. “…He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
The Devil is fluent in lies. Everything he says is a lie, even if it sounds like your own voice telling it to yourself. He’s a bigger liar then Itachi! The first attack of the devil is with a lie. The Devil wants to you believe lies about yourself, like, “Your worthless. You’re unloved. You’re a waist of space. You’re better off dead.”
Naruto says, “I will never go back on my word.” He will never lie. What makes Naruto such a loveable character is that he works very hard to separate the truth from the lies. It takes time for him, and he may look stupid doing it, but he always wins in the end.
The first step in putting on the armor of God is putting on the Belt of Truth, learning what is true and what is not. It takes practice, and believe me, I know when you have a chemical imbalance, it makes it so much more difficult. But those voices in your head are from the pit of hell. It’s ok to take a second and paint them for what they are, in fact, you have to if you want to fight back!
Naruto puts on the belt of truth before he goes into battle. Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, put on the belt of truth. “You are full of worth. You are loved.” Good, now go take on the day!
The Breastplate of Righteousness shields vital organs. Righteousness of God guards hearts from Satan. What is this righteousness you speak of? Righteousness is basically being morally right/blameless. But, what is the only way to be blameless? We realize that there is no way we can be without blame on our own, only through letting God be the sacrificial lamb for us, taking the punishment we deserve, can we ever use the breastplate of righteousness.
Many Christians feel guilty or not worthy of serve God or receive his gifts. When I feel guilty, (which is not an emotion that comes from God, it comes from as my mother says, “the pit of hell”) I don’t even feel like I can pray. I’m too dirty to lift my voice or consciousness up to him.
This is the perfect stop for the devil to get us. He can use this thinking against us so easily, we won’t even notice it. He tells us the exact opposite of what the breastplate of righteousness tells us. Things are brought up from your past, things that have already been forgiven but we feel like we have to hold onto.
The devil wants you to believe that you are a dirty creature. He wants to weigh you down so you’re eyes can’t look up to God out of shame and sorrow. Look at Hinata. She’s a girl who could never do anything wrong. She’s like that sister who is little miss perfect while you’re there trying really hard to be good, but you just can’t seam to. But having a meek personality like that is besides the point. Hinata represents the breastplate of righteousness because her morality doesn’t come from just her own power. When you put on the breastplate of righteousness, the righteousness isn’t your own, but God’s! If Naruto is the God figure in this analogy, then Hinata is you and I because she created her nindo based off of Naruto’s. She brought the righteousness of Naruto upon herself and fought alongside her ninja way for the rest of her life.
The Gospel of Peace is footwear we need to advance into the emery’s territory. The goal is to bring the peace. When I think of peace, I think of Shikimaru. Maybe it’s because he has a lazy problem, but he also has in innate drive to keep the peace. He does everything in order to avoid conflict. He hates confrontation or attention. All these things doing make you a better or worse Christian, they just represent in my opinion, the gospel of peace.
Shikamaru’s ninjutsu, the shadow possession jutsu, is a middle range, sneak attack. It’s swift, comes out of nowhere. It’s not terribly violent, you might say that it’s pretty peaceful. Shikimaru relies on his ninjutsu in battle instead of a physical attack like taijutsu. We need to rely on the ninjutsu of peace that can only come from God to defeat our enemy.
“I am leaving you with a gift –peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27
Take the devil off guard with your mastery in the ninjutsu of shadow possession peace. The quickest way to pull out this jutsu is to remind yourself that you can have peace of mind because Jesus has saved your soul from hell, even if you feel like your in hell.
Shield of faith. Satan wants us to doubt God’s faithfulness. Our faith is a shield. Imagine if we put all our shields together, how strong would we be? This is where it’s important to have faith and fellowship working together. Naruto is really a show about friendship, and everyone has great amounts of faith in each other, so they accomplish much.
Choji is character that I think shows great amounts of faith in his friends. He’s kind and loving, and would rather not get into a fight. But if someone messes or hurts his friends, he expands his body with the expansion jutsu to physically guard his friends. When he fights alongside his friends however, he is even stronger.
Our faith in God shields us from the doubts and lies the devil tries to shove in our brains, as Choji’s faith in his friends protects him from, well, death.
As Christians, our way of thinking needs preservation. We need to hold the gospel, don’t let false doctrine come our way or temptations. The unsaved have no defense from these kinds of blows because they have nothing to protect them. They cannot discern spiritual truth from spiritual deception.
The Will of Fire is kind of like the Helmet of Salvation in the way that it protects the spirits of the ninja and keeps their path strait. The Will of Fire, patriotism for your ninja village is like being “on fire for God”. As Christians we live in our little ninja village, the church we go to, and we’re untied by the grace of God, which allows us to have salvation.
Our “Will of Fire” the helmet of salvation is what keeps us fighting and focused for battle. When you are in the depths of despair, and you don’t feel like you have anything to hold onto, hold onto the most basic of truths. You are loved and saved by Christ. That’s all you need to tell yourself. Don’t expect anything more of yourself then to have the smallest of fires in your heart, your personal will of fire that will carry you through the toughest of circumstances.
The Sword of the Spirit is God’s word. Remember John 1:1, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.” This is your ultimate weapon. The Bible is the way God speaks to us and directs us. There isn’t a direct translation of the bible in the Naruto world, but something that I think I can compare it to is each person’s personal nindo.
The ninja make nindo’s in order to keep their path strait. They never do anything that goes against their nindo. It’s they way to keep themselves in check. As a weapon, one’s nindo keeps him fighting with honor and a clear conscious.
But really, the bible is so much more powerful that that. There is nothing that you can compare it to! The Word is God, and nothing, not any weapon or super power in anime can compare to the power and awesomeness of God.
Hebrews 4:12 explains: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Here’s an example of how our ninja hero Jesus used the Sword of the spirit.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”
Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”
“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.”
But like any weapon, be must keep on sharpening it. We do this through studying of the bible and prayer. So when you find yourself in that place where you feel powerless, defeated, worthless, you can pull out your sword with ease because you know the truth.
No matter what the devil tells you, you are so full of worth, you are worth dying for.
If you have any questions about mental health, my story, or the armor of God, I want to talk to you! Comment or send me an email on my “contact me” page on my blog. 🙂