Warfare is a task for soldiers. There are certain things a soldier must know in order to be effective. Spiritual warfare is no different, we must know the answers to certain imporant questions if we seek to properly fight in the spiritual war. The first question that must be answered is, “Who is the enemy?”
The first answer to this question is ourself. The reason this must be the first answer is because without conquering our internal enemy we cannot defeat the external enemy. The bible tells us to take care of our own sin before attempting to deal with anothers sin.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
It is very telling that Jesus calls a person who does not deal with his own sin first a “hypocrite”. Hypocrisy is condemned in a number of places in the NT (Mat 7:5, Mat 23:28, Mk 12:15, Lk 6:42, Lk 12:1, Lk 13:15, 1 Ti 4:2, Jam 3:17). I will only mention Lk 12:1 here because it is key in understanding what is happening when we act in hypocrisy.
In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trod one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
When we are hypocrites we follow the teaching of the Pharisees, not the teaching of Jesus. If we act under any teaching or authority except that of Jesus, we cannot fight the enemy. Look at what happened to the sons of Sceva when they tried to cast out evil spirits . . .
Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
When we do not fight our own sin first and act under the authority and teaching of Jesus, we will be overcome by the enemy and lose the battle.