In reading through some of this stuff lately, I came across an interesting thread of thought. See if you can find it ... you know ... if I lay it out for you.
"So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit." (Matt 7:17)It's a sampling, but maybe you see it. (I hope so.) I see a running theme here. As in all unbelievers (Eph 4:17-19), the normal mode of operation is plain to see: they "have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity." And, as it turns out, this is the same modis operandi of the false teacher. They "follow their sensuality", "indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires", "entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality" while becoming "slaves of corruption", and "turn the grace of our God into licentiousness." Repeated also in there is "despise authority" including denying "our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ" -- the Ultimate Authority. (See also Jude 1:8.) These are, of course, interlinked. The Authority says to avoid indulging the flesh and they say, "No!"
Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned. (2 Peter 2:2)
The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. (2 Peter 2:9-10)
These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. (2 Peter 2:17-19)
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)
It's interesting, then, if you look around at the false teachers you may know. They seem to be exactly that -- immersed in sensuality. "It's okay to have sex with whoever you want; God loves love." "God wants you to be healthy and wealthy." "Forget about all those commandments; we're free! God wants you to be happy!" False teachers are precisely today what they have always been. They are bad trees bearing bad fruit. But because they are fruit trees and because they are offering exactly what people want to hear ("If it feels good, do it!"), they thrive.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Tim 4:3-4)Today is that day.
Want to know if you're looking at a false teacher? Find out if he promotes sensuality. Is he (or she) urging you to pursue your desires, to indulge the flesh, to turn away from "the old ways" and stop being on "the wrong side of history"? Or is he asking you to "come out from among them and be separate" (2 Cor 6:17)? Is he asking you to enjoy your lust or escape it (2 Peter 1:4)? Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits." (Matt 7:16) Go with Jesus on this one.