According to the Bible, the little letter from Jude, the characteristics of a false teacher are clear, and we are warned against them.
Jude’s verse 16 says that a false teacher will flatter you to get their own way. They will tell you you are better than you are, or will blame your mistakes on some external circumstance. They will say it over and over, reinforcing a single concept with various proofs.
Soon you buy into the idea that they like you and you’ve begun to tell yourself you like them. Then, after you have come to believe their flattery, they will add some more direct lies. For many people, they will by this time believe the lies to be truth, or trust truth told about the person to be lies, because they are emotionally invested in the person.
(This is how people ignore symptoms of abusive behavior in a loved one, hoping they are wrong, or are emotionally unable to consider the consequences of truth.)
The wise will weigh the words against an unchanging standard of truth and assess any differences. These people will be able to recognize what the person is doing and separate admiration for the person and the veracity of their words.
The unwise, the immature and those bent toward destruction will ignore truth, even calling truth a lie and lies truth. Jude 19 says this is the source of divisions.
Jude 19 also suggests it is the intent of a false teacher to create divisions and to distort truth, and that the source of this desire is their sensual appetites, with the end goal of satisfying their own lusts.
As this political season draws to a close, I look at candidates who call the other negative even as they themselves provide 3x more negative pronoucements.