I notice a pattern with people who escape idolatry. I would dare say it is nearly universal. It is perhaps the most difficult and treacherous path to navigate in this life, but if we endure to the end, it leads to the riches of eternity.
In the worst of idolatry, men and women will put their trust solely in external things. Usually this consists of pastors, bishops, preachers, ministers, and whatever books that happen to be approved within their belief system. If they run into a question or concern, they speak to the nearest “authority” on the subject, who has enough knowledge with the approved books to pacify the person and lull them back to sleep.
If the person keeps seeking greater truth, they will soon begin to see contradictions coming from the pulpit. The local “authority” will sometimes say things that are not coinciding with the approved books, and the seeker begins to see that the local authorities are fallible, and not to be trusted as far as Truth is concerned.
In the next phase the seeker will begin to seek the words of the “greater” leaders and “authorities.” They will seek the words of the founders of the religion, the dead prophets and popes, the great men and women of the belief system. The seeker will begin finding others who see the fallibility of the local leaders and they will enjoy seeking words of the greater leaders of the belief system.
Eventually if the seeker persists in the journey, it will become clear that even the founders and the great ones of the belief system do not agree on all things. Hopefully the seeker at this point has begun to receive revelation and is developing his/her own relationship with God. Slowly their eyes are opened as they continue forward.
The next step in the pattern comes to a point where the seeker will cleave to THE ONE person that seems to have all the answers. THE ONE prophet, or pope, whether living or dead, who was or is guided by God. This will be THE ONE who was truly infallible because he/she was God’s voice, instrument, prophet, pope, king, or whatever the title may be. This also can come in the form of THE ONE book, THE ONE philosophy, THE ONE trustworthy source of Truth besides God.
If the seeker does not rest, and will truly endure to the end, at some point they will see that even THE ONE has things that are not true. This can only be done by receiving revelation line upon line on every subject that the one remaining idol has taught. Sometimes things outside of the one remaining idol are used as tools to help the seeker break the shackles.
It can be THE ONE book or idol that others have pointed too. It can be the Laotzis and the Buddhas and the Emmanuel Swedenborgs and the Apocryphas etc that point out truths that the one idol does not have and even teaches or has taught against, but the spirit will bear witness to.
Of course the last phase, and the only True Way is when the disciple learns to only trust in the Spirit of the Living God, the Spirit of Truth. When one enters this zone, Truth comes quickly from many avenues because the chains of idolatry have been broken. There is no damning limit to what the Spirit could tell you, because the only creed is Truth, wherever it may be found.
Outward authority never can exist to the true disciple, because the holy oil of God is giving truth to the inward vessel. The only things to conquer in this last phase are the devils and powers of darkness which will fight with desperation and fury. All of the powers of hell will be used to stop the seeker from becoming a holy disciple of God.
As one progresses from phase to phase in the escape of idolatry, the seeker will find less and less human companionship, but more and more association with the angels and righteous on the other side of the veil. Most are not willing to trade the outward forms of spirituality for the inward blessings of discipleship. To escape each phase, more strength is needed than to escape the last, and only the Lord can provide it.
In each of these phases there will be many who will try to persuade you that you are in the right spot. You have made it to THE GROUP, to the elite, “you have escaped! This is the place!” the mortals and devils will call, yet the seeker must learn to heed the call of The Only One that matters.
Of course many would call the seeker a person that “picks and chooses.” They will call it a “buffet style” approach and call the wisdom of God foolishness. “You can’t just pick and choose!” will be the voice of the devil. “You can’t trust personal revelation!” They will say you must check it with all of the idols and if it doesn’t match up it must be discarded. Think deeper about some verses in Matt 13:41-50
41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.
45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:
48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.
49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I pray God’s blessings upon each of us as we shed idolatry and falsehood, and come unto the Truth. Those who will not be cast into the furnace of fire will be those who have sold all the filth, who have cast all the bad away, before the coming of the Lord.