Okay, you know this one, right? Second commandment, Exodus 20:4-5. No need to quote it.
That would include any icon, any image created by man, any conceptual framework of knowledge created by man that claims to represent God.
Can we actually choose such a system by any method of human reason? No, not only from the viewpoint of the second commandment, but it is now a mathematical theorem that there exists no process of axiomatic formal reasoning by which we may predictable develop ANY SYSTEM at all that can represent God?
We can know, therefore, as a matter of mathematical proofs, that we not only should not or "shall not", but in fact we CAN NOT create any human made system that represents God in truth!
Which brings us to the question which the Pharisees asked Jesus: "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?"
Who was Caesar? A self proclaimed god-king, the "Son of God" as recognized by Roman tradition.
How did Jesus respond? he asked for a coin and then asked "Whose image is on this coin?"
Is there a law regarding images? We just referred to it, above. Is it therefore lawful to pay taxes to any system that claims authority over men in the name of God?
Obviously, the answer is "NO!".
Let's look at it another way: First commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me".
All, right, just for argument, which is the one true god? Give me a definition, one that stands up to all logical examination. You will find it impossible to give such a definition. We are left with one logical conclusion, therefore., which is summed up in the second commandment! Nothing created in the "image of God", nothing created by the hands of man, by the iconic concepts of man, by any structure created by man. If you can't define it, there is no reason whatever for me to bow down to it.
And now, thanks to Godel's theorem, we have mathematical proof that no such system can ever be developed! Godel's theorem is merely the mathematical recognition of the second commandment. If you can prove there IS such a system that demands our obedience, you've got me, but you can't. You have no way of proving it. Therefore, to "have no other gods before me" is to be free of all human systems of power and authority, and that would include churches that claim to represent the "true God".
We are left, therefore, with the logic of Jesus' statement in Matthew 24:23. Don't follow any man who says "here is Christ, or there".
Ayn Rand, in the person of the fictional character, Howard Roark, had this marvelous statement which Roark presented at his trial:
"Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire. he was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to light. He was considered an evildoer who had dealt with a demon mankind dreaded."
"That man, the unsubmissive and first, stands in the opening chapter of every legend mankind has recorded about its beginning....Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received--hatred. The great creators-the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors--stood alone against the men of their time".
Ayn Rand said there is no God, even though she did refer favorably to the idea of God a few times in "The Fountainhead".
If you claim to follow God, you must follow truth, and if you follow truth, you cannot bow to the whims and false gods of men. If you follow anything less than truth, you follow idols. If you even follow the collective concepts of men for ANY reason other than proven truth, you practice idolatry. No "borrowed vision", no "second-handers".
And what was HWA, other than a flim flam, con man, scam artist, liar and worse? He was an idol, created by men as a "bridge" to God. Of course, he encouraged the bridge, but he, like all men who claim to represent something higher than themselves, are idols.
So what is the truth? If you look for it within ANY collective concept of men, whether of government, religion, or even the bible itself, you will be wrong.
John 14:17; "Even the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive". Truth is not a "given". It is not any process of rational thought which we can organize and structure and place other men under our control. It is not subject to the power of men, as Godel' theorem now tells us. The "world" cannot receive it.
Matthew 7:14: "because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it". Not "choose it". FIND IT.
There is only one possible truth you can derive from that. You are free from men! Even more, if you "bow down" to any concept, any icon chosen among men, you commit idolatry.
If ANY "church of God" or "church of Christ", or whatever title, claims it represents the truth, we now know it is a mathematical impossibility to make such a claim! There never was such a system. Even assuming that Israel was actually chosen to fulfill such a requirement, we know even from biblical statements that the people could not live up to it.
You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Simple stuff. The truth is, no power of man has the right to control you unless you harm another. The only power of the state is "vengeance", and that vengeance is only enforced AFTER the people themselves seek other alternatives.
Simple, simple, simple.
From Ayn Rand:
"It's only a matter of discovering the lever. If you learn how to rule one man's soul, you can get the rest of mankind. It's the soul, peter, the soul. Not whips or swords or fire or guns. That's why the Caesars, the Attilas, the Napoleons were fools and did not last. We will. The soul, Peter, is that which can't be ruled. It must be broken. Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it--and the man is yours. You won't need a whip--he'll bring it to you and ask to be whipped. Set him in reverse--and his own mechanism will do your work for you. Use him against himself. Want to know how it's done?....Make man feel small. Make him feel guilty. Kill his aspiration and his integrity..The worst among you gropes for an ideal in his own twisted way. Kill integrity by internal corruption. Use it against itself. Direct it toward a goal destructive of all integrity. Preach selflessness. Tell man that he must live for others. Tell men that altruism is the ideal...Since the Supreme Ideal is beyond his grasp, he gives up eventually all ideals, all aspiration, all sense of personal value....To preserve one's integrity is a hard battle. Why preserve that which one knows to be corrupt already?...Kill man's sense of values. Kill his capacity to recognize greatness or achieve it. Great men can't be ruled. We don't want any great men....Where there's service, there's someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master."
"And if any man says to you, Lo, here is Christ, or there, believe it not".